Njan Gandharvan

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Njan Gandharvan
ഞാന്‍ ഗന്ധര്‍വന്‍
Promotional Poster
Directed by P. Padmarajan
Produced by Good Knight Mohan
Written by P. Padmarajan
Starring Nitish Bharadwaj
Suparna Anand
Music by Johnson
Cinematography Venu
Edited by B. Lenin
Distributed by Good Knight Films
Release dates
Running time
146 minutes
Country India
Language Malayalam

Njan Gandharvan (Malayalam: ഞാന്‍ ഗന്ധര്‍വന്‍, translation: I, Celestial Lover) is a 1991 Malayalam fantasy romance film written and directed by P. Padmarajan. It stars Nitish Bharadwaj and Suparna Anand in lead roles.

The film is an esoteric fantasy about a girl and her passion for a celestial lover, who keeps appearing from a wooden statue that she found on a beach but is invisible to others.


On a study tour, Bhama (Suparna Anand), a final-year degree student, finds a wooden sculpture on the beach. She finds it beautiful and decides to keep it. The same night in her hotel room, when all her friends have gone for dinner, Bhama takes it out and keeps it on her bed. The sculpture magically turns into a young man (Nitish Bharadwaj), who passionately kisses Bhama. Bhama is attracted to him, but he vanishes. At her study leave, while preparing for examinations, Bhama again feels his presence. She moves towards a tree, but is stunned to find a beautiful blue butterfly. She hears his voice in the air, introducing himself as a gandharva who has developed a particular liking for her. At her request, he appears in front of her as a normal man. The gandharva asks her to call him Devan and she falls in love with him.

Nitish Bharadwaj and Suparna Anand in a scene from the film Njan Gandharvan.

Bhama asks her grandmother (Philomina) about gandharvas. Gandharvas, according to Hindu mythology, are celestial musicians and Soma providers in Devaloka, and are destined to entertain devas and lords. They are born from the sweat (or breath) of Lord Brahma and have no death, with the ability to change form or appear anywhere at will. When gandharvas commit crimes, they are cursed to roam the earth for several kalpas, inhabiting Paala trees, seducing mortal women and stealing their virginity before abandoning them. Bhama asks Devan if he would ever desert her, to which he replies that he is just a slave of Lord Indra and has no power to remember the past once they left the earth. But Devan assures her that he will stay back on earth and will never return to Devaloka. Devan hands her a diamond named Rudhiraksham, which is holy and divine. He adds that whenever she feels like seeing him, she just has to kiss it.

Meanwhile, Pradeep (Ganeshan), Bhama's fiancé, is desperately trying to woo her, which she flatly refuses. He finds Devan and Bhama together at restaurants and parks, which he reports to her mother (Sulakshana). One day, Devan makes a surprise visit to Bhama's house and stuns her. With his magical talent in music, he wins the hearts of both her mother and grandmother. Both now are willing to see her married to him.

Everything seems to be going fine, when one evening, Devan loses his voice. A voice (Padmarajan) speaks to Devan from the fallen branch of the Paala tree, whose sap starts to bring forth blood, warning him that he has broken the laws of Devaloka and that he is to be punished for his crimes by Chitraradhan, who is the king of the celestial city of the gandharvas. Devan and Bhama frantically try to run away from the situation, but in vain. As he is about to be taken away from Bhama, Devan motions to Bhama to not summon him with the holy Rudhiraksham again. A lost and gloomy Bhama pines for her beloved in the forthcoming period, which worries her family, making them agree to her marrying Devan, assuming that would make her happy. However, when her father (M. G. Soman) asks her to request Devan to bring his parents so that their marriage may be fixed, Bhama finds herself in a quandary. Left without a choice, she is forced to violate Devan's warning and summon him with the Rudhiraksham. Devan does not appear before her; instead, Bhama perceives the terrible lashes that are being meted out in punishment to the gandharvan.

More than a week passes, and one night Bhama finds, to her joy, that Devan has returned to her. Devan informs Bhama that he had to undergo cruel tortures in the halls of Chitraradhan's celestial palace for seven nights and seven days. While a gandharva is not supposed to come in daylight and is not permitted to meet human beings other than his lover, Devan had broken the law by appearing in public and singing songs for others. He also violated the rule of turning the mortal woman he comes into contact with into a mere slave for taking away her virginity, and gave Bhama control over him by giving her his holy Rudhiraksha, with which she could summon him at will. After the punishments were over he was given back his voice, on condition that he should not speak to Bhama with it. A worried Bhama listens to Devan as he tells her how he needs no voice, if it were not to speak to her, and that he had to wait the past two nights to hoodwink the Spies of the Night to come and meet her. He declares that he is fed up with the bondages of Svarga (Heaven), and that unlike his previous encounters with mortal women, he passionately loves Bhama, and the warmth of her family and human relationships, to the point of wanting to live and die as a human being with her. He tells Bhama that if he manages to not attract the Spies this third night, he will succeed in permanently turning into a human.

Suddenly, strong winds blow at the couple. As the winds die down, a burning celestial handcuff falls onto Devan's forearm and as he painfully manages to remove it, the Divine Creator and the gandharvas' celestial father, Lord Brahma (Narendra Prasad), speaks to the gandharvan, informing him that he and his crimes, which include his persistence in desiring the lowly mortality of earth, have once again been discovered. Lord Brahma also warns him that the harsh punishments of Indra, lord of the devas, await him in Naraka (hell), including having to embrace and sleep with molten hot female figurines, each one representing a moment he spends with Bhama that night, among other tortures in hells filled with snakes, poisoned spears and floors slipping with blood. Lord Brahma informs his son that he is now forbidden from all sunlit days and moonlit nights for all time to come and that the holy Rudhiraksham which he had given Bhama will turn into powerless white dust, which Bhama immediately confirms to be true, to her utter horror. The only way for him to alleviate some of the gravity of his punishment is to take Bhama's virginity from her before the Seventeenth Wind of the Night comes to take him to hell, thus erasing both their mutual memories forever, and failing which, Brahma tells Devan, he will be sentenced to turn into a hideous, foul-smelling beast, neither human nor gandharva, roaming around for a billion kalpas. Devan decides to refuse his Divine Father's advice, and prepares to welcome his terrible fate. Bhama advises him to leave her and go back, so that he will not have to undergo the severe tortures of Indra. She also wants to give up her virginity to him, for although Devan's memories are her most valued possession, she wants to sacrifice them in order to save him and to not have to bear the continued perception of his cruel tortures which would otherwise haunt her throughout her life. They indulge in a physical relationship that night, which she considers the most valuable gift that she can have from him. The night fades away and the heavy Seventeenth Wind of the Night comes in. When the wind moves away, Devan slowly vanishes and Bhama is shown weeping and looking far away.



The film's songs were composed by Johnson with lyrics penned by Kaithapram Damodaran Namboothiri. The soundtrack was released by Tharangini, and the songs had an exceptional reception. The song "Devanganangal" was not originally intended for inclusion in the film. However, Padmrajan had a special love for this song and it was his efforts that made the producer agree to picturise the song.

# Song Singer(s)
1 "Devi" K. J. Yesudas
2 "Paalapoove" K. S. Chithra
3 "Devanganangal" K. J. Yesudas


His wife Radhalakshmi recalls that during the later part of year 1990 when Padmarajan was planning to do Njan Gandharvan there were many bad omens in his life. Gandharvans are singers from heaven in Hindu Mythology and their visits to Earth are believed to cast a spell on maidens and is usually dealt with an attitude of fear by the traditional Hindus. Following this belief, many people along with his wife advised Padmarajan not to make a film based on this subject. After postponing the film on this subject many times Padmarajan finally decided to do this film and started the work for the film. Many "bad omens" surfaced in this period, the flight he was supposed to travel to Mumbai to select the hero of the film was hit by a bird and was cancelled. There were continuous problems in the site of the film. Heroine Suparna fainted under a Pala tree during the shoot. Actor Nitish was also accounted to having fainted on getting poisoned from a betel leaf. Padmarajan was notably losing weight during this period and had high cholesterol despite the fact that he was jogging regularly and had stopped smoking. Despite the obstacles, the team completed the movie. The team including Nitish Bharadwaj and Padmarajan planned to visit the theaters in Calicut to promote the film. The film is a loose adaptation of the German film wings of desire which had a Hollywood remake city of angels.


When released, the film got a cold response, which made Padmarajan very upset. He had very high aspirations for the movie, and the response shook him hard. Within a week of its release, Padmarajan died at a hotel in Kozhikode. But after a few years, when the film was shown on TV, it gathered high appreciation. Now, this movie is considered among Padmarajan's best works and has been watched by millions. The DVD is in high demand, and the film's songs are still popular among masses. K. S. Chitra won the Kerala State Award in 1990 for Best Female Playback Singer for the song "Palapoove" [1]


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