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Poster designed by Gayathri Ashokan
Directed bySibi Malayil
Produced byNandakumar
Written byA. K. Lohithadas
Asha Jayaram
Kaviyoor Ponnamma
Music byScore:
M G Radhakrishnan
CinematographySaloo George
Edited byL. Bhoominathan
Nandana Films
Distributed byTharangini Films
Release date
  • 14 August 1987 (1987-08-14)
Running time
120 minutes

Thaniyavarthanam (Malayalam: തനിയാവർത്തനം) (English: The Repeating Rhythm) is a 1987 Malayalam drama film written by A. K. Lohithadas and directed by Sibi Malayil. It stars Mammootty as school teacher Bala Gopalan, Thilakan as the uncle of the matrilineal family, Mukesh as Gopinathan, and Kaviyoor Ponnamma in the lead roles.[1][2]

The film is regarded as a cult[3] classic[4] in Malayalam language.[3] Upon release, it was praised for its theme, direction (Sibi Malayil) and acting performances.[3] Its background score, camera and climax were also praised.[4] The film discusses a variety of topics such as superstition and orthodoxy in rural Kerala, attitudes towards mental illness, the difference of attitudes between people of different generations, and the decline of once-proud Nair "joint families".

It was actor Thilakan who recommended Mammootty to the producers for the lead role (Bala Gopalan).[4] Bala Gopalan is generally considered as one of the iconic and finest characters portrayed by actor Mammootty.[5] His acting performance in the movie was praised by critics then, and is still considered as a benchmark.[6] The film also became a cornerstone in the careers of Sibi Malayil and A. K. Lohithadas.[3]

The film was a commercial success, and played for over 100 days in Kerala cinemas.[3]


The story is set in a rural village in Kerala. Bala Gopalan (Mammootty), a school drawing teacher in Government service, has a serene life, with two children, a wife, a mother and a younger brother - Gopi (Mukesh) and an younger sister. He is part of a declining, yet proud, Nair joint family in the village. Elder members of the family are rooted in superstition and orthodoxy.

Balan has an uncle, locked up in a dimly lit room in the house, who is mentally challenged. The belief among the family is that one male from each generation will go mad as a person from some past generation had sinned by throwing the idol of goddess in a well. He was cursed by the goddess and became a lunatic. This curse is supposed to pass down through generations. Balan's uncle finally dies and the talk of the village became - "Who would be next - Balan or Gopi ?"

One night changes it all, when Balan has a terrible nightmare. The whole house is woken up in the middle of night. The elder members of the family suspects that Balan is turning mad. The news somehow gets out. Villagers start suspecting Balan of following the footsteps of his ancestors into madness (because Balan's uncle (Babu Namboothiri) also fell mentally ill with a nightmare).

Now the village evaluates and judges each and every move he makes; he is soon deemed mentally ill. His actions are misinterpreted. He applies for an extended leave and transfer from service. Even some members of his family suspects that he has gone mad. The situation affects Balan and turns him confused. Gopi, progressive and educated, consults Balan with a medically qualified physician. The physician declares him sane. But village doesn't agree.

In the meantime, Balan's wife is forced to leave the house with their children. The family fixes the marriage of his younger sister while hiding the fact the she has a "challenged" elder brother. Eventually, Balan is admitted in an asylum and undergoes treatment. He is released after a few days - both mentally and physically broken - and confines to the dark room his uncle once lived. Balan seems to be surrendered to the society.

Balan's mother (Kaviyoor Ponnamma) eventually poisons him - on the day of the ritual for forgiveness from the goddess - to free him from the world.

Apart from the main story line concerning Balan the movie also makes a subtle sketch of the life of people in a "matriarchal" society. The uncle of Balan (Thilakan) enjoys so much influence in the family affairs that he becomes a catalyst to the hero's slow but steady decline to lunacy.


Box office[edit]

The film was both commercial and critical success.[7]


The music was composed by M. G. Radhakrishnan.

No. Song Singers Lyrics Length (m:ss)
1 Sreejayadeva K. J. Yesudas
2 Sreejayadeva M. G. Sreekumar

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Thaniyaavarthanam". Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  2. ^ "Thaniyaavarthanam". Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e "'Thaniyavarthanam' producer now sells dosa batter to eke out a living". OnManorama. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  4. ^ a b c "An Actor Par Excellence: 5 Mammootty Films That You Must Watch". The Quint. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  5. ^ "Mammootty sets out on historical journey with 'Yatra'". Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  6. ^ "Mammootty reveals his reason to choose 'Peranbu'". The Week. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  7. ^ "Scouting Around". Gulf News. 28 February 2008.

External links[edit]