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DVD cover
Directed byShaji N. Karun
Produced byMohanlal
Pierre Assouline
Screenplay byShaji N. Karun
Raghunath Paleri (Dialogue)
Story byPierre Assouline
Suhasini Maniratnam
Mattannur Sankarankutty Marar
Kukku Parameswaran
Venmani Haridas
Kalamandalam Gopi
Venmani Vishnu
Music byZakir Hussain
CinematographySantosh Sivan
Renato Berta
Edited byA. Sreekar Prasad
Joseph Guinvarch
Euro American Films
Pranavam Arts
Distributed byPranavam Arts(Kerala)
Release date
25 December 1999
Running time
119 minutes

Vanaprastham: The Last Dance (English: Pilgrimage) is a 1999 Indian-French-German[1] co-production Malayalam language drama film directed by Shaji N. Karun. It stars Mohanlal, Suhasini Maniratnam, Mattannur Sankarankutty Marar, Kalamandalam Gopi, and Venmani Haridas. The film's music is composed by Zakir Hussain. The film follows the tale of a lower-caste Kathakali artist Kunhikuttan (Mohanlal) during the 1940s era in Travancore. Subhadra (Suhasini), a member of an aristocratic family, falls in love with the character Arjuna played by Kunhikuttan. She views Kunhikuttan and the character he plays as separate individuals. Their affair eventually leads to the birth of a son, who is hidden away by Subhadra from Kunhikuttan for almost a lifetime.

The film premiered at the Un Certain Regard section of the 1999 Cannes Film Festival on May 1999, and was theatrically released in India on December 1999.[1] The film was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the American Film Institute Los Angeles International Film Festival (AFI Fest) in 1999.[2] The film won three awards at the 47th National Film Awards: Best Feature Film award, Best Actor award (Mohanlal), and Best Editing award (A. Sreekar Prasad). IBN Live ranked the film #9 in its list of greatest Indian films of all time.[3][4] The film was screened retrospective, during the 2014 International Film Festival of India in the Celebrating Dance in Indian cinema section.[5]


The story revolves around a male Kathakali artist Kunhikuttan (Mohanlal), an admirable and respected performer but a member of a lower caste. He struggles to come to terms with the rejection and estrangement of his father, a member of an upper caste who denies his son. Poor, unhappy, and stuck in an arranged marriage that provides no relief, he gets by for the sake of his daughter.

One night, whilst performing as Putana from Poothanamoksham from the epic Mahabharata on stage, his performance is witnessed by Subhadra (Suhasini), an educated and married upper-caste women, niece of the Dewan and an aspiring composer. Impressed by his performance she invites him to play Arjuna in her adaptation of Subhadraharanam. Defying the norms of India's rigid caste system, the two have an affair which results in a son.

But it soon becomes clear that Subhadra loves the character Arjuna from his stage performances, and not Kunhikuttan the artist. More in love with the valiant, noble hero of the Mahabharata, than the lower-caste dancer Kunhikuttan, she rejects him and refuses to let him see his son. Denied access to his son, and rejected by his father, Kunhikuttan returns to the stage, leaving behind his hero roles to play demonic characters, reaching within the dark corners of his mind, becoming increasingly resentful and full of anger, until one last dance which brings the feature to a stunning end Subhadraharanam.



The film has been nominated for the following awards since its release:

1999 AFI Fest (United States)

1999 Istanbul International Film Festival (Turkey)

1999 Bombay International Film Festival (India)

1999 National Film Awards (India)

1999 Kerala State Film Awards

1999 Filmfare Award

Other Awards


Song Lyrics Music Singer(s)
Arjunavallabhayallo Manoj Kuroor Zakir Hussain Venmani Haridas
Bhavatheeya Niyogam Kottayathu Thampuran Traditional Kalamandalam Sukumaran
Dark Melody Zakir Hussain
Enanka Dinam Irayimman Thampi
Inimelil Janikunna Ittiraarisa Menon Traditional
Kaaminee Mama Manoj Kuroor Zakir Hussain Kottakkal Madhu
Karyamavanodu Kalloor Namboothirippad Traditional
Kallinodu Thulya Kilimanoor Cherunnikoyi Thampuran Traditional
Kandu Njan Thozhee Manoj Kuroor Zakir Hussain K. Omanakutty
Kunhikuttan Zakir Hussain
Medoorabhakthiyulla Muringoor Sankara Potti Traditional
Mindidaathathenthe Irayimman Thampi
Pushkara Vilochana Muringoor Sankara Potti Traditional
Smile Zakir Hussain
Sodara Balin Kottayathu Thampuran Traditional
Subhadra Zakir Hussain
Subhadra 2 Zakir Hussain
Sukumaara Nandakumaara Aswathi Thirunal Rama Varma Traditional
Thaal Manthra Zakir Hussain

First film in India made in panavision film with dolby stereo.


  1. ^ a b "Festival de Cannes: Vanaprastham". Retrieved 10 October 2009.
  2. ^ Awards (IMDb)
  3. ^ "'Mayabazar' is India's greatest film ever: IBNLive poll"[dead link]. IBN Live. 12 May 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  4. ^ "IBNLive Poll: Vote for India's greatest film of all time". IBN Live. 26 April 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  5. ^ "45th International Film Festival of Goa" (PDF). iffi.nic. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 March 2016. Retrieved 16 September 2016.

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