The Genius Of Bharatham! | Lohithadas & Sibi Malayil

The legendary trio of Lohithadas (writer), Sibi Malayil (director), and Mohanlal (actor) has gifted Malayalam cinema timeless classics. The distinctive plots and simple presentation endeared these movies to audiences. Lohithadas successfully explored various genres in his writing career. Today, let’s revisit the 1991 blockbuster musical drama, Bharatham.

Bharatham unfolds the tale of two brothers belonging to a musical family. Lohithadas drew inspiration from a real-life incident where the family patriarch goes missing during a wedding. Weaving together carnatic music and the dynamics of success and failure, Lohithadas crafted a flawless script. The bond between Ramanathan (Nedumudi Venu) and Gopinathan (Mohanlal) is compelling, both as brothers and as a teacher-student duo. Even as Ramanathan succumbs to alcohol addiction and harbors resentment towards Gopi, the audience sympathizes with his character.


The blissful first half takes a somber turn as Ramanathan goes missing just before their younger sister Radha’s wedding. By this point, he had acknowledged his mistakes and embraced Gopi’s success wholeheartedly. The family is comforted by a letter from Ramanathan, expressing his pilgrimage to overcome alcoholism and enhance his singing. However, only Gopi and his fiancee Devi (Urvashi) discover that Ramanathan met with a fatal accident. The devoted younger brother must conceal this news to ensure his sister’s marriage. After Radha’s wedding, the family learns about Ramanathan’s demise. The emotionally shattered Gopi seeks forgiveness from his sister-in-law. The film concludes with Gopi continuing the musical legacy by teaching Ramanathan’s son carnatic music.

The film boasts exceptional performances, with Mohanlal and Nedumudi Venu living their roles rather than just acting. Supported by a talented cast including Urvashi, Lakshmi, Oduvil Unnikrishnan, Murali, Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair, and K.P.A.C Lalitha. Bharatham’s music by the legendary Ravindran remains etched in Malayalam cinema’s history, with each song cherished by fans even today. Sibi Malayil impeccably directed the film, where performances and music captivate in the first viewing. However, Bharatham’s true brilliance lies in Lohithadas’ script, leaving no room for unanswered questions.

Sibi Malayil

The script unfolds as a seamless continuation of events, where each scene flows naturally into the next. Dialogues connect organically, creating a fluid narrative that enhances the film’s storytelling. This structured approach ensures a cohesive and engaging viewing experience.

Cruel Brilliance in Climax

As the climax approaches and the revelation of Ramanathan’s death surfaces, the writer executes a cruel yet brilliant twist. The family, unaware of the tragedy, eagerly prepares for celebrations, believing Ramanathan is on a pilgrimage. The trap lies in the potential devastation that would follow if the news is revealed – not only shattering the family but also jeopardizing Radha’s marriage. Radha, a mute girl considered overaged for marriage, faces the risk of perpetual solitude due to societal prejudices. The engagement with her was already broken, making the impending marriage crucial for her future alliances.


Lohithadas masterfully tightens the narrative, adding depth through the groom’s father, a believer in omens and superstitions. The death just before the wedding, portrayed as a bad omen, intensifies the emotional turmoil. Conversations subtly convey these nuances without relying on cinematic cliches. Gopi’s internal struggle is vividly felt, accentuated by the haunting ‘Ramakadha Ganalayam…’

Timeless Classic of Malayalam Cinema

Bharatham stands out as a cinematic gem, epitomizing Malayalam cinema’s essence. The blend of Indian classical music, soulful performances, and heart-wrenching drama transcends time. Despite its familiarity to Malayali audiences, occasional revisits are essential to appreciate the film’s depth and brilliance.

Cultural Richness and Timeless Appeal

Bharatham encapsulates culture, rich musicality, and a classically simple narrative that remains fresh 25 years after its release. A beacon for aspiring screenwriters, the film demonstrates how a robust screenplay can create a magical cinematic experience. It serves as a testament to the enduring power of strong storytelling in cinema.

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About the Author

Mahima Nandakumar
Hardcore Film Lover and Ardent Movie Goer, Aspiring Film Maker.

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