Revisiting A Classic – Manichithrathazhu

Not too many movies have the capacity to achieve classic status after their theatrical run, but “Manichithrathazhu” is one of the few. This psychological thriller film, directed by Fazil, was released in 1993. The script, written by Madhu Muttam, is based on a real-life incident that occurred in Alummoottil Tharavadu, a famous Travancore family, in the 19th century. Second-unit directors for the film included Siddique-Lal, Priyadarshan, and Sibi Malayil. The songs were composed by M. G. Radhakrishnan, and the background score was crafted by Johnson.

Manichithrathazhu Mohanlal
image courtesy Moserbear and Saina

The Eternal Brilliance of Manichithrathazhu: A Timeless Masterpiece in Indian Horror Cinema

“Undoubtedly, ‘Manichithrathazhu’ is the epitome of horror-drama in Indian cinema, distinguished by its respectful handling of the plot that transcends the typical scary movie genre. The film goes beyond mere horror; it emerges as a cinematic masterpiece. One notable aspect is the confidence exhibited by the makers, who brought together the biggest names in Malayalam cinema at that time—Fazil, Mohanlal, Johnson, Priyadarshan, Shobana, Sibi Malayil, Suresh Gopi, Siddhiq-Lal, and MG Radhakrishnan. Their decision to collaborate on a story and create a classic has stood the test of time, as the movie remains flawless even 22 years after its theatrical release.”

“Manichithrathazhu” is a testament to their collective effort in crafting a film that remains eternally memorable. Numerous scenes and even specific words from the movie have become ingrained in the audience’s memory, such as ‘Thekkini,’ ‘Madamballi’ (House Name), ‘Alli’ (Character Name), and ‘Nagavalli’ (Character Name). The impact of the word ‘Durgashtami,’ an annual Hindu celebration, has been forever altered by this iconic film.

Manichithrathazhu Shobana (1)
Manichithrathazhu Shobana (1)

Haunted Heritage: The Enigmatic Tale of Madampalli in Manichitrathazhu

Nakulan (Suresh Gopi) and Ganga (Shobana) make the decision to reside in Nakulan’s ancestral home, named Madampalli. Nakulan’s uncle, Thampi (Nedumudi Venu), objects to Nakulan’s residence at Madampalli, asserting that the house is haunted, and specific spirits are confined in the Thekkini (storage room) by an ornate enchanted lock known as Manichitrathazhu. Despite Thampi’s warning, Nakulan disregards the superstition and moves to Madampalli. However, supernatural occurrences begin to unfold shortly after their arrival.

  • Ganga’s (Shobana) first entry to the locked room, and the background music, which is followed by the slow version of ‘Oru Murai Vanthu Paaravayo…’ In short, it was and is THE BEST.
  • Sunny’s (Mohanlal) first night at Madamballi.
  • The song “Oru Murai Vanthu Paarayo…” and the following scene – Sunny’s second encounter with Nagavalli.
  • The song ‘Pazham Thamizh Paattizhayum…’
  • Sunny revealing about Ganga to Nakhulan (Suresh Gopi).
  • The song ‘Oru Murai Vanthu Paarthaaya…’
Manichithrathazhu Shobana (2)

Even with two super stars and veterans like Nadumudi Venu, Innocent, Thilakan in the cast, Shobana gave the most notable performance overshadowing the brightness of the rest.

The Timeless Brilliance of Manichithrathazhu: A Masterpiece Beyond Remakes

Apart from the top stars, Vinaya Prasad, KPAC Lalitha, Sudheesh, and Ganesh appeared exceptionally natural in their respective roles. Witnessing all the actors deliver such realistic and natural performances adds to the wonderful experience of the film. It’s challenging to identify anything out of order or out of sync with the story, contributing to the original’s status as a classic. Even remakes featuring great actresses like Soundharya (Kannada) pale in comparison. Among all the remakes, she is the only actress whose performance can, at least, be considered to match the original portrayal of Nagavalli. The film’s uniqueness extends beyond performances to include art design, a realistic approach, and incredible soundtracks.

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About the Author

PS Arjun
Cinephile. Learning the art of filmmaking. Writer. Filmmaker.

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