A Blog on Cinema

Top 10 Musicals – Part 1


Co-authored by Unni and VC team

For our 150th post, following tradition we have another Top 10 list. This time it is about musicals. With talented music directors like Raveendran, Vidyasagar, Mohan Sithara, Johnson, Bombay Ravi and God’s gift to mankind like Yesudas and Chitra, our Malayalam film music has a quality not seen in any other Indian film industry. Mostly songs here tend to be traditional and classical based, though now the tendency is to rap.

Listing these Top 10 was not an easy task. The editorial team of VC and Unni held countless discussions in secure undisclosed locations and narrowed down the list to this. Which movies should qualify? Does a musical mean that the story of the film should be music based, like say Bharatham or can we include movies like Nandanam which had great songs? Finally we decided to not add any artificial constraints and picked movies which had great songs. Here is Part 1 of the list in no particular order. Part 2, as you guessed already will appear tomorrow.

Let us know what you think? Which movies did we miss?

1. Bharatham – Sibi Malayil and Lohithadas combined to tell the tragic story of jealousy, ego and misunderstanding between two brothers who were singers – Ramanathan (Nedumudi Venu)and Gopinathan (Mohan Lal) set against a musical background. Rumors had it that the movie was “inspired” from the then warring brothers MG Radhakrishnan and MG Sreekumar.

Mohan Lal won the National Award for Best Actor for Bharatham in 1991 and the jury also made special mention of Raveendran – the man who composed for Bharatham.

Most Notable Songs: 1) “Ramakatha Ganalayam” 2) “Gopangane Aathmavile”

2. Sargam – This Hariharan movie did not feature any super-star. It had Manoj K Jayan as Kuttan Thampuran (the protagonist afflicted by Epilepsy), Nedumudi Venu, Vineeth and a glamour-less Rambha (Amritha then) making her debut.

Surprisingly Sargam became a hit mainly because of Manoj’s performance and its songs – poetry would be more appropriate – written by Yusuf Ali Kechery, set to tunes by Bombay Ravi, who won the state award for the best music director. Manoj K Jayan also won the best supporting actor award.

Most Notable Songs: 1) “Krishnakripa Sagaram” 2) “Sangeethame Amara Sallapame”

3. Dhwani – Dhwani, directed by AT Abu was Prem Nazir’s last movie. Jayaram falls in love with Nazir’s daughter, Shobhana. At the climax he realises that she cannot speak. But his love for her does not diminish.

Dhwani was a simple love-story. But what made it stand-out was the compositions by the Yusuf Ali/Naushad Team. It was indeed amazing that a non-Hindu could come up with such brilliant compositions and that too in Sanskrit.

Most Notable Songs: 1) “Rama Rama” 2) “Manasa Nilayil”

4. His Highness Abdulla – Abdulla alias Ananthan Namboothiri (Mohan Lal), the hit-man from Bombay comes to Kerala to kill Udaya Varma(Nedumudi Venu). In the end, the very people who hired Abdulla for this mission regret their decision as he turns Udaya Varma’s protector.

A killer with an aptitude for Classical music was something that was not experimented before in Malayalm cinema. However it worked for Sibi Malayil and Lohithadas as the movie became a big hit.The songs were penned by Kaithapram (who incidentally does a cameo in the movie) and composed by Ravindran.

Most Notable Songs: 1) “Pramadavanam” 2) “Gopika Vaantham”

5. Kudumbasametham – Jayaraj is a director who can throw up suprises. He can come up with classics like Kaliyattom/ Deshadanam /Kudumbasametham or even forgettable ones like Arabia/Highway/Rain Rain Come Again. Music had always been an integral part of Jayaraj’s movies – be his older movies or even the recent spate of Jassie Gift tuned movies. Kudumbasametham told the story of an Anavaidayan (Madhu) and his son (Manoj K Jayan).

Kaithapram’s lyrics were set to tunes by Johnson. All the songs were gentle melodies with classical undertones.

Most Notable Songs: 1) “Neelaravil” 2) “Oonjal Urangi”

Concluding part of this feature will be published tomorrow. 


  1. Nice selection. Kamaladalam and Nakhakshathangal deserve a place here..

  2. Pingback: varnachitram » Blog Archive » [ Top 10 Musicals - Part 2 ]

  3. Cant believe you dont have GURU in there!

  4. I think Venu Nagavalli has made some interesting musical films as well. With Sughamodevi, Swagatham, Lal Salam, and Kalippattam.

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