A Blog on Cinema

The role of Sanskrit in todays movies


Sanskrit is an ancient language and almost all of the early Hindu scriptures- including the Bhagawad Gita – were written in Sanskrit. What the Vyasans and the Chanakyans did not know was that their writings, after many centuries, would prove to be an inspiration for our Malayalam directors.

The credit for making Sanskrit and the Hindu symbols so popular amongst us Malayalis, in recent times, must go to Shaji Kailas. One cannot blame him as the Hindu mythology is so vast and offers an abundance of information – on Asuras, devas, Thrikkannu (Third eye), Thrikaala jaanam, Ashareeri and what nots, which one can use in movies.

Shaji Kailas, we all know is obsessed with Hindu Gods and symbols – Shiva in particular. Note the names of his heroes – Induchoodan (Narasimham), Kashinathan (Thandavam) , Parameswaran (Ustad), Bhadran (Shivam). His R&D into Upanishads and coming up with Sanskrit slokas that seem to support revenge and the Machiavellian strategies to outsmart one’s enemies, at appropriate junctures in the movie , would do any Sanskrit professor proud. Invariably the best of these Sanskrit would be reserved for MohanLal/Suresh Gopi and of course Sai Kumar, who has to take the beatings all the time. (Mohan Lal incidentally has exhibited his mastery of Sanskrit by doing Kavalam Narayana Panikkar’s Karnabharam – a
predominantly Sanskrit play – on stage).

Director Ranjith is another who could give Shaji company in that his script is also peppered with Sanskrit phrases and Hindu idolatry. Ravanaprabhu is an ideal example of his love for the language and the verse below was apt in the scene where Mangalassery Neelakantan confronts Mundakkal Sekharan and waxes about his fearlessness of death. The words
(below) were powerful and suited the scene aptly.

Anayasena Maranam,
Nina Dainyena Jeevitham
Dehimath Kripaya Shambho
Thwai Bhakthi Manchalaa

Ranjith’s recent movie also, Prajapathy was supposed to be a take on Mahabharatha.

Yet another example where an actor uttered Sanskirt, was the latest in the CBI series, where Sethurama Iyer has a chance to prove his knowledge about the scriptures in front of a Swami – Kapra (played by Thilakan).

From our experience, its in action movies that Sanskrit comes to the rescue of the directors/script writers. It offers immense scope in terms of its slokas which can be quoted in any context of the movie.


  1. But really I’m fed up with the overloaded Sanskrit slokas in Shaji Kailas films. It is not matching with the situation. He is using the remixed Sanskrit Slokas which makes me to escape from the Film.

  2. Incidentially, Ustad is directed by Sibi Malayil,not Shaji Kailas. Also, worth mentioning was Chintamani Kolacase, where the chanting of “Madhava, Mahadeva” was too much to bear

  3. Sachin – If im not mistaken Ustaad was produced by Shaji Kailas. Sibi Malayil had directed it

  4. Google gives me the following version of that shlOka :
    “anAyAsEna maraNam vinA dainyEna jIvitam
    dEhi mE kRpayA shambhO tvayi bhaktimacancalAM”
    i.e., “Shambhu, Grant me out of ( thy ) compassion an easy death, an affliction-free life and unshakable devotion in thee” – this doesn’t sound particularly apt for a person who doesn’t fear death.

    To me it seems that malayALam lyricists often use quite a bit of sanskrit, and with a lot of sensibility. This is highly unlike in Bollywood where almost any ornate/intensely passionate lyric is urdu-based.

  5. True. Recent days tamil movies also started. In movie Vettaikaran starring vijay

    Asatoma satgamaya tamasoma jyothirgamaya is recited whenever
    hero destroys villain groups

  6. i would like to have this prayer in devanagari, thanks a lot suma(argentina)

  7. Kindly please give the name of the stothras used in the film ‘Thandavam’. I am searching lot of places including google search for the particular stothra:”heematha kananka pari….:”. I like very much that stothra. please give the details as soon as possible.

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