A Blog on Cinema

Can Manichithrathazhu be remade?



(The author, Kishore Kumar, is well known in Malayalam cyberspace through his RagaKairali web site. He can be reached @ )

Hindi film industry (I love Hollywood but hate the term “Bollywood” ) is eagerly awaiting the release of Priyadarshan’s Bhool-Bhulaiya , a remake of Manichithrathazhu. Priyadarshan, who is already successful at re-making super hit Malayalam movies into Hindi, was also one of the second unit directors of Manichithrathazhu. I wish all financial and artistic success to Bhool-Bhulaiya, which I hope would be a refreshing change from the typical filthy-rich-people/NRI stories and “foren” locations of commercial Hindi movies.

But the question is “Can Manichithrathazhu be effectively remade into any other language outside of its original Kerala context”? The answer is an emphatic “No”. The story does not sit well even when transplanted to our neighboring Tamil Nadu. The character of Nagavalli embodies the spirit of Kannaki, a vengeful heroine of Tamil epic Chilappadikaram. Writer Madhu Muttam has cleverly revealed this inspiration for the character in the Ilankovadikal chilambu nalki…. lines of the movie’s Tamil-Malayalam duet “Oru murai vanthu parthaya…“. This means that the character of Ganga has to speak Malayalam since Nagavalli is her alter-ego and the core of the story is rooted in the duality of these two closely related languages.

The drama in this movie unfolds into its peak when this switching from Malayalam to Tamil happens. It has to be noted that no sub-titles were shown in the movie when Tamil dialogues were spoken. There was no need but still the audience could experience the dramatic impact of the language switching! Can any other pair of Indian languages be able to re-create this magic? Can any other dance form apart from Bharathanatyam be able to express the high voltage pangs of this (Angry and Sad) Khandita-Virahanayika? It is true that financially successful remakes have been made as Apthamithra(Kannada) and Chandramukhi(Tamil/Telugu) but the soul of this movie cannot be uprooted from Kerala–even if the re-maker is its original director Fazil. I can only postulate this because I refuse to watch any re-makes of this movie!

My second question is “Can this role be successfully enacted by anyone other than Shobana?”. And the answer would be another emphatic “No”. Even though Shobana had been acting in Malayalam movies since 1984, I never used to consider her as a top-notch actress. All changed once Manichithrathazhu was released. Audiences were stunned by her performance and mesmerized by the final Bharathanatyam dance number and exorcism scenes. She literally swept best actress award category at all levels – Film-Fare, Film-Critics, Kerala State and National awards, you name it.

The multiple-personality character of Ganga was a role of a lifetime and only an actress who possesses superior acting and classical-dancing skills and the physicality required to project a vindictive, super-natural heroine, could have done full justice to such a role. I just cannot think of any other actress other than Shobana to match this requirement.

Everyone agrees that the two peak moments of Shobana’s performance in the movie are

  1. The scene where Ganga turns into Nagavalli and then back into Ganga upon Nakulan’s refusal to her shopping plans.
  2. The final Bharathanatyam dance and exorcism scenes.

But I want to draw everyone’s attention to some of the nuances in Shobana’s characterization of the mild-mannered Ganga which may not be very obvious in first time or casual viewing. If you watch the movie a second time and carefully observe Ganga, you can see that in many of the scenes Shobana has used many subtle eyebrow archings, eye twitches, facial contractions, expressions and mannerisms, accurately portraying the agony and reactions of a repressed of mental patient.

In fact three of such scenes are narrated (and shown again as brief flashbacks) when Dr. Sunny explains Ganga’s multiple-personality disorder to her husband Nakulan. These three scenes are:

  1. Ganga’s hyper-enthusiasm when she shows Nagavalli’s ornaments to Dr. Sunny and her subsequent anxiety when one of the anklets (“chilanka“) is missing.
  2. The out-of-control altercation at the temple between Dr. Sunny and Ganga about the anklet.
  3. Ganga’s reaction when she arrives at the congregation where Dr. Sunny had just busted her plan to kill Nakulan by poisoning his tea.

In all these moments, Ganga is on the verge of a mental breakdown and Dr. Sunny is seen diffusing the tension and switching the discussion by forcefully clapping his hands. The challenge in these situations is to not over-do it since it should not visible at first viewing (which would kill the suspense) but do it with controlled intensity so that someone watching the movie a second time can clearly observe it. The story of this movie is like a puzzle which has enough clues embedded within it to solve itself!

Other similar but more subtle acting moments:

  1. Scene after the glass pane of the wall-clock is broken during a “ghost” incident at night. Ganga is shown terrified but at the same time there is an expression of relief in her face because no one is suspecting her.
  2. Scene when Nakulan and Ganga meets Dr. Sunny on the day of his arrival and asks about Sridevi’s diagnosis. Dr. Sunny says that it’s curable since the illness is in its primary stages. On hearing this, Ganga is experiencing eye-twitching and facial contractions.
  3. Scene when Kunjamma (KPAC Lalitha) explains to Ganga about Sridevi’s divorce and subsequent depression. Watch for Ganga’s walking posture, facial contractions and expressions.
  4. Scene when Dr. Sunny jovially sings “Oru muria vanthu parayo…” when Ganga was giving him a guided tour of the forbidden Thekkini. Her smile slowly transforms into an angry, irritated expression. In fact all the scenes when Ganga and Sunny are in the Thekkini are sprinkled with great acting moments by both these legends.
  5. Scene of Ganga watching the Kathakali performance at the temple. Ganga sits distant from her family members and the expression on her face is that of complete self-identification with the love-torn characters of the Kathakali unfolding in front of her eyes.

These subtle acting moments are very difficult to perform and the actress in Shobana should be celebrated for doing an accurate and convincing job at this. Director Fazil also made the climax dance sequence very interesting by showing the real Nagavalli dancing as a courtesan inside Ganga’s split mental space. This gave ample opportunity in this dance sequence to explore most of the navarasas (nine facial expressions) used in Indian classical dances. And Shobana performed this dance sequence beyond perfection. It reveals an artist who is in complete control of her facial expressions and fully aware of how a cinematographer’s camera will project them onto silver screen.

Another important aspect of this movie is that it is a repository of some of the gems in Indian classical music and dance. I can write an entire article analyzing the appropriateness of the ragas of the songs chosen by composer M.G. Radhakrishnan. Or, analyzing the adavus and abhinaya in the Bharathanatyam number choreographed and performed by Shobana (joined at the end by Sridhar). Hey, may be one day I may even write a book about this greatest psycho-thriller movie ever made!

See Also: Manichitrathazhu Review


  1. A very comprehensive analysis. The author has observed and analysed minutest nuances. Feels like seeing the movie again.

  2. The film based on multiple personality was the first of its kind in malayalam. In the article it is stated it is rooted from chilappadikaram and kannaki. It only portrays a state of mind. In english there is a novel by sidney sheldon “tell me your dreams”. “sybil” by rita and “when the rabbit howls” by truddy chase. If in manichithrathazhu it is only one person character entering into the protagonist. But in “sybil” it is a real story-it is more than 50 personalities-a real multiple personality case. The film became a success because of the flawless depiction and the roaring performance given by shobhana. I can still remember the goosebumps it gave me. Whew!!!!!!

  3. And I appreciate your intention of writing a book. The thought itself deserve a big hand. My good wishes kishore.

  4. shobhana athra valiya aana aayirunnu ennonnum thoonniyirunnilla. pakshe DR. SUNNY was way too good. Shobhana did that role perfectly with a HUGEEEE support from the dubbing artist. The dubbing artist was a better actress than Shobhana. It was an insult to real movie lovers when national award was given to Shobhana. An actor and actress is not complete without their own dubbing.

  5. True. Bhagyalakshmi’s dubbing was too good.

    Incidentally, what language does Vidya Balan speak in the Hindi version, she becomes the Nagavalli in Hindi?

  6. Fantastic article. I hope you will write another article about the music of the movie. With that two chapters of your book are ready.

  7. To see how well Shobhana did this role, just watch chandraMukhi. Voice is just a part of emoting, not the whole thing, if that was so then we would not need actors, we’ll just need people with good voice control. Shobhana’s award was well deserved.

  8. There’s one important thing missing in this review, and that is Fazil’s conception of the character. I think too much credit is being given to Shobhana for portraying Nagavalli so well. Shobhana herself said in an interview that it was Fazil who showed her how to act and all she had to do was mimic him. Shobhana is obviously a class artist, because she was willing to give credit where it was due.

  9. Regarding Dr.Sunny’s role, anyone could have done that role, including Dileep. Or even if the roles were switched roles between Suresh Gopi and Mohanlal and the movie would have still run.

  10. I think all the main supporting artists (Mohanlal, Vinaya Prasad and Suresh Gopi) did a great job. But I agree with the following sentence from VC’s original review – “The script by Madhu Muttom is the hero and Shobhana is the heroine”. And to really appreciate the intricasies of Shobana’s performance, one has to carefully watch the movie a 2nd (or n-th!) time. The viewing experince is entirely different once you already know the suspense in the story. I did not note any of the things that I mentioned in my article when I first saw it in theatre. Iam sure Shobana got ample acting tips from Fazil – they probably also consulted with a real psychiatrist.

    I guess only Malayalam dialogues of Ganga were dubbed by Bhagyalakshmi, which were pretty much the usual stuff. The real contribution in terms of dialogue delivery came from the artist who did the Tamil dialogues, especially in the exorcism scenes. It looks like Fazil used a real Tamil speaking artist for that (or was it Shobana herself?). Keep in mind that a dubbing artist can only embellish upon what was originally spoken & recorded during the actual shooting. And if dubbing is to be considered as a disqualification for awards, Kerala will have to return 4 out of 5 best actress national awards won so far — only Meera Jasmine will get to keep hers!

  11. Very good article. I think you will write an article to appreciate Fazil for his work, as cinema is the art of director.

  12. Pingback: varnachitram » Blog Archive » Review: Manichitrathazhu

  13. Fazil’s direction is flawless. So is his casting choices for various actors. But the credit for the character conception has to go to writer Madhu Muttom, who I hear was not financially rewarded for all the money-spinner remakes in other languages.

    By the way, I put a link to this article in my blog and a lot of very interesting discussions and interpretations of the story are happening there in Malayalam. Check out:

  14. Vidya Balan speaks Bengali in the Hindi version and the palace is set in UP. And you know what happens in the climax, she still dances Bharat Natyam to MG Sreekumar’s ragams !

    Also Priyadarsan could not build the climax like the Malayalam version in Hindi. Although Vidya Balan is talented, Shobhana was exceptional.

    Also lets not forget the dumb Hindi audience! Some so called reviewers have questioned the need for the climax song !

    Enda cheyya!

  15. Jayesh, thanks for commenting on the Hindi version. I have a very important question for you.

    Did they show English or Hindi sub-titiles when Bengali dialogues were spoken? Similarly did they sub-title Telugu dialogues in Tamil version?

    This “other language” is an important aspect of the story and its adaptability in other languages.

  16. After all the hype surrounding bhool bhulaiya, it turned out to be a damp squib. Some review’s titled it as “Bhoolja Bhulaiya”. Guess Priyadarshan should stick to malayalam cinema or come up with more original scripts for bollywood.

  17. As far as the reviews are concerned the hindi version would be the biggest blockbuster of this year in bollywood.But the film is released only in one centre in kerala.

  18. Hindi version of Bhool Bhulaiya is a hit

  19. Pingback: varnachitram » Blog Archive » More Manichitrathazhu Analysis

  20. Pingback: Manichithrathazhu Oru Murai Vanthu Parthayo | varnachitram

  21. Dear Kishore,

    An excellent review of an all-time classic, i should say.

    In fact i myself had pondered 4 of those 5 scenes which you review here. Actually back in 1993 when the film was released and became a big hit, Shobhana was asked about how her background as a dancer had helped in detailing this character in a DoorDarsan interview. I sat up to hear her talk about these subtle acting moments. But to my disappointment, she completely disagreed with the interviewer and said she had a very hard time suppressing the dancer in her while portraying Ganga !!
    Then i felt my viewpoint might have been a matter of simple chance. But now when i read your post, i feel i wasn’t the only one who had noticed these nuances.
    Thanks for a great read!


  22. Manichithrathazhu scene comparison with Bhool Bhulaiya & Chandramukhi.

  23. The film manichithrathazhu is a hit.Tamil and Hindi are not hit compared to malayalam.if malayalam is not there then……………….

  24. “With a good script, a good director can produce a masterpiece. With the same script, a mediocre director can produce a passable film.”

    That’s what Kurosawa said.

    I consider Fazil to be just average. Besides, many other
    directors equally worked on that film: Siddique, Lal,
    Priyadarshan, Sibi Malayil.
    I’m pretty sure Siddique and Lal did the beginning scenes
    with Innocent, and other scenes involving Innocent.

    In the duo’s film “In Harihar Nagar” when Mukesh’s
    and Jagadish’s character climb up to see the girl
    next door taking a shower, they climb through the
    window next to the grandmother (Philomina). At that
    moment a horror type music is played. That same music
    is given prominence several times in “Manichitrathazhu”

  25. Just a point regarding the dubbing for Shobhana in the movie : voices for both the tamil and the malayalam dialogues were given by Bhagyalakshmi.
    I think both she(thru voice) and Shobhana(thru expressions) made the character what it turned out to be.I find it very hard to choose one over the other.Both were out of this world!

  26. This film certainly frightened me when I first saw it
    at the age of 10 or 11. It was entertaining all right.

    But one thing that’s bothered me ever since then is
    if this film is a horror film about ghosts and spirits
    or is it on about some one with a mental disorder?

    A scene that has bothered me is when Nakulan, Ganga and the others
    with the servants are all gathered together and some one
    throws a rock at the clock….
    Does this mean there is a spirit out there?
    it hard to go with both the ghost and scientific way.

  27. James,

    Whenever supernatural things are happening (like clock breaking etc..) do note that the director does not show Ganga in frame. Also, if you look carefully, Ganga shows signs of disturbance/cover-up after each such incidence. So the implication is that she did it.

  28. a brilliant analysis of the greatest movie ever made in malayalam. and i agree with on the fact that the intricacies of the movie, subtle sequences being projectedwill only be noticed when the viewer watches the movie for the second time!! I m a psychology graduate and let me share this with you… inspiration to take this subject was the movie…do you notice the explanation that mohanlal’s character gives for the affliction that “ganga” suffers from?? he has such conviction in his eyes that the viewer stands mesmerized at that point onwards. such performances by the greatest actors one could ask for is a rarity..such opportunities come very rarely in one’s lifetime. the casting is also most appropriate. uptil then i could only imagine suresh gopi doing hard-core action roles. but the role of Nakulan was picturized so beautifully that it is hard to imagine anyone else in that role. in fact even today i cannot digest the idea of a romantic suresh gopi expect in manichitrathazhu….great movie, great movie!!!

  29. a brilliant analysis of the greatest movie ever made in malayalam. and i agree with on the fact that the intricacies of the movie, subtle sequences being projectedwill only be noticed when the viewer watches the movie for the second time!! I m a psychology graduate and let me share this with you… inspiration to take this subject was the movie…do you notice the explanation that mohanlal’s character gives for the affliction that “ganga” suffers from?? he has such conviction in his eyes that the viewer stands mesmerized at that point onwards. such performances by the greatest actors one could ask for is a rarity..such opportunities come very rarely in one’s lifetime. the casting is also most appropriate. uptil then i could only imagine suresh gopi doing hard-core action roles. but the role of Nakulan was picturized so beautifully that it is hard to imagine anyone else in that role. in fact even today i cannot digest the idea of a romantic suresh gopi except in manichitrathazhu….great movie, great movie!!!

  30. I was fortunate that it was night when i first saw this movie because that really heightened the suspense and horror for me. The suspense really reached the peak when the character played by Thilagan personally visits the household, saying the problem was so grave he just had to come. But everything just falls flat in a jiffy when he sights Dr. Sunny and recommends a scientific approach.

    But other than that one moment, the movie is a cracker.

  31. SPEECH LESS…………………like manichitrtaaz….every thing related to that every words relating to manichitrataaz unlike…hindi tamil telugu kannada or marathi bengali whatsoever….MANICHITRATAAZ Is pious…………….

  32. This is a good article .I saw this film almost 100 times.I was born in 10-11-1993 and i think the released on I and the Manichithrathazhu is of same age. We are almost twins.Ilike all the songs in it.Ilike the comedy sequence the mohanlal comes and also during this bath.Ithink the second part of the film must come.The story is of marriage of Dr.sunny and Sridevi ithink mainy of the malayali viewers are waiting for it.Due to my to this film my door of my house is Manichithrathazhu.The acting of mohan lal ……….etc all are amazing.

  33. Shobana’a acting in this movie is way more superior than any other actresses.To understand this you simply has to watch all other remakes of this movie be it in tamil Chandramuzhi or in hindi Bhool Bulaya or in Telugu Aapthamitra which was done acted by Soundarya or in Kannada or in Bengali etc.I saw certain comments here people like Vince who commented here thinks that Shobana does not deserve National award for this movie bcoz of dubbing. How childish this person Vince can be?.Shobana perfectly deserves National award and even an academic Oscar award for this movie.Even if Bhagyalakshmi dubbed for her for voice doesnt play the entire role in this character.Yes I agree the voice has a role for the character to become convincing.But even if Bhagyalakshmi gave the perfect voice and if the artist cannot create the right emotions,facial expressions etc what impact can it make?.Just watch the scene when Ganga(Shobana) is denied to go to purchase ornaments.See Shobana’s eyes,her expressions,her body language,gestures etc.And even she lifts the Bed with one hand.See the timing.It is perfect.It would be an insult to real movie lovers if the award was not given to Shobana.Only Shobana can do such superior acting.Also certain people commented that Fazil showed her how to act. Yes Fazil might have explained the character to Shobana in detail and his perception and views of how the character should be.But ultimately the artist has to enact it or produce it infront of the camera. Otherwise the director’s help will be in vain.But shobana did it beyond exception.I completely disagree to the views of certain people like Karthyani who has commented here that too much credit is given to Shobana. Shobana well deserves the credit and even more.She deserves the credit because she has acted so well.Even the final exorcism scenes are too good.Shobana is a great great artist and just because Bhagyalakshmi dubbed for Shobana doesnt mean that Shobana do not deserve the award.Voice plays an important role but dont forget the acting also has an important role than the voice.Also For the kind information of people like Vince Shobana won another national award for the movie “Mitr My Friend” directed by Reavthy .Dubbing was done by Shobana itself.So people cant say that Shobana is not a perfect actress. She is a perfect actress.

  34. Pingback: Nagavalli’s Voice | varnachitram

  35. Kishore…
    Really a nice attempt…
    Infact i have seen this movie more than 30 times,I am sure…
    Whotever, I have noticed each time has been keenly noted in your article…like her gestures while she reacts on all those sudden incidents….and I must say that Shobhana looks really adorable when she is sitting behind eveyone watching Kathakali….around the climax of the movie….
    Of course, about KPAC Lalithas performance throughout the movie was outstanding……
    Mohanlal’s role, can be done by any other actors( as the lead of the story is Nagavalli) still Sunny’s performance was incredible…similarly all others in the movie…exept shobhana….and thats what we have experienced in all the other remakes of the movie….
    As far as the dubbing of movie is concerned….i have seen and read maytimes Mr.Fazil saying Voice of Ganga is by Bhagyalekshmi and the Voice of Nagavalli is by a Dubbing artist from Chennai, who has never been popularised by the movie….even i thot the voice is of Shobhana herself, when it comes to Nagavalli’s Tamil….

  36. This Movie cannot be effectively remade in any other language. This gem of a movie proudly belongs to Malayalam cinema .I live in Chennai and i have watched Chandramukhi (Forced on by friends) , And how i regretted watching it.The tamil version is utter crap,the only reason it made money is because it had Rajni in it. As a person living in chennai for the past 15 yrs,I have seen the passion the tamil audience have for Rajni’s movie…And that is the only reason that, the tamil version was a success .And comparing Shobana’s portrayal to Jyothika’s is greatest insult you could do Shobana.Jyothika was utter crap in the movie…And even in the tamil version the voice of Nagavallis character is done by an other artist.

  37. Another interesting thing that I observed while watching this movie recently: The director/writer dares to bare the suspense during the *very first* scene of the very first super-natural incident at the haunted house!!!

    I am talking about the scene where a sleeping Nakulan and Ganga are woken up by a maid servant during the first ghost-sighting incident. Look at the posture in which Ganga is laying on the bed when the scene starts. Also, observe the sudden way in which she opens her eyes after hearing the maid’s knocking on the door. It clearly gives the indication that she has just come back to bed and is faking sleep.

    Hats off to the writer/director!

  38. Nikhila H. has published an academic research paper analyzing gender issues raised by Manichithrathazhu and its various remakes. The paper titled “Gender and Filmic Remake” appears in the book “Cinemas of South India: Culture, Resistance, Ideology” published by Oxford University Press.

    The well-written paper analyzes how the pure psychological story of original Manichithrathazhu undergoes transformation in its gender performance (masculinity and feminity) as the story time-space traveled thru its various remakes that happened at different times at different geographical locations. After reading it, I feel vindicated on my decision to not watch any of the remakes.

    I highly recommend this book to serious film buffs concentrating on South Indian cinemas. It is not one of those books that focuses on parallel/’art’ cinema. The book contains various research papers covering mainstream Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada movies.

  39. Superb article,
    Can Manichithrathazhu be remade?
    the answer is NO. Even Priyadharshan (since he was one of the 2nd unit director) was not successfull and ofcourse his lead incldng Vidyabalan repriced or atleastreached near Shobana & co.

  40. I watched this movie very recently and it was awesome. It inspired me to know more about this movie (its makers and actors)and ended up in this blog. Your review is superb and it made me to watch the movie second time (and many more times)and appreciated all the nuances you mentioned.

    I wonder why you did not mention anything about ‘pazhamthamizh paatu’ song by Dr.Yesudoss. It was excellent. Also the bit song ‘oru murai vandhu’ by Sujatha Mohan was superb (even without music).

    I don’t know what to tell about its Tamil remake. I pity for the tamil audiences.(I am a Tamilian too) They were not allowed to enjoy the beauties of the original by the Gang lead by Vasu.

    If I ever produce a film in Tamil, I would bring the verbatim copy of Manichithrathazhu. I don’t mind even if I loose money. But I want to give the Tamil audiences the original beauties of this movie.

  41. Nithil, that is a wonderful comment and glad the my article helped you to fully understand its nuances. But your desire to verbatim remake this movie in Tamil goes against my arguments in the article! The movie will lose its soul without its cultural context set Kerala and without Shobana to do the dual role.

    As I said, I could write pages and pages about the songs, their lyrics, ragas and placement in the film. But I didn’t want to digress from the main topic.

  42. KIshore,good that I got to see your review at though many years late !
    What you said about repeated viewing leading to new ‘findings’ is absolutely right.
    It is only after many views that I noticed Ganag’s posture on the bed as if she has hurriedly come in and flopped into it.I am sure of I watch the movie again I’ll still find out something yet.
    Fazil has skilfully packed in layers of clues into the movie which lie there waiting for the repeat audience to discover.
    From what I’ve heard it is Bhagyalakshmi who has dubbed both in Tamil and Malayalam.
    Give me a couple of days,I’ll confirm.
    About Shobhana’s acting,no dispute about it,she has been brilliant.But one thing I’ve noticed is that- if you are familiar with her body language from other movies you will understand this-her characteristic raising of the eyebrows,hand movements,and the way she uses her eyes suited the psychotic Ganga’s personality so perfectly.Which means it all came naturally to her!
    Let us not forget the mesmerising effect of Johnson’s back ground music in the later part of the move. His re-recording has been another unsung hero of Manichithrathaazhu.

    But whenever I see the movie I regret one and the only jarring note which I personally feel was a little sub-standard.Wasn’t the scene where KPAC Lalitha chases Innocent,a bit over done?
    ( in spite of their excellent acting which makes one shake with laughter)

  43. Jayashree, I still feel that Tamil dialogues were dubbed by a native Tamil speaking artist (someone here mentioned Durga?). Or, they have used some good filter on Bhagyalakshmi’s voice. We need confirmation on this from Fazil itself. Also, its very timely that we pay homage to late Mr. Johnson for his excellent background score.

    One more ’embedded clue’ I can think of is the way Ganga’s dressing progressively evolves from Churidar (when Kunjamma narrates the Nagavally story to her) to eventually pucca-Tamil style sari that she wears while giving Dr.Sunny a guided tour of the forbidden thekkini. Also watch out for the neurotic forced-laughter that she uses to dismiss Dr. Sunny’s comments during the tour — priceless!

    The sub-standard comedy that you mentions is definitely over done but breaks some stereotypes and always gives me a chuckle. I mean, imagine a goody goody sari-clad Indian wife initiating sexual intercourse by disrobing her husband without prior notice! And the husband is all OK with it (may be he is even used to such things!). His only concern is that its occurring at semi-public place, so he says : “Veettilekku varaam..” 🙂

  44. Better late than never… Saw this superb article today only. Very well done Kishore..
    In fact each and every time after i watching the movie i used to think of writing something as you have done here. My first watch, a second show, at the age of 12 from Trivandrum during a school tour is one the most unforgettable thing in my life. It was on the releasing day, when the teachers planned to adjust the time of our return from Trivandrum. From that day onwards the best movie of my choice was the same.
    Regarding the dubbing and all, why we go for such a dispute..? Bhagyalashmi has done a very good job and Sobhana’s acting was extra ordinary.. Both of them contributed together to make it memorable for s life time. Then what is the point of making unnecessary comments on the deserving of National award, etc. Hey we enjoyed the voice and character as whole; so we have to appreciate both.. But Sobhana deserves more appreciation for the great performance. Isn’t it?
    Regarding other characters and scenes, i felt one very important character in the Malayalam version was its back ground music for creating such a very special ambiance. The back ground bits are actually creating wonders unknowingly and moves ourselves inside the story line… Hats off Johnson Sir..
    In several comments it’s there like: “Any one else can play Dr. Sunny’s role..” I personally believe, NO.. Only Mohanlal can do with such manoeuvrings and perfection… The fact is the has got such a correct casting and whoever may be with him as co directors Fazil, the Director is the main person behind the movie. Screen play has to be nice, but a film is always a directors art.. Only a person with such a keen observation skills can do this film. Great Pachikka.. Greatest from you.. (and we never expect anymore as we are still watching your recent movies like “Living Together..” Ho.. Terrible! What happened to you? Get well soon..! We still love you.. That is why we are waiting for Fazil films, even flops after flops…)
    One final thing which i felt.. We can proud to be a Keralite, just because of this movie, not only it can’t be remade due its very special story line, but also due to it’s excellent acting performance by each and every actor. Compare with any other corresponding actors in its remakes.. Nobody is nowhere near, either in serious or in comedy sides of acting. This, in effect underlines our very special way of observing and reproducing things as compared to other parts of India. This is my own openion.. People may disagree. But i have several other examples to prove the same. There may be exceptions, but in totality we are excelling as great actors in all aspects of act. That’s it.. Thank you so much for reading and once again thank you Kishor Kumar for creating such a valuable article and discussion.

  45. Oh I forgot to update,sorry Kishore,I have it from an authoritative source that it was Bhagyalakshmi herself who dubbed for both the voices Shobhana used.

  46. Thanks for the update Jayashree. On second thoughts, an artist like Bhagyalakshmi would never have allowed such a unique, once-in-a-lifetime, dual-language/dual-character dubbing opportunity to slip by.

    We have heard Bhagyalakshmi speaking native-like Tamil in Mazhavilkavady. She has spent considerable part of her life in Chennai. Its possible that they used some kind of filtering technique to create a more bass voice for Nagavally. The first dialogue spoken by Nagavally, “Yaarath ? “, is still reverberating in my mind.

  47. The casting of this movie is perfect……i dont think anyone other than mohanlal could do the role of Dr.Sunny so perfectly ……once fazil said that the comic scenes bw kpac and mohanlal was done with the help of improvisation from the actors……another scene we notice which shows the brilliance of the director and scriptwriter is wen ganga excitedly shows the ornaments to the doc.Look at Mohanlals expression after that…….it shows dissapointment knwing tat his frds wife is the patient…..amazing movie….

  48. Wonderful article Mr. Kishor! I can’t believe I missed reading this article all these years. In any event, I’m thankful that I finally got the opportunity to read it now 🙂

    I wish directors like P.Vasu, Priyadarshan and Swapan Saha had read this article before embarking on the remake of this film in other languages. Perhaps this article could have given them an idea on why remaking a classic as Manichitratazhu is such a bad idea.

    Nithil mentioned about the plight of Tamilians who watched the Tamil version Chandramukhi. I’m a Tamilian myself and I agree wholeheartedly with his opinion.

    I first watched Manichitratazhu in 1998. I didn’t know Malayalam and the film didn’t have any subtitles. Nevertheless, not even at a single point of time did I felt lost with the narration. Each and every scene of the film was epic and every actors did their part perfectly. Shobana needless to say, was just amazing as Ganga and Nagavalli respectively.

    Even though Malayalam and Tamil share a close relationship in terms of language and even culture to an extent, I can safely say that the magic of Manichitratazhu can never be recreated in Tamil even if the remake happens to be a scene-to-scene-copy. And you good Sir have explained in detailed on why this magical epic should be left as a classic that it is instead of being massacred in the name of remakes. Thanks for this insightful article 🙂

  49. Watching this movie, I realize how natural Suresh Gopi’s acting was back in those days. Now he is just too over the top in most of his films. It’s irritating. After seeing the TV show Koodishworan I feel as if he’s bringing in his Bharath Chandran persona to his real self as well. I feel like he has been typecast, but can’t blame him as that’s the only offers he gets.

  50. Watched it again yesterday for nth time. Nice to observe the points mentioned above. This movie has almost achived perfection!!

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