As recent as last week, I hear somebody say that Manichitrathazhu is a crappy film. Pin drop silence followed. It takes time to digest statements like these among a certain breed of Malayalees who love, adore this film. It is a topic which the new age Malayalee brought up in the 90s and after can talk endlessly on if they are movie buffs. Even if they are not, references from the film in the nature of songs, dialogue and trolls pop up every other day.
Manichitrathazhru is a 1993 Malayalam film directed by Faasil starring Mohanlal, Shobana, (she won her first national award for her role as Ganga), Suresh Gopi (one of the two roles in which I love Suresh Gopi the other being the character he played in Innale), Vinaya Prasad in the lead ( who made her way later into Malayalee daily life with her popularity in the non ending serial Sthree alongside Sidduque aired on Asianet), with Nedumudi Venu, Innocent, KPSC Lalita, Ganesh as the supporting cast. To the non Malayalee/non Madrasi as Shaggy puts it, this film is what inspired Chandrmukhi in Tamil and Bhool Bhulaiya in Hindi in recent years. A film, I’d recommend to anybody who’d ask me about what to watch in Malayalam.
Given this context, when somebody says, everybody in the film over acts, the reaction to such is first silence, then may be a kootathalu (a street rabble) or a long discussion that never seems to end. (snarling!)
What is that makes Manichitrathazhru special? For one, I’m a fan of its narration. Two, how the plot itself begins to deconstruct the myth it creates. For instance in scene one, Innocent is seen inspecting the painting work in an age old palace which is declared haunted. As he climbs up the stairs, he accidentally hits on a rocking chair which continues to rock for a while, so much so that when Innocent walks down and runs out, he feels the ghost is in the chair, rocking. I will never tire of speaking/writing about this film, but as an introduction to it, I guess this little bit should suffice. Until somebody else begins a discussion on how muscular Vidya Balan looked while she lifted that heavy cot in the Hindi adaptation, signing off…
Manichitrathazhru means a lock, one of those traditional locks on ornate wooden doors.