If I had to name one movie that I could watch over and over again without getting bored, it would undoubtedly be Manichitrathazhu. Starring Mohanlal, Shobana, and Suresh Gopi, this psychological thriller is a masterpiece. Revisiting Manichitrathazhu brings with it a renewed sense of awe. If you were to talk about movies that have aged like fine wine, Manichitrathazhu will be at the top of the list.
A battle between rationality and superstitions
Directed by Fazil and written by Madhu Muttam, Manichitrathazhu is a psychological thriller that does right by the genre. From the beginning of the movie, we know that horrific things will come to pass. As Unnithan goes to the family mansion Madampalli to check it out, we see a basket following him and things rolling around without any human intervention. This sets the scene and forebodes what is waiting for us in the rest of the movie.
Nakulan and Ganga are a modern couple, freshly arrived from the bustling metropolitan of Kolkata. Despite the dissuasion of the superstitious elders of the family, they are determined to stay in the ancient family mansion Madampalli. Throughout the movie, as the audience, our alliance keeps switching between the rational Nakulan and Ganga and the more superstitious rest of the family. While most situations that crop up have a very rational explanation, we are mandated to look at the more superstitious side.
Performance that blows the mind
The highlight of the movie is definitely Shobana’s Ganga. She is the embodiment of pure art and perfection. Shobana, with her piercing gaze, reaches right into your heart. At first glance, you would never suspect Ganga to be anything other than what she is portraying – a curious but innocent woman.
One of the most iconic scenes in the movie is when Nakulan starts an argument with Ganga on Sunny’s suggestion. The gradual shift from Ganga to Nagavalli is done so brilliantly. Shobana’s eyes speak volumes as she acts out this very important scene. Anybody who has seen the movie would know how important the ‘Oru murai vannthu pathaya’ song sequence is to the movie. It is a prime example of Shobana’s brilliant acting. Is it any wonder then that she won a National Award for her role in the movie?
Mohanlal as Sunny, the psychiatrist friend of Nakulan, is perfect in his role. He knows the art of blending comedy, drama, and thrill into a single frame.
Nakulan is a more subdued character, but there is a certain strength and determination to his subtlety. The pain in his eyes when he realises his wife is sick, the madness when he tells his friend Sunny to go away to protect Ganga could not be done as brilliantly by anyone other than Suresh Gopi.
Magic that can’t be recreated
Manichitrathazhu, since its release in 1993, has been remade in multiple languages, but none have managed to recreate the magic of the original. The movie strikes a balance between humour and horror. The ‘kindi’ scenes with Chandu or the memorable ‘vellam’ scenes with Kattuparamban provide comedic relief without taking anything away from the overall story. No matter how many times you watch the movie, you are charmed by it each time and therein lies the brilliance of Manichitrathazhu.
You can stream the movie on Amazon Prime and Disney+ Hotstar.
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