Monday, May 31, 2010


 (1993, Malayalam Language)
Manichitrathazhu is a tale set in a milieu where the occult is a throbbing part of every day life and it is perfectly normal to use talismans, chants and tantrik rituals to keep away evil spirits.
The extended family of Nakulan (Suresh Gopi) and Ganga (Shobhana) fail to dissuade them from occupying the family home, Madampally House, that is claimed to be possessed by a vengeful spirit called Nagavalli. Nagavalli was a classical dancer from Tamil Nadu, who was killed 150 years ago by her patron for having fallen in love with a male classical dancer.
One day, Ganga unlocks the door to Nagavalli's chamber in the house, inadvertently spaking off a series of mysterious accidents. According to Nakulan, these are the handiwork of Sreedevi (Vinaya Prasad), a young family member who he suspects to be mentally unsound. Nakulan's friend, a psychiatrist called Dr. Sunny Joseph (Mohanlal) steps in to investigate. However, the mystery deepens when instead of Sreedevi, Ganga begins to behave like Nagavalli. In a hair-raising climax, the psychiatrist and the family's Tantrik priest join hands to permanently rid Ganga of Nagavalli's personality.
Manichithrathazhu was written by Madhu Muttam and directed by Fazil. Shobana, who played the central character, Ganga, was awarded the National Award for Best Actress for the year 1993. The success of this Malayalam language original spawned off adaptations to other Indian languages like Kannada (Apthamitra), Bengali (Rajmahal), Hindi (Bhool Bhulaiya), Tamil & Telugu (Chandramukhi).

(An edited version appeared in Culturama's June 2010 Issue)

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