The great Mohanlal and the beautiful Sumalatha in the Padmarajan classic

The great Mohanlal and the beautiful Sumalatha in a scene from the Padmarajan classic “Thoovanathumbikal”.

There are few romantic movies in Indian cinema that manages to touch your heart in a very profound way and, one such movie is the Malayalam classic “Thoovanathumbikal” directed by the great Padmarajan. What makes this movie a real classic is its beautiful plot, lucid screenplay, and great direction along with some great music and sparkling performances by an extremely talented cast. What also makes this movie unique is the fact that the director quite ingeniously has managed to use rain as an individual character in such a beautiful way that it certainly helps in adding to the romantic mood of the movie without in anyway affecting the narrative.
Read: A character sketch of the enigmatic Clara

So the basic plot of the movie is quite simplistic with strong currents of true romance at its very best. The story revolves around the protagonist Jaykrishnan (Mohanlal) who is a happy go lucky bachelor from a small village in Kerala living a dual life which comprises of one which he lives with his friends in the city and, the other that he lives with his mother and sister back in the village. One fine day he happens to meet a girl called Radha (Parvathy) a distant relative of his with whom he falls in love on first sight and decides to marry her. It is with the honest intention of marrying that he approaches her at her college but unfortunately she misunderstands his approach as just casual flirting and rejects his proposal. So the heartbroken Jaykrishnan at the moment coincidentally happens to meet a friend Thangal(Babu Namboothri) who is a pimp by profession and who persuades him to write a letter to a girl name Clara(Sumalatha) so that she can be initiated into prostitution.

Although unwilling initially he eventually agrees and decides to write the letter. The day he writes the letter it rains which basically symbolizes the relationship Clara and Jayakrishan would share in the future i.e. a fickle relationship. Soon Jayakrishnan meets Clara for the first time as a prospective client so as to initiate her into the flesh trade. Coincidentally yet again it rains and it is under influence of the rain that they get physically intimate. It is only the next morning that Jayakrishnan realizes that Clara was a virgin and it disturbs him as he had made a promise to himself that he would not sleep with a virgin unless he marries her. This results in him offering Clara his hand in marriage. Although Clara is impressed with his honesty but in her mind she has already become sex worker who is not worthy of the respect shown by Jaykrishnan. As a result of her guilty conscience she suddenly disappears from Jaykrishnan’s life without leaving any reasons.

It is during this period that Radha realizes her folly and understands the real personality of Jayakrishnan through her brother (Madhavan) who happens to be his friend from junior college. With new found admiration for Jaykrishnan she finally agrees to marry him. As result of his brief tryst with Clara he is not willing to meet Radha initially. Although eventually he does meet her and tells her everything about Clara. This is when Radha explains to him that it is the past and she will not return and he should move on in his life as she is prepared to marry him. Although hesitant to move on he eventually does. To add to the complication suddenly one day Clara calls him and informs him that she is going to visit again and yet again it rains. Unable to resist the temptation he visits her without informing Radha. It is during this visit that he tells about Radha and she feels happy for him. Before leaving she tells him not to disappoint Radha. Everything goes well and Jayakrishnan and Radha finally decide on their marriage date that is until a telegram from Clara arrives calling for a final meeting at Ottapalam station and yet again it rains. So what happens between the three fascinating characters that leads to an emotionally charged climax is what forms the rest of the movie.

The strength of this movie basically lies in its great story and fluid screenplay by Padmarajan which itself was based on his own novel called “Udakappola”. Along with a great story it is also great editing by B Lenin and VT Vijayan that stands out. So effective is the editing of the movie that flow of the story is completely smooth right till the climax of the movie. The cinematography by Ajayan Vincent is brilliant and certainly captures the mood of romance quite beautifully. Of note are the scenes in which rain is used as a character which is quite brilliantly captured by Ajayan on camera. Also adding more brilliance especially to the mood of the movie is brilliant music by Perumbavoor Raveendranath. Of note are the songs Onnam ragam padi and Megam Poothu Thudangi which are not only brilliant and add to the romance but have now become all time cult classics of the Malayalam movie industry. Also adding more romance is the haunting background score by Johnson which also has become a cult classic. Last but not the least is the absolute brilliant work done by the “CAPTAIN” of the ship i.e. the director the great Padmarajan. What makes Padmarajan direction so special is simply the fact that he has managed to bring out the relationship shared between the three characters’s with a lot of dignity. What also stands out is the way Padmarajan has managed to deal with the complex relation shared between Clara and the protagonist with extreme sensitivity and maturity which certainly shows his class as a director. He also manages to handle key scenes with extreme maturity of note is the brilliant climax which has to be one of the most mature climaxes ever seen in Indian cinema and credit for that must go to a genius called “PADMARAJAN”.

Coming to the performances of the cast all one can say is that the performances are just brilliant be it the main cast or the supporting. So starting with Ashokan who plays a friend of the protagonist is sincere and affable in a short and sweet role. As the pimp and friend of Jaykrishnan Babu Namboothri oozes class and brings to his role a dignity which was very much essential to play this role. As for the main cast starting with Parvathy as the fiercely independent and a woman deeply in love with her man she certainly brings out a certain grace which only adds more charm to her role. What she also brings out beautifully is the jealousy and insecurities that her character has to go through which is especially evident in the climax scene. As the complex Clara the beautiful Sumlatha is simply brilliant. What stands out is the fact that she brings out the complexity in her character truly magnificently. So be it her first interaction with Jaykrishnan or in the scene she eventually decides to stay away from his life she manages to hold her own in a very complex and difficult role. Finally to the masterful performance of the movie by the great Mohanlal as Jaykrishnan a simple man with principles who eventually has to choose between the two ladies in his life i.e. Radha and Clara. What makes his performance so masterful is the fact that he seems to use body language to convey his inner emotions with ease. The classic example of his use of body language is quite evident in the climax where his facial expression says it all from disappointment of losing Clara, to surprise at seeing Radha at the station which is just magic to watch. All in all this performance by the master Mohanlal is certainly one of the finest performances seen in Indian cinema and, Mohanlal should most certainly go down as one finest actors ever to have graced Indian cinema.

All in all “Thoovanathumbikal” which means “Dragonflies in the spraying rain” in English is certainly a masterpiece that will be remembered as one of the greatest Indian movie ever made. With strong and masterful performances by the cast, some master class music and some wonderful direction by another master called Padmarajan this movie is a certain must watch for genuine cinema lovers all around the world.

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There are few romantic movies in Indian cinema that manages to touch your heart in a very profound way and, one such movie is the Malayalam classic “Thoovanathumbikal” directed by the great Padmarajan. What makes this movie a real classic is its beautiful plot, lucid screenplay, and great direction...