L for Lohithadas and Lal Salaam

AK Lohithadas was Malayalam cinema’s most gifted screenwriter. For more than two decades he gave us marvellous stories and scripts. Some of Malayalam cinema’s biggest blockbusters have the screenwriting credentials of Lohithadas to support them. Kireedam, His Highness Abdullah, Amaram to name a few. He also directed some movies and discovered a gem called Meera Jasmine and gave her a career-defining role in Kasthuriman.

Here I shall write briefly about one of his screenwriting successes – ‘Thooval Kottaram’ – ‘Palace of Feathers’. There is a special connection as the movie features my ancestral village Thiruvilvamala prominently in the movie. The movie starts Jayaram, Sukanya, Manju Warrier, Dileep, Oduvil Unni Krishnan and others.

Jayaram plays the role of Mohanachandran a struggling lawyer who is an accomplished chenda player and participates in various temple festivals. He dons various roles to make ends meet and support his extended family. He is engaged to be married to Sujatha played with grace by Sukanya the daughter of Oduvil Unnikrishnan in the movie.

How the lives of all these people change when Devaprabha played by Manju Warrier and her grandfather descendants of royal lineage arrive in the village is beautifully narrated. Sujatha feels jealous of Devaprabha. Devaprabha is recovering from the death of her brother which has affected her mental stability. She improves and gradually becomes happier in the company of Mohanachandran.

The movie has beautiful songs and examines the importance of companionship, friendship, love and brotherly affection from various aspects. Directed by Sathyan Anthikad the movie was a blockbuster.

This was again a casting coup of sorts pitting some of the best actors and actresses of Malayalam cinema together. Mohanlal, Murali, Geetha, Urvashi, Jagadhi, Madhu, Nedumudi Venu and others. A semi-fictionalised account of the growth of the Communist Marxist Party in Kerala. The movie is a tale of three comrades – Stephen (Mohanlal), Antony (Murali) and Sethulakshmi (Geetha). Antony and Sethulakshmi love each other and Stephen is in love with the daughter of the local zamindar – Annamma.

The movie covers two distinct stages in the lives of its principal characters – one – when the CPM is a banned outfit and they are hunted across the state and are forced into hiding. They are eventually captured and arrested and sentenced to a prison term. Two – Their return as party-loyalists who eventually get a role in the new government that is elected.How the shift in power affects their lives – the harsh realities of power, politics and the true sentiments of people is wonderfully brought out.

Directed by Venu Nagavalli with a story by Cherian Kalpakavadi – the movie was a massive hit! A great watch for its political truths and excellent portrayal by the principal cast of the movie.



  1. Lal Salaam remained a career defining role for Murali, and even today his performance in this movie is paid tribute to by having a photo of his as the dead father who belonged to ‘the party’ 🙂


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