Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathirakolapathakathinte Katha (film)

Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathirakolapathakathinte Katha (English: Manikyam of Paleri: A Midnight Murder Story) is a 2009 Malayalam language Indian mystery film written and directed by Ranjith, starring Mammootty, Shwetha Menon and Mythili. It is based on the novel of the same name by T. P. Rajeevan,[1][2] which said the true story of the first recorded murder case in Kerala.[3] Mammooty plays three characters in the film. The film was Mythili's debut in cinema. Ranjith also introduced about thirty Malayalam stage artists through this film.[4][5] The film tells the story of a private detective, who returns to his birthplace, a village called Paleri, to solve a murder mystery that occurred on the same night he was born. Upon the release of the movie, it got an 'A' certificate due to its violent and adult content.

Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathirakolapathakathinte Katha
Paleri Manikyam.jpg
theatrical release poster
Directed byRanjith
Produced byA. V. Anoop
Maha Subair
Screenplay byRanjith
Based onPaleri Manikyam: Oru Pathirakolapathakathinte Katha
by T. P. Rajeevan
Shwetha Menon
Gowri Munjal
Music bySharreth
CinematographyManoj Pillai
Edited byVijay Sankar
Distributed byVarnachithra Big Screen
Release date
  • 5 December 2009 (2009-12-05)
Running time
155 minutes

The film won four Kerala State Film Awards including the Best Film Award. Mammootty won his fifth Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor for playing three roles Ahmed Haji, Haridas, and Khalid Ahmed in this movie. Shweta Menon also won her first Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress for this film.


The story revolves around the unnatural death of a young woman named Manikyam (Mythili) in Paleri, a small village in northern Kerala, in the late 1950s. Although it was claimed by her in-laws that she died after she had a seizure, examination of the body revealed it to be a case of murder and rape. The police charged three locals with the murder, only to be released by the court which described the prosecution's case as flawed. With no further investigation, the case had, since then, gone cold over the years, eventually acquiring the status of an unsolved mystery.

Around 52 years later, Haridas (Mammootty), a detective living in New Delhi, sets out on a journey to Paleri hoping to solve this mystery. Apparently, he was born in the same village on the same night when Manikyam was killed. He is joined by Sarayu (Gowri Munjal), a crime analyst.

Most of the clues and knowledge of Balan Nair (Siddique) and Keshavan (Sreenivasan) lead him to zero in on Ahmed Haji (Again Mammootty), a cruel feudal landlord who lived in Paleri during that period. It was obvious why his name did not figure in police reports from that era; he was so powerful and influential in Paleri at that time. Slowly, as things become clear, Haridas deduces that the murderer is Khalid Ahmed (Again Mammootty), Haji's first wife's eldest son.


Mammootty plays three roles in the film, namely

  1. Haridas, a private detective in New Delhi who is a Malayali by birth
  2. Murikkinkunnath Ahmed Haji, a wicked feudal landlord of ancient Paleri who had a dangerous sex drive, who is biologically the father of Haridas and Khalid
  3. Khalid Ahmed, an elderly scholar who is Haji's eldest son and the much unknown murderer


The novel, titled Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathirakolapathakathinte Katha itself, was written by director Ranjith's friend T. P. Rajeevan and was published in the Mathrubhumi Weekly a year before onwards. The novel was based on the true story of Manikyam, who was raped and murdered in the early 1950s. According to Rajeevan as well as the film crew, this was the first recorded crime in Kerala.[3] Ranjith was amazed by the story and bought the rights from Rajeevan. Before getting the rights, he had discussed the story with actor Mammootty, who was optimistic about the film. They began the project by mid 2009 and most of the filming occurred on the hill side villages of Kozhikode.

The film was produced by A. V. Anoop in the banner of A. V. Productions and Maha Subair in the banner of Varnachithra Big Screen. It was distributed by Varnachithra Bigscreen Release.


The original cast included Mammootty to play all the three lead roles. Ranjith cast Shwetha Menon as Cheeru, an important character that required the potential of such an experienced actor. Ranjith introduced television anchor and model Mythili, who played the central character Manikyam in the film. Dhanya Mary Varghese was also approached for this role but she instantly rejected.[6] Noted South Indian actress Gowri Munjal played the role of an associate and love of Haridas Ahmed, one of the characters played by Mammootty. Noted screenwriter T. Damodaran also played an important role in the film.

Ranjith, who is an alumnus of School of Drama, [Thrissur], also incorporated thirty experienced stage actors of Malayalam drama in this film. They were selected from five hundred odd theatre actors who auditioned for the film in Kozhikode. Actor Murali Menon was the casting director. Among the thirty two selected, Sreejith, Vijayan V. Nair and Musthafa were three who played major roles in the film. Sreejith, an amateur actor at Kaiveli, Kozhikode, who became famous through a reality show, played Pokkan, the husband of Manikyam and a lunatic. Musthafa played younger Keshavan, a character enacted by veteran Sreenivasan in the later stages. He was one of the finalists of a reality show telecast on Amrita TV, of which Ranjith was a judge. Vijayan V. Nair, played Velayudhan, henchman of Ahmed Haji, another character played by Mammootty. Though he has acted in telefilms and tele serials, this was his debut as an actor. "I had cast Vijayan as Velayudhan long ago. Murali Menon, who had groomed the theatre actors at the workshop, had told me about him some time ago. I was confident that he would be ideal for the powerful character of Velayudhan," says Ranjith, who is delighted that he has been able to give Malayalam cinema some exciting new talents.[5]


The original score of the film was composed and co-orchestrated by Bijibal while the songs were composed by Sharreth, Ranjith's previous collaborator in Thirakkatha. The score as well as the songs received notably mixed responses.[7] However, the main theme song enjoyed the status of a chartbuster, thanks for the well received plot of the movie. The main theme song, "Paaleri Naadaya" was sung by Bijibal and another track "Thum Jho mujh mein ho" was by Hariharan and Sharreth. The latter was a ghazal kind of composition and was picturised in the movie. The theme song was picturised as a background song / montage shot. The lyrics were penned by Rafeeq Ahmed.


The film was released on 5 December 2009. It opened in forty centres in Kerala, which is half the number of usual superstar releases.[8] It was also screened at the International Film Festival of India that year.[9]


Nowrunning is all praise for the film and comments that "Ranjith's Manickyam is a rarity of a film that exceeds expectations and offers a psychedelic high for the viewer. There would be no surprise if it ignites some sort of a controversy for the boldness that it displays. For the discerning viewer though, this might perhaps be one of the best films to have come out this year."[10] A review on commented that "Very rarely does a film satisfy our expectations. But director Ranjith's latest Malayalam film Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathira Kolapathakathinte Katha does. The film is near perfect with minor ignorable blemishes."[7] Sify called the movie "one of the finest films in Malayalam history" and commented that "Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathira Kolapathakathinte Kadha is one film that will haunt you days after you've left the theatres. It's a gem that comes not too often and the least you can do to appreciate it is to watch it at the cinemas, at the earliest!"[11]


Kerala State Film Awards
Asianet Film Awards
Vanitha Film Awards[12]
Surya Film Awards[13]


  1. ^ "വായനകുറയുന്നു: പുസ്തകക്കച്ചവടം കൂടുന്നു". Deepika. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 17 May 2011.
  2. ^ "Unveiling a mystery". The Hindu. 3 December 2009. Retrieved 14 December 2009.
  3. ^ a b "Swetha Menon Interview – Paleri Manikyam Special". Archived from the original on 29 October 2010. Retrieved 6 November 2010.
  4. ^ "First Look: Mammootty in Paleri Manikyam". Rediff. 6 October 2009.
  5. ^ a b P. K. Ajith Kumar (18 December 2009). "The gems of 'Paleri Manikyam...'". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Retrieved 18 December 2009.
  6. ^ Athira M. (6 January 2012). "Adieu to arc lights". The Hindu. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  7. ^ a b "Paleri Manikyam is near perfect". Rediff. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Soyesh H. Rawther. "Malayalam film makers plan alternative screening outside IFFI venues". The Hindu. Retrieved 19 October 2010.
  10. ^ "Nowrunning Review". Nowrunning.
  11. ^ "Sify Review". Sify.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 March 2016. Retrieved 6 April 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Surya TV film awards announced". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 23 September 2010.

External linksEdit