AnandaBhadram is a 2005 Malayalam Romantic Fantasy film based on a novel by Sunil Parameswaran. AnandaBhadram marks the debut of cinematographer turned director Santosh Sivan. AnandaBhadram consists of an ensemble cast of Prithviraj Sukumaran, Kavya Madhavan, Manoj K Jayan, Kalabhavan Mani, Biju Menon, Revathi and Cochin Haneefa among others.Popular Bollywood actress Riya Sen made her debut in Malayalam with AnandaBhadram. The film was inspired by the paintings of Raja Ravi Verma, Theyyam and Kathakali dance movements, and Kalaripayattu, an ancient martial art form.

In the ancient village of Shivapuram, little Ananthan hears the story from his mother Gayathri, played by veteran actress Revathi. Ananthan’s family comes from a line of powerful magicians responsible for protecting Nagamanikyam, a jewel on the serpent’s head, known to bestow good luck to the possessor. The jewel, she says, lies in a secret place in the house guarded by snakes, including a tiny snake called Kunjootan.

Years later, according to the wishes of his dead mother, Ananthan (Prithviraj) comes to Shivapuram to light the lamps at Shivakavu, a dark and mysterious temple of Lord Shiva. On his way to home, he meets Maravi Mathai, played by ace comedian Cochin Haneefa.

His idea of lighting the lamps at Shivakavu is opposed by the local black magician Digambaran, played by Manoj K Jayan. Digambaran uses the superstitious beliefs of the local people to his aid and succeeds in opposing Prithviraj. It is revealed that DIgambaran has his own motive for opposing Ananthan. He wanted the Nagamanikyam stone and has been working on it for a long time. Ananthan, who was a non-believer finally meetsthe supernatural for the first time.

Ananthan tries to fit into the local environment and succeeds in winning over the local people’s hearts with his easy and kind manners. Meanwhile, Ananthan’s cousin Bhadra, played by Kavya Madhavan falls for him and his light hearted flirting. Eventually they both fall in love with each other. At one point, Bhadra is torn between accepting Ananthan’s love and becoming a goddess herself in a mystical ritual of self-offering.

Meanwhile, Ananthan is attacked by Digambaran on his way to Shivakavu, He is saved by the blind martial arts expert Chemban, played by Kalabhavan Mani, who stands in the way of Digambaran’s hunt for the Nagamanikyam. The evil black magician Digambaran then takes over Ananthan’s mind. He also manages to remove Chemban from the way. He lures Chemban’s sister Bhama, played by Bollywod actress Riya Sen.

A series of sensuous and evil rites follows that feature some exotic Kathakali and Kalaripayattu art forms, some magic spells and special effects.

In the end, Ananthan and Bhadra escape Digambaran’s sinister tricks and unravel his conspiracy to the villagers who believed he was a good mystic. In the climax fight, Digambaran is destroyed and Ananthan restores the Naga Manikyam.

Anandabhadram boasts of a rich cultural collage with various art forms such as Theyyam, Kathakali, Kalarppayattu. Director Santosh Sivan also drew inspirations from Raja Ravi Verma’s paintings in various song sequences. Manoj K Jayan wore long nails, kohl-lined eyes for his role. Riya Sen learnt Kathakali for her role in the film. The sequences of Manoj K Jayan using Riya Sen as a channel for Black magic used Kathakali movements in particular. Fight scenes between Kalabhavan Mani and Manoj K Jayan extensively used Kalarippayattu.

Anandabhadram songs were composed by M.G.Radhakrishnan, senior music director and carnatic vocalist. Initially Vidyasagar was signed for the film. But Santosh Sivan rejected his work and signed M.G.Radhakrishnan for the film. Radhakrishnan went on to win Asianet Film Awards for Best Music Director while M.G.Sreekumar won the Best Male Playback Singer Award for the song Pinakkamaano.

Anandabhadram was one of the biggest hits of 2005. The song Pinakkamano became the biggest hit among Malayalam songs in 2005. The film also inspired KJ Bose’s Tanthra.

Star Cast –

Prithiviraj Sukumaran
Kavya Madhavan
Manoj K Jayan
Biju Menon
Kalabhavan Mani
Riya Sen
Cochin Haneefa

Music – M.G.Radhakrishnan

Genre – Fantasy, Romance

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