Thoovanathumbikal: A Malayalam Classic
Thoovanathumbikal (English: Dragonflies in the Spraying Rain) is a 1987 Indian Malayalam romantic drama film, written and directed by P. Padmarajan, based partly on his own novel Udakappola. It revolves around Jayakrishnan (Mohanlal), who falls in love with two women; Radha (Parvathy), a distant relative of his, and Clara (Sumalatha), an escort in town. The film is widely regarded as one of the best works of Padmarajan and Mohanlal, and has a cult following among Malayalam cinema lovers. The film is also noted for its rich film score and songs, dialogues and characters, detailed screenplay and the portrayal of rain as a recurring theme and almost as a character in the film.
Jayakrishnan is a well-to-do bachelor who lives a contrasting dual life: one among his friends in the town, and the other with his mother and sister at their village. While he is an audacious guy celebrating life with his friends in town, he is a frugal family man at home. The film is about his dual life, and how he falls in love with two women, namely Clara and Radha, and his difficulty in deciding between them.
Jayakrishnan is a typical Malayali guy belonging to an aristocratic family from Thrissur. He has his own vision of life, especially when it comes to marriage. He is hardworking and works on his own farm. At the same time he enjoys a modern lifestyle with his friends in town, unknown to most people in his village.
While working on his farm one day, Jayakrishnan becomes reacquainted with Radha, a distant relative he hasn't seen since childhood. Radha's no-nonsense attitude immediately attracts him and he soon falls for her. Jayakrishnan decides to confess his feelings to her so he heads to Radha's college campus. In the midst of a group of about 20 students, he requests a moment of privacy and then expresses his desire to marry her. Radha, unfortunately, refuses his proposal and proceeds to humiliate him by citing his promiscuous reputation.
One day, Jayakrishnan is persuaded to write a letter on behalf of his friend Thangal, a pimp, to a girl named Clara. Written anonymously in the name of a "mother superior" as an invitation to a Christian Monastery , the letter is intended to fool Clara's father and thereby introduce Clara to the sex industry under Thangal's supervision. As Jayakrishnan writes the letter, it begins to rain.
Jayakrishnan meets Clara for the first time at Thangal's brothel. He is instantly smitten by her beauty and innocence. He decides to rescue her from Thangal's clutches and takes her to his friend Rishi's apartment. There he learns that Clara is an orphan who ran away from her abusive stepmother. He also discovers that she has a terminal illness and only a few months to live. He vows to make her happy for the rest of her life.
Jayakrishnan's relationship with Clara becomes known to his friends and family. His mother disapproves of it and asks him to marry Radha instead. His friends also mock him for being involved with a prostitute. Jayakrishnan feels torn between his love for Clara and his loyalty to his family. He tries to convince Clara to leave him but she refuses. She tells him that he is the only person who has ever loved her and that she cannot live without him.
The film ends with Jayakrishnan taking Clara to his farm on a rainy night. He tells her that he has decided to marry her and that they will live happily ever after. He also tells her that he has arranged for Radha's marriage with another man who loves her. Clara is overjoyed by his words and hugs him tightly. As they embrace, she dies in his arms.
Mohanlal as Jayakrishnan
Sumalatha as Clara
Parvathy as Radha
Ashokan as Rishi
Babu Namboothiri as Thangal
Sankaradi as Jayakrishnan's father
Sukumari as Jayakrishnan's mother
Sreenath as Radha's brother
Venu Nagavally as Radha's suitor
Reception and Legacy
Thoovanathumbikal was an experimental film that did not follow the conventional norms of Malayalam cinema at the time. It was a commercial failure at the box office, but over the years it has turned into a cult film with a large fan following. The film is considered to be one of the finest works of Padmarajan and Mohanlal, and one of the best romantic films ever made in India. The film has been praised for its realistic and nuanced portrayal of human emotions, relationships and dilemmas. The film has also been appreciated for its technical aspects, such as the cinematography, editing, music and sound design. The film has influenced many filmmakers and actors in Malayalam cinema, such as Sathyan Anthikad, Ranjith, Anjali Menon, Prithviraj Sukumaran and Dulquer Salmaan.
The film has been remade in Tamil as Megha (2014) and in Telugu as Varsham (2004). The film has also been adapted into a stage play by Suresh Babu. The film has been screened at various film festivals and retrospectives, such as the International Film Festival of Kerala, the Mumbai Film Festival and the Habitat Film Festival. The film has also been preserved by the National Film Archive of India.
Thoovanathumbikal - Wikipedia
Thoovanathumbikal: A Malayalam Classic That Has Stood The Test Of Time - Film Companion
Why Thoovanathumbikal is one of the best romantic films ever made - The News Minute