Malayalam movie Manjummel Boys’ has taken the box office by storm.

A big reason why the survival thriller directed by Chidambaram is on a song – not just in Kerala but also in Tamil Nadu and other southern states – is the melodic refrain and clever cinematic technique that it has adopted: the movie has used the song Kanmani anbodu kadhalan from Kamal Haasan starrer Gunaa as a key narrative device.

Sung by Kamal Haasan and S Janaki, with the musical genius Ilayaraaja at the helm, the song finds a perfect place in this Sushin Shyam musical, woven seamlessly from the title card to the climax. Manjummel Boys unfolds the tale of a group of youngsters embarking on a trip to Kodaikanal, and taking an unexpected turn when they decide to explore the Gunaa cave, the iconic location where Kanmani anbodu kadahalan was picturised. The plot thickens as one of the boys, Subash, falls into a 900-ft pit, unveiling the true crux of the movie.

Explosive effect

Rather than placing it as a song of romance, the movie redefines it as a song of friendship. The cinematic technique of using an old tune is not a new one. In the past Malayalam movies like ‘Thattathin Marayathu’ and ‘Tejabhai and family’ have also used old hit songs ‘Aayiram kannumaayi,’ and ‘Oru Madhurakinavin’, respectively. But the effect of the use of Kanmani in Manjummel Boys has been explosive with the song going viral all over the Internet. On Twitter, people are posting recordings of friends vibing to the song.

Vikas Chawla, Co-founder of Social Beat, a digital marketing company, says that this creative choice not only attracts a broader audience to theatres but also boosts box office collections. Chawla notes that the younger generation is creating reels with the song, establishing a connection with this classic. He says the film’s success can be partly attributed to the nostalgia it evokes among people in the older generation. 

Community watching is back

Srinivasa Ramanujam, Film critic and Deputy Editor of The Hindu (Metroplus), says that the inclusion of this song has brought a multicultural aspect to the movie. He says the immense success of the movie in Tamil Nadu is primarily due to the effective use of this song. Ramanujam notes that while many films incorporate old songs, Manjummel Boys is a classic example of how to use it perfectly. He emphasises that the movie, along with its use of the song, has revived the tradition of community cinema watching strongly post Covid-19.

As the movie continues to make waves, Malayalam cinema as a whole is scripting history with recent releases such as Premalu, Anweshipin Kandethum and Bramayugam achieving massive box office success and garnering incredible reviews.

The industry is gearing up for the releases of Blessy’s Aadujeevitham and Vineeth Srinivasan’s Varshangalkku Shesham, which promise more cinematic brilliance in the coming months. The spotlight is firmly on Malayalam cinema, marking an exciting chapter in its journey.