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Malli (1998) is a Tamil feature film directed by Santosh Sivan. The film met with widespread critical acclaim upon release, and has been shown at many film festivals including the Toronto International Film Festival and the New York International Children's Film Festival.

Malli (film).jpg
Directed bySantosh Sivan
Produced bySantosh Sivan
Written bySantosh Sivan
Ravi Deshpande
StarringP. Shwetha
Music byAslam Mustafa
CinematographySantosh Sivan
Edited byA. Sreekar Prasad
Release date
Running time
90 mins



The film revolves around the story of Malli (P. Shwetha), a poor girl who spends most of her time helping her family by collecting firewood, and playing games in a nearby forest with her deaf and dumb best friend. Amongst her many dreams, her one main wish is to get herself a colourful dress to wear to a lively festival. However, during her quest she meets an old, local storyteller, who shares with her a story of a magical blue stone that can cure her best friend's muteness. With new horizons to pursue, she sets off to find this mysterious blue wishing stone.


Malli, a ten-year-old girl, tries her best to help her poor parents by collecting firewood. In between; she spies on ‘Mr. Doctor’, the village Vet, who constantly converses with his patients from the animal world. Malli actually hero worships him; and even tries to imitate him secretly She has just two personal dreams: To own a new dress for the festival; and To get the ‘Blue Bead’ which can cure her friend's inborn deficiency. Old Monu, the village storyteller had in her tale of "The Good Spirit". Monu habitually conceives purely imaginary heroic tales which impress Malli very deeply. In that story, Monu illustrated how a ‘Good Spirit’ once had given Monu a Blue Bead as a gift. Malli bribes ! Monu with some honey. In return Monu recites to nonsensical, meaningless rhyme for inviting the Spirit. One back night, Malli tries to invite the Spirit with the rhyme, in vain. On the Festival Malli is thrilled with her new yellow dress her way back from the woods, she rescues a fawn shot down by a poacher. After a long, hazardous journey through thick woods she reaches the Vet's house late at night and waits through the night while he treats the injured fawn. In the morning she begins her long trek back home with the new pet. At the riverside, finding the fawn's happy reaction to its bird community, Malli sets it free. Her despair is further compounded to find her new dress tattered beyond repair, when suddenly a bright object in the sand catches her eye – It Blue Bead!


The film has been nominated for the following awards since its release:

2001 Independent Spirit Awards (United States)

  • Nominated - Independent Spirit Award - Best Foreign Film - Malli - Santosh Sivan

2001 Political Film Society (United States)

2001 Satellite Awards (United States)

  • Nominated - Golden Satellite Award - Best Motion Picture (Foreign Language) - Malli - Santosh Sivan

1999 Chicago International Children's Film Festival (United States)

The film has won the following awards since its release:

1998 Cairo International Film Festival (Egypt)

2004 Los Angeles Indian Film Festival (United States)

1999 National Film Awards (India)

  • Won - Silver Lotus Award - Best Child Artist - P. Shwetha
  • Won - Silver Lotus Award - Best Film on Environment Preservation/Conservation - Malli - Santosh Sivan

18th International Festival of Films For Children Ale Kino, (Poznań, Poland, 15–20 May 2000)

  • Poznan Goats for the Best Director - Santosh Sivan.
  • Poznan Goats for the Best Child - actress - Swetha
  • Poznan Goats for the Music - Aslam Mustafa
  • Award for the special mentions for the Marcinek distinction

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