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Mathilukal (Malayalam: മതിലുകൾ, meaning Walls) is a Malayalam novel written by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer in 1965. It is one of the most cherished and well-known love stories in Malayalam.[3] Its hero, Basheer himself, and heroine, Narayani, never meet, yet they love each other passionately. Despite being imprisoned and separated by a huge wall that divides their prisons, the two romance each other.[3]

The cover of Mathilukal.
AuthorVaikom Muhammad Basheer
Original titleമതിലുകൾ
GenreRomance, patriotic
PublisherDC Books[1]
Publication date


The theme of the novel, focusses on the love between Basheer, a prisoner, and a female inmate of the prison, who remains unseen throughout the novel.[4] In Mathilukal, though the broad frame is autobiographical and the narration is first person, the details seem to contain sprinkles of fantasy.[5]

Plot summaryEdit

As Basheer, who is jailed for writing against the then ruling British, Gopakumar delivers a memorable performance. Basheer befriends his fellow-inmates and a considerate young jailor. One day, Basheer hears a woman's voice from the other side of the wall – the women's prison. Eventually the two jailbirds become lovebirds. They exchange gifts, and their hearts, without meeting each other. Narayani then comes up with a plan for a meeting: they decide to meet at the hospital a few days later. But before that, Basheer is released, unexpectedly. For once, he does not want the freedom he had craved for. The novel ends with Basheer standing outside the prison with a rose in his hand.[3]

Film adaptationEdit

In 1989, a film adaptation of the novel was released, starring Mammootty as Vaikom Muhammad Basheer, and directed by Adoor Gopalakrishnan. The film was a major critical success, and gained many awards at national and international levels. Mammootty won the National Film Award for Best Actor.


  1. ^ "Mathikal by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer". DC Books. Retrieved 2010-12-27
  2. ^ R.E.Asher. 24 January 1998. "Basheer and the freedom struggle". Frontline. The Hindu. Retrieved 2010-12-27.
  3. ^ a b c P.K.Ajith Kumar. "Romantic interlude". The Hindu. 14 May 2010.
  4. ^ K.Rajan. "Of human bondage". The Hindu. 14 March 2008
  5. ^ P.M.Girish. "A Brief Examination of Three Widely-Acclaimed Malayalam Novels". 3 March 2008.

External linksEdit