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Mayanadi (transl. Mystic river) is a 2017 Indian Malayalam-language romantic thriller film directed and co-produced by Aashiq Abu, and written by Syam Pushkaran and Dileesh Nair. The film stars Tovino Thomas as a criminal on the run and Aishwarya Lekshmi as an aspiring actress. Their troubled love and struggle for survival form the basic plot of the film. It released on 22 December 2017 to widespread positive reviews from critics. The film was in several "Top films of the year lists" compiled by various medias and film journals.The film is a smooth flow of realistic emotions.

Mayaanadhi film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAashiq Abu
Produced by
Written by
Music byRex Vijayan
Background Score:
Rex Vijayan
Yakzan Gary Pereira
Neha Nair
CinematographyJayesh Mohan
Edited bySaiju Sreedharan
  • Dream Mill Cinemas and Entertainments
  • Moonshot Entertainment
Distributed byOPM Dream Mill Cinemas
Release date
‹See TfM›
  • 22 December 2017 (2017-12-22)
Running time
136 minutes


John Mathew (Tovino Thomas) is an orphan, living as a thug. He participates in an undercover deal on behalf of his boss, who is busy with his daughter's schooling. Mathew convinces his group that their boss is intentionally pulling out of the deal due to the risk involved. However, they reach the hotel without any issue. While Mathew is taking a bath, three police officers disguised as civilians enter the rooms and kill the accompanying three gang members. Mathew hides in the tub, and during his escape, he accidentally kills an officer. He reaches Kochi and moves in with his ex-boss and longtime friend Shaji.

Mathew intends to settle abroad with his ex-girlfriend "Appu" Aparna (Aishwarya Lekshmi), who is an aspiring actress and is auditioning for a role. In this, she is helped by her ex-roommate Sameera (Leona Lishoy), who is now a successful actress. Aparna is also making a livelihood as an anchor for parties and other events. Mathew suggests his plans to settle abroad using the money that he got from the deal. However, she refuses to move out with him as she believes that Mathew stole it. She gets an offer for an ad shoot and travels to Kasaragod. Mathew accompanies her on the trip.

Mathew's boss is taken into custody, and he provides details on Mathew. He asks the officers to kill him and keep the looted money for themselves. The police hunt Mathew and locate him as being in contact with a lady (Aparna). They find her at a mall in Kochi, and an officer introduces himself as Mathew's classmate, enquiring about his whereabouts. Aparna denies being in contact with him, and Mathew eavesdrops on the conversation. Later, Shaji asks him to leave his home. Planning to have a final word with Aparna, he meets her at Sameera's apartment. Aparna never relents to his plans, and Mathew decides to move on.

Aparna is interrogated by the police while at a diner, and she reveals being in contact with Mathew. Mathew is called for and caught, but the policemen intend to kill him rather than take him to court. Mathew tries convincing one officer to no avail. He is taken to a forest, and the officer lies to him that Aparna plotted the call intending him to be caught. Mathew replies that she was right in doing so and says that he loves her very much. He is then shot by one of the policemen (Senthil) and succumbs to his wounds. The last scene, set some time in the future, shows Aparna, oblivious to Mathew’s death, getting her first shot as an actress and waiting for her first film, still living with a hope that Mathew will come back.



The film is jointly scripted by Dileesh Nair and Syam Pushkaran both of whom have previously associated with Aashiq Abu in several films. The seed for the film came from director-cinematographer Amal Neerad, a friend of Aashiq and Syam. Neerad narrated in one of their meetings something that he had heard while living in Bombay. Neerad himself had initially wanted to direct the story for his short film in the 5 Sundarikal anthology. But later he put it on hold and proceeded with another script.[1] Syam adapted Neerad's story to a more familiar surrounding for Mayaanadhi.

Tovino Thomas was announced as the male lead for the film in February 2017.[2] Aashiq wanted to cast a new face as the female lead and model-turned-actress Aishwarya Lekshmi was selected through audition.[3] Aishwarya had already debuted in films early in the year playing the female lead in Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela. According to Aishwarya she never had to put any extra effort for portraying the role as the director and script writers would brief situations well. Cast includes Aparna Balamurali and Leona Lishoy.[4]

The shooting of the film started in May 2017 .The first schedule was shot in Madurai and Kodaikanal and second leg of shooting was completed at Kochi.[5] Other locations include Bakel and Dhanushkodi.


The film released in 87 theaters across Kerala on 22 December 2017.


Critical responseEdit

Upon release, it received wide critical acclaim from various film critics[6][7] and was voted among the best Malayalam films of the year by The Hindu,[8] The Indian Express,[9] and International Business Times.[10]

G. Raghesh of Malayala Manorama has written that Aashiq Abu's craftsmanship as a filmmaker makes 'Mayaanadhi' a neatly narrated love story that has some of the most beautiful romantic moments Malayalam cinema has ever produced.[11] Sudhi C. J. from the same newspaper wrote: "Mayaanadhi tugs at the heartstrings of viewers with the cinematic brilliance and excellence in craft displayed by Aashiq Abu, setting it apart from other contemporary films, most of which fail to leave an impression – of either sadness, happiness or thought – on the audience."[12]

Sanjith Sidhardhan of The Times of India has rated the film 3.5 of 5 stars and written that Aashiq Abu's 'Mayaanadhi' is a movie telling an intense story of urban characters without any superficiality. It's also a fine example on how two well fleshed out characters can take forward a film all on their own.[13] Neelima Mohan of The News Minute has written that 'Mayaanadhi' is a modern romance with all its trappings—yet the intensity cannot be more searing which inverts traditional ideas of romance.[14] S. R. Praveen of The Hindu said that 'Mayaanadhi' is Aashiq Abu's best yet and movie is a quite an absorbing watch. The movie is a Magic of love, life, and all in between.[15] Aditya Shrikrishna of The New Indian Express wrote: "There is something about Mayaanadhi, Ashiq Abu’s new Malayalam film, that is as mystical as its title. The film seemingly gravitates between genres but keeps the tone intact. Mayaanadhi’s gaze, most sensitive gaze of all, doesn’t flinch. Two threads run in parallel, a manhunt widening in real time and a lived relationship uncovering its past. Never a false moment in its 136-minute run, Mayaanadhi begins like a thriller, sways into romance territory, and keeps jumping timelines and genres at will."[16]

News and entertainment portal Sify has written that 'Mayaanadhi is the kind of film that goes straight into your heart and provides a variety of emotions. It's romantic, funny and moving. It's the kind of honest and realistic movie that is not to be missed.[17] Abhijith from online entertainment portal has reviewed that 'Mayaanadhi' is pre-dominantly a love story and at the same time, it has some thrilling elements in it. Aashiq Abu has successfully switched sequences between these two different genres and never ever one would feel a mismatch. He has rated the movie 4 of 5.[18] Anna MM Vetticad from media portal Firstpost has written that in 'Mayaanadhi' Aishwarya Lekshmi, Tovino Thomas headline the romance of the year from Mollywood. She has stated that 'Mayaanadhi' has its fine balance between being relatable and yet being an epic romance. It is a befitting December release in a year that has witnessed some great works from Malayalam cinema and has rated the movie 4 of 5.[19]

Rating the film 4 in a scale of 5, film critic Baradwaj Rangan wrote: "We’ve seen many falling-in-love films, many falling-out-of-love films. This is a being-in-love film, with all the passions and problems the term suggests."[20] Another critic Veeyen in a brilliant tribute to the film, states that "In ‘Mayaanadhi, director Aashiq Abu, armed with a dexterously penned screenplay, settles down to sensitively sketch a doomed tale of love. An impeccable reconstruction of an age-old narrative in an untested realistic setting, ‘Mayanadhi’ is the kind of film that holds a depth of meanings in those abstract gazes, a profundity of emotions in those unuttered words, and which leaves an inexplicable, seething sting at the upshot of it all."[21]

Similarities with BreathlessEdit

Some critics have pointed out the film's plot similarities with the 1960 French film Breathless, written and directed by Jean-Luc Godard, which is about a wandering criminal (Jean-Paul Belmondo) and his American girlfriend (Jean Seberg).[20][17] During the script development stage, Aashiq Abu had revealed that films like Breathless were a reference to Mayaanadhi. An article from International Business Times states: "Even though Mayaanadhi owes a great deal of its plot structure to Breathless, Aashiq Abu transforms and elevates the movie to a different level. He breaths fresh air and life into his protagonists, Matthan and Appu, and they stay with the viewers even after the movie's touching climax scene."[22]


The film's soundtrack is composed, programmed and arranged by Rex Vijayan. Vijayan along with Yakzan Gary Pereira and Neha Nair produced the background score of the film. Shahabaz Aman won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Singer for the rendition of the song "Mizhiyil Ninnum".[23][24]

Soundtrack album by
ReleasedJanuary 2, 2018
GenreFeature film soundtrack
LabelOPM Records
ProducerRex Vijayan
Rex Vijayan chronology
Sudani from Nigeria
External audio
  Audio Jukebox on YouTube
Mayaanadhi (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)[25]
1."Remembering Appu"  1:08
2."Escape and Accident"  2:35
3."Kiliye"Rafeeq AhammedNeha Nair4:10
4."Mathan and Appu meets"  0:53
5."Uyirin Nadhiye"Vinayak SasikumarRex Vijayan, Neha Nair4:30
6."Mathan Theme"  1:14
7."Kaattil"Vinayak SasikumarShahabaz Aman5:39
8."Appu's Audition"  1:57
9."A walk to remember"  0:37
10."Mizhiyil Ninnum"Anwar AliShahabaz Aman3:58
11."The police"  1:28
12."Mathan in trouble"  1:35
13."Lift fight"  1:54
14."Rejection"  0:41
15."The surrender"  2:28
16."The encounter"  2:45
17."Mayaanadhi"Anwar AliShahabaz Aman4:22
18."Trailer"  2:02


Award Category Recipient Notes
Kerala State Film Awards[26] Best Singer Shahabaz Aman Song:
(Mizhiyil Ninnum)
65th Filmfare Awards South[27] Best Actor (Critics) Tovino Thomas
Best Music Director Rex Vijayan
Best Lyricist Anwar Ali
Best Singer - Male Shahabaz Aman Song:
(Mizhiyil Ninnum)
Indywood Academy Awards (2018)[28] Best Music Director Rex Vijayan
Mazhavil Mango Music Awards[29] Best Music Director Rex Vijayan
Movie Street Film Awards[30] Best Actreess Aishwarya Lekshmi
Best Screenplay Syam Pushkaran, Dileesh Nair
Best Music Director Rex Vijayan
Best Playback Singer - Male Shahabaz Aman Song:
(Mizhiyil Ninnum)
Padmarajan Award [31] Best Film Aashiq Abu,
Syam Pushkaran,
Dileesh Nair
CPC Cine Awards[32] Best Music Director Rex Vijayan
Kerala Film Critics Association Awards[33][34] Second Best Actor Tovino Thomas
Second Best Actress Aishwarya Lekshmi
SIIMA[35] Best Actress (Critic's Choice) Aishwarya Lekshmi
Asianet Film Awards[36] Best Singer Shahabaz Aman Song:
(Mizhiyil Ninnum)
Performer of the year Tovino Thomas
Vanitha Film Awards Best Screenplay Syam Pushkaran and Dileesh Nair
Best Romantic Hero Tovino Thomas
Best Romantic Heroine Aishwarya Lekshmi
North American Film Awards[37] Best Screenplay Syam Pushkaran and Dileesh Nair
Second Best Film Mayanadi
Outstanding Performance Tovino Thomas


  1. ^ Sanjith Sidhardhan (30 March 2017). "Tovino and Aashiq Abu's film is based on a real-life incident". The Times of India. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  2. ^ "Tovino Thomas signs his next after 'Godha' and it's based on Amal Neerad's story". The Times of India. 28 February 2017. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  3. ^ "'Mayaanadhi' actress Aishwarya Lekshmi opens up about the film, Tovino". The Times of India. 23 December 2017. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  4. ^ George, Anjana (16 November 2017). "Aparna Balamurali and Leona in Mayanadhi". The Times of India. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  5. ^ "Tovino Thomas to resume filming Mayanadhi in Kochi". The Times of India. 19 June 2017. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  6. ^ Abhijith (28 December 2017). "Mayaanadhi: Praises Are Pouring In For The Movie!". Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Tovino Thomas thanks fans for Maayanadi, but has a plea". The New Indian Express. 27 December 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  8. ^ S. R. Praveen (28 December 2017). "Top 5 malayalam movies in 2017". The Hindu. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  9. ^ Manoj Kumar R. (4 January 2018). "The best Malayalam films of 2017: Take Off, Angamaly Diaries and Ramaleela find place in the list". The Indian Express. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  10. ^ Ragesh VR (29 December 2017). "Top 5 Malayalam movies of 2017 and the runners-up: A round-up". International Business Times. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  11. ^ "'Mayaanadhi' review: Flows slowly, But Intensely". Malayala Manorama.
  12. ^ Sudhi C. J. (27 December 2017). "Love is never fast-paced, says Aashiq Abu on 'Mayaanadhi'". Malayala Manorama. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  13. ^ "Mayaanadhi Movie Review". Times of India.     
  14. ^ "Mayaanadhi Review:Aashiq Abu's intense romance is a winner". The News Minute.
  15. ^ "'Mayaanadhi' - Magic of love, life, and all in between". The Hindu.
  16. ^ Aditya Shrikrishna (2 January 2018). "When even gangsters get kind treatment". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  17. ^ a b "Mayaanadhi review:Romantic, funny and touches your heart!". Sify.
  18. ^ "'Mayaanadhi' -This Tale Of Maathan & Aparna Will Find A Special Place In Your Heart!". Filmibeat.     
  19. ^ "Aishwarya Lekshmi, Tovino Thomas headline the romance of the year from Mollywood". Firstpost.     
  20. ^ a b Baradwaj Rangan (26 December 2017). "Mayaanadhi Movie Review". Retrieved 12 January 2018.     
  21. ^ "Mayanadhi Movie Review-Veeyen".
  22. ^ Ragesh VR (1 January 2018). "Is Mayaanadhi a copy of Godard's French classic Breathless? Here is the truth behind social media campaign". International Business Times. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  23. ^ "Kerala State Film Awards 2017 Declaration-Reg" (PDF) (Press release). Kerala Chalachitra Academy. 8 March 2018. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ "Film critics awards announced". The Hindu. 21 April 2018. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  34. ^ "41st Kerala Film Critics Awards: Fahadh Faasil & Manju Warrier Are The Big Winners!". FilmiBeat. 21 April 2018. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^

External linksEdit