Many movies in which Mohanlal has acted attract viewers not only due to the presence of the actor or the story, but also by their locations. Such films, including ‘Kilukkam’, ‘Manichitrathazhu’, ‘Devasuram’, ‘Season’, ‘Namukku Parkaan Munthirithoppukal’ and others, have offered a visual treat as well as familiarised Keralites with new destinations. Quite naturally, travellers from the state began making plans to visit these locations after watching the movies.
‘Kilukkam’ also freed Malayalam cinema shooting from being confined to Madras (now Chennai) and showed the natural beauty and misty locales of Ooty to the residents of Kerala. In ‘Manichitrathazhu’, the wonders of the Padmanabhapuram Palace were highlighted. The majestic and ancient Varikkassery Mana left viewers wonder-struck in
'Devasuram'. The beauty of the sea at Kovalam came alive in ‘Season’, along with the dangers posed by drugs. Meanwhile, Keralites realised the charm of Mysore in ‘Namukku Parkaan Munthirithoppukal.’
Mohanlal played Joji in Priyadarshan’s 'Kilukkam', released in 1991. Joji works as a tourist guide in Ooty and takes viewers all over destination, showing them the misty mornings, flowers of all hues, pine forests as well as tea shops selling ‘idli’ and ‘sambar’. The film had a major influence on the travel preferences of Keralites.
Life at Kovalam
The film ‘Season’ was a disaster at the box office. But it shows the real face of the popular tourism destination Kovalam. The sea, beaches, foreign tourists and other sights come alive dramatically on screen. Viewing the film again tempts one to plan a trip to beautiful beach with a prominent lighthouse.
Sophy, Solomon and their Mysore
The sights and sounds of Mysore form the background of the song ‘Akaasamake kanimalar…’ in the 1986 movie ‘Namukku Parkaan Munthirithoppukal.’ In the film, Solomon, played by Mohanlal, offers a lift to Sophy in his lorry so that she can see the attractions of the city and its surroundings. But, along with them, filmgoers too are taken on a tour of the beautiful place and its greenery. The cinematography certainly lures viewers to Mysore (now Mysuru).
The stately Padmanabhapuram Palace
‘Manichitrathazhu’ is one of the biggest hits in Malayalam cinema. Sobhana’s dance performance and the song shot on her at the climax are the highlights of the movie. The actress seems to be living the role of Ganga and Nagavalli. Viewers are still attracted to ‘Manichitrathazhu’ thanks to Sobhana. The location of the climax song and dance was the Saraswathy Mandapam at the Padmanabhapuram Palace built by the Maharajas of erstwhile Travancore kingdom at Thuckalay in Kanyakumari. Visitors to Padmanabhapuram Palace still pause before the Saraswathy Mandapam, drawn by the magic of the visuals and music in ‘Manichitrathazhu.’
Varikkassery Mana at Ottappalam
The Varikkassery Mana is now familiar to Malayalam film lovers, after being the location of numerous movies. However, the majestic building truly reflected the attributes of the main character Mangalassery Neelakandan, enacted by Mohanlal, in ‘Devasuram.’ Situated on the banks of the Bharathapuzha River at Ottappalam in Palakkad district, the Varikkassery Mana is among the finest examples of traditional Kerala architecture.
After ‘Devasuram’, more movies in which Mohanlal acted were later shot at Varikkassery Mana. So were other Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu films.
All the horrors of the Cellular Jail built by the British in the Andamans appeared on the screen in ‘Kalapani.’ Attempts to escape from the jail by the hero and other characters were used by the filmmakers to take viewers on a tour of the cells in the prison. There are, in total, 698 cells in the jail.
Cellular Jail was converted into a monument in 1969 and visitors are allowed. After Mohanlal’s ‘Kalapani’ was released, the tourist footfall at Cellular Jail witnessed a sharp increase.