The film was inspired by the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, Theyyam, and Kathakali dance movements, and Kalaripayattu martial art forms. It rode on a renewed interest in both Ravi Varma and Kalaripayattu in and outside of India. Anandabhadram won five awards in the 2005 Kerala State Film Awards and two in the 2005 Asianet Film Awards. It also was a commercial success. During production, Santosh replaced Sabu Cyril as the art director, M. G. Radhakrishnan replaced Vidyasagar as the music director and Kavya Madhavan replaced Meera Jasmine as the actress. The audiography of the film was done by M. R. Rajakrishnan . It was also dubbed in Tamil, Telugu (as Sivapuram),Hindi as Phir Wohi Darr. and English, and was an inspiration for Tanthra (2006), another Malayalam film.
In the ancient village of Shivapuram, little Ananthan hears a tale from his mother, Gayathri (Revathi). She tells him that his family comes from a line of powerful magicians, and they are responsible for protecting nagamanikyam, a jewel on a serpent's head. The jewel, she narrates, lies in a secret place in the house guarded by snakes, including a tiny snake called Kunjootan.
Years later, obeying the wishes of his dead mother, Ananthan (Prithviraj Sukumaran) returns to his ancestral village to light the lamps at Shivakavu, a dark and mysterious temple of Shiva. On his way home he meets the comical Maravi Mathai (Cochin Haneefa) on the train. The local black magician Digambaran (Manoj K Jayan) opposes the lighting of the lamps on the grounds of local superstitions in order get his hands on the nagamanikyam. Disbeliever Ananthan meets the supernatural for the first time in his life.
In his effort to fit into the local environment, Ananthan gradually wins the villagers' hearts over by his easy and kind manners. This appreciation is breached briefly when the magician takes over his mind for a short while. Meanwhile, Ananthan's cousin Bhadra (Kavya Madhavan) falls for him and his light-hearted flirting, eventually leading to a commitment of love between them. At one point, Bhadra faces the dilemma of choosing between Ananthan's love and becoming a Devi (goddess) in a mystical ritual of self-offering.
Chemban (Kalabhavan Mani), a blind martial arts expert, stands in the way of Digambaran's hunt for the nagamanikyam. The evil black magician manages to remove Chemban from his way, and leaves a trail of blood in his wake. Digambaran also lures Chemban's sister and his lover Bhama (Riya Sen). A series of sensuous and evil magical rites follows that features a wide paraphernalia of the exotic, including Kathakali movements, tantric paraphernalia, traditional magic spells, special effects, and black-and-red face paints.
In the end, Ananthan and Bhadra escape Digambaran's sinister tricks and unravel his conspiracy in front of the villagers, who believed him to be a benevolent mystic. The fight at the end sees Digambaran destroyed and Ananthan restoring the nagamanikyam.Prithviraj as Ananthan
Kavya Madhavan as Bhadra(Voice Dubbed by Sreeja)
Manoj K Jayan as Digambaran
Kalabhavan Mani as Chemban
Biju Menon as Sivaram
Riya Sen as Bhama (Voice Dubbed by Bhagyalakshmi)
Cochin Haneefa as Maravi Mathai
Suresh Krishna as Police Inspector
Kalasala Babu as Raman Panikker
Maniyanpilla Raju as Police Constable
Revathy as Gayathri, Ananthan's mother
Master Thejas as Little Ananthan
T. P. Madhavan
Ambika Mohan as a Village lady
Kerala State Film Awards 2005Kerala State Film Award for Best Music Director - M.G. Radhakrishnan
Kerala State Film Award for Best Editor - A Sreekar Prasad
Kerala State Film Award for Best Cinematography - Santhosh Sivan
Kerala State Film Award for Best Art Direction - Sunil Babu
Kerala State Film Award for Best Makeup Artist - Pattanam Rasheed
Kerala Critics awards
Ananthabhadram is based on the novel of the same name by Sunil Parameswaran. The story was inspired by tales told to Sunil by his grandmother when he was a child. Director Santosh Sivan was also influenced by such stories told by his own grandmother. Set in rural Kerala, the story is a fairy tale dominated by Shakta black magic, martial arts, and tantric seduction rituals.
Theyyam and Kathakali: Sivan said he received inspiration from the arts of his country: "We have a rich visual culture and even in Ananthabhadram, I have used certain aspects from Theyyam dancers and Kathakali to create the wizard Digambaran's image. The colour, long nails, kohl-lined eyes and so on were inspired from Theyyam and Kathakali." The sequence between Manoj K Jayan using Riya Sen as a channel for black magic, choreographed by Aparna Sindhoor, the dance director of the film, uses Kathakali movements in particular, which has been an inspiration for major Indian films like director Shaji Karun's Vanaprastham (1999) and director Adoor Gopalakrishnan's Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair (2005).
Kalarippayattu: The film also used Kalarippayattu, the traditional martial art of South India, for the fight sequences between Digambaran and Chemban choreographed by action director Arash. Use of Kalari in the film followed the footsteps of Kalari-based movies like Palattu Koman (1962), Thacholi Othenan (1964), Kannappanunni (1977) and Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha (1989), as well as famous martial art film actor Jackie Chan's The Myth. After Asoka, it was the second time the director had used Kalari (as it is known in popular coinage).
Raja Ravi Varma: The director used three paintings of Raja Ravi Varma – Damayanti and the swan, Lady in thought and Girl carrying milk tray – as inspiration to picturize the song Pinakkamano (acted by Prithviraj Sukumaran and Kavya Madhavan; sung by M. G. Sreekumar and Manjari; choreographed by Aparna Sindhoor). Sivan said, "Yes, it is a tribute to Raja Ravi Varma, who is so intrinsically etched in every Malayali's mind." This song came in the wake of a renewed interest in Varma's work in Indian showbiz, as evidenced in Indian pop star Falguni Pathak's music video for the song "Meri Chunar Ud Ud Jaaye" (2001, acted by Trisha Krishnan) which emulated Varma's Shakuntala and Shaji Karun's declared film to be made on the artist's life which would feature Madhuri Dixit (actress of Gaja Gamini, a film by painter M.F. Hussain).
Sabu Cyril was originally scheduled to direct the film with actress Meera Jasmine in the lead. Production was delayed due to a strike in the Malayalam film industry in June 2004. Later, Cyril became busy with Shankar's film Anniyan. At this point, Santosh Sivan stepped in to replace Cyril. Cyril's assistant Sunil Babu art directed the film.
Like his earlier directorial ventures Asoka and The Terrorist (a.k.a. Malli), Santosh was also the cinematographer for Anathabhadram. Kavya Madhavan replaced Meera as the female lead and gave a performance that established her as the top heroine of the Malayalam Film Industry that year, aided by both commercial success and critical acclaim. Prithviraj Sukumaran as the male lead also had his biggest success of 2005, out of the five films he did that year. Manoj K Jayan was to have a sannyasin look with long hair in the proposed Sabu Cyril version, but sported a more contemporary look in the version that was eventually shot, winning much critical accolades.
Santosh Sivan rejected music director Vidyasagar's work and appointed M. G. Radhakrishnan to get the right score for the film. Radhakrishnan went on to win Asianet Film Awards as the best music director for the film's tracks. He also did the score for Sivapuram, the Telugu version of the film. M. G. Sreekumar won Asianet Award as the Best Male Playback Singer for singing "Pinakkamano".
All lyrics written by Gireesh Puthenchery; all music composed by M.G. Radhakrishnan.
It is the first Malayalam feature screened using a satellite feed instead of conventional prints; aimed at an international market. it was also dubbed in Tamil, Telugu (as Sivapuram), and English. The release of Anandabhadram in India followed that of the horror movie Chandramukhi, starring Rajnikanth, which was a remake of the Malayalam film Manichitrathazhu, creating a brief success for the horror genre. The film was showcased in Osian's Cinefan Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema in 2006.
In a year when most Malayalam films failed to recover costs, Anandabhadram was one of the few commercial successes, along with Rajamanickam, Chanthupottu, Naran, Thommanum Makkalum and Udayananu Tharam. Pinakkamano became the top hit among Malayalam film songs in 2005. The film also inspired director KJ Bose's Tanthra (2006) featuring actors Siddique and Shweta Menon. Sunil Babu, the art director, came to the notice of Kerala audience because of the film, especially his treatment for Raja Ravi Varma inspired songs.
Anandabhadram won five awards in the Kerala State Film Awards for 2005, including Best Cinematography (Santosh Sivan), Best Music Direction (MG Radhakrishnan), Best Editing (Sreekar Prasad), Best Art Direction (Sunil Babu) and Best Makeup (Pattanam Rasheed). It won five awards in the Kerala Film Critics Association Awards 2005, including Best Film, Best Director (Santhosh Sivan), Best Actor (Manoj K Jayan), and Best Cinematography (Santhosh Sivan). M. R. Rajakrishnan had won the Amritha Fertanity Award for Best Audiography for his work in this film.