Thenmavin Kombath – My first Mohanlal Malayalam film!


I absolutely adored the romance in the classic 1994 Malayalam film Thenmavin Kombath (At the Top of Sweet Mango Tree).  It was my very first Mohanlal film, and came highly recommended by Margaret at Don’t Call It Bollywood.

I was confused at the beginning of the movie exactly what Mohanlal’s relationship was to the man he was traveling back from market with, and the woman he both referred to as sister and mother.  I finally figured out that Mohanlal was the key servant retainer of this farm owned by Sreekrishnan Thampuran and his sister, and had lived at the farm since he was 4 years old, away from his own family.  The relationship lines were blurred, as Mohnalal viewed the sister like his own sister, and as the woman who raised him.  Sreekishnan is like a brother to him.  The unclear lines of the relationships and the confusion is very pertinent to the plot and the misunderstandings that follow.


On one of their trips to take their farm produce to sell in town, Sreekrishnan agrees to let a singer performer and her older uncle have a ride on their cart.  But Mohanlal doesn’t know that, and gets into an argument with the spitfire young woman (Shobhana).  It’s a total hate-to-love romance, which is my catnip!  On the way home, they are separated from the others and get lost together in the cart in a forest.  They’ve traveled so far that they’ve crossed a border and Mohanlal can’t speak the language of the inhabitants, but Shobhana can.  She is able to get directions, and agrees to help Mohanlal if he gives her a kiss, but she says that in the language he doesn’t understand.  He keeps asking all the villagers that phrase to try to figure out what she is saying to him, and gets into big trouble!

Later, as they’re on their way home, he overhears a woman asking her young child for a kiss with the same phrase, and my absolute favorite scene of the whole movie happens.  It’s like a lightning bolt hits Mohanlal!

The first half is just wonderful as their romance develops, but the second half deals with the drama of what happens when they return to the farm and the insular village.  The problem is that Sreekrishnan wants to marry Shobhana, so Mohanlal backs away.

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It was great to see  Sreenivasan (who I have seen in Traffic) as the villainous servant that sets in motion all the horrible things that befall Mohanlal.

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Mohanlal was very good in this, but he didn’t blow me away.  I know this isn’t his most famous role.  I saw him in Janatha Garage in the theater opening night, even if he was dubbed for the Telugu.  I really loved Shobhana in this film.  She’s such a spitfire!

Really enjoyable film with a great romance.

Four stars out of five.


15 thoughts on “Thenmavin Kombath – My first Mohanlal Malayalam film!

  1. Senthil S September 2, 2016 / 12:18 am

    IMHO, Kireedam/Chenkol, Bharatham, and Iruvar are his best performances. Watch those if you want to know why he’s known as one of India’s greatest actors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • moviemavengal September 2, 2016 / 12:19 am

      Thank you! I will look for those. It’s hard as not all of his movies are available with subtitles.


      • Senthil S September 2, 2016 / 12:53 am

        You can rent Iruvar with subs from youtube. The other 3 are only on DVD.
        This site has Chenkol(sequel to Kireedam) and Bharatham on sale with subs. Kireedam, on the other hand…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. moviemavengal September 2, 2016 / 1:01 am

    Thank you Senthil! I have ordered from in Kerala, but had not heard of that site.


    • moviemavengal September 2, 2016 / 6:33 pm

      Thanks for commenting! Yes, I just love those kinds of romances in films, and books. Darcy and Elizabeth, Spencer and Tracy, Leia and Han. Oh, man, Leia and Han!


  3. swayn September 3, 2016 / 9:03 am

    Apart from the movies mentioned above there are other movies of mohanlal like
    Nadodikattu (classic), pattanapravesham (sequel to nadodikattu). Thazvaram , chithram , vanaprastham , the ornate lock etc


  4. datablue September 10, 2016 / 12:55 pm

    I’m in love with the whole hate-turns-to-love trope.For some reason, this trope seems to come up in romance novels a lot.If there’s enough verbal sniping and barbs delivered with a dry wit, then I’m in heaven.Probably due to watching Mohanlal’s Chitram (Picture) in an impressionable age.Chitram had him and Ranjini pretending to be a newly wed couple while trying to one up each other all the time.I felt that Priyadarshan was trying to replicate the success of Chitram (which he had directed earlier) with Thenmavin kombathu.But the earlier movie had a certain charm which is lacking in TK.Incidentally TK was remade by Priyadarshan in Hindi as Saat Rang Ke Sapne with Arvind Swamy and Juhi Chawla.But the movie flopped.


    • moviemavengal September 10, 2016 / 3:51 pm

      Datablue, you always add such great info! Glad you are also in love with the hate-to-love trope. Yes, it’s one of my favorites in romance novels, too. (Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase is my all time favorite romance with this trope, heck, my all time favorite romance novel, period.)

      I will definitely add Chitram to my watch list. I hope I can find it with subs.


  5. datablue September 10, 2016 / 5:33 pm

    You must be a mindreader!I was thinking about Sebastian when I wrote the comment.I loved how Jessica stood toe to toe with Sebastian and didn’t let him get away.Do you have any recommendations? Thinking about Bollywood movies with the trope(not counting H and h whose families are enemies) I can only come up with Dil and the Aamir-Juhi part of Ishq.


    • moviemavengal September 10, 2016 / 9:07 pm

      Recommendations for books or movies? You’re right that it’s harder to think of hate-to-love in Bollywood. I think Phir Dil Hai Hindustani would definitely count, but not my favorite movie!!

      Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam has that teasing tone between Aish and Salman, Bride and Prejudice (if you count it as Bollywood) and of course DDLJ is the best example!

      For books, have you ever read The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah Maclean? I love any book by her, frankly.

      Eloisa James – When Beauty Tamed the Beast is an all-time favorite

      Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

      The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan


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