Neelavelicham review: Aashiq Abu’s experimental movie is a technical upgrade of 1964’s ‘Bhargavi Nilayam’

Good performances by Rima Kallingal, Tovino Thomas, Shine Tom Chacko and Roshan Mathew supported by decent comedy make it an entertaining watch.

ByArjun Ramachandran

Published:Aug 18, 2023

Neelavelicham review: Aashiq Abu’s experimental movie is a technical upgrade of 1964’s ‘Bhargavi Nilayam’
A decent remake!

Neelavelicham (Malayalam)

  • Cast: Tovino Thomas, Rima Kallingal, Roshan Mathew, Shine Tom Chacko, and Rajesh Madhav
  • Director: Ashiq Abu
  • Producer: OPM Cinemas
  • Music: Biji Bal and Rex Vijayan
  • Runtime: 2 hours 14 minutes

Director Aashiq Abu’s Neelavelicham (The Blue Radiance) is an experimental film. It is a remake of Bhargavi Nilayam (1964) that marked the directorial debut of veteran cinematographer A Vincent.

The flick gives a new cinematic experience to the old and new generations who have watched, or not watched, the 1964 romantic horror film. It was penned by renowned writer Vaikom Muhammad Basheer based on his own short story Neelavelicham.

Bhargavi Nilayam was a first-of-its-kind film that had a mix of genres — romance, horror and thriller. Neelavelicham has the same scenes as the original movie but has been trimmed down to 2 hours and 14 minutes.

Neelavelicham Vs Bhargavi Nilayam

Neelavelicham is a genuine effort by Aashiq Abu and his crew. He doesn’t change the plot and that’s a challenging factor for a filmmaker to pull off.

Rima Kallingal in Neelavelicham

Rima Kallingal in ‘Neelavelicham’. (Twitter)

Vaikom Muhammad Basheer (Tovino Thomas) reaches Thalassery and starts living in a house that is haunted by a ghost — Bhargavi (Rima Kallingal). Bhargavi commits suicide after a failed love affair. Her lover Sashi Kumar (Roshan Mathew) absconds.

Basheer decides to write Bhargavi’s story. He collects information about her from her mother and friends. But, as the story moves forward, the ghost herself tells her story to Basheer in different ways.

These are some of the highlights of the movie. Cinematic elements work mostly in these parts.

Basheer finds out the reason and the person behind the death of Bhargavi and Sashi Kumar.

Naanu Kuttan (Shine Tom Chacko) reveals the truth to Basheer. What happens in the climax is known to people who are aware of the story.

Also Read: FEFKA tells Malayalam actors to watch their behaviour

Technically sound

The additional screenplay is written by Hrishikesh Bhaskaran.

The old movie was shot when technology was just a dream. And yet, we find some of the shots and frames amazing.

A poster of Neelavelicham

A poster of director Ashiq Abu’s ‘Neelavelicham’. (Twitter)

Neelavelicham is shot with 4K quality visuals and a Dolby Atmos sound. Making wise, it is technically perfect.

Neelavelicham has been shot by Girish Gangadharan who proved his calibre with his shots in Angamaly Diaries (2017) and Jallikattu (2019). It has night shots that form its soul.

The visuals of the well form an integral part of the movie and the shot where Bhargavi is seen swinging is one of the best visuals.

Editing by V Saajan helps the movie a lot.

Sound design is given a new treatment and plays an important role in the film. The sound and visuals in the scene where Vaikom Muhammad Basheer’s servant sees Bhargavi arouse a feeling of fear among the audience watching inside the theatre.

The songs in the new version are composed by Biji Bal and Rex Vijayan.

The original compositions by Maestro MS Baburaj have been a favourite for music lovers. The new versions don’t defame the original ones and have come out well.

The performances

Neelavelicham has the same characters as its original. Tovino Thomas plays Vaikom Muhammad Basheer’s character which was originally played by veteran actor Madhu.


A poster of ‘Neelavelicham’. (Twitter)

Roshan Mathew replaces Evergreen Hero Prem Nazir as Sashi Kumar and Rima Kallingal does the role of Bhargavi, originally played by Vijaya Nirmala.

Shine Tom Chacko appears as Naanu, the antagonist, which was essayed by PJ Antony in the original.

Unlike the old formula of giving more emotions while acting, the new movie has more character-driven performances.

Tovino delivers a subtle performance as the writer who reaches Thallassery to pen his new book.

Rima Kallingal as Bhargavi looks more adoring than the original Bhargavi in Bhargavi Nilayam. Unlike the old film, which even has humour elements in romance, both Bhargavi and Sashi Kumar romance in a realistic way in the latest version.

Prem Nazir is more humorous compared to Roshan Mathew.

The director trims down the lighter moments among Sashi Kumar, Bhargavi and her helper Kuthirvattom Pappu, played by Rajesh Madhav in Neelavelicham.

Also Read: Dharani Rasendran’s Yaathisai is an impressive period drama

Rima Kallingal is impressive and Roshan Mathew is good, too.

Shine Tom Chacho is perfect for the villain character (Naanu Kuttan). In the original, PJ Antony fared well with his unique style of acting.

Adoor Bhasi’s character has been replaced by Pramod Veliyanad. However, his scenes are trimmed in the new version. In the old version, there are many lighter moments involving Adoor Bhasi, for the sake of comedy though.

Final take

Neelavelicham is a technically-sound movie with some good performances by Rima Kallingal, Tovino Thomas, Shine Tom Chacko and Roshan Mathew. It’s a decent remake of Bhargavi Nilayam.

(Views expressed are personal.)