Of twists and turns: Tovino Thomas’ ‘Vazhakku’, and other Malayalam films shelved

After the recent shelving of 'Vazhakku', South First looks at a few films that went through financial difficulties and were either shelved or never released.

ByArjun Ramachandran

Published May 13, 2024 | 6:03 PMUpdatedMay 13, 2024 | 6:19 PM

Vazhakku shelved

The news of a shelved project is making waves in the Malayalam cinema industry once more — this time — actor Tovino Thomas is being accused of shelving Vazhakku (The Quarrel).

The controversy escalated when director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan and actor Tovino Thomas got into a spat online.

A few days earlier, Sanal attacked Tovino Thomas, claiming that the reason he wasn’t interested in seeing the film released was because he was “worried” that it would cause controversy and harm the actor’s career.

In a Facebook post, Sanal alleged that Tovino did not want Vazhakku to be released, because it would negatively affect his career.

Sanal wanted Vazhakku to be released on OTT, if not YouTube, despite the actor’s argument that it was intended for film festivals.

Sanal further added that he completed the movie in a few days with a small budget.

The director also said that even after being informed that the movie had not been chosen for any festivals, Tovino had not decided whether to release it.

Tovino Thomas reacts

However, in an Instagram Live, Tovino Thomas refuted Sanal’s allegations.

He said he had invested ₹37 lakh for Vazhakku and worked without salary.

“I had no idea why Sanal was raising such a fuss, although, a lot of people had told me he was a troublemaker,” Tovino stated, adding that he didn’t have problems with the director when they were filming Vazhakku.

Tovino went on to say that if someone could help him with distribution, he would be prepared to distribute the film.

As long as anyone can remember, Sanal Kumar Sasidharan has been a favorite of controversies.

Earlier, the director accused actor Joju George of stealing the rights to a movie produced by Joju and Stone Bench Productions.

His movie Kayattam (2020) with Manju Warrier also faced a roadblock, as he had issues with the actor.

Sanal was even arrested by the Kerala police for allegedly stalking Manju Warrier.


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Let’s take a look at a list of a few films that faced financial troubles and were either shelved or never released, in light of the recent shelving of Vazhakku.

Also Read: Tovino says he wasn’t influenced by ‘Superstar David Padikkal’

Dhanushkodi (1988)

Mohanlal, S Sukumar and Priyadarshan

Mohanlal, S Sukumar and Priyadarshan. (Supplied)

Dhanushkodi (1988) was planned right after the success of Aryan (1988) by Priyadarshan Raghuvaran and Girija Shettar (Vandanam-fame) was supposed to share screen space with Mohanlal.

In the film, Sreenivasan plays an undercover police officer who runs across Mohanlal, an old buddy, and tells him about his drug mafia operation.

Although Mohanlal was the real man behind Raghuvaran, Raghuvaran played the drug lord. Sadly, financial difficulties after the first half prevented this movie from ever being made.

Australia (1992)

Mohanlal in Australia

Mohanlal in ‘Australia’. (Supplied)

Director Rajeev Anchal and actor Shankar, along with producer Suresh Kumar, had planned to work with Mohanlal on the movie.

Rahul, a Formula 1 racer, is the subject of the film and sustains serious burns after an accident. Shankar played a negative role, in this one.

Mohanlal and Ramya Krishnan played lead roles. While the second half was supposed to be shot in Australia, the first half was filmed in Chennai.

The film was eventually shelved, owing to financial issues.

Swarnachamaram (1996)

With a cast that included Mohanlal, Sivaji Ganesan, Nagesh, and Nedumudi Venu, the movie was much awaited.

Swarnachamaram, which explored the thread of mercy killing, was supposed to be directed by Rajeevnath.

Nevertheless, disagreements over the climax stopped the film from getting released.

The dates of Mohanlal and Sivaji Ganesan clashed with a new film Oru Yathramozhi (1997) directed by Prathap Pothen, which became a hit.

Kalari Vilakku (2003)

Directed by Deepak Mohan, Kalari Vilakku, had Mukesh and Vidya Balan in lead roles.

Kunju Lakshmi and her grandfather Moose make a living by treating people who have been bitten by snakes.

Moose provides free medical care to his patients. He feels as though he is helping them. As a result, they face serious financial challenges.

The film was nearly finished, but the producers gave up on it because of financing issues.

Nair San (2008)

A poster of Nair San

A poster of ‘Nair San’. (Supplied)

Ayyappan Pillai Madhavan Nair, a well-known Indian liberation fighter, is the subject of Albert’s film, which was announced to be a collaboration between Mohanlal and Hollywood star Jackie Chan.

However, the project did not take off due to unknown reasons.

The film tells the life narrative of Ayyappan Nair, a Malayali soldier, and is set in the pre-independence era.

Jackie Chan was originally supposed to be a martial arts instructor in the film.