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5 years of Kumbalangi Nights! A film that shattered stigma and showed the brave exploration of mental health

Kumbalangi Nights, directed by Madhu C. Narayanan and written by Syam Pushkaran, tackles mental health with sensitivity and grace.

5 years of Kumbalangi Nights! A film that shattered stigma and showed the brave exploration of mental health
Soubin Shahir in a still from Kumbalangi Nights

Last Updated: 05.56 PM, Feb 07, 2024


Even though it has been five years since the release of Kumbalangi Nights, the film's influence on viewers is profound. In a moving examination of human nature, interpersonal dynamics, and cultural constructions, set against the tranquil background of the gorgeous Kumbalangi in Kerala, the film goes beyond simple narrative. A lyrical ballad, Kumbalangi Nights weaves together the lives of four brothers—Saji (Soubin Shahir), Bobby (Shane Nigam), Bonny (Sreenath Bhasi), and Franky (Mathew Thomas)—each battling their own inner demons and family difficulties. The film is directed by Madhu C. Narayanan and written by Syam Pushkaran. In a picturesque fishing town that reflects the intricacies of contemporary life, the film painstakingly delves into their voyage of self-discovery, atonement, and forgiveness.

Challenging stereotypes of manhood

The complex depiction of manhood in Kumbalangi Nights is one of the film's most striking features. By showing vulnerability as a strength instead of a weakness, this film challenges stereotypes and goes against the grain of traditional tales that celebrate macho. As the eldest brother, Saji, struggles to cope with the weight of responsibility but finds relief in helping others, he exemplifies this frailty.


A moving depiction of mental health issues and the value of therapy, Soubin Shahir's character in Kumbalangi Nights stands out. The actor expertly navigates the intricacies of his character's emotional journey as Saji delivers a nuanced portrayal.

A spotlight on mental health

Shahir's character struggles with long-buried fears, repressed memories, and the burden of family obligations throughout the film. From his trouble keeping a job to the tension in his relationships with his brothers, his problems are everywhere. Many people view seeking care for mental health issues as a show of weakness, and Saji's persona exemplifies this stigma.

On the other hand, Saji undergoes a sea change as the story progresses. He finds the strength to face his inner demons and admits he needs help from a professional despite all the chaos in his life. The choice to seek treatment is a watershed moment in his path to recovery and understanding himself better.

The way Shahir shows Saji's struggle to embrace therapy and her eventual triumph over it is moving and uplifting. The actor brings a human face to mental health issues through his performance, which highlights the significance of talking about them and getting help when needed.

Destigmatising therapy

Rather than being a sign of weakness, his character's path demonstrates that seeking treatment is an act of self-care and perseverance. As a viewer, I felt encouraged to prioritise their emotional well-being, as witnessing such an open portrayal of it in a Malayalam film was rare. The stigma around mental health was challenged, and how!

To destigmatise therapy and start conversations about mental health, Kumbalangi Nights takes a bold stand in a culture that tends to ignore these matters. Soubin Shahir's portrayal of Saji exemplifies the life-altering potential of therapy by showing us that it's all right to feel not okay and that help is never far away.