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Literarily Speaking: Namukku Parkkan Munthirithoppukal - Two worlds and a vineyard

Saritha Rao Rayachoti analyses Padmarajan’s adaptation, a film that adds emotional heft to K.K. Sudhakaran’s novel

Literarily Speaking: Namukku Parkkan Munthirithoppukal - Two worlds and a vineyard

Last Updated: 07.32 PM, Jan 03, 2024


In our new column, Literarily Speaking, we recommend specially-curated book-to-film adaptations that will leave you spell-bound

Padmarajan’s Namukku Parkkan Munthirithoppukal (Malayalam, 1986) evokes an intense longing for the 1980s, VHS cassettes, Malayalam cinema and Mohanlal as a romantic lead. It also brings to mind Johnson’s soulful background score and Padmarajan’s penchant for the twist in the climax.


The film is based on K.K. Sudhakaran’s Nammukku Gramangalil Chennu Rapparkkam, a book that numerous fans of the movie went on to read, and going by their reviews, found to be not as evocative as the adaptation. While the reference to Song of Songs from the Bible exists in the original novel, the emotional core of the Padmarajan’s iteration is the Solomon-Sofia love story.


Solomon (Mohanlal) owns a 56-acre farm with a vineyard in an unnamed part of Karnataka. He loves the farming life and only occasionally visits his mother, Rita (Kaviyoor Ponnamma) who lives in Mysore (now Mysuru). Solomon’s young college-going cousin, Antony (Vineeth) lives with Rita, as does Mary, a destitute relative whom Solomon affectionately calls ‘Queen Mary’.


On one of his visits to Mysuru, Solomon meets their new neighbour, a young woman called Sofia (Shari) who lives with her younger sister, Elizabeth (Mini) and their parents, the alcoholic Paul Pailokkaran (Thilakan), and Rosie (Omana), a nurse.

Solomon is privy to an argument in Sofia’s house where Paul openly admits to destroying an interview call for a job that Sofia had set her heart on. Paul initially comes across as an overprotective father who doesn’t want his daughter to take a lowly job.

Solomon is drawn to the good-natured, hardworking Sofia, as she is to his congeniality. His confession of love, regarded as one of the most romantic lines in Malayalam cinema, is to quote from the evocative Song of Songs from the Bible (which also gives the original book and the film their respective titles). The lines describe the love between a man and a woman and allude to ‘going into the vineyards to see if the vines have blossomed, whether the pomegranates are in bloom, where I will give you my love’. This is also a literal proposal because both Solomon and Sofia desire nothing more than to live as a couple in Solomon’s vineyard.


Solomon keeps extending his stay in Mysore so he can spend more time with Sofia, Paul’s colleague and drinking partner, Vakkachan (Vishnuprakash) spots them together. Paul berates Sofia for spurning the marriage alliance of Vakkachan who is aware of their family background, and instead, flirting with a wealthy man who will abandon her (alluding to being like her mother). When Paul beats up Sofia, Solomon intervenes, thereby antagonising him.

Solomon’s mother Rita is disgusted with Paul’s uncouth behaviour but disapproves of Solomon’s relationship with Sofia. Solomon leaves in his truck, hoping his absence will ease the tension in Sofia’s household. Antony is the go-between for Solomon and Sofia, and he visits Solomon in his vineyard with a coded message of acceptance from Sofia alluding again to the Song of Songs.

Solomon returns to formally approach Paul and Rosie with a marriage proposal, but Paul sabotages the match by revealing to Rita that Sofia is his illegitimate daughter. Rita decides that she has had enough of the dysfunctional family, but with Solomon’s gentle persuasion, understands that Sofia can’t be punished for Rosie’s folly.

Solomon accompanies both mothers, Rita and Rosie, to seek the support of the local church to get the wedding solemnised without Paul’s knowledge. While they set the foundations of Solomon’s and Sofia’s new life, in a shocking twist, Paul metes out punishment that he deems as fitting for Sofia’s defiance of him. Rosie consoles the distraught Sofia that she should put this incident behind her, but she is also anguished for putting her child in harm’s way. Solomon leaves after an argument with his mother.


In an earlier conversation in happier times, Solomon jokes that if they did decide to elope, he will arrive in Sofia’s yard on his motorbike and blow the horn once. If she doesn’t emerge, he would blow the horn a second time, but will eventually break down her door to take her away. “Only if you bring the truck.” quips Sofia who regards the truck as part of their love story.

The highlight of the movie is the way Padmarajan distils the story of two families, and subtly juxtaposes Solomon’s and Sofia’s worlds. Solomon is a nurturer and his worldview is one of inclusivity – despite their problems, he wants to bring together the two families. The dynamic between Solomon and his mother is engaging, as is Solomon’s emotional honesty. Solomon dotes on Antony the way an older brother would.

In an earlier part of the film, Solomon tells the matchmaking Rita that well-educated women are bound to find life on his farm stifling and that it would lead to conflicts, ending with him beating up his wife. However, when Solomon witnesses the violence that Paul wreaks upon Sofia, he is shocked, belying that all that banter about beating up his wife was said in jest.

Sofia’s world, however, is ruled by Paul’s authoritarianism. The punishment proves how far-removed Paul’s worldview is from Solomon’s.

For Solomon and Sofia to make a life together in the vineyard requires the necessary severance of all ties with their respective worlds. With this single act of defiance, Padmarajan undoes the unspoken norm that a victim of abuse on screen must continue to be punished by the narrative. Instead, Sofia gets her happy ending.


At first, listen, the memorable background score for the movie by Johnson may remind you of the Godfather theme, but one soon begins to regard it as a composition unique to the emotional connection between Solomon and Sofia. The film has two songs – ‘Aakashamake’ which is rooted in reality, where Solomon shows Sofia around Mysore in his truck, and ‘Pavizhampol’ which is in the same vein as the Song of Songs, alluding to their love for each other.

This tender love story holds a special place for discerning audiences of the 1980s who were as generous with their praise for Thilakan who played the antagonist Paul, as they were with Mohanlal who plays the affable, steadfast-in-love Solomon.

You can watch Namukku Parkkan Munthirithoppukal here.

(Views expressed in this piece are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of OTTplay)

(Written by Saritha Rao Rayachoti)

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