20 years of 'Summer in Bethlehem'; director reveals unknown facts

Blockbuster movie ‘Summer In Bethlehem’, starring Jayaram, Suresh Gopi and Manju Warrier in the lead roles, is one of the much-loved films in Malayalam. The movie released in 1998 had been initially planned to be made in Tamil, reveals director Sibi Malayil.

The director’s revelation comes almost 20 years after its release. In a random talk with Sibi, the director said that the Tamil project, however, did not take off following an altercation with the producer.

Sibi had planned to shoot 'Summer in Bethlehem' in Tamil with Prabhu, Jayaram and Manju Warrier, and had even shot a song featuring Prabhu and Manju. But the production was dismissed abruptly as the producer backed off. “I was clueless about the future of the movie, and it was then my production manager spoke to producer Siyad Koker. He said that the story of the movie was amazing and expressed confidence that it would become a super hit. Siyad agreed to bankroll the movie, however, with a change. The movie was then decided to be made in Malayalam, with Suresh Gopi replacing Prabhu,” revealed Sibi.

Actors like Kalabhavan Mani, Sangeetha, Mayuri, Sreejaya and Manjula too starred in the movie. The crew was also worried about who would essay the character of Niranjan. Sibi said he wanted an exceptionally talented actor to play the role, though even a cameo was highly significant.

The crew had considered South Indian superstar Kamal Hassan before zeroing in on Mohanlal. Sibi and scriptwriter Ranjith had met the actor in Bangalore where he was undergoing a treatment. Mohanlal happily agreed to do the cameo role as he liked the story.

Apart from the scene where Manju’s character meets Niranjan, played by Mohanlal in prison, the director had also shot a scene, a dream sequence, where Niranjan gets erased from Aami’s mind. However, this scene was dropped in final cut of the movie.

Mohanlal’s role was kept a secret by the crew until the day of the release. The actor was not even featured on the posters initially. Sibi said that the thrilled audience yelled in excitement when Mohanlal unexpectedly appeared on the screen. The filmmaker adds that the scene still evokes a surprise even to him.

'Summer in Bethlehem', 'Punjabi House' and 'Harikrishnans' had all released at the same time -- in September. All the three films were blockbusters.


Release: September 1998

Director: Siby Malayil

Music: Vidyasagar

Lyrics: Gireesh Puthenchery

Starring: Manju Warrier, Suresh Gopi, Jayaram, Mohanlal

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