17 years of Kalayanaraman: Shafi reveals how Dileep's character was reversed


Film maker Shafi had received advance amounts to direct two movies even before he filmed his debut movie ‘One Man Show’. He was brimming with confidence as he helmed his debut movie. However, to the makers’ dismay, ‘One Man Show’ didn’t create ripples in the theaters. So, Shafi had taken extra care when he planned his second movie. Though he spent almost a month, perfecting a script, the project didn’t take off.

It was during this time that his brother film maker Rafi and relative Sidhique had told him about screen writer Benny P Nayarambalam. He then held discussions with Benny about the screenplay. Shafi was, however, sure that his film should be primarily about love and wedding as there is a minimum guarantee for both the subjects. That is how the super hit movie Kalyanaraman was conceived.

Revised story

In the first draft, the female lead was written as the daughter of the cook. The daughter finds love at a place where they go to prepare the feast. However, as Dileep was cast in the lead role, the makers thought that the story would be interesting if he plays the role of the cook. That is how they reversed the characters.

Twist and climax

The twist in Kalyanaraman happens right before the climax. It suddenly springs up as the plot flows seamlessly with the love story as the main focus. However, the director was sure that the audience would be bored if nothing eventful happened in the plot which would grab their attention. It was the hilarious comedy scenes performed incredibly by a bunch of actors and the beautiful songs which kept the movie lively and interesting.


Shafi says that the formula for the love stories is pretty simple. A villain has to enter the plot to disrupt the blossoming love between the lead pair. The hero has to overpower the antagonist to win his lady love. However, there was no villain in Kalyanaraman. The makers beat their brains out to add a suitable yet impressive twist to the plot. That is how they made the superstition ‘women won’t live for long in the family’ as the main villain. This idea was adopted from a play written by Benny P Nayarambalam. The director admits that they were tensed whether this would convince the audience in the theaters. However, it worked and the film went on to become a block buster.


The main location of the movie was at actor Lal’s house, which was under construction, in Padamugal. The movie was filmed there for more than 50 days.


Songs and elaborate wedding sequences made the film colorful and joyous. With 6 amazing songs, Kalyanaraman is the movie with the most number of songs directed by Shafi. Berny – Ignatius had composed the songs in this movie. Usually, a movie would have one wedding song. However, Kalyanaraman had four wedding songs which were all shot in the same venue. Singer Afsal who came to sing the track ended up rendering two super hit songs. Ace film maker Kamal had offered Afsal opportunity to sing in his movie Nammal, after listening to the singer’s songs in Kalyanaraman. However, it was Nammal which released first.

Thalemkutthy song

The famous ‘Thalemkuthy’ song, which is incredible fun, used to be sung in Lal’s family whenever there was a gathering or function. The makers decided to include this song as well in the movie after realizing the fun element in it. Composers Berny – Ignatius had composed the tune of the song ‘Kathayile Rajakumaranum’ for another film. One day, the composers had accidently hummed the song and Shafi was so smitten by the tune that he declared it to be the theme song of Kalyanaraman. Later, veteran lyricist Kaithapram wrote beautiful lines to the song.


The makers were worried whether the audience would confuse the tile of the movie with the Tamil film Kalayanaraman starring Kamal Hassan. However, they proceeded with it as they couldn’t find a better one, other than Kalyanaraman, which well suited the plot and characters. 


Release: 20 December 2002

Director: Shafi

Music: Berny–Ignatius

Lyrics:  Kaithapram, S. Ramesan Nair

Screenplay: Benny P. Nayarambalam

Starring: Dileep, Navya Nair, Kunchacko Boban, Lal, Lalu Alex