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The cover of Mathilukal.
AuthorVaikom Muhammad Basheer
Original titleമതിലുകൾ
GenreRomance, patriotic
PublisherDC Books[1]
Publication date

Mathilukal (Malayalam: മതിലുകൾ, meaning Walls) is a Malayalam novel written by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer in 1965. It is one of the most cherished and well-known love stories in Malayalam,[3] its hero, Basheer himself, and heroine, Narayani, never meet, yet they love each other passionately. Despite being imprisoned and separated by a huge wall that divides their prisons, the two romance each other.[3]


The theme of the novel, focusses on the love between Basheer, a prisoner, and a female inmate of the prison, who remains unseen throughout the novel.[4] In Mathilukal, though the broad frame is autobiographical and the narration is first person, the details seem to contain sprinkles of fantasy.[5]

Plot summary[edit]

As Basheer, who is jailed for writing against the then ruling British, Gopakumar delivers a memorable performance. Basheer befriends his fellow-inmates and a considerate young jailor. One day, Basheer hears a woman's voice from the other side of the wall – the women's prison. Eventually the two jailbirds become lovebirds, they exchange gifts, and their hearts, without meeting each other. Narayani then comes up with a plan for a meeting: they decide to meet at the hospital a few days later, but before that, Basheer is released, unexpectedly. For once, he does not want the freedom he had craved for; the novel ends with Basheer standing outside the prison with a rose in his hand.[3]

Film adaptation[edit]

In 1989, a film adaptation of the novel was released, starring Mammootty as Vaikom Muhammad Basheer, and directed by Adoor Gopalakrishnan; the film was a major critical success, and gained many awards at national and international levels. Mammootty won the National Film Award for Best Actor.


  1. ^ "Mathikal by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer". DC Books. Retrieved 2010-12-27
  2. ^ R.E.Asher. 24 January 1998. "Basheer and the freedom struggle". Frontline. The Hindu. Retrieved 2010-12-27.
  3. ^ a b c P.K.Ajith Kumar. "Romantic interlude". The Hindu. 14 May 2010.
  4. ^ K.Rajan. "Of human bondage". The Hindu. 14 March 2008
  5. ^ P.M.Girish. "A Brief Examination of Three Widely-Acclaimed Malayalam Novels". 3 March 2008.

External links[edit]