Theatrical-release poster
Malayalam പുലിമുരുകൻ
Directed by Vysakh
Produced by Tomichan Mulakuppadam
Written by Udayakrishna
Music by Gopi Sunder
Cinematography Shaji Kumar
Edited by Johnkutty
Distributed by Mulakuppadam Release
Release dates
  • 7 October 2016 (2016-10-07)[1]
Running time
161 minutes
Country India
Language Malayalam
Budget 25 crore[2][3]
Box office est.125 crore[4][5]

Pulimurugan (English: Leopard-Murugan) is a 2016 Indian Malayalam-language action adventure film directed by Vysakh, starring Mohanlal in the titular role,[6] and co-stars Kamalini Mukherjee, Jagapati Babu, Bala, Lal, and Vinu Mohan. It is the first independent screenplay by Udayakrishna of the Udayakrishna and Siby K. Thomas duo. The film is produced by Tomichan Mulakuppadam of Mulakuppadam Films. The score and soundtrack are composed by Gopi Sunder, while cinematography is handled by Shaji Kumar.

The filming started in Hanoi, Vietnam in July 2015.[7] The film was released on 7 October 2016.[1] Made on an investment of 25 crore, Pulimurugan grossed over 125 crore worldwide. It became the first film to cross 100 crore mark in the Malayalam film industry, and is currently the highest-grossing Malayalam film. The film was dubbed and released in Telugu as Manyam Puli on 2 December 2016.


Murugan (Mohanlal) lives in Puliyoor, a small village inside the forest. The village is vulnerable to man-eating tigers and often results in human–wildlife conflict. The villagers call these predators Varayan Puli (Striped Leopard). Murugan lost his mother in childhood after his brother Manikuttan (Vinu Mohan) was born. Soon after, he lose his father in a tiger attack. In vengeance, Murugan traps the predator with the help of his uncle Balaraman (Lal) and kills it.

Years passed, Murugan is now a lorry driver, married Myna (Kamalini Mukherjee), and has a daughter, Chakki (Baby Durga Premjith). He hunts down and kills rogue tiger whenever it invades the village. Acknowledging his skills in hunting "Varayan Puli", the villagers call him Pulimurugan (Leopard-Murugan). His main weapons are a vel (a kind of spear) and a rope dart. He has his own methods developed from his young age, that aids him in killing. Murugan also has a helping behavior, as he is grateful to the villagers who cared about him after his parents death. He is too much obsessive with his brother, willing to do anything for him. Manikuttan is about to finish his MBA graduation in Mangalore.

One day, Kadutha (M. R. Gopakumar), the village chief meets a hooded stranger in the village, who asks the whereabouts of Murugan for a hunting assignment. But, Murugan has been away from Puliyoor for days and many have been killed by the tigers. Kadutha narrates the events that lead to the circumstance, which starts with two of Manikuttan's friendsBenny (Nobi) and Shiva (Bala) arriving at Puliyoor, sent by Manikuttan to see Balaraman. Shiva's father, Daddy Girija (Jagapati Babu) has an ayurvedic company Girija Pharmaceuticals and Medical Research, company is developing a pharmaceutical drug to treat cancer. For that, they need Ganja (Marijuana) from the forest. If the medical research succeed, Manikuttan is offered a job in the company, so Balaraman helps them. They make a contract with Ramaiya (Makarand Deshpande), an illegal Ganja dealer in the forest. Just after, they encounter a tiger on their way back, but is saved by Murugan, killing it with his rope dart and vel.

Meanwhile, Manikuttan returns home after his final examinations. The forest officials have found the killed tiger's carcass at Thookupara, a violation of Indian Wildlife Protection Act, a non-bailable offense. For investigation, Forest ranger R. K. (Kishore) is assigned, who has a grudge against Murugan from four years back. He had once tried to molest Myna, but failed, only to get threatened by Murugan. He later gets transferred from there. Taking advantage on the present scenario, he prepare to file a self-witness F. I. R. against Murugan, who is forced to go hideout. Meanwhile, ACP Iyep Zachariah (Siddique) arrives at Puliyoor, apparently for Murugan.

The Ganja is loaded in Murugan's lorry for transporting to Mangalore. Shiva and Benny gets informed that a confidant of Ramaiya is in police custody. Seeing a possibility of leaking the information, they are forced to transport it overnight. Shiva offer Murugan hideout in Kasaragod under Daddy's protection. And deceive him that the police are in pursuit to arrest him for the tiger killing. A team lead by Zachariya arrives at Murugan's home. Murugan with his family escapes to Mangalore in the transport, and manages to escape from police. He delivers the Ganja and Manikuttan get the job he was offered.

Murugan impresses Daddy and earns his trust by helping in his business activities. Meanwhile, more people are killed by tiger at Puliyoor. In an encounter with Zachariya, Murugan learns that Daddy is illegal producing Hash oil and exporting under the cover-up of the pharmacy, where Manikuttan is working. He co-operates with police to rat on Daddy. Manikuttan is caught by Shiva in the middle of extracting evidences of their activities, he tortures him. Murugan rescues Manikuttan, but in the tussle, Shiva is accidentally killed by Murugan. Police ambushes Daddy, but he manages to escape.

Murugan returns home. It is revealed that the hooded stranger is Daddy, came to seek revenge for his son's death. He assemble a group of henchmen and trained assassins. He ambushes Balaraman and villager Poongayi Sasi (Suraj Venjaramoodu), he take Balaraman and sent Sasi back with severe injuries. Murugan decides to kill Daddy, and ensue a battle with the assassins. He finishes them off and saves Balaraman. Daddy is killed by the tiger and Murugan kills it.




A week after the release of Vysakh's directorial debut film Pokkiri Raja in 2010, its producer Tomichan Mulakuppadam opened a discussion with Vysakh for a future collaboration for a project with Mohanlal in the lead role. In fact, Mohanlal had already agreed to do a film with Vysakh even before he debuted with Pokkiri Raja.[8] The project was greenlit, but did not progressed into a planning stage. Pokkiri Raja co-writer Udaykrishna was on board for writing. Later they went onto do other films. Although there were discussions regarding the project in the meantime, a further development did not began until four years since then, in 2014.[9] Pulimurugan was conceived by Udayakrishna, who developed the story idea from the stories he heard during his childhood upbringing in his homeland Kothamangalam in the eastern part of Ernakulam District. The stories presented the lives of people living in Pooyamkutty, a small forest-area village (lying 30 kilometers from Kothamangalam), the villagers often had to fight with wild animals for living there and dealt with the tales of the courageous animal hunters. At the time, Udayakrishna hinted about the character to Mohanlal, who showed interest.[10] It is the first independent work by Udayakrishna after the split of the writer duo Udayakrishna and Siby K. Thomas.[11]

The initial development of the project began in late December 2014, few days after the release of Vysakh's Cousins. Udayakrishna told the plot idea to Vysakh, about a village near the jungle which is frequently attacked by the wild and a hunter who has an impassioned vengeance to the animal, Vysakh hearing the theme itself decided it to be his next directorial.[9] Together they developed a one-line story, they were aware of the large funding the film required to get realise.[10] When they narrated the story to Mulakupadam, before taking a decision, Vysakh asked him to meet again after one month. In meantime, Vysakh and Udayakrishna started traveling and researching for the film to get an understanding about the subject's story behaviour, its format and treatment to be applied on the film. A month after, they met Mulakuppadam again with a demand for "no deadlines", that the film could not be started with a fixed budget, filming schedule or a release date, to which Mulakuppadam greenlit. After which they met Mohanlal, who already knew the plot idea from Udayakrishna, they narrated him the first 15 minutes opening sequence of the film in much detail, he was impressed but was skeptical about the feasibility of it in practice. Vysakh was also partially skeptical about how to shoot some of the sequences. Mohanlal was also asked to give no deadlines in terms of his dates, schedule, or release, to which Mohanlal replied that he is ready to do it anytime they want.[9]

For preparing a detailed screenplay, Vysakh and Udayakrishna went to and stayed in a small house in the hinterland of Wayanad in Kerala for around three months. They traveled to various places to get an idea about picturing the written scenes. They prepared storyboard for the screenplay. But their attempt to find any references for the man-animal fight scenes went into vein, so they consulted graphic experts to prepare a storyboard for it for previsualising the fight scenes to get a basic layout of what to be filmed.[9] Mohanlal suggested the name of the Thailand fight master Kecha for the film's stunt choreography,[10] who is familiar choreographing stunt with animals.[9] But Kecha asked four years time, which they could not afford.[10] Hence they signed Peter Hein.[10] Hein, who has not done man-animal fight before, took his preparation time for the film.[9] Later, the makers traveled to various locales in South Africa and Vietnam to study tigers, their behaviour and how to tame them for filming. A one week fight training camp was conducted for Mohanlal in Vietnam, but the camp was dismissed after the first section in day-one itself after when Hein was impressed with the action skills of Mohanlal.[9]


Mohanlal (left) portrayed Puli Murugan. Jagapati Babu portrayed Daddy Girija.

In August 2015, Bengali actress Kamalini Mukherjee was announced as the female lead opposite Mohanlal. Her first time with Mohanlal, Kamalini has previously worked with Vysakh in a guest appearance in Cousins (2014). According to Kamalini, her role is quite rustic and completely out of her comfort zone, something she have never laid her hands on before, and "the character has no urban nuances or traits".[12] Some of her key scenes with Mohanlal was shot in Kochi by second week of August 2015. In September 2015, Kishore confirmed his part as a forest officer. Kishore was in a transformation stage from negative to positive roles then. He said he took the role as it was a Mohanlal film.[13] Through some Twitter photos taken from the filming locations which went online on 13 September, the presence of south Indian actress Namitha was confirmed in the film.[14] Later in October, Bala was confirmed in a prominent role. He was impressed with his role for which he left from the Tamil film Vedalam (2015) directed by his brother, Siva, for Pulimurugan.[15] Suraj Venjaramoodu was the other actor signed in the film.[16] Peter Hein was selected as the action choreography for the film;[17] screenplay is done by Udayakrishna while cinematography was handled by Shaji Kumar.[18] Gopi Sunder signed as the music composer.[19][20] In July 2016 Makarand Deshpande was confirmed to play a wood smuggler in the film.[21] The presence of additional cast members - Lal was revealed from the official poster released in April 2016.[22]


An Indian Tiger

The film which was announced in December 2013 was reported to start production in the following year in September 2014 for a christmas 2014 release, but eventually got postponed.[23][24] The film was re-scheduled for a mid-June start, but was again postponed.[25] The film was shot using Arri Alexa XT. Other filming locations were Silent Valley and Attappadi in Kerala.[26]The second schedule started in Mamalakandam and Pooyamkutty forest, Kothamangalam, Eranakulam district.[27] The crew filmed in the interiors of the dense forest for a few days. The forest department strictly prohibited the public entry into this region.

While in Pooyamkutty city, a scuffle between the crew and the local natives happened reportedly at around 7.30 pm on 10 September 2015. Apparently, the driver of the lorry "Mayil Vahanam" which was being used by Mohanlal's character in the film started the trouble. Fistfights ensued between local people and the crew members. A native youth was hospitalized with severe injuries.[28] In late September 2015, there were some reports that the filming which was undergoing at the forest areas of Pooyamkutty locality is halted upon a stay order issued by the Kerala High Court, after a petition alleging the production team is dumping harmful materials used for creating film sets and is planning to execute a bomb blast scene in the forest. The court ordered an inquiry on the subject.[29] But this report was immediately denied by the production team, they told the filming is very much alive at the Pooyamkutty forest and there is no court order against the film. The filming is progressing at high secrecy with the help of police security, so the fake news may have created by those who are not allowed to enter the premises.[30]

An additional schedule started on 17 January 2016 at Ernakulam for filming the climax sequences in 18 days long schedule. The filming was progressed with no media coverage allowed on the sets. Mohanlal joined the sets on the same day for a two weeks filming.[31] The main location for filming was Vietnam, where the major stunt sequences were filmed in the Hang Sơn Đoòng caves in the mountain ranges of Vietnam in about 15 days.[32] Mohanlal did not use a body double for a 20 minute long climax fight sequence with a tiger. The tiger was Computer generated using CGI Motion capture from live sequences of Royal Bengal Tiger from wildlife sanctuaries in Thailand. The whole filming took place in various locations in Kerala, Vietnam, South Africa, and Thailand.[33]


In August 2015, Mohanlal said in an interview to Amrita TV, that the film contains an animal as the antagonist and story goes through the emotions of human and the animal.[34] The film's tagline is "The Wild Hunter", which was revealed by the release of its first-look poster on 6 August 2015.[35] The poster featuring Mohanlal illustrated his character as a hunter, looking intense like a predator whose sight set on the prey and is getting ready to launch himself on it, right hand clutching the ground and right leg firmly dug into the soil gathering force, left hand spread like a wing to maintain the balance and left leg placed strategically to give additional thrust for the attack.[36]

The story happens in a village called Puliyoor and Mohanlal plays Pulimurugan, a person who lends helping hands to the villagers.[37]


The film was initially planned for a release in December 2015, during the time of Christmas. But the filming did not finish, and so was postponed to open during the Hindu festival of Vishu in April 2016.[7] But the release date was again pushed to July as the filming was not completed before the deadline of March 10, and considering the post-production works beginning in the end of March which last for two and a half months. However, the film was postponed and released on 7 October 2016.[1]

The film was released in the United Arab Emirates and Gulf Cooperation Council on 3 November 2016. It had the largest ever release for an Indian film, which released in 350 screens in 82 theatres, with 630 shows in the opening day, surpassing the records of Kabali (425 shows) and Sultan (225 shows).[38][39] It released in 140 screens in the United Kingdom on 4 November.[40] Pulimurugan was released in Japan by Celluloid Japan with an initial release starting from 20 November 2016.[41] The film was dubbed into Telugu language and was released on 2 December 2016, distributed by Saraswathi Films.[42]


Box office

Pulimurugan earned an opening day collection of 4.05 crore from Kerala box office, making it the highest opening-day gross for a Malayalam film and the second highest (behind Tamil film, Kabali) for any language film in the state. The film grossed 4.83 crore on Sunday (9 October), which is the highest single day collection recorded for any film in Kerala box office. By taking it's 3 days gross collection to 12.91 crore, it set the record for the highest opening-weekend at the state box office.[43] Pulimurugan crossed 20 crore mark at the Kerala box office in the fastest time (in 5 days) for any film.[44] In 8 days theatrical run, the film is estimated to have grossed about 30 crore from the state box office.[45] Pulimurugan set a new record in Malayalam by completing 10,000 housefull shows in just 14 days,[46] and grossed over 46 crore from theatres all over India, with 40 crore from Kerala alone.[47] The film managed to garner 60 crore within 17 days of theatrical run in India.[48] In a month of its release, Pulimurugan became the first Malayalam film to gross 100 crore at the box office.[49] Until 23 November 2016, the film grossed 125 crore worldwide.[50]

The film created a record for the highest-opening weekend gross for a Indian film in the UAE box office, it grossed 13.83 crore in the first weekend (3-6 November), surpassing the records of Kabali, Sultan, and Baahubali: The Beginning.[51] In the United States box office, it grossed more than $236,000 in less than a month and became the highest-grossing Malayalam film in the US, beating the record of Premam.[52] It also became the top grosser in the United Kingdom within its opening weekend itself, grossing £90,162, surpassing the record of Oppam.[53]

Critical response

Awarding the film 3.5 in a scale of 5, Nelson K. Paul from Malayala Manorama wrote: "The narrative is straight and tight. Most importantly, the movie is engaging throughout and doesn't slip off. Though it's an action thriller primarily. Vysakh has all the ingredients laced in for a well-balanced mix. The director has made sure that the elements he put in are there for a reason". Apart, he praised Mohanlal, who is "super flexible in stunt scenes" and his "mighty impressive" efforts, Kumar's cinematography and Hein's "adrenaline-filled action" choreography, with a special mention to the climax fight. He also commended the characterisation of Myna and the onscreen chemistry of Mohanlal and Mukherjee[54]

In his review for The Indian Express, Manoj Kumar R. rated the film 3.5 out of 5 stars. He praised Mohanlal's acting and the "high-voltage" stunts, and finds the screenplay to be "tight and engaging" with Sunder's film score and Kumar's cinematography adding plus-points to the film. He wrote: "It is a simple movie that basically aims to entertain the audience. The movie does not dwell too much on the man-animal conflict and discusses what is right or what is wrong". According to him, Vysakh has succeeded in exploiting the stardom of Mohanlal.[55] The Times of India critic, Sanjith Sidhardhan rated 3.5 in a scale of 5, and wrote that the film's strength is "a fleshed out story and pacy screenplay that takes its protagonist out of the wild and puts him in the world of ruthless men a scenario where the hunter becomes the prey [...] The movie has a good enough story to keep the audience engaged while providing ample thrills through Peter Hein-choreographed fantastic action sequences". He also praised Sunder's "rousing theme music" and the "crisp" editing that made the "161-minute runtime a breeze".[56]

In his review for Rediff.com, Paresh C. Palicha commented, "It is Mohanlal's calibre as an actor that makes this thriller a really thrilling experience. Udaykrishna's writing and Vysakh's direction use him very well, knowing what will work with his fans". He rated 2.5 out of 5 stars.[57] The reviewer from Sify giving a positive review, described it as a "winner all the way" and a "super entertainer", and said: "with breathtaking visuals, top notch performances, superb action sequences and thrilling music, Vysakh has cooked a delicious treat. Though it is a bit too long at two hours and 41 minutes, this one keeps you engaged for sure". Extra mentions were given to Hein and Kumar for the stunts and visuals, and praised the performances of Mohanlal, "an absolute delight to watch", and other cast including Lal, Babu, Venjaramoodu, Kishore, and Ajas. And concluded that "Pulimurugan wins with the hard work that has gone into its making. It's the kind of masala that is superbly enjoyable and then there is Mohanlal in terrific form".[58]

Writing for the International Business Times, Anu James gave a positive review, telling that "though Mohanlal doesn't deliver any punch dialogues, his screen presence and thrilling action sequences are the USPs of the action thriller. Despite being a 56-year-old, the flexibility he has while performing the stunts deserves a special mention". She also praised the stunt choreographer of Hein, Kumar's cinematography, Sunder's film score and the performances of Babu, Lal, and Ajas.[59] Krishna B. Nair of Metromatinee wrote a positive review, calling it a "visual extravaganza plus an edge-of-the-seat experience!", said "Pulimurugan has a very impressive first half, not so fast paced yet thrilling second half and an absolutely stunning climax". She praised Mohanal's "dedication for the intense stunt sequences", and his combination scenes with Mukherji, who is "equally aggressive and adventurous" as him. Apart, she praised Sundar's film score, Kumar's cinematography, the VFX work and Hein for introducing "...high-voltage...whole new action sequences to the Malayali audiences" which will "struck a chord with the moviegoers"".[60]


Award Date of ceremony Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Asiavision Awards 18 November 2016 Popular Movie Vysakh Won [61]
Popular Actor Of The Year Mohanlal Won
Best Music Director Gopi Sunder Won
Best Singer Female K. S. Chithra (for "Kaadaniyum Kalchilambe") Won
Best Cinematographer Shaji Kumar Won


Soundtrack album by Gopi Sunder
Released 14 October 2016 (2016-10-14)
Recorded August 2016
Venue Ernakulam
Genre Feature Film Soundtrack
Length 10:22
Label Millennium Audios
Producer Tomichan Mulakuppadam
Gopi Sunder chronology

The film's soundtrack and film score was composed by Gopi Sunder. The soundtrack runs for over ten minutes and consists three tracksa duet sung by K. J. Yesudas and K. S. Chithra, a solo by Vani Jairam and a theme song by Sunder. Rafeeq Ahammed, Murukan Kattakada, and B. K. Harinarayanan were the lyricists. The music album was released on 5 October 2016 in an event held at hotel Crowne Plaza in Kochi. Vysakh and Udayakrishna were absent at the function, who were busy with the release.[62]

Track listing

All music composed by Gopi Sunder.

No. TitleWriter(s)Performer(s) Length
1. "Kaadaniyum Kalchilambe"  Rafeeq AhammedK. J. Yesudas, K. S. Chithra 03:57
2. "Manathe Marikurumbe"  Murukan KattakadaVani Jairam 04:27
3. "Pulimurugan Theme"  B. K. HarinarayananGopi Sundar 02:38
Total length:

In late December 2015, Sunder announced that, the film will have two songs and more might be added, in which one will be a lullaby sung by S. Janaki, while Jassie Gift and Shreya Ghoshal will render the other song.[63] However, Janaki announced her retirement from singing career in the second half of 2016.[64] She was replaced by Jairam, and Gift and Ghoshal were also replaced with Yesudas and Chithra. Sunder approached Yesudas with the composition of "Kaadaniyum Kalchilambe" on late August 2016, for his first association with him. Including his discussions with Yesudas, the whole recording process was completed in one-and-a-half hour time. Chithra was his co-artist in the duet. Ahammed was the lyricist.[65] The recording of the song was held on 27 August 2016.[66] The theme song starting with the line "Muruga Muruga" was written by Harinarayanan, lyrics were penned after finishing the composition.[67] The songs were recorded in a studio in Ernakulam.[68]

Sunder, who generally takes around one month to finish the music for a film, took three months for Pulimurugan and worked in two schedules.[69] Without any short-notices Vysakh gave enough time for him to compose. He composed the film score watching a "rough cut" of the film before the final editing. The film used both live tiger as well as graphics for some scenes. At the time, the computer-generated imagery (CGI) of the tiger was at its early stage and far from perfect, so Sunder had to envisage the tiger while composing score for such scenes.[70] The composition of score was completed on 11 September 2016.[71] The DTS premixing of the music was held on 17 September at G Studio in AVM, Chennai.[72]

The first music video from the film "Kaadaniyum Kalchilambe" sung by Yesudas and Chithra was released via YouTube on 14 September 2016 in the Thiruvonam day. The song features Mohanlal and Mukherji enjoying their country life.[73] Nivedita Mishra of Hindustan Times said, "It is a paean to marriage.....Kaadaniyum Kalchilambe is a beautiful celebration of Kerala so lush and so soothing to the eye and so lovingly captured by cinematographer Shaji Kumar".[74] Anjana George of The Times of India, also gave a positive review highlighting its visuals, saying "while beautifully showcasing the chemistry between Lal [Mohanlal] and Kamalini, the director has also tried to capture the magical splendour of forest. The lovely shades of green, yellow, orange and blue are being magnificently used in the visuals".[75] On 11 October 2016, in response to the audience demand, Sundar released the theme song attached with a making video of the film.[76] The second music video "Manathe Marikurumbe" sung by Jairam was released on 27 October 2016.[77]


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