‘Manjummel Boys’ True Story, Explained: Is Subhash A Real Person?

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Chidambaram’s 2024 drama film, Manjummel Boys, is actually based on a real event that took place in 2006. The makers have portrayed most of the events as they are, but they have taken certain minor creative liberties just to enhance the overall entertainment value and thrill of the narrative. A group of boys went to have a mini vacation in Kodaikanal, and just when they were about to return, they got to know that there was a tourist spot that had become famous after Kamal Hassan shot his movie there. 

The Guna Caves got their name from the Kamal Hassan film itself, and in addition to that, people were also fascinated by the myth that was attached to the site. Guna Caves’ actual name was the Devil’s Kitchen, and it was said that some evil entity resided inside the cave system that was considered to be the most dangerous one in the world. The locals believed that the caves claimed the lives of a lot of innocent people, and that’s why they didn’t go near them. But that was merely a superstition, and the rumors about it being true spread only because 16 people lost their lives due to their own carelessness. There were some who went there to take their own lives, and there were a few, like Subhash, who were reckless in their approach, who didn’t obey the orders, and then they had to pay the consequences of their actions. But the village dwellers made all sorts of attempts, and that’s why, even when Subhash fell, nobody wanted to even try to help him. 

The characters of Subhash and all the other friends are based on real-life people, and they actually come from a town called Manjummel in Kerala. It is true that the nephew of a minister also fell into the cave, and even after the entire state machinery was deployed for the rescue mission, he couldn’t be saved. Apart from him, there were around 16 people who lost their lives over the years, and it could be one of the reasons why the state authorities put up a barricade and did not allow visitors to go there. But obviously, we have a tendency to do exactly what we are told not to do. So, over the years, many people crossed those barricades and became victims of their own actions.

In the reports, it has been said that Siju David was the one because Subhash was able to come out, but I believe that the Manjummel Boys tweaked that a little bit. We saw in the film that it was Kuttan who took charge of things, and he told the policemen and other people from the rescue team that he would go down the vertical cave system. Not even anyone from the rescue team volunteered to do so, even when they were trained to perform those kinds of operations. We don’t know what kind of bond Kuttan or Siju shared with Subhash in real life, but I believe that they would have been really close if the boys had decided to risk their lives to save their friends. It was not going to be an easy rescue mission, and everybody present at the scene knew about it from the very beginning. Kuttan decided that he was not going to leave his friend behind, no matter what cost he would have to pay. To everybody’s surprise, Kuttan was not only able to take out Subhash from the caves, but the latter was still alive. Nothing could have explained how that happened, and that’s why people who were present there were awestruck. 

Subhash and Kuttan had defied the odds, and there were a lot of local people who believed that Subhash really had the blessing of the almighty on him. The incident reminded me of the 2023 catastrophe where a group of workers were trapped inside an under-construction tunnel in Uttarakhand, and for days they had to stay in that suffocating enclosed space. Obviously, the Manjummel Boys, or anybody for that matter, shouldn’t have trespassed in the prohibited area, but in situations like this, what makes me more angry is the response of the authorities towards the conflict. Instead of helping those stuck on the issue, they try to find a scapegoat. We don’t know if, in this case, the police threatened the boys or not, but generally, that’s the stereotypical manner in which they act, and that definitely needs to change.


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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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