Siraichalai is a 1996 Indian Malayalam-language epic historical drama film co-written and directed by Priyadarshan. Set in 1915, the film focuses on the lives of Indian independence activists incarcerated in the Cellular Jail in Andaman and Nicobar Islands during the British Raj. The ensemble cast includes Mohanlal, Prabhu, Tabu, Amrish Puri, Nedumudi Venu, Sreenivasan, Tinnu Anand, Annu Kapoor, Alex Draper, Sankaradi, and Vineeth. The film was produced by Mohanlal for Pranavam Arts in association with R. Mohan’s Shogun Films.
The film is about the lives of prisoners in British India who are brought to Kālā Pānī. The name Kalapani is derived from the mode of imprisonment in British India. Ilaiyaraaja composed the music, the cinematography was by Santosh Sivan, and the editing by N. Gopalakrishnan. The film introduced Dolby Stereo into Malayalam cinema. It was made on a budget of ₹2.50 crore, making it the costliest Malayalam film made until then.
Siraichalai was released on 6 April 1996 in 450 theaters worldwide, which was the largest release for any Indian film until then. The film is now regarded as one of the classics in Malayalam cinema. Originally made in Malayalam, the film was dubbed and released in Hindi as Saza-E-Kala Pani, Tamil as Siraichalai, and in Telugu as Kaala Pani. Amitabh Bachchan bought the Hindi dubbing rights, besides narrating the prologue for the Hindi version. The film won four National Film Awards, including the awards for Best Art Direction (Sabu Cyril), Best Special Effects (S. T. Venky), and Best Cinematography (Santosh Sivan). The movie also won seven Kerala State Film Awards.
Directed by Priyadarshan
Screenplay by T. Damodaran & Priyadarshan
Story by Priyadarshan
Produced by Mohanlal & R. Mohan
Starring Mohanlal, Prabhu, Tabu, Amrish Puri
Cinematography Santosh Sivan
Edited by N. Gopalakrishnan
Music by Ilaiyaraaja
Production Pranavam Arts & Shogun Films
Distributed by Pranamam Pictures & Shogun Films, Amitabh Bachchan Corporation (Hindi)
Release date 6 April 1996
Running time 180 minutes