Chandralekha is a 1997 Malayalam film directed by Priyadarshan and produced by Fazil. This brought back after a couple of years the old successful comedy combo of Mohanlal and Sreenivasan, which was popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This film is the sixth record grosser film from Priyadarshan-Mohanlal team, after Thalavattam (1986),Chithram (1988), Kilukkam (1991), Adwaytham (1991) and Thenmavin Kombathu (1994). The name “Chandralekha” is a combination of the names of the two heroines in the story, ‘Chandra’ and ‘Lekha’.
Appukuttan Nair or ‘Appu’ (Mohanlal) is a struggling unemployed youth who arrives in Mumbai to meet his sister and brother-in-law (Augustine). His father has been falsely implicated in a bank fraud and wants to sell his ancestral property to pay towards the litigation. For that he needs his sister’s approval, but is abused and turned away by his brother-in-law. Disappointed, Appu seeks out his old pal Nooruddin or ‘Noor’ (Sreenivasan), who is working in a fruit juice vending shop in Mumbai. Noor himself is a hapless uneducated youth working for his uncle Beeran (Mamukkoya), who is a treacherous money lender, with a hope to marry his daughter Maimoona. They plan to open a paint shop but need 1.25 lakh Rupees to rent a shop as prerequisite to get a bank loan. With no other way in sight, they swindle Beeran out of 1.25 lakh Rupees. Appukuttan then tries to get the loan sanctioned but he is rebuffed by a new Bank manager Varghese (Maniyanpilla Raju) who had taken charge by then.
In a turn of events Appukkuttan happens to rescue a woman called Chandrika Varma or ‘Chandra’ (Sukanya) after a car accident, hospitalizing her. Chandra is the daughter of a wealthy businessman Udhaya Varma (Nedumudi Venu). Appukkuttan is mistaken by the hospital staff to be her husband, Alfred Fernandes or ‘Alfie’. Soon her relatives including her father arrive and they too mistake him for Chandra’s husband, because Chandra had eloped with Alfie, and no one had ever seen or talked to Alfie. Also it happened to be that Chandra was a major client of Appukkuttan’s Bank Manager Varghese, who too mistook Appukkuttan for Chandra’s husband, and was now eager to oblige him with the loan. Appukkuttan decides to masquerade as Alfie till he gets loan approval from the Bank Manager. Chandra lay bedridden paralysed unable to react but was able to witness all the commotions around her.
Some of the relatives of Chandra were never convinced about Appukuttan from the outset. Beeran is also hot on Appukuttan’s trail to retrieve his money. To make matters worse for Appukkuttan enters the second heroine Lekha (Pooja Batra), a close friend of Chandra and who is a medical graduate. She had talked to Alfie on the phone previously and become immediately suspicious about Appukkuttan. The relatives join with Lekha to find out the truth. Lekha and others play cat and mouse with Appukkuttan trying to uncover his veracity, with Appukkuttan staying ahead of the game for a while. Finally Lekha fortuitously comes to know the real story of Appukkuttan but she is moved by his plight and enamored by his openhearted nature. In the meantime Chandra revives from her paralysis but she too forgives Appukkuttan for everything; also she had developed a liking for him. But one of the jealous relatives of Chandra (Cochin Haneefa) manages to expose Appukkuttan before everyone. Then Chandra admits all the truth to everyone. Her was not in fact a car accident but was a suicide attempt after her fiance, the real Alfie, had betrayed her, and their marriage had never commenced. But she was now in love with Appukkuttan and hoped to marry him. Chandra recovers fully under the loving care of Appu and Lekha. But later Chandra discovers that Lekha was already in love with Appukkuttan, and had in fact given way for her as a favor to Chandra’s father, to whom Lekha was like a second daughter. Chandra gracefully withdraws from her planned marriage with Appukkuttan, and Appukkuttan and Lekha are united together with everyone’s hearty blessings.