Iruttinte Athmavu (Malayalam: ഇരുട്ടിന്റെ ആത്മാവ്, English: The creature of Darkness) is a 1967 Malayalam film directed by P. Bhaskaran and written by M. T. Vasudevan Nair based on his own story with the same name.Location of the film is shoranur. It stars Prem Nazir, Sharada, Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair, P. J. Antony, Ushakumari, Kozhikode Shantha Devi and Baby Rajani in important roles, and features music by M. S. Baburaj, cinematography by E. N. Balakrishnan and editing by G. Venkitaraman and Das.
The film is about a mentally retarded youth born into a matriarchal family who is forced to live as a mad man in chains and who is misunderstood and ill-treated by everyone except his uncle's daughter. Prem Nazir played the mentally challenged Bhranthan Velayudhan, widely accepted to be an extraordinary performance and one of the best in his career. Nazir himself rated his role of Velayudhan in Iruttinte Athmavu and as the swashbuckling folk hero Thampan in Padayottam as his best. Also, its script is regarded as one of the finest by M. T. Vasudevan Nair. A major landmark in Malayalam cinema, the film provided Malayalam cinema with a new direction; that of the low-budget film. The film has earned a dedicated cult following. It won the National Film Award for Best Film on Other Social Issues. It missed the Best Film and Best Actor (Prem Nazir) award only narrowly. Despite all the acclaim, the film was a box office failure