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16 Vayathinile

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16 Vayathinile
16 Vayathinile.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by P. Bharathiraja
Produced by S. A. Rajkannu
Written by P. Bharathiraja
P. Kalaimani (dialogues)
Starring Kamal Haasan
Sridevi
Rajinikanth
Music by Ilaiyaraaja
Cinematography P. S. Nivas
Edited by R. Bhaskaran
Production
company
Sri Amman Creations
Distributed by Sri Amman Creations
Release dates
  • 15 September 1977 (1977-09-15)
[1]
Running time
133–139 minutes[a]
Country India
Language Tamil
Budget 425,000 – 500,000[2]

16 Vayathinile (read as "Pathinaaru Vayathinile"; English: At the Age of 16) is a 1977 Indian Tamil drama film written and directed by P. Bharathiraja in his directorial debut. The film features Kamal Haasan, Sridevi and Rajinikanth in the lead roles with Ganthimathi playing the role of Sridevi's mother. The film marks the debut of comedian Goundamani, who plays the role of Rajinikanth's friend. The film's soundtrack album and background score were composed by Ilaiyaraaja while the cinematography was handled by P. S. Nivas. P. Kalaimani wrote the dialogues for the film.

The film centres on the strengths and vulnerabilities of Mayil (Sridevi), a 16-year old educated girl, along with the challenges she faces and eventually overcomes. The film was originally titled Mayil but was changed to 16 Vayathinile upon so as to make the title sound more artistic. The film focussed on the rural areas of Tamil Nadu, and was the first film of Rajinikanth to be released in colour. It was also the first Tamil film to be shot completely outdoors as shooting of Tamil films were mostly confined to studios located in Chennai.

16 Vayathinile was the first Tamil film to be released by the producer on his own across Tamil Nadu without the help of distributors. The film was released on 15 September 1977 to critical acclaim, with praise mainly directed at Bharathiraja's script, Ilaiyaraaja's music and the performances of Kamal, Sridevi and Rajinikanth. The film became a commercially successful venture at the box office and completed a theatrical run of 175 days.

16 Vayathinile is considered a cult film in Tamil cinema and became a trendsetter for films that portrayed rural life realistically. In addition to catapulting its director and lead actors to stardom, the film won the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for S. Janaki, the Filmfare Award for Best Actor (Tamil) for Kamal and five State Awards. The film was remade in Telugu by K. Raghavendra Rao as Padaharella Vayasu (1978) and in Hindi by Bharathiraja as Solva Sawan (1979) with Sridevi reprising her role in both the versions.

Plot[edit]

Mayil (Sridevi) is an educated 16-year old girl who lives in a village with her mother, Guruvammal (Ganthimathi). Guruvammal takes care of the limping orphan, Goapalakrishnan (Kamal Haasan), who is referred to by the villagers as "Chappani" (English: Lame). Chappani performs any job assigned to him for a living. Mayil's ambition is to become a qualified teacher, and she dreams of marrying a sophisticated and highly educated man. Chappani is in love with Mayil and wants to marry her, but she ignores him.

One day, a veterinary physician from Chennai, Sathyajith (Sathyajith), comes to the village for work and soon falls in love with Mayil. Mayil, believing that Sathyajith is the right man for her, falls for him. When Mayil is provided with an opportunity to attend a teacher training course in Chennai, she abandons the idea of going there so as to avoid being separated from Sathyajith. Though Mayil loves him, she doesn't allow him to sexually exploit her, which disappoints him. Sathyajith, who never wanted to have a serious relationship with Mayil, goes back to Chennai to get married. When Mayil learns of this, she begs him not to leave her, but he ridicules her by saying that he only befriended her for his own enjoyment and was not interested in marrying her.

A dejected Mayil then confesses this to Guruvammal, who makes plans to quickly engage Mayil with someone else. However, trouble emerges in the form of the village rowdy, Parattaiyan alias Parattai (Rajinikanth). Parattai, who is passionate about Mayil, spreads false rumours about her relationship with Sathyajith. Due to this, Mayil's engagement plans are halted and the entire village becomes hostile to her. Unable to bear the disgrace meted out to Mayil and herself, Guruvammal commits suicide, leaving Chappani to take care of Mayil.

Chappani takes good care of Mayil and enlivens her when her mood falters. Mayil slowly starts to like Chappani and motivates him to become more confident and assertive. She also grooms him to look and live in a better manner to the surprise of many in the village. She further tells him to slap anyone who calls him Chappani and that Chappani should respond only if they address him by his real name, Gopalakrishnan. As a result, when Parattai addresses Gopalakrishnan as Chappani, despite Gopalakrishnan's request to be called by his original name, Gopalakrishnan slaps him. Insulted, Parattai beats Gopalakrishnan badly. Mayil saves Gopalakrishnan and spits on Parattai, scolding him for the brutal attack.

Mayil decides to marry Gopalakrishnan and sends him to a nearby town to get the required materials for their marriage. Upon learning of Gopalakrishnan's absence, Parattai goes to Mayil's house and attempts to rape her. Fortunately for Mayil, Gopalakrishnan returns to Mayil's house at that time after buying the required materials and pleads in vain with Parattai to leave her. Reluctantly, he kills Parattai by crushing his head with a stone. As a result of killing a person, Gopalakrishnan is arrested. Before leaving the village, he promises to Mayil that he would be back. The film ends with Mayil looking forward to Gopalakrishnan's return.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

“I am Bharatiraja's [sic] very first fan. These are not empty words. Before 16 Vayathinile's release, when he showed me the film, I wrote him a letter of appreciation. That's why I say that I'm his first fan and proud to be so.”

 – K. Balachander on Bharathiraja.[3]

16 Vayathinile was P. Bharathiraja's directorial debut and was also the first script written by him in his career. He originally planned to make a film funded by the National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC) under the title Mayil, having Nagesh and Roja Ramani in mind for the lead roles but the NFDC rejected his script.[4] Bharathiraja stated in an October 2013 interview that the script had been rejected at the last minute by the NDFC without any reason.[5]

S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, on hearing of Bharathiraja's script being rejected, then introduced Bharathiraja to S. A. Rajkannu. Bharathiraja narrated the scripts of Sigappu Rojakkal (1978) and Mayil to Rajkannu. Rajkannu did not like the former but was pleased with the latter and agreed to produce the film adaptation of Mayil.[4] Rajkannu felt that 16 Vayathinile sounded more artistic than Mayil and requested Bharathiraja the film's title was changed from Mayil to 16 Vayathinile to which Bharathiraja agreed. A few alterations were made to the original script, and the dialgues were written by P. Kalaimani.[6]

Bharathiraja initially hesitated to direct the film but eventually did so on Rajkannu's insistence and being given an advance of 500[b] for directing the film.[2] The film was initially made on a shoestring budget of 425,000.[4][b]

Casting[edit]

According to producer and writer G. Dhananjayan, the characters of 16 Vayathinile are inspired by those from David Lean's romantic drama film, Ryan's Daughter (1970).[4] Bharathiraja wanted Kamal for the role of Chappani and requested Chitra Lakshmanan, who worked as an assistant director in the film along with K. Bhagyaraj, to finalise Kamal's inclusion in the film.[4] Bharathiraja expected Kamal to accept a salary of 15,000[b] as Kamal was paid 17,000[c] for the film Aayirathil Oruthi (1975). Kamal, however, sought 30,000 as salary,[b] which prompted Lakshmanan to suggest Bharathiraja to offer the role to Sivakumar as the production unit could not afford to pay Kamal, but Bharathiraja felt that Kamal was the ideal choice for Chappani and agreed to pay 27,000[b] to Kamal.[4] Sridevi was paid 5,000[b] for the role of Mayil.[4]

Bharathiraja had earlier worked as an assistant director to Puttanna Kanagal and included Rajinikanth in the film after being impressed with his performance in Katha Sangama (1976).[2] Rajinikanth was paid 3,000[b] for his participation in the film.[4][d] This was Rajinikanth's first film in colour.[7] For the role of Mayil's mother, Guruvammal, Bharathiraja wanted someone who could speak the village dialect fluently and hence chose Ganthimathi for the role as he believed it suited her acting style.[8]

16 Vayathinile was Bhagyaraj's debut in Tamil cinema as a filmmaker.[9] He developed the idea of using a flashback narrative for the film.[10] Bhagyaraj was paid a salary of just 150,[10][b] and was initially considered for the role of the veterinary physician attracted to Mayil, but Bhagyaraj refused the offer as he wanted to concentrate on becoming a director.[11] The role finally went to newcomer Sathyajith.[2] Due to Rajinikanth not being fluent in Tamil at that time, Bhagyaraj read Rajinikanth the dialogues, who repeated them until he had mastered them.[10] The film also marked the debut of comedian Goundamani.[9]

Filming[edit]

16 Vayathinile was shot in Mysore, Sivasamudram, Velakkadu, Kolakkadu and Kollegal for a period of 25 days, and became first Tamil film to be shot completely outdoors with no artificial lighting.[12][13] The actors wore normal village outfits and acted without any make-up. The technical crew found filming in Eastman Colour to be too expensive, and decided to half their costs and shoot with ORWO film.[4] According to Kamal, due to the budget constraints of the film, the technical crew could not afford to buy a camera that could capture slow motion sequences, as a result of which Sridevi had to literally run in slow motion for the song "Senthoora Poove".[2] Since Kamal was paid 27,000, the budget of the film increased from 425,000 to 500,000.[2][b]

The scene where Mayil spits on Parattai incurred several takes. Finally, Rajinikanth insisted Sridevi to spit on him for real so as to make the scene look more effective.[2][14] Rajinikanth finished his portions in the film within six days.[2] Overall, 8,534 metres (27,999 ft) of film negative was used to make the film.[2] The final length of the film was 3,822 m (12,539 ft).[1]

Music[edit]

16 Vayathinile
Original Album Cover Art
Soundtrack album by Ilaiyaraaja
Genre Feature film soundtrack
Length 16:53
Language Tamil
Label EMI Records
Producer Ilaiyaraaja

The soundtrack album and background score for 16 Vayathinile were composed by Ilaiyaraaja, while the lyrics for the songs were written by Kannadasan,[e] Gangai Amaran and Alangudi Somu.[15] The soundtrack album was released under the audio label company EMI Records.[16]

This was Ilaiyaraaja's first collaboration with Kamal.[17] When Bharathiraja recommended Ilayaraaja to Rajkannu, the latter had doubts on whether Ilayaraaja would accept the offer as he had become famous after his debut film Annakili (1976), but the duo met Ilayaraaja on Bharathiraja's insistence. Ilayaraaja initially refused to compose the music for the film due to a bet which he had fixed earlier with Bharathiraja; the bet being that Ilayaraaja's mentor G. K. Venkatesh would compose the music for Bharathiraja's debut film. Ilaiyaraaja later agreed to compose for the film on the insistence of his mentor.[18]

For the songs "Chavanthi Poo" and "Aattukkutti", Ilayaraja wanted S. P. Balasubrahmanyam to sing both of them, but due to the latter having pharyngitis at that time, he was replaced with Malaysia Vasudevan.[19] "Chavanthi Poo" was the first song recorded and was the first song written by Kannadasan for the film.[19] The song "Chendoora Poove" marked the debut of Gangai Amaran as lyricist.[20] According to film critic Baradwaj Rangan, an unnamed Vienna-based orchestra troupe was used for "Chendoora Poove".[21] B. Kolappan of The Hindu wrote that "Chendoora Poove" "employs a rush of violins to set up the intro for the folk melody that follows."[22]

The soundtrack album, a blend of folk and western classical music,[23] was received positively by critics, with "Chendoora Poove" remaining popular today across the Tamil diaspora.[9] G. Dhananjayan states in his book, Pride of Tamil Cinema, that Ilaiyaraaja "achieved great heights with this album".[9] On "Chendoora Poove", B. Kolappan of The Hindu wrote, "The maestro’s genius is most evident in his ability to combine forms seamlessly."[22] IndiaGlitz included "Chendoora Poove" in its list of Ilaiyaraaja's best songs involving the Guitar.[24] "Chendoora Poove" inspired a 1988 film starring Vijayakanth and a television serial of the same name.[25] The film's songs were enhanced to 5.1 DTS Surround sound system by A. Muthusamy of Honey Bee Music in June 2013.[26]

Side one
No. Title Lyrics Singer(s) Length
1. "Manjakkulichi"   Alangudi Somu S. Janaki 4:26
2. "Chendoora Poove"   Gangai Amaran S. Janaki 3:33
Side two
No. Title Lyrics Singer(s) Length
1. "Aattukkutti"   Kannadasan Malaysia Vasudevan, S. Janaki 4:20
2. "Chavanthi Poo"   Kannadasan Malaysia Vasudevan, P. Susheela 4:34

Release[edit]

16 Vayathinile was released on 15 September 1977.[1] During the initial phase of its theatrical run, the audience could not understand the film and cases of catcalling occurred outside theatres. However, within a week, the film's box office collections picked up due to positive reviews and word of mouth appreciation spread, making it a commercially successful venture. The film went on to complete a theatrical run of 175 days,[27] thereby becoming a silver jubilee film.[2][f]

The film's box office prospects underwent such a huge transformation that the producer went into hiding to avoid income tax raids.[2] This was the first Tamil film to be released by the producer on his own across Tamil Nadu without the assistance of distributors.[9] Once the film started to achieve success, a lot of distributors came forward to buy the theatrical rights for the film in various territories across the state.[9] The film was remade in Telugu by K. Raghavendra Rao as Padaharella Vayasu (1978) and in Hindi by Bharathiraja as Solva Sawan (1979) with Sridevi reprising her role in both the versions.[9]

Critical reception[edit]

16 Vayathinile received critical acclaim, with praise directed at Bharathiraja's script, Ilaiyaraaja's music and the performances of Kamal, Sridevi and Rajinikanth.[9] Tamil magazine Ananda Vikatan wrote in its original review of the film, "If four more films come with the quality of this film, Tamil cinema will achieve greater heights".[9] G. Dhananjayan said that the film was "Truly a marvellous film which has an universal appeal even today for the way it was made".[9]

IndiaGlitz said, "Rajini [sic] as Parattai is as sly as a fox, Kamal as Chappani the innocent lad and Sridevi the attractive teacher give a enjoyable performance. You are sure to keep remembering "Pathavachitiye Parattai" after watching this movie."[28] Rediff called 16 Vayathinile a "new genre of pastoral film, which was true to village life in characterisation, costumes and dialect".[29] Behindwoods wrote, "Bharathiraja’s raw and near perfect depiction of a village had two of Tamil cinema’s most memorable all time performances, Parattai and Chappani".[30]

Awards[edit]

In addition to the National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for S. Janaki, 16 Vayathinile won Kamal the Filmfare Award under the Best Actor in Tamil category. The film also won five Tamil Nadu State Film Awards.[31] Rajinikanth won the Arima Sangam Award for Best Actor for his role as Parattai.[29]

Award Ceremony Category Nominee(s) Outcome
National Film Awards[31] 25th National Film Awards Best Female Playback Singer S. Janaki Won
Filmfare Awards[31] 6th Filmfare Awards South Best Actor – Tamil Kamal Haasan Won
Tamil Nadu State Film Awards[31] 4th Tamil Nadu State Film Awards Best Film (First prize) S. A. Rajkannu Won
Best Director P. Bharathiraja Won
Best Actor Kamal Haasan Won
Best Music Director Ilaiyaraaja Won
Best Female Playback Singer S. Janaki Won

Legacy[edit]

Rajinikanth's dialogue in the film, "Idhu eppadi irukku?", remains a very popular catchphrase associated with the actor till date.[3]

16 Vayathinile is considered a cult film and a landmark in Tamil cinema for deviating from the traditional way that Tamil films were made at that time.[9][32][33][34][35][g] Along with Annakili (1976), this film became a trendsetter for films that portrayed rural life realistically.[36] The film catapulted Bharathiraja, Kamal, Sridevi and Rajinikanth to stardom.[9] According to Rajinikanth's biographer Naman Ramachandran and S. Shiva Kumar of The Hindu, Kamal's performance was considered by critics to be a tour de force as he was becoming typecast as a romantic hero at that time.[3][37] "Idhu Eppadi Irukku?" (English: How is this?), which was the first punch dialogue spoken by Rajinikanth in his career, became very popular.[12] IANS, Rediff and Behindwoods included it in their list of "Dialogues popularised by Rajinikanth".[29][30][38] A dialogue spoken by Goundamani in the film, "Paththa Vechutiye Parattai" (English: You've started it, Parattai.), also became well known in Tamil Nadu.[39]

In July 2007, S. R. Ashok Kumar of The Hindu asked eight Tamil film directors to list their all-time favourite Tamil films; seven of them – C. V. Sridhar, K. Balachander, J. Mahendran, K. Bhagyaraj, Mani Ratnam, K. S. Ravikumar and Ameer – named 16 Vayathinile among their favourite films.[40] Ratnam added that the film was "memorable for its script, high standard and realism."[40] The magazine South Scope included Kamal's performance in the film in its list of "Kamal's best performances" in its July 2010 edition.[41] In December 2010, S. Shiva Kumar of The Hindu rated the film in his list of "Electrifying Rajinikanth-Kamal Haasan films" alongside Moondru Mudichu (1976), Avargal (1977) and Aval Appadithan (1978).[42] In April 2013 CNN-IBN included the film in its list of "100 greatest Indian films of all time", noting that it was a "decisive move away from the studio-bound productions and paved the way for successful integration of subaltern themes and folk arts into mainstream commercial cinema."[43] On 11 December 2014, The Times of India included 16 Vayathinile in its list of "Top 12 Rajinikanth movies".[44] Actors Vijay Sethupathi and Vikram similarly included 16 Vayathinile among their favourite films.[45][46] After seeing the film, Balachander wrote a letter of appreciation to Bharathiraja, a line of which said: "You have hit the bull's eye".[47]

16 Vayathinile was spoofed in the film Murattu Kaalai (2012) by Vivek, whose character Saroja is called Mayil by Cell Murugan's character, a veterinary physician with similar characteristics to that of Sathyajith's role in the film.[48][49] A dialogue spoken by Sridevi in the film, "Aatha Naan Passaayitten" (English: Mother, I have passed the exam.),[50] was used as the title of a 1990 film starring Arjun Sarja.[51] The Sathyaraj-starrer Azhagesan (2004) was compared by critics with 16 Vayathinile due to its similar characterisation of the antagonist with Kamal's character, Chappani.[52] In Sivaji (2007), Vivek's character speaks a punch dialogue on behalf of Rajinikanth's character and finishes by saying "Idhu eppadi irukku?".[53] The title of the film and its characters have inspired film titles - Parattai Engira Azhagu Sundaram (2007), Mayilu (2012) and 36 Vayadhinile (2015).[32][54][55]

Explanatory notes[edit]

  1. ^ G. Dhananjayan's Pride of Tamil Cinema gives the runtime as 133 minutes,[1] while Ashish Rajadhyaksha and Paul Willemen's Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema give the runtime as 139 minutes.[56]
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i The exchange rate in 1977 was 8.7386 Indian rupees () per 1 US dollar (US$).[57]
  3. ^ The exchange rate in 1975 was 8.3759 Indian rupees () per 1 US dollar (US$).[57]
  4. ^ In 2013, Bharathiraja revealed that although he had finalised 3,000 as the salary for Rajinikanth after the latter initially charged 5,000, he had paid 2,500 to Rajinikanth.[58]
  5. ^ Ilaiyaraaja, in an April 2015 interview with Maalai Malar, stated that Kannadasan accepted salaries ranging from 1,000 to 1,500. Ilaiyaraaja requested Kannadasan to accept 750 citing the film's budget constraints, to which Kannadasan agreed.[18]
  6. ^ A Silver Jubilee film is one that completes a theatrical run of 175 days (25 weeks).[59]
  7. ^ Tamil films were mostly made in studios in Chennai till then.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Dhananjayan 2014, p. 243.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Dhananjayan 2014, p. 245.
  3. ^ a b c Ramachandran 2014, p. 68.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Dhananjayan 2014, p. 244.
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  6. ^ Dhananjayan 2014, pp. 243-244.
  7. ^ Ramachandran 2014, p. 66.
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  47. ^ Malathi Rangarajan (22 April 2010). "Another avatar". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 24 May 2015. Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
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