16 Vayathinile

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16 Vayathinile
16 Vayathinile.jpg
Directed by P. Bharathiraja
Produced by S. A. Rajkannu
Written by P. Bharathiraja
P. Kalaimani (dialogues)
Starring Kamal Haasan
Music by Ilaiyaraaja
Cinematography P. S. Nivas
Edited by R. Bhaskaran
Sri Amman Creations
Distributed by Sri Amman Creations
Release dates
  • September 15, 1977 (1977-09-15)
Running time
139 minutes
Country India
Language Tamil
Budget INR4.5 lakh[2]INR5 lakh

16 Vayathinile (read as "Pathinaaru Vayathinile"; English: At the Age of Sixteen) is a 1977 Tamil feature film directed by Bharathiraja. The film stars Kamal Haasan, Sridevi and Rajinikanth.[3] The film also marks the debut of the famous South Indian comedian Goundamani. The film's score and soundtrack were composed by Ilaiyaraaja and cinematography was by P. S. Nivas. The film focussed on rural Tamil Nadu [4] and was the first Tamil film to be shot completely outdoors.[5] It began the trend of outdoor shooting in Tamil film industry.

16 Vayathinile was Bharathiraja's directorial debut, it met with a strong critical reception upon release, was a blockbuster and completed a 175-day run at the box office.[6] The film won four State Awards and one each in the South Filmfare Awards and National Film Awards ceremonies. The remake rights for the film were bought by Rajalaxmi Art Films to remake it in Telugu as Padaharella Vayasu.


Mayil (Sridevi) is a 16-year-old girl, filled with ambitions of becoming a teacher. She is an attractive, intelligent woman living in a small society and experiences ripe love when sees the new veterinarian who has come to visit. Many are impressed by this charming young fellow who has entered the village. He seems to be a wealthy, prosperous man and soon develops a relationship with Mayil. Mayil, who is deeply in love with him, sacrifices her opportunity to study in the teaching college course.Her dream world, however, comes crashing down when she learns that he wants only physical satisfaction from her.

Mayil's mother also dies, leaving her only with distant cousin Chappani (Kamal Haasan) for support. Chappani, a village bumpkin, is taken advantage of and isolated by the society. He is secretly in love with Mayil, but is jealous and upset about the vet. Another important character is the village rowdy Parattai (Rajinikanth) who also has an eye on Mayil. How Mayil lives and whom she chooses as her man forms the rest of the story.

The theme of this emotive story is to show how vulnerable women are when in love. This story conveys strong themes and depicts an issue faced by many young women all over the world.



The film was Bharathiraja's directorial debut, and was made on a budget of INR5 lakh. Kamal Haasan was paid a salary of INR27000, while Rajinikanth was reported to have been paid INR3000.[7][8] In 2013 however, Bharathiraja revealed that he had paid INR2500 to Rajinikanth, who had earlier charged INR5000.[9] Bharathiraja said that he had approached Rajinikanth by telling him that he was making an art film, Bharathirajaa was the assistant director to Puttana Kanagal and had a instant liking for Rajini, after seeing his performance in Kannada film Katha Sangama.[7] Rajini was the obvious choice for the villain's role in 16 Vayathiniley when he selected Kamal Haasan and Sridevi as a lead pair. Rajini finished off his scenes in 6 days.[7][10][11] Kanthimathi was cast as Mayil's mother and Bharathiraja stated, "at the time I was writing Padhinaru Vayathinile, I was looking for someone who could speak the ‘vattara vazhakku' (local dialect) well, and I could not think of anyone else".[12] K. Bhagyaraj was working as an assistant director to Bharathiraja in the film which was shot at Kollegal in Karnataka. For the small role of a doctor, various aspirants were tried out but Bharathiraja decided that Bhagyaraj should play the role but later he was replaced by a newcomer Sathyajith.[13][14] Bhagyaraj also said that, "I had to coach Rajinikant as he was [then] not fluent in Tamil and he could not even read Tamil. I thus used to read to him and help with voice modulation. He used to listen and repeat it over and over until he mastered the right modulation".[15]

Bharathiraja told that the film was to be made in black-and-white by the National Film Development Corporation of India under the title "Mayilu" but it backed out at the last minute.[7][16] His friend S. P. Balasubrahmanyam then introduced him to Rajaknnu. Bharathi first narrated the script of Sigappu Rojakkal which producer did not liked. He then narrated the script of Mayilu to which he liked and agreed to produce the film.[7] Rajkannu suggested Bharathiraja to change the title as 16 Vayathinile.[7] Bharathiraja went ahead with the film, shooting for the first time in natural light. Kamal Haasan said that they did not have the budget to afford a camera that could shoot slow motion scenes and therefore Sridevi had to literally run in slow motion for a particular scene.[13][17]

Tamil producer S. A. Rajkannu was a lorry driver by profession. He had an ambition to make at least one film in his lifetime. When Bharati Raja said he can make a film with four and half lakhs, Rajkannu agreed and started the film, but the film was not finished within the planned budget, and he had to sell off his lorry in order to complete the film. However, as the film reached its completion, no one seemed to come forward to release the film, and the producer was forced to release the movie himself with six prints.[18]


The music was composed by Ilaiyaraaja.[19] [20]

No. Song Singers Lyrics Length (m:ss)
1 Aattu Kutti Malaysia Vasudevan, S. Janaki Kannadasan 4:20
2 Cholam Vethakkaiyile Ilaiyaraaja Kannadasan 4:34
3 Manja Kulichi S. Janaki Alangudi Somu 4:26
4 Senthoora Poovae S. Janaki Gangai Amaran 3:33
5 Senthoora Poovae (Sad) S. Janaki 0:40
6 Sevvanthi Poo Mudicha Malaysia Vasudevan, P. Susheela Kannadasan 4:34


Year Film Language Cast Director
1978 Padaharella Vayasu Telugu Sri Devi, Chandramohan, Mohan Babu K. Raghavendra Rao
1979 Solva Sawan Hindi Sri Devi, Amol Palekar Bharathi Raja

In 2009, Kannada actor Ganesh stated that he and his wife had acquired the remake rights of 16 Vayathinile.[21]



IndiaGlitz said, "Rajini 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."[22] Rediff wrote, "Bharati Raja in this lyrical film, forcibly dragged Tamil cinema from the stuffy confines of studio sets into the great outdoors. It heralded the coming of age, in more ways than one, of erstwhile child star Sridevi. The brilliant musical score of Ilayaraja who, seemingly inspired by the outdoors, turned in a medley of outstanding tunes.[23] Four years later, Rediff wrote, "Bharathiraja was also the producer and scriptwriter of this new genre of pastoral film, which was true to village life in characterisation, costumes and dialect".[23] 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".[24]

Tamil magazine Ananda Vikatan in its review gave 62 1/2 marks, highest score for a Tamil film and mentioned that "If Bharathiraja is given 70, Kamal Haasan is given 90 for his acting".[13]


16 Vayathinile is considered a cult classic [25][26][27][28] and landmark in Tamil cinema.[29][30] IBN Live included the film in its list of 100 greatest Indian films of all time.[31] In 2007, The Hindu asked eight Tamil directors to list ten films they like most. Seven of them, C. V. Sridhar, K. Balachander, J. Mahendran, K. Bhagyaraj, Mani Ratnam, K. S. Ravikumar and Ameer Sultan, named 16 Vayathinile as one of their favourite Tamil films.[32] Mani Ratnam stated, "‘16 Vayathinile’ is memorable for its script, high standard and realism.[32] Vijay Sethupathi and Vikram listed 16 Vayathinile as one of their favourite films.[33][34] K. Balachander wrote a letter to Kamal Haasan after watching the film.[35] The latter stated that he would love to do the role of Chappani.[36]

The dialogue "Idhu eppadi irukku" spoken by Rajinikanth is very popular. In 2013, IANS included it in a list of dialogues popularised by Rajinikanth and wrote, "Rajini as the film's antagonist introduced us to one of the popular catch-phrases of a long forgotten era - "Idhu eppadi irukku?" (How's this?). This line was so admired that even after three decades since the film's release, it still lingers in the minds of the actor's fans".[37] Rediff also wrote, "He repeats the punchline 'Ithu eppadi irukku?'(How's that?) with lecherous glee to the delight of his fans. Repeated punchlines, merrily lapped up by the increasing multitude of his fans, became a part of Rajni's acting style and the trend continues to this day".[23] Behindwoods too made mention of it, "How often is the one liner delivered by a villain remembered and repeated for years? Rarely, if ever and it took one of Rajini’s finest performances to make this happen".[24]

Popular culture[edit]

16 Vayathinile was spoofed in the 2012 film Murattu Kaalai by Vivek whose character Mayilu is named after Sridevi's character from the film.[38][39][40] The characters of the film has inspired film titles - Parattai Engira Azhagu Sundaram (2007)[41] and Mayilu (2012).[42] One of the films Senthoora Poove (1988) was named after a song from the film.[43] Azhagesan (2004) starring Sathyaraj was compared by critics with 16 Vayathinile due to its similar characterisation.[44][45]


National Film Awards
Filmfare Awards South
Tamil Nadu State Film Awards


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External links[edit]