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Directed by Mani Ratnam
Produced by Mani Ratnam
G. Srinivasan
Written by Mani Ratnam
Screenplay by Mani Ratnam
Story by Mani Ratnam
R. Selvaraj
Starring R. Madhavan
Music by A. R. Rahman
Cinematography P. C. Sriram
Edited by A. Sreekar Prasad
Distributed by Madras Talkies
Ayngaran International
Release dates
  • 14 April 2000 (2000-04-14)
Running time
157 minutes
Country India
Language Tamil

Alaipayuthey (English: Waves) is a 2000 Tamil romantic drama film directed by Mani Ratnam, starring Madhavan and Shalini, the film explores the tensions of married life and the maturing of love. The film score and soundtrack were composed by A. R. Rahman.

The film's story is mostly recollected in flashbacks by the character Karthik (Madhavan). Karthik and Shakthi (Shalini) fall in love against the backdrop of Chennai and its suburban trains, against the wishes of their parents. The film was well received by critics and it did well at the Tamil and Telugu box-offices primarily for its music and realistic portrayal of romance and married life. It was dubbed into Telugu as Sakhi.

The film made its European premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2001. It was shown at various film festivals nationally and internationally. It also carried a very popular soundtrack, composed by A. R. Rahman. Alaipayuthey was later remade in Hindi cinema as Saathiya, directed by Shaad Ali in 2002, starring Rani Mukherjee and Vivek Oberoi.


Karthik (Madhavan) is a software engineering graduate who along with his friends are developing a software for their living without their parent's help. He happens to lay eyes on Shakthi (Shalini), a medical student, at a wedding. The two meet regularly after that on suburban trains, to and from work and university. Karthik and Shakthi eventually fall in love. Karthik's father Varadarajan, a lawyer, learns of the relationship and meets Shakthi's dad Selvaraj. He asks Selvaraj, a railways employee, for his consent to a marriage between the two young lovers. However, upon meeting, the two parents disagree and the wedding is called off. Shakthi decides not to get married without her parents' consent, and the relationship is called off altogether.

Unable to stay separated for very long, coupled with chance meetings, Karthik and Shakthi find themselves resuming their relationship, albeit secretly, without the knowledge of their respective families. They decide to get married, without telling anyone, but carry on living with their parents, hoping that a time will come when both families will see eye to eye and can be told of the development. With the help of their friends, and Shakthi's older sister Poorni (Swarnamalya), they marry legally, and they continue to meet without their parents' knowledge.

Poorni gets an engagement proposal soon after. Poorni is willing to marry the suitor - Raghu (Hari Nair). The prospective groom's father offers his second son, Shyam's (Karthik Kumar), hand in marriage to Shakthi. Shakthi's mother Saroja urges her to accept the marriage proposal, unaware of the fact that Karthik and Shakthi are already together. Shakthi eventually tells the truth, and Poorni's engagement is called off. Karthik and Shakthi are thrown out of their homes.

With the help of friends, Shakthi and Karthik move into an apartment, in development. They cope for a while, however it's not too long before the couple start arguing over various issues that the two seemed so much more tolerant of before they got married. The tension escalates. Shakthi learns that her father is seriously ill back home. She and Karthik decide it would be best to visit him. Upon arrival they get the news that her father has died. Wracked with guilt, the two return home, their relationship taking a turn for the worse.

The two stop talking to each other. Meanwhile, Karthik takes it upon himself to sort out Poorni's adjourned marriage proposal to Raghu. He arranges a blind date between the two, which initially fails, backfiring on Karthik, however, with more meetings, Poorni and Raghu become closer. This development takes place without Shakthi's knowledge. She and her husband have not spoken to each other for a long time. Karthik waits until Poorni and Raghu's marriage is confirmed before telling Shakthi. Poorni is desperate to tell her sister the news herself. Whilst hugging Karthik, thanking him for his efforts, Shakthi witnesses their close contact and misunderstands it, leading to an even bigger argument, and a trade of insults.

Shakthi eventually learns of her husband's efforts in getting her sister married, and wants to thank him. Karthik sets off to the railway station to get his wife. She had left the hospital where she works but is not on the train she usually takes. Karthik waits for his wife.

Meanwhile, with Karthik getting a software deal for a whopping amount, Shakthi in a hurry to rush home, meets with a car accident, which leaves her fighting for her life. She is hit by a car driven by a woman (Kushboo). The woman's husband IAS Officer Ram (Arvind Swamy) ensures that Karthik is informed about the accident. Finally Karthik meets his wife in the hospital after lot of struggles. In these turn of events Karthik understands the true meaning of love. Shakthi later comes out from coma and hugs Karthik on the hospital bed.



The song "Snegithane" was shot at Fort Ahilya of the Holkar dynasty, in Maheshwar.

Mani Ratnam opted to make a romantic film with relative newcomers after the commercial failure of his 1998 Hindi film Dil Se.. and signed on small screen actor Madhavan to make his acting debut in Tamil films. Madhavan had done a sandalwood talc ad for Santosh Sivan in 1996 and the veteran cinematographer gave photographs of the actor to Mani Ratnam during the casting process of Iruvar. The director had made Madhavan audition for a role in the film but turned him down citing that "he thought his eyes were too young" and assured "that they would work together some other time". In 1999, Mani Ratnam rang Madhavan up suddenly and told him to "Come down and we will do a photo session. I am starting a film with you", much to the actors' surprise.[1] Mani Ratnam initially wanted to cast a debutant in the lead female role as well and carried out a screen test with Vasundhara Das, before signing on Shalini to play the role in the film in April 1999.[2] Swarnamalya was selected to play the role of Poorni after the director spotted her on a television show and subsequently asked her to screen test for the film. The actress appeared without make-up in the film and also dubbed her own lines.[3] Theatre actor, Karthik Kumar of Evam, also marked his film debut with a minor supporting role as a potential suitor to Shakti.[4] Prior to the release of his breakthrough film Sethu (1999), actor Vikram was approached by Mani Ratnam to play the role of Swarnamalya's fiance in the film but turned down the offer.[5] Television actress Sriranjini made her film debut with this film appearing as Madhavan's sister-in-law while Raviprakash appeared as Shalini's father thus making his acting debut with the film.[6][7] Venu Aravind and Pondy Ravi appeared as police officers.[8] Mani roped in producer Pyramid Natarajan to portray the character of Madhavan's father.[9]

The film also required two leading actors to appear in supporting roles with Kushboo roped in to do a role. After considering either Shahrukh Khan, Mammooty or Mohanlal, Mani Ratnam signed Arvind Swamy to play another role, with Alaipayuthey becoming the pair's fourth production together.[10] P. C. Sriram renewed his collaboration with Mani Ratnam after seven years, with the director toggling between Santosh Sivan and Rajiv Menon for his other projects.[3] A. R. Rahman was initially signed on just to compose the background score for the film as the film was originally planned to be "songless", however after a change of heart, nine songs were recorded.[11][12][13]

The film began without an official launch, like other Mani Ratnam projects, and it was initially expected that filming would be wrapped up under four months. During the first seven days of the shoot, Mani Ratnam filmed portions featuring Shalini and made Madhavan stay on the sets and watch his process of film-making.[3] The first scene the actor shot was the post-interval scene featuring Shakthi's mother played by Jayasudha. The team shot in Srinagar in late for 25 days, becoming the last production team to shoot in the area until 2003 as a result of the Kashmir conflict.[14][15] A "meet the stars" publicity event was held at Music World in Spencer Plaza in March 2000, with the gathering being described as a success.[3] About the production process, Madhavan revealed that he learnt about the technical aspects of film-making from the director and mentioned that he even learned the entire script of the film, irrespective of whether I was in the scene or not claiming that working with Mani Ratnam inspires that sort of involvement and dedication.[16]


The Hindu cited the film saying, "The wavy movements are not restricted to the title card alone. Alaipayuthey goes backward and forward in time and the movement holds a thin thread of suspense too. The oscillation from joy and levity to seriousness and sorrow creates impressive waves", The lead pair performance was praised saying, "Shalini once again proves that she is a natural performer while Madhavan sails through the litmus test with ease".[17] Similarly mentioned that "Mani's directorial mind and heart sways beautifully like his film" and that the film is "worth seeing with the whole family".[18] However gave the film a middling review citing that the film is "old wine in an old bottle" and that "the only person who scores good marks in the film is P. C. Sreeram", describing "he has used his camera like a paint brush and the strokes are so stunningly beautiful that, once the film is over, one remembers only the visual treat".[19] In regard to performances, the critic mentions that Madhavan "looks pleasant and handsome and does his job splendidly until the end, where he looks totally lost in the most crucial scene" and that Shalini "is very beautiful but not as open as she used to be as a child star".[19]

Alaipayuthey was dubbed and released as Sakhi in Telugu and was later remade in Hindi cinema as Saathiya, by Mani Ratnam's assistant Shaad Ali in 2002, starring Rani Mukherjee and Vivek Oberoi.[20] It was the first time where the director had sold off production rights' of his films to be remade in another language as he had previously opted to dub and release the film himself.[21]


The film began a successful film career for Madhavan and launched him as a "romantic hero".[22] He has since gone on to become a regular part of the cast in Mani Ratnam's productions and featured in leading roles in Dumm Dumm Dumm (2001), Kannathil Muthamittal (2002), Aaytha Ezhuthu (2004) and Guru (2007).[23] Meanwhile Shalini had already agreed to call time on her career before release due to her pending marriage with Ajith Kumar and Alaipayuthey became her penultimate release. Swarnamalya also received several film offers after her critically acclaimed performance, but consecutive failures of eight of her ten movies since failed to catapult her into the leading bracket of actors.[24] Post-release, the actress had also expressed her disappointment at several of her scenes being edited out of the film.[25] In July 2011, Janani Iyer said she considered a role like Shalini's character from the film as "really challenging".[26] Gautham Menon revealed that the scene prior to the song "Evano Oruvan" was "almost straight out of real life" and that he "tried to incorporate such moments" in his films.[27] The film created an interest for weddings held in temple.[28]

In popular culture[edit]

Several other directors have made cultural references to Alaipayuthey, with both scenes and songs being alluded in their films. The scene where Madhavan proposes Shalini in the train was spoofed in Boss Engira Bhaskaran (2010) where Arya tries to do the same with Nayantara but fails. When Madhavan saw that film, he said "It was a plesant shock to see this clip feature in BEB. It was such a sweet tribute to me. After watching this sequence, I was quite amused to see how thin I was back then!"[29] In Budget Padmanabhan (2000), Vivek speaks to Bhuvaneswari through cups attached with wires. Vivek utters Madhavan's dialogue from the film by mimicing his voice, he then hurts Theni Kunjaramma's eye by singing the film's song.[30] In Shahjahan (2001), Vivek and Kovai Sarala sings "Snegithane" in a humorous vein.[31]

Hindi Television series Beintehaa was dubbed in Tamil as Alaipayuthe.[32] Songs from the film inspired several film titles - Kadhal Sadugudu (2003), Evano Oruvan (2007), Pachai Nirame (2008) and Endrendrum Punnagai (2013). Posters of Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya (2010) were inspired from various films including Alaipayuthey.[33]


Soundtrack album by A. R. Rahman
Released March 14, 2000
Recorded Panchathan Record Inn
Genre Soundtrack
Length 42:52
Label Sa Re Ga Ma
Producer A. R. Rahman
A. R. Rahman chronology
Kandukondain Kandukondain

The music score that accompanies the film was composed by A. R. Rahman. Upon release, the album met with widespread critical acclaim, selling over six lakh cassettes, and went on to win the Filmfare Award for Best Music Director in 2000.[34] The soundtrack features 10 songs composed by Rahman, with lyrics by Vairamuthu, except for the title song "Alai Payuthey" (which was created by the 18th-century Carnatic music composer Oothukkadu Venkatasubramanya Iyer, who also set it to the raagam Kaanada). The song "Yaro Yarodi" later appeared in the 2008 Hollywood film, The Accidental Husband. The film's background score and songs are considered as one of Rahman's finest works and are still very popular throughout Tamil Nadu. The audio rights were sold to Sa Re Ga Ma. The song "Pachai Nirame" is based on Kharaharapriya Raga.[35]

Karthik worked as chorus singer for the film while Clinton Cerejo made his debut as playback singer.[36][37] Song "Kadhal Sadugudu" provided major breakthrough for its singer S. P. Charan.[38]

Track listing
No. Title Singer(s) Length
1. "Endendrum Punnagai"   Clinton Cerejo, Srinivas, Shankar Mahadevan, A.R.Rahman 4:00
2. "Pachchai Nirame"   Hariharan, Clinton Cerejo, Dominique Cerejo  
3. "Kadhal Sadugudu"   S.P.B. Charan 4:35
4. "Evano Oruvan"   Swarnalatha 5:56
5. "Alaipayuthey"   Harini, Kalyani Menon, Neyveli Ramalaxmi 3:34
6. "Snehithane Snehithane"   Sadhana Sargam, Srinivas 6:05
7. "Maangalyam"   Clinton Cerejo, Srinivas, A.R.Rahman 1:41
8. "Yaro Yarodi"   Mahalaxmi Iyer, Vaishali Samant, Richa Sharma 5:46
9. "September Madham"   Asha Bhonsle, Shankar Mahadevan 5:08
10. "Snehithane Snehithane II"   Ustad Sultan Khan, Sadhana Sargam, Srinivas 6:05

Filmfare Awards South[edit]


  1. ^ ", Movies: Madhavan moves to the big screen with Mani Ratnam's Alaipayuthey.". 2000-03-08. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  2. ^ "Interviews with Vasundhara". 2000-04-10. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  3. ^ a b c d Sandya Krishna. "Alaipayuthey". Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  4. ^ "Their world's a STAGE". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 2003-09-09. 
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  10. ^ "Rediff On The NeT, Movies: Gossip from the southern film industry". 1999-06-07. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  11. ^ "Mani Ratnam's films musically::Situations and Raagas::Mani Ratnam with Ilayaraja and A R Rahman". 1999-12-31. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  12. ^ "alaipayuthey - a r rahman netservice". Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
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  14. ^ "Kashmir's Mission: Shoot for films". The Times Of India. 2003-01-16. 
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  16. ^ "Welcome to". 2007-01-20. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  17. ^ "Film Review: "Alaipayuthey"". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 2000-04-21. 
  18. ^ "Alai Payudhae: Movie Review". 2000-04-13. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  19. ^ a b ", Movies: The Alai Payuthe review". 2000-04-15. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
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  21. ^ "Thalapathi goes to Bollywood". The Times Of India. 2011-11-21. 
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  23. ^ "Cinema should entertain". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 2002-04-26. 
  24. ^ "A powerful comeback for her". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 2007-07-10. 
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  29. ^ "I'm very fond of Arya: Madhavan". The Times Of India. 2010-09-17. 
  30. ^ Budget Padmanabhan (DVD)
  31. ^ Shahjahan (DVD)
  32. ^
  33. ^ Southscope 2010, p. 50.
  34. ^ Kamath, Vinay (25 August 2000). "Gramophone pitch gets louder in the South -- Acquires rights for Telugu songs from Sea Records". The Hindu (Chennai, India). Archived from the original on 4 February 2014. 
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