Imsai Arasan 23m Pulikesi

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Imsai Arasan 23am Pulikesi
Imsai Arasan 23am Pulikesi DVD Cover.jpg
DVD Cover
Directed by Chimbudeven
Produced by S. Shankar
Written by Chimbudeven
Starring Vadivelu
Music by Sabesh-Murali
Cinematography Arthur A. Wilson
Edited by Sasi Kumar
Distributed by S Pictures
Release dates
  • 8 July 2006 (2006-07-08)
Running time 130 minutes
Country India
Language Tamil
Budget INR4 crore[1]
Box office INR15 crore[1]

Imsai Arasan 23am Pulikesi (English: The King of Torture, Pulikesi the 23rd) is a 2006 Tamil historical comedy film directed by Chimbudeven. The film stars Vadivelu in his first lead role alongside Monica, Tejashree, Manorama, Nassar and Nagesh. The film's score and soundtrack are composed by Sabesh-Murali. The film was produced and distributed by Tamil film director S. Shankar. It was the first historical film after 28 years since Maduraiyai Meeta Sundra Pandiyan. The film emerged a high commercial success.[2][3] The film is also notable for being the last film in which Nagesh and Manorama were paired together.

The film was dubbed into Telugu as Himsinche 23 Va Raju Pulikesi. Brahmanandam dubbed for Vadivelu.


Imsai Arasan 23am Pulikesi is a comical satire on the Machiavellian politics practiced in the late 18th century. The film is laced with references to present-day happenings in politics, sports and other areas.

In a faraway South Indian kingdom of Cholapuram Paalayam the ruler (Nagesh) and queen (Manorama) are longing for a child, as all their 22 children have died at birth. Little do they know that the queen’s brother Rajaguru Sangilimaayan (Nassar) is behind the death of their children, as he wants to be the next ruler. But when the palace astrologer predicts that the 23rd child will be a dimwit, Rajaguru is happy. But the queen gives birth to twins; the smarter one (according to the astrologer's instructions) is ordered to be killed while the dimwit survives.

The child is named 23 am Pulikesi (Vadivelu) and he grows up to be the new king after the king's death. Pulikesi is a weak, hedonistic bully with grandiose delusions and is a puppet in the hands of the Rajaguru, who colludes with the British to loot the state. Meanwhile, the other child is adopted by the palace doctor (Venniradai Moorthy) and his wife, a childless couple and he grows up to be Ukrabuddhan (Vadivelu), an educated young man and a patriot with a lofty vision for his country. Ugrabuddhan tries to kill Pulikesi, but when Ugran sees him he realizes that Pulikesi is his twin brother. Soon Ugrabuddhan comes to know about his past and to save the land from Rajguru and British, he replaces Pulikesi as the king. He joins hands with Thalapathi (Sreeman), brings new reforms, exposes and reforms Rajaguru, who later seeks pardon from the queen and saves the land from the British.


  • Vadivelu as King Pulikesi XXIII and Ukraputhan
  • Monica as Vasantha Soundari
  • Tejashree as Soolaayini
  • Nassar as Raja Guru Sangilimaayan (Pulikesi's Uncle)
  • Manorama as Bavani ammaiyar
  • Ilavarasu as Minister Manguni Pandiyan
  • Sreeman as Thalapathi Agandamuthu
  • Thyagu as King Vallavaraayan
  • Singamuthu as Poet Palapathra Onandi
  • V. S. Raghavan as Palace Doctor Chinnavadayaan
  • Manobala as Kollan
  • Muthu Kaalai as Messenger Vaadakodaari
  • Venniradai Moorthy as Kailasakaruppan (Ukraputhan's foster father/Palace Medical Physician)
  • M. N. Rajam as Maragathavalli (Ukraputhan's foster mother)
  • Halwa Vasu as Prisoner
  • Paul Vincent as Nickson Durai
  • Scissor Manohar
  • Nellai Siva
  • Bonda Mani
  • Sivanarayana Moorthy
  • Nagesh as Raja Mokkaiyappar (Special Appearance)
  • Laksha in a Special Appearance
  • Nanditha in a Special Appearance


The film was shot in 73 days. It was filmed in Tamil Nadu around Chennai, Thiruvanamalai and Kumili. All the actors went on a rigorous training in horse riding and sword fighting. Nearly 80 percent of the film was shot in studios. Every single shot was planned and story boarded during the pre production work.


The soundtrack features five songs composed by Sabesh-Murali with lyrics written by Pulavar Pulamaipithan.

Song Singers
"Aah Aadivaa" Manicka Vinayagam, Binni Krishnakumar, Saindhavi, Kovai Kamala, Vadivelu
"Pootiya Sirayinai" Tippu
"Panju Methai Kaniyae" Krishnaraj, Swarnalatha
"Aasai Kanniye" Naresh Iyer, Kalyani
"Vanam Namakul" T. L. Maharajan


The film was a milestone in Tamil cinema. Produced on a budget of INR 4 crores, the film was a commercial success, grossing INR 15 crores at the box office. The film also received critical acclaim for its comedy and for Vadivelu's performance. The film was critically praised for conveying social messages through comedy. Moreover, the film was celebrated as a movie for children. Pulikesi's moustache was offered free in the theatres for the kids. Simailar to the Salvador Dalí's moustache, Pulikesi's moustache became popular in Tamil Nadu.

Balaji Subramaniam of wrote, "Its official! Vadivelu has completely grown on me! He is a delight as Pulikesi and his trademark expressions (when he is insulted or surprised) are hilarious. Ukraputhan is probably the more difficult character since he has to play him straight. Though we laugh initially when we see him, he gradually overcomes that and makes us accept him as who he is. Thats a big accomplishment."[4]

Sify wrote, "Vadivelu takes the cake and the bakery, as he is there in every scene and he makes you laugh as Pulikesi with his fumbling bumbling act and has given his career best performance. Nassar is convincing as the greedy, evil Rajguru, Ilavarasu as Pulikesi’s stupid minister is good. The girls Tejashri and Monica have nothing much to do and are there for songs. Chimbudevan takes a satirical look at events which is entertaining but could have been trimmed a little bit. The bottom line is that the movie definitely departs from the norms but at the same time is funny and full paisa vasool. Go and laugh your weekend away."[5]

Indiaglitz wrote, "Vadivelu playing the dual role is a real revelation. Specially as Pulikesi, Vadivelu brings the house down. There is applause all around whenever he appears on the screen. As Ukraputhan, a brave youth seeking to reform the society, he plays a serious role and walks with aplomb. Though Chimbu Devan has tried his handout at a hilarious film, he has some purpose in it, which he reveals at the end. The rest of the cast including Manorama, Nasser and Sriman fit their role well. Due credit should be given to art-director Krishnamurthy, who has recreated the palaces of yore before our eyes and the intense research in creating right costumes for all the characters."[6]


  • Best Costume - Tamil Nadu State Award
  • Best Makeup - Tamil Nadu State Award
  • Best Film 2006 - Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers - Artist Association


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