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Padayappa

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Padayappa
Padayappa.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by K. S. Ravikumar
Produced by K. Sathya Narayana
M. V. Krishna Rao
H. Vittal Prasad
P. L. Thenappan
Written by K. S. Ravikumar
Starring Sivaji Ganesan
Rajinikanth
Ramya Krishnan
Soundarya
Music by A. R. Rahman
Cinematography S. Murthy
Prasad
Edited by K. Thanigachalam
Production
company
Arunachala Cine Creations
Release dates
  • 10 April 1999 (1999-04-10)
Running time
192 minutes
Country India
Language Tamil

Padayappa is a 1999 Indian Tamil drama film written and directed by K. S. Ravikumar. The film features Sivaji Ganesan, Rajinikanth, Ramya Krishnan and Soundarya in the lead roles, while Abbas, Lakshmi, Radha Ravi and Nassar play supporting roles. The soundtrack album and background score were composed by A. R. Rahman.

The plot revolves around Padayappa (Rajinikanth), a mechanical engineer whose father (Sivaji Ganesan) gives up his property to his foster brother (Manivannan), and then dies of shock soon after. Neelambari (Ramya Krishnan) initially loves Padayappa, but plans to humiliate him after his family humiliates her father (Radha Ravi). The rest of the plot deals with Padayappa overcoming all the obstacles placed by Neelambari.

Principal photography for the film began in October 1998. Padayappa was released on 10 April 1999 on the eve of Tamil New Year's day. This was the first Tamil film to be released worldwide with 210 prints and 700,000 audio cassettes, and became a commercially successful venture. Ramya Krishnan's performance was praised, winning her a Filmfare Award under the Best Actress category. The film also won five Tamil Nadu State Film Awards. Padayappa was dubbed into Telugu under the title Narasimha. The dubbed version was also commercially successful, and had a theatrical run of 50 days at 49 theatres.

Plot[edit]

Padayappa is a mechanical engineer who returns to his village from Chennai to attend his sister's wedding. His sister is engaged to Suryaprakash, the son of their maternal uncle. During his stay, he comes across Vasundhara, and falls in love with her. However, shyness and fear of Neelambari, her landlady, prevents Vasundhara from initially expressing her feelings. In addition, Neelambari is Suryaprakash's spoiled sister, who is madly in love with Padayappa.

Unexpectedly, Padayappa's father's foster brother demands a share in the family property. Padayappa's father, the chieftain of the village, follows the customs of his forefathers and refuses to divide the property and instead gives the entire property to his foster brother. This forces Padayappa's family to leave their home. Unable to bear this shock, Padayappa's father dies. Suryaprakash then cancels his wedding with Padayappa's sister, decides and marries the daughter of Padayappa's father's foster brother, who now owns the property of Padayappa's father.

Meanwhile, Padayappa discovers that a hill on his property is solid granite, which allows him to start a granite business, from which he becomes rich. He uses the money to help the poor in his village, and provide them jobs. As his business flourishes, his family is able to once again settle down. Padayappa assumes his father's position as village chieftain, and his sister gets married to one of the engineers who work in his company.

When Neelambari learns about Padayappa's love for Vasundhara, she becomes jealous of her, and her parents beg Padayappa's widowed mother to allow Neelambari to marry him as padayappa is the richest than before now. However, to everyone's surprise, Padayappa's mother embarrasses Suryaprakash in front of the entire village when she agrees to a marriage proposal made by Vasundhara's mother, her brother's servant. This was in retaliation for Suryaprakash's humiliation of her after Padayappa's father death. Unable to bear the humiliation, Neelambari's father commits suicide. When Neelambari tries to kill Vasundhara by letting a bull loose on her, Padayappa saves her, after which the two marry. Subsequent to the wedding, Neelambari locks herself in a room in Suryaprakash's house, thinking only about Padayappa for 18 years.

In between, Padayappa finds his father's foster brother in trouble and was pulled out by a financier, from whom he had borrowed money on interest keeping the family house, and helps his father's foster brother, who is suffering financially. As a result, Padayappa's father's foster brother becomes indebted to him and seeks Padayappa's pardon for his misdeeds. Padayappa forgives him.

Neelambari plans her revenge on Padayappa, now a father of two daughters. Suryaprakash also has a son, Chandraprakash alias Chandru, who studies at the same college as Padayappa's elder daughter, Anitha. Chandru is advised by Neelambari to make Anitha fall in love with him. At the same time, Padayappa plans to get Anitha married to his sister's son. Neelambari, having made Chandru pretend to fall in love with Anitha, plans to humiliate Padayappa by making Anitha say that she does not wish to marry her parents' choice for her, and that she is in love with someone else. At the marriage ceremony, after Anitha does what Neelambari told her to do, Padayappa then makes an oath to unite Anitha with her lover by the next Muhurta day, or commit suicide. Padayappa discovers that Chandru really did fall in love with Anitha, even though he was only initially pretending to do so, on Neelambari's orders. When Padayappa takes Chandru and Anitha to the temple to get married, Neelambari and Suryaprakash give chase to stop them. During the chase, Suryaprakash is killed in a car accident.

Armed with a gun, Neelambari reaches the temple where Chandru and Anitha are married, and in anger tries to kill Padayappa. However, Padayappa saves her life when he prevents a bull from attacking her, while at the same time dodging the bullets she is firing at him. Rather than live with the humiliation of knowing she was unsuccessful in avenging her father's death, as well as having her life saved by her enemy, Neelambari commits suicide, promising to take revenge on Padayappa in her next birth. Padayappa prays for her soul to be at peace and eventually attain salvation.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

In December 1997, Rajinikanth announced his next project, which would have K. S. Ravikumar as director.[1] The title of the film was announced as Padayappa in September 1998.[2] Though principal photography for the film was supposed to start in April 1998, the FEFSI strike delayed the project. After the strike ended, Ravikumar still had to complete the film he was then working on, Natpukkaga (1998), before he could begin Padayappa. After completing Natpukkaga in June 1998, Padayappa was further delayed when Ravikumar agreed to quickly remake Natpukkaga in Telugu as Sneham Kosam (1999).[1]

Padayappa's story was taken in part from the historical Tamil novel, Ponniyin Selvan, by Kalki Krishnamurthy. Neelambari's character is based on Nandini, a vengeful character in the novel, and at one point, the makers were considering naming the film Neelambari. Due to fear of potential protests from fans of Rajinikanth, the original title, Padayappa was retained.[1] The title Padayappa is a corruption of Aarupadayappa — a sobriquet for Lord Murugan and his six abodes.[3]

Cast and crew[edit]

"Today's audience expects novelty from film makers and stars. The success of Nilambari [sic] in Padayappa is an example of this. Action and reaction are the key factors for an artiste’s success.”

 – Ramya Krishnan, in an interview with The Hindu in July 1999.[4]

The film was produced by Rajinikanth's personal assistants, K. Sathya Narayana, M. V. Krishna Rao, and H. Vittal Prasad under their production banner, Arunachala Cine Creations,[5] along with P. L. Thenappan as co-producer.[6] Lalitha Mani was the choreographer for the song sequences.[7] Jyothi Krishna, son of producer A. M. Rathnam, was involved in the development of the film's script.[8]

Simran and Meena were screened for the character of Neelambari before the role went to Ramya Krishnan, who had previously worked with Rajini on Padikkadavan (1985).[1] Simran was also considered for the role of Vasundhara, before the role went to Soundarya,[9] who had earlier worked with Rajinikanth in Arunachalam (1997).[4] Actress Shalini was touted to play the role of Padayappa's sister,[3] but the role eventually went to Sithara.[10]

The look of the older Padayappa — bearded, with sunglasses — is based on Rajinikanth's look as the character Manik Baashha in Baashha (1995);[11] Ganesh Nadar of Rediff commented, "Give Basha [sic] a cheroot and that's Padayappa".[12] Sivaji Ganesan was cast as the protagonist's father; Padayappa was the last film he worked on before his death in 2001,[13] although Pooparika Varugirom (1999) was his final release.[14] His character's appearance, with a mutton-chop moustache, is based on a similar role he played in Thevar Magan (1992).[11]

Filming[edit]

Padayappa launched production at the Ragavendra Kalyana Mandapam on 1 October 1998.[15] The film's climax scene was one of the first to be shot,[16] and was filmed in one take using two cameras. Around 2,000 extras were used for the scene.[4] The car that was used in the scene which introduced Neelambari in the film belonged to Ravikumar. Ravikumar used the newly purchased car in the film at Rajinikanth's insistence.[17] Filming also took place in Mysore.[18] The Vadapalani-based shop, D. V. Nehru wigs, supplied the wigs which were sported by Ganesan in the film.[19]

"Kikku Yerudhey" was the last song sequence that was shot. For the sequence, Rajinikanth required Ravikumar to sport an outfit similar to Rajinikanth's, and enact a small part in the song. Rajinikanth also selected the part of the song where Ravikumar would make his appearance. After reluctantly agreeing to do the part, a scene was filmed featuring Rajinikanth and Ravikumar. Rajinikanth said he felt the shot did not look right, and re-takes for Ravikumar's sequence were done. After the re-takes were completed, Rajinikanth admitted that the first sequence was fine. When Ravikumar asked the cameraman why he had not told him earlier, the cameraman replied by saying that Rajinikanth wanted Ravikumar to do seven takes, in order to teach him a lesson for all the takes that Ravikumar had required of Rajinikanth.[20]

Music[edit]

The film's original soundtrack and background score were composed by A. R. Rahman, with lyrics by Vairamuthu. The soundtrack was released through Star Music.[21] Strips of herbal rejuvenator capsules were sold along with the film's music cassettes.[22] Before the film's release, Rahman asked Ravikumar if the soundtrack could be released in August 1999. Ravikumar informed Rahman that he had already discussed a release date with the press, and that Rahman would be blamed for any delay. To make the deadline, Rahman did a live re-recording of both the soundtrack and score to finish them on time.[23]

The credits for the song "Vetri Kodi Kattu", sung by Palakkad Sreeram, initially went to Malaysia Vasudevan, who publicly stated that the credits for the song should have been attributed to Sreeram. Rahman requested the company who manufactured the audio cassettes to make the change.[24] The song "Minsara Kanna" is based on the Vasantha raga,[25] while "Vetri Kodi Kattu" is based on the Keeravani raga.[26] "Minsara Kanna" established Srinivas as a leading singer in the film industry.[27]

Singer Charulatha Mani, in her column for The Hindu, "A Raga's journey", called "Minsara Kanna" a "mind-blowing piece".[25] G. Dhananjayan, in his book, The Best of Tamil Cinema, says the songs are "mass entertraining [sic]", also citing that the songs contributed to the film's success.[5] Srikanth Srinivasa of the Deccan Herald wrote, "The music by Rehman [sic], to Vairamuthu’s lyrics, sounds good while the movie is on, though whether without the presence of Rajanikanth [sic] they would have, is another thing."[28] S. Shiva Kumar of The Times of India was more critical of the soundtrack, and called it "lacklustre".[29]

Release[edit]

Padayappa was released on 10 April 1999 on the eve of Tamil New Year's day.[30] This was the first Tamil film to be released worldwide without the involvement of distributors.[6] It was also the first Tamil film to be released worldwide with 210 prints,[5] and 700,000 audio cassettes.[31] The film's rights in Japan were sold for US$50,000, which was the highest an Indian film fetched for commercial release in 1999.[32][33] Co-producer Thenappan registered the film posters as a Class 34 trademark in 1998, to be used for trademarking such items as beedis, cigarettes, cheroots and tobacco, making it the first instance of brand extension in the Tamil film industry.[5] The pre-release business of the film's overseas rights amounted to INR 30 million.[34]

Critical response[edit]

Ananda Vikatan, in its original review of the film dated 25 April 1999, wrote, "Original stamp of Rajni style can be seen in the film several times ... Ramya Krishnan has matched Rajni and created a royal path separately ... The film is exclusively made for Rajni's fans ...," and gave the film 41 marks out of 100.[35] The Deccan Herald gave the film a positive verdict, claiming that the "positive energy generated by this film is simply astounding", and labelling Rajinikanth's role as "terrific".[28]

Ganesh Nadar of Rediff also gave a positive review, praising Ramya Krishnan's performance in the film, and said that she "does a fantastic job", concluding, "... if you are a Rajni fan, this film is vintage stuff."[12] P. C. Balasubramanianram and N. Ramakrishnan, in their book, Grand Brand Rajini, said, "Padayappa, in one way, stands testimony to Rajini's life itself."[36] However, S. Shiva Kumar of The Times of India was critical of the film's allusions to the actor's political career, stating that the film was "more style than substance".[29]

Box office[edit]

Padayappa was a box office success, although reports vary on its earnings. G. Dhananjayan states in his book, The Best of Tamil Cinema, that the film was estimated to have collected INR 260 million over the life of its theatrical run,[5] whereas T. R. Vivek of Business Today says that the film was estimated to have earned INR 440 million worldwide, with a total of INR 380 million at the domestic box office, and INR 60 million overseas.[37]

The film had a theatrical run of 100 days in 86 theatre centres,[38] and was dubbed into Telugu under the title Narasimha.[5] The dubbed version was also a commercially successful venture, and had a theatrical run of 50 days in 49 theatres.[5]

Dropped sequel[edit]

Padayappa '​s initial final cut lasted for 22 reels, which was considered too lengthy. Rather than cut the film, Rajinikanth suggested to Ravikumar to allot two intervals for the film. Ravikumar was wary of this idea, and went to actor Kamal Haasan for advice, since the initial final cut of Haasan's Nayakan (1987) was also 22 reels. Using his prior experience on trimming Nayakan, Haasan was able to cut Padayappa down to 16 reels. When Kumudam '​s reporter Kannan asked Rajinikanth to release the scenes which had been cut as Padayappa '​s sequel, Rajinikanth immediately spoke to Ravikumar about the possibility, but was informed that those reels had been destroyed.[39]

Accolades[edit]

Ramya Krishnan won the Best Actress at the Filmfare Awards. The film also won five Tamil Nadu State Film Awards.[4][40]

Award Ceremony Category Nominee(s) Outcome
Filmfare Awards South 46th Filmfare Awards South[4] Best Actress – Tamil Ramya Krishnan Won
Tamil Nadu State Film Awards Tamil Nadu State film Awards - 1968[40] Best Film (first prize) K. S. Ravikumar Won
Best Actor Rajinikanth Won
Best Actress (Special Prize) Ramya Krishnan Won
Best Male Playback Srinivas Won
Best Make-up Artist Sundaramoorthy Won

Legacy[edit]

The sequence where Padayappa pulls down a swing for him to sit on became popular.

With the success of Padayappa, Ramya Krishnan, who up to that point in time had only performed glamorous roles,[4] showed her versatility as an actress.[41] The character Neelambari reappears in Baba (2002), where she spots Baba (Rajinikanth) but sees him in her mind's eye in his Padayappa attire; she asks him the time. Her brother drags her away, and berates her for still not overcoming Padayappa. Ramya Krishnan and Nasser reprised their roles in this film.[42] The success of Padayappa led to a film being named after one of its songs, Minsara Kanna (1999), starring Vijay with actress Kushboo appearing in a negative role similar to Ramya Krishnan's in Padayappa;[43] another song from the film, Vetri Kodi Kattu, became the name of a 2000 film directed by Cheran.[44] Ramya Krishnan played the role of Malini in the film Arumugam (2009), in which her character was similar to Neelambari.[45][46] Ramya Krishnan's character in the television serial, Kalasam, was also named Neelambari.[47] Actress Priyamani, in an interview with Prathibha Joy of The Times of India, stated her character in the Kannada film Ambareesha (2014), is similar to Neelambari.[48] In Chetan Bhagat's novel, 2 States: The Story of My Marriage (2009), when Krish Malhotra, the novel's protagonist, travels to Nungambakkam by auto rickshaw, the auto rickshaw driver stops to worship a poster of Padayappa.[49]

Some of the quotes from the film that became popular were: "En Vazhi Thani Vazhi." (English: My way is a unique way);[41] "Poda Andavane Namapakam Irukan’’ (English: God is on my side);[50] "Adhigama Aasaipadra Aambalaiyum, Adhigama Kobapadra Pombalaiyum, Nirantharama Vazhkaila Vazhndhadha Sarithirame Kidaiyathu" (English: There is no history of a man who desires too much or a woman who gets too angry living well), "Kashtapadama Edhuvum Kidaikkathu. Kashtapadam Kidaikirathu Ennikkum Nilakkathu" (English: One can gain nothing without working hard for it. Those which are gotten without hardwork will not be there forever);[51] and "Anger is the cause of all miseries. One should know how to control it, otherwise life will become miserable."[52] One of Rajinikanth's climactic dialogues in the film — "En Vazhi Thani Vazhi" — was announced as the title of a forthcoming film directed by Shaji Kailas. The film stars R. K. and Poonam Kaur in the lead roles.[53] Scenes from the film were parodied in various other films, notable of which are En Purushan Kuzhandhai Maadhiri (2001),[54] Samuthiram (2001),[55] Annai Kaligambal (2003),[56] Sivaji (2007).[57] Vel (2007),[58] Siva Manasula Sakthi (2009),[59] Malai Malai (2009).[60] and Vanakkam Chennai (2013).[61] Padayappa was also parodied in the STAR Vijay comedy series Lollu Sabha, in an episode appropriately named Vadayappa.[62]

To celebrate the 39th anniversary of Rajinikanth in the film industry, Digitally Inspired Media, a Chennai-based digital agency, made 39 posters of some of his films, in which Padayappa was included. The posters feature one "punch" line from the film, a representative image, and the year of the film’s release.[63] On Rajinikanth's 64th birthday, an agency named Minimal Kollywood Posters designed posters of Rajinikanth's films, in which the Minion characters from the Despicable Me franchise are dressed as Rajinikanth.[64] The digital art was hand drawn on a digital pad by Gautham Raj.[64] One of the posters depicted a minion sitting on a swing and dressed like Rajinikanth's character in Padayappa, reminiscent of the scene where Padayappa went to Neelambari's house but is not offered a seat even though Neelambari sits. Padayappa then uses his dupatta to pull down a swing from the ceiling, on which he sits.[64] This swing scene was included by Behindwoods in its list of "Top 20 Mass Scenes".[65]

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Sources[edit]

External links[edit]