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|
|Music by||A. R. Rahman|
Arunachala Cine Creations
|Running time||192 minutes|
Padayappa is a 1999 Tamil drama film written and directed by K. S. Ravikumar. The film features Sivaji Ganesan, Rajinikanth, Soundarya and Ramya Krishnan in the lead roles, while Abbas, Lakshmi and Nassar play supporting roles. The soundtrack album and background score were composed by A. R. Rahman. This was Rajinikanth's 150th film and Sivaji Ganesan's last film which he worked on.
The plot revolves around Aarupadayappa alias Padayappa (Rajinikanth), whose father gives up his property to his foster brother (Manivannan), dying of shock soon after. On the other end is Neelambari (Ramya Krishnan), who initially loves Padayappa, but plots to humiliate him after his family humiliates her father (Radha Ravi). The rest of the plot deals with Padayappa overcoming all the obstacles placed in front of him.
Padayappa was released on 10 April 1999 with a final cut of 4,943 metres (16,217 ft). This was the first Tamil film to be released worldwide with 210 prints. The film was a box office success, grossing 260 million. The film was dubbed into Telugu under the title Narasimha. The dubbed version was also a commercially successful venture and had a theatrical run of 50 days at 49 theatres.
Aarupadayappa aka Padayappa is a mechanical engineer who returns to his hometown from the United States to attend his sister's wedding. His sister is engaged to Suryaprakash, the son of his maternal uncle. During his stay, he comes across Vasundhara, and falls in love with her. However, shyness and fear of Neelambari, her landlady and the spoiled daughter of Padayappa's maternal uncle, who is also madly in love with Padayappa, prevents Vasundhara from initially expressing her feelings.
In a turn of events, Padayappa's father's foster brother demands a share in the family property. However, standing true to the words of his forefathers that the family property should not be divided, Padayappa's father, who is the chief head of Padayappa's hometown, gives the entire property to him. Padayappa's family is then forced to leave their home. Unable to bear this shock, his father suddenly dies. Padayappa's sister's wedding is then cancelled because the groom chose to marry someone offering him a greater dowry and married his uncle's daughter.
When Neelambari finds out about Padayappa's love for Vasundhara, she becomes jealous of her. Neelambari's parents beg Padayappa's widowed mother to allow Neelambari to marry him. Padayappa obeys his mother's orders to get married. However, to everyone's surprise, Padayappa's mother embarrasses her brother in front of the entire village, giving a proposal of marriage to Vasundhara's mother, who is her brother's servant, reminding her brother the humiliation he put her through when Padayappa's father died. Neelambari's father commits suicide in humiliation. Neelambari tries to kill Vasundhara by letting a bull loose on her, but Padayappa saves Vasundhara. After the wedding of Padayappa and Vasundhara, Neelambari locks herself in a room in Suryaprakash's house, having only Padayappa in her mind for 18 years.
Meanwhile, Padayappa finds out that the hill in the land he owns is a granite mountain. As a result, he starts a granite business and becomes rich and famous in town since he uses the money to help the poor and provide them jobs in his business. As his business flourishes, his family is able to settle down once again. Padayappa's sister gets married to an engineer he hired, and maintains his father's position as the village chief head. Padayappa helps his father's foster brother to compensate for the heavy losses that his father's foster brother had incurred in the meantime. As a result of this, Padayappa's father's foster brother seeks Padayappa's pardon for his misdeeds and becomes indebted to him. Padayappa forgives his father's foster brother.
Neelambari plans her revenge on Padayappa, now a father of two adolescent daughters. Suryaprakash has a son, Chandraprakash aka Chandru, who studies in the same college as Padayappa's elder daughter, Anitha. Chandru is adivsed by Neelambari to make Anitha fall in love with him. At the same time Padayappa plans to get his eldest daughter married to his sister's son.
As a tradition in their village, the bride and groom are asked if they both are not being forced to marry each other. Neelambari's plan is to make Anitha say that she does not wish to get married to the groom that her parents had chosen and that she is in love with someone else, therefore causing humiliation to Padayappa. Her plan works, but Padayappa retaliates and makes Chandru confess that he really did fall in love with Anitha, even though he was told only to act. Padayappa, along with Chandru, goes to the temple in his hometown to unite Chandru with Anitha. Neelambari and Suryaprakash give chase to stop Padayappa. Suryaprakash is killed in a car accident during the chase.
Armed with a gun, Neelambari reaches the temple where Chandru and Anitha are married and in anger tries to kill Padayappa. But Padayappa saves her life by preventing a bull from attacking her while dodging the bullets fired from her gun. Rather than live with the humiliation of knowing that she was unsuccessful in avenging her father's death and having her life saved by her enemy, Neelambari commits suicide by shooting herself, promising that she would take revenge on Padayappa in her next birth. Padayappa prays for her to soul to be at peace and eventually attain salvation.
- Sivaji Ganesan as Padayappa's father
- Rajinikanth as Aarupadayappa aka Padayappa
- Ramya Krishnan as Neelambari
- Soundarya as Vasundhara
- Lakshmi as Padayappa's mother
- Sithara as Padayappa's sister
- Radharavi as Neelambari's father
- Nassar as Suryaprakash
- Manivannan as Padayappa's father's foster brother
- Senthil as Azhagesan
- Abbas as Chandraprakash aka Chandru
- Preetha as Anitha
- Anu Mohan as Chinnarasu
- Ramesh Khanna as Padayappa's friend
- Vadivukkarasi as Vasundhara's mother
- Sathyapriya as Neelambari's mother
- Mansoor Ali Khan as a creditor/local goon
- Prakash Raj in a special appearance as Police Officer Subramaniam
- Raj Bahadur as a politician
- Mohan V. Raman as the lawyer who does the formalities for dividng the property
- K. S. Ravikumar in a special appearance in the song "Kikku Yerudhey"
- Kanal Kannan in a cameo appearance
In December 1997, Rajinikanth announced his next project with K. S. Ravikumar as director. The title of the film was announced to be Padayappa on September 1998. Though principal photography for the film was supposed to have started in April 1998, the FEFSI strike that took place at that time delayed the project. After the strike ended, Ravikumar was able to complete his previous film, Natpukkaga (1998), only by June 1998. The film was further delayed when Ravikumar accepted to quickly remake Natpukkaga in Telugu as Sneham Kosam (1999) with Chiranjeevi in the lead.
Padayappa's story was taken from a part of the historical Tamil novel, Ponniyin Selvan by Kalki Krishnamurthy. Neelambari's character is based on Nandini, a vengeful character in the novel. At one stage, the makers were thinking to name the film as Neelambari. Due to fear of facing protests from fans of Rajinikanth, the original title, Padayappa was retained. The title Padayappa is a corruption of Aarupadayappa — a sobriquet for Lord Murugan and his six abodes.
Cast and crew
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, along with P. L. Thenappan as a co-producer. Lalitha Mani was the choreographer for the song sequences.
Simran and Meena were screen tested for the character of Neelambari before the role went to Ramya Krishnan, who earlier worked with Rajini in Padikkadavan (1985). Simran was also a potential choice for the role of Vasundhara, before the role went to Soundarya, making this film her second with Rajinikanth after Arunachalam (1997). Actress Shalini was first approached to play the role of Padayappa's sister in the film, which she refused eventually handing the role to Sithara.
Padayappa was launched at the Ragavendra Kalyana Mandapam on 1 October 1998. The film's climax scene were shot in the first schedule. The scene was taken in one shot using two cameras. Around 2,000 junior artistes were used for the scene. The car that featured in the introduction scene of Neelambari in the film belonged to Ravikumar. It was on Rajinikanth's insistence that Ravikumar used the newly purchased car in the film. Filming also took place in Mysore. The Vadapalani-based shop, D. V. Nehru wigs, supplied the wigs which were sported by Ganesan in the film.
"Kikku Yerudhey" was the last song sequence that was shot. For the sequence, Rajinikanth insisted Ravikumar to sport an outfit similar to Rajinikant'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 shot was taken featuring Rajinikanth and Ravikumar. Rajinikanth felt the shot didn't look right and seen takes for Ravikumar's sequence were done. After this, Rajinikanth agreed 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 to teach him a lesson for all the takes that Ravikumar was giving for Rajinikanth's sequences.
Before the film's release, Rahman had asked Ravikumar whether the soundtrack could be released in August 1999. Ravikumar informed Rahman that he had spoken to the press about the completion of the film's makng, and that Rahman would be blamed if the film had a delayed release. As a result, Rahman did a live re-recording of both the soundtrack and score to finish them on time.
The credits for the song "Vetri Kodi Kattu", which was sung by Palakkad Sreeram, initially went to Malaysia Vasudevan, who publicly stated that the credits for the song were attributed to Sreeram and not to him. Rahman requested the company who manufactured the audio cassettes to make the change. The song "Minsara Kanna" is based on the Vasantha raga, while "Vetri Kodi Kattu" is based on the Keeravani raga.
Singer Charulatha Mani, in her column for The Hindu, A Raga's journey, called "Minsara Kanna", "a mind-blowing piece" G. Dhananjayan, in his book, Best of Tamil Cinema, called the songs "mass entertraining", also citing that the songs contributed to the film's success. Srikanth Srinivasa of the Deccan Herald wrote, "The music by Rehman, to Vairamuthu’s lyrics, sounds good while the movie is on, though whether without the presence of Rajanikanth they would have, is another thing. The lyrics seem to have been written with special care, since they have to make room for a lot of messages, such as telling the audience that Tamil is where Rajani belongs: Yenai thalattum Tamizhnattu mannu etc.[sic]" S. Shiva Kumar of The Times of India was more critical of the soundtrack, and called it "lacklustre".
The film opened on 10 April 1999, and took the biggest opening ever with 200 prints being released and 7 lakh audio cassettes sold. The film's rights were sold to distributors in Japan for $50,000, the highest any Indian film has fetched for commercial release in 1999.
The Deccan Herald also gave the film a positive verdict claiming that the "positive energy generated by this film is simply astounding", labelling Rajinikanth's role as "terrific". However the Times of India was critical of the film's allusions to the actor's political career and labelled that there's "more style than substance".
The initial final cut of Padayappa lasted for 22 reels, which was too lengthy for a Tamil film. Even after numerous viewing, neither Rajinikanth nor Ravikumar were able to trim the film, as they felt the flow was "very smooth and gentle". Rajinikanth even suggested to Ravikumar to continue with 22 reel length and instead allott two intervals for the film. Ravikumar was however wary of the idea of allotting two intervals and hence went to Kamal Haasan for suggestion, Haasan's Nayagan also was initially 22 reels. With the earlier experience it was Haasan who suggested the cuts and brought Padayappa down to 16 reels. Kumudam reporter Kannan who came to know about the extra reels asked Rajinikanth to release the remaining film as Padayappa 's second part. Rajinikanth who was fascinated by the idea immediately enquired Ravikumar on the possibility, but Ravikumar revealed that those reels were destroyed.
Padayappa has been parodied many times in various films. In a scene from Samuthiram (2001), Goundamani imitates Rajni's climax act by throwing Vel (spear) at a bull but runs away from the bull assuming to be Senthil in the garb of Yama. The success of the film led to a film being named after a song, "Minsara Kanna" starring Vijay with actress Kushboo appearing in a strong negative role much alike Ramya Krishnan's in Padayappa while another song Vetri Kodi Kattu was named as a film directed by Cheran. Ramya Krishnan and Nassar reprised their characters and appeared in a guest appearance in Baba (2002). In Annai Kaligambal (2003), elephant imitates Rajni's style by pulling the swing. In Siva Manasula Sakthi (2009), Jeeva and Anuya spoofs the film climax in the song "Oru Adangapidari". In En Purushan Kuzhandhai Maadhiri (2001), Livingston tries to imitate Rajni's mannerism by blowing mouth organ but two snakes will be arrived from the hole, Livingston gets feared in pulling the snakes, Devayani chiding his cowardness pulls out the snakes and the scene then shifts to Padayappa poster.
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