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Directed by Vetrimaran
Produced by Anand
Written by Vetrimaran
Vikram Sugumaran (Dialogues)
Starring Dhanush
Jackie Chan
Taapsee Pannu
V. I. S. Jayapalan
Music by G. V. Prakash Kumar
Cinematography Velraj
Edited by Kishore Te.
Distributed by Sun Pictures
Release dates
  • 14 January 2011 (2011-01-14)
Running time
156 minutes
Country India
Language Tamil
Budget 240 million[2]
Box office 300 million[3]

Aadukalam (English: Arena) is a 2011 Indian Tamil drama film written and directed by Vetrimaran. The film stars Dhanush, Taapsee Pannu, V. I. S. Jayapalan and Kishore. The film was released on 14 January 2011 to highly positive reviews.[4][5][6] The film won six awards at the 58th National Film Awards, including the awards for Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actor.[7]

The story of this film was a copy of one sub-plot of the Mexican film Amores Perros which was a reflection on the cruelty of humans towards both animals and other humans. In spite of this, it was felicitated with 5 awards in 59th Filmfare Awards South which includes Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Music Director and Best Cinematography. Based on an online poll by The Times of India Vetri Maaran was chosen as the best director for Aadukalam.[8] The Telugu dubbed version Pandem Kollu released on 30 January 2015.


The film is set in the backdrop of Madurai, where rooster fights are common. Pettaikaaran (V. I. S. Jayapalan) and Rathnaswamy (Naren), cops are tough competitors in these games and it is often Pettai who wins because nobody knows his way of maintaining the quality of the birds.

Karuppu (Dhanush) and Durai (Kishore) are also in Pettaikaran's team. Rathnasamy keeps insisting on having one last fight to win and satisfy his old mother’s wish but Pettaikaran declines to have any more fights with him because he feels Rathnasamy has lost faith in his roosters and will be using nefarious methods to win. Rathnasamy keeps insisting and tries to make him accept the challenge through cajoling, threatening, bribing and other vile acts.

Karuppu falls in love with an Anglo-Indian girl Irene (Taapsee) who dislikes him. He does not recognize this initially and keeps following her. One day the residents of Irene's colony confront him and ask Irene to tell who she is in love with – Karuppu (Dhanush) or Dinesh (Attakathi Dinesh), another guy in the locality. She points her finger at Karuppu and he goes into rapture. She explains later that she had to lie in order to avoid Dinesh who has been bothering her for a long time. Later, Irene too falls in love with Karuppu.

Meanwhile, one of Pettai's associates is killed in a hit and run accident. In a rage Pettai, suspecting Rathnasamy of the murder, Pettai agrees to the rooster fight and it is decided that the loser will get his head tonsured and give up rooster fights. In the crucial fight, Rathnasamy brings high breed roosters from Bangalore. Karuppu asks Pettai to let his rooster fight against Rathnasamy's but Pettai puts his rooster down and says he will choose the competing rooster himself. Karuppu surreptitiously enters the contest before Pettai can choose the rooster because he needs to repay Irene for the loan he took to prepare his rooster for the fight. Pettai doesn't believe in Karuppu and his rooster and announces that Karuppu will not represent Pettai. The 'underdog' however emerges victorious in three consecutive rounds even when the opponent has spiked his rooster to scald the other rooster.

While initially Pettai is happy that Karuppu won, he is overcome with anger and jealousy by the end of the day. His ego is hurt by the fact that Karuppu earns both popularity and money. Karuppu is not aware of the changes in his mentor's mind. Pettaikaran is so jealous of Karuppu that at first he refuses to speak to anyone and then starts scheming. The money from the competition that Karuppu gives to Pettai for safe keeping, that he plans to use to start a business, suddenly goes missing. Pettai also starts spinning stories about his associates and makes everyone suspicious of each other. He incites Karuppu and Durai into pitting their roosters in a fight. Meanwhile Karuppu's mom dies of the shock of losing all the money. Pettaikaran meanwhile poisons all of Durai's roosters making him suspect Karuppu, who is arrested for this. Pettaikaran then lies to Irene that his wife was in an adulterous relationship with Karuppu. Irene's family also pressure her to move to Chennai which pushes her into attempting suicide. Pettakaran meanwhile calls Karuppu to a location near a temple and informs Durai about his whereabouts. When Irene gets better, she calls Karuppu and informs him that Pettai is badmouthing him. So Karuppu, who puts 2 and 2 together, goes to find Pettai to confront him. Pettai kills himself and Karuppu also finds that Pettai was the one who stole his money. Karuppu does not want to reveal the fact to the public that his mentor was the criminal who stole his money and schemed against him, so he flees with Irene to start a new life in another city.




Following the success of their 2007 collaboration Polladhavan, the entire team including director Vetrimaaran and lead actor Dhanush were reported to come together for another venture.[9] Shriya Saran was signed on for the project in February 2008 but eventually pulled out citing schedule clashes.[9][10] In April 2008 it was reported that Dhanush's hectic schedules meant that Silambarasan was set to replace him, however Dhanush remained and continued with the film.[11]

Vetrimaran spent almost a year on completing the screenplay, script and dialogues for the film and held a bounded script for the venture, which is considered rare in Tamil films.[9][12]

Subsequently in June 2009, Trisha Krishnan was forced to opt out of the role of Irene after the Madurai schedule overran into her allotted dates for her other films, Namo Venkatesa and Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa.[9][13][14] Newcomer Taapsee Pannu was named as her replacement, with Vetrimaran claiming he wanted a fresh face in the role.[9][15]


The first schedule started in Madurai on 24 February 2009 with scenes featuring Dhanush being shot.[12] During early stages of production, Dhanush revealed he would play the role of a local cockfighter, Karuppu, and described the venture as his "dream project".[16] The film was completed in August 2010 and post-production was delayed after the film encountered problems with graphic works, with the original company delaying proceedings.[9][17] The film was shot at the locations of Madurai and Thiruparankundram.[9]

The first look of the film was released in February 2009 with a series of promotional posters depicting the characters played by Dhanush, V. I. S. Jayapalan and Kishore.[18] Director Samuthirakani, Andrea Jeremiah and Radha Ravi rendered their voices for Kishore, Taapsee and Jayapalan, respectively.[19]


Aadukalam Audio Cover.jpg
Front Cover
Soundtrack album by G. V. Prakash Kumar
Genre Feature film soundtrack
Label Sony Music
G. V. Prakash Kumar chronology
Deiva Thirumagal

G. V. Prakash Kumar's soundtrack consists of seven tracks including two rap numbers performed by Malaysian Tamil rapper Yogi B. It was released by Sony Music and the audio was launched at a small function at Lady Aandal School auditorium in Chennai on 10 November 2010.[20] The song Yathe Yathe topped the charts and remained in the No.1 position for nearly five weeks.[3]

No. Title Lyrics Performer(s) Length
1. "Yathe Yathe"   Snehan G. V. Prakash Kumar 5:46
2. "Otha Sollaala"   Yegathasi Velmurugan 3:59
3. "Porkkalam" (Tamil Rap) Yugabharathi Alwa Vasu, Yogi B 4:21
4. "En Vennilave"   V. I. S. Jayapalan KK 7:17
5. "Ayyayo"   Snehan S. P. Balasubramanyam, S. P. B. Charan, Prashanthini 5:24
6. "Warriors" (English Rap) Yogi B Alwa Vasu, Yogi B 4:21
7. "A Love Blossoms"     Navin Iyer 1:28

Critical reception[edit]

Aadukalam received positive reviews from critics. Sify called it "a gutsy and brilliant film" and mentioned that it " lives up to the expectation that the film carried and the credit goes to Vetrimaran whose research and hard work shows on screen".[21] Behindwoods wrote "Aadukalam is an attempt that requires appreciation where the director has hacked his way through the path less trodden with aplomb".[22] Hindu praised the film stating that "The detailing of every characters in the story is intricate. The narrative moves like a good novel where the first few chapters are all about etching and detailing the players, and the plot and the action unfold much later".[23] Tamil magazine Ananda Vikatan rated the film with 44 marks and mentioned that "This arena is new for presenting cultural nuanecs of a region and changes in human emotions beautifully".[19]


The film won six awards at the 58th National Film Awards[7] Besides, the film was also screened at several film festivals such as Toronto International Film Festival,[24] Montreal World Film Festival[25][26] and Mumbai International Film Festival.[27] The film also won 4 awards in Filmfare Awards South 2012 out of 6 nominations in Main Cinema Awards Category and 1 award for Best Cinematographer - South in Technical Awards Category.

National Film Awards

Category Nominee Outcome
Best Director Vetrimaaran Won
Best Screenplay Won
Best Actor Dhanush Won
Best Editing Kishore Te. Won
Best Choreography Dinesh Kumar Won
Special Jury V. I. S. Jayapalan Won

Filmfare Awards South 2012

Category Nominee Outcome
Best Film Kathiresan Won
Best Director Vetrimaaran Won
Best Actor Dhanush Won
Best Music Director G. V. Prakash Kumar Won
Best Cinematographer - South Velraj Won
Best Supporting Actor V.I.S.Jayapalan Nominated
Best Male Playback Singer G. V. Prakash Kumar Nominated

Vijay Awards

1st South Indian International Movie Awards

Category Nominee Outcome
Best Film Kathiresan Nominated
Best Director Vetrimaaran Won
Best Actor Dhanush Won
Best Female Debutant Taapsee Pannu Nominated
Best Music Director G. V. Prakash Kumar Won
Best Cinematographer Velraj Won
Best Actor in a Supporting Role V.I.S.Jayapalan Nominated

Vikatan Awards

Mirchi Music Awards South


  1. ^ Dhananjayan 2014, p. 512.
  2. ^ "Vetrimaran - Tamil Cinema Director Interview". Videos.behindwoods.com. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "After Bollywood, Sony Music taps Tamil movie market - The Economic Times". Economictimes.indiatimes.com. 9 February 2011. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  4. ^ "Aadukalam Review". Popcorn.oneindia.in. 14 January 2011. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  5. ^ "Movie Review:Aadukalam". Sify.com. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  6. ^ "Aadukalam is impressive - Rediff.com Movies". Rediff.com. 14 January 2011. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "Tamil, Malayalam movies sweep top national awards News". Inewsone.com. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  8. ^ "The Chennai Times Film Awards 2011". The Times Of India. 22 June 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Dhananjayan 2014, p. 513.
  10. ^ "Dhanush & Shriya team up!". Sify.com. 1 February 2008. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  11. ^ "Simbu in arch rival Dhanush's shoes". Entertainment.oneindia.in. 18 April 2008. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  12. ^ a b "Dhanush starts work on Aadukalam". Sify.com. 24 February 2009. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  13. ^ "Will Trisha do Aadukalam?". Sify.com. 27 June 2009. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  14. ^ "Has Trisha opted out of Aadukalam?". The Times of India. 28 June 2009. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  15. ^ "Dhanush gets a Punjabi kudi as heroine". Sify.com. 30 September 2009. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  16. ^ "Yatra is my lucky mascot: Dhanush". The Times of India. 28 July 2009. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  17. ^ "Vetrimaran miffed with Ocher studios?". Sify.com. 9 July 2010. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  18. ^ "Aadukalam". Sify.com. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  19. ^ a b Dhananjayan 2014, p. 514.
  20. ^ "Aadukalam audio launch on Nov 10". Sify.com. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  21. ^ http://www.sify.com/movies/aadukalam-review-review-tamil-pclxOKbibghba.html
  22. ^ http://behindwoods.com/tamil-movie-reviews/reviews-2/aadukalam-movie-review.html
  23. ^ http://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/aadukalam-fascinating-shades-of-grey/article1111608.ece
  24. ^ "Dhanush's Toronto-bound". The Times of India. 31 July 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  25. ^ "Aadukalam team in Montreal". Sify.com. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  26. ^ "'Aadukalam' receives an ovation at Montreal! - Tamil Movie News". IndiaGlitz. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  27. ^ Galatta – Fri, 23 Sep 2011 6:41 PM IST (23 September 2011). "Aadukalam at Mumbai International Film Festival - Yahoo!Movies India". In.movies.yahoo.com. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 

External links[edit]