Aval Oru Thodar Kathai

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Aval Oru Thodar Kathai
Aval Oru Thodar Kathai.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byK. Balachander
Screenplay byK. Balachander
Story byM. S. Perumal
Produced byRama Arannangal
StarringSujata, Kamal Hassan, Vijayakumar, Jai Ganesh, M.G.Soman, Sri Priya
CinematographyB. S. Lokanath
Edited byN. R. Kittu
Music byM. S. Viswanathan
Aandal Movies
Release date
  • 13 November 1974 (1974-11-13)
Running time
162 minutes

Aval Oru Thodar Kathai (transl. She is a never-ending story) is a 1974 Indian Tamil-language drama film directed by K. Balachander. The story revolves around a working middle-class woman, who sacrifices her desires to support her large family. The lead role was played by Sujatha in her first Tamil film, which was also her first starring role. Kamal Haasan, Vijayakumar, Jai Ganesh, M. G. Soman and Sripriya played key roles. The film was shot in black-and white.

The film is considered to be one of Balachander's[1] as well as Sujatha's best films.[2] It ran for 25 weeks,[3] and was remade in four other Indian languages. This film catapulted Sujatha into superstardom.


Kavitha is the sole breadwinner of her family comprising her mother, widowed sister Bharati, an unmarried younger sister, a blind younger brother, a drunkard elder brother Murthy, his wife and children. Her father had abandoned the family and become a sadhu. Conscious of her family responsibilities, Kavitha keeps postponing her marriage indefinitely to her long-time boyfriend Tilak. Kavitha's friend Chandra takes life easy and keeps changing boyfriends. Tilak, who patiently waits for Kavitha, meets Bharati, pities her and slowly becomes passionate about her. On learning this, Kavitha sacrifices her love and gets them married. Murthy changes his wayward behaviour, becomes responsible and works as a bearer at a restaurant. An impressed Kavitha accepts him as the head of the family. Kavitha's boss Arun Ghosh offers to marry her, but Kavitha does not give a positive reply.

Chandra dates Chandrasekhar, a womaniser and colleague of Kavitha, despite her warnings. Earlier, when Chandrasekhar had written a love letter to Kavitha, she complained about it to her boss, who then reprimanded Chandrasekhar. Hence, Kavitha does not approve of Chandra's relationship with him. A lustful Chandrasekhar also dates Chandra's widowed mother; on learning this, Chandra attempts suicide. Kavitha and her co-tenant Gopal save Chandra and advise her to marry Gopal. In turn, Chandra advises Kavitha to marry Ghosh. Kavitha accepts the marriage proposal as she now feels confident about Murthy taking care of the family.

On the day of the wedding, Murthy's wife asks him to get back the silver lamp pledged by him earlier, to be gifted to Kavitha for her wedding. While returning to the wedding hall, he seeks a lift from Chandrasekhar, not knowing him. Murthy realises that Chandrasekhar is actually coming to stop the marriage of Kavitha and Chandra when Chandrasekhar states that he had affairs with both of them. Murthy pleads with him not to come to the marriage hall and create any confusion, but Chandrasekhar refuses. A scuffle ensues in which Murthy is killed by Chandrasekhar using the lamp before the police arrest Chandrasekhar. When the marriage is about to take place, Kavitha learns of her brother's death from the police. She then convinces Ghosh to accept her younger sister as the bride as she needs to support her family again. At the same time, Chandra marries Gopal. Kavitha returns to taking care of her family like before.



After directing Arangetram (1973), K. Balachander decided to make another woman-centric film in which "the daughter has to make sacrifices and take care of her family", which became Aval Oru Thodar Kathai.[6] Balachander saw the Malayalam film Ernakulam Junction (1971), where Sujatha played the lead and decided that she would play the lead role. Despite not being fluent in Tamil at the time, she accepted the offer.[7] The film marked Sujatha's Tamil debut.[2] Balachander introduced Jayalaxmi in Aval Oru Thodar Kathai and the sobriquet "Fatafat" she got after she frequently used the word in this film.[8] Actors Jai Ganesh,[9] Sripriya and Thideer Kannaiah[10] also made their debuts with this film. Sripriya was in the ninth grade when approached for her role.[11] Kamal Haasan learnt mimicry for his role.[12] Rajesh said that he was approached to act in the film but he could not accept.[13] The song "Kadavul Amaitha Medhai" was shot at a community hall situated at Nandanam, Chennai.[14]


The soundtrack was composed by M. S. Viswanathan, with lyrics by Kannadasan.[15] For the song "Kadavul Amaithu Vaitha Medai", Viswanathan wanted only human voices to mimic the sounds of objects and animals. R. Srinivasan, a mimicry artist produced the sound of anklets after Viswanathan rejected a proposal to use actual anklets.[16]

1."Adi Ennadi Ulagam"L. R. Eswari 
2."Kadavul Amaithu Vaitha Medai"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Pattom Sadan, Saibaba, R. Srinivasan 
3."Kannilae Enna Undu"S. Janaki 
4."Dheivam Thantha Veedu"K. J. Yesudas 
5."Aadumadi Thottil"P. Susheela 

All lyrics are written by Vayalar Ramavarma.

1."Edi Enthedi"L. R. Eswari 
2."Kalabhachuvaru Vecha Meda"P. Jayachandran, Pattom Sadan 
3."Kannile"S. Janaki 
4."Daivam Thanna Veedu"K. J. Yesudas 
5."Aadumadi"P. Susheela 


The film was both a critical and commercial success.[18][19] Balachander won the Filmfare Award for Best Director – Tamil.[20]


The film is considered a classic[21] and cult film.[22] The Times of India named it one "of the landmark movies in the history of Tamil cinema".[23] 30 years after the film's release, directors Mani Ratnam, K. Bhagyaraj and K. S. Ravikumar named Aval Oru Thodar Kathai as one of their favourite films. Mani Ratnam said, "K.Balachandar has done some of the best films before and after Aval Oru Thodar Kathai. But I choose it mainly for its storyline. It is not the plot or the story, but the character that carries the film through". Ravikumar stated, "Through his script and direction, Balachandar brings out the tender core of his middle-class heroine, assailed by problems, in Aval Oru Thodarkathai."[24] In 2011, after Balachander had been given the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Rediff named it one of Balachander's best and wrote, "Aval Oru Thodarkadhai was one of his path-breaking works. Sujatha took on the mantle of Kavitha, the hard-working woman who struggles to support her largely ungrateful family. The tough exterior conceals a heart of gold, which, tragically, is never seen or recognised by her family. The film made waves not just for its principal characters who challenged Tamil cinema's set notions; it was also the dialogues that drew gasps from the audience. In creating Kavitha, K Balachander gave life to one of Tamil's most enduring, powerful female characters".[25] The Hindu wrote, "Aval Oru Thodarkadhai is a film that will stay with you forever – the invincible heroine was a big draw. And with AOT, Sujatha arrived! As the eldest daughter, who bears the onus of supporting a large family, she came up with a memorable performance. Her matter-of-fact approach to life was very fresh for Tamil audiences, who sang paeans to KB's creative stroke".[26]


Aval Oru Thodhar Kathai was remade in Telugu as Anthuleni Katha (1976), also directed by Balachander. The same tunes were used in the remake. Sripriya and Jayalaxmi reprised their roles, while Haasan portrayed a different role.[27] The film was also remade in Bengali as Kabita (1977), with Haasan reprising his role from the Tamil original.[28] The film was then remade in Hindi as Jeevan Dhaara in 1982.[27] In 1983, Balachander directed the Kannada remake Benkiyalli Aralida Hoovu, where Haasan played the guest role of a bus conductor.[29]

In popular culture[edit]

The song "Deivam Thantha" was parodied by Vivek in Parthiban Kanavu (2003). Although the song sequence in the film featured Jai Ganesh as the character singing, it is often associated with Rajinikanth, who played Murthy in the Telugu remake also by Balachander, Anthuleni Katha, and acted in the sequence of the same song in Telugu. Thus, Vivek is seen mimicking Rajinikanth's iconic cigarette-flicking mannerism during his parody.[30]

Clips from Aval Oru Thodarkathai were screened along with clips from other films such as Server Sundaram (1964), Iru Kodugal (1969), Arangetram (1973), Avargal (1977) and Azhagan (1991) at a function held in Balachander's honour at Tiruchirappalli in January 2015,[31] a month after his death.[32]


  1. ^ "The KB school". The Hindu. 3 May 2011. Archived from the original on 6 May 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  2. ^ a b Srinivasan, Meera (6 April 2011). "Actor Sujatha dead". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 24 April 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  3. ^ "Screen Star Sujatha is no more". The Times of India. April 2011. Archived from the original on 10 December 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  4. ^ Rangan, Baradwaj (24 December 2014). "A ladies' man". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 25 December 2014. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Dhananjayan 2011, p. 264.
  6. ^ Suganth, M. (26 November 2013). "Meiyyazhagi". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 1 July 2014. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  7. ^ Aravind, C V (21 May 2013). "Subtle yet powerful". Deccan Herald. Archived from the original on 12 December 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  8. ^ "It's a heavy price to pay". The Hindu. 3 May 2002. Archived from the original on 14 January 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  9. ^ "Actor dead". The Hindu. 13 February 2001. Archived from the original on 12 November 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  10. ^ "நடிகர் திடீர் கன்னையா காலமானார்...!" [Actor Thideer Kannaiah Passes away]. Dinamalar (in Tamil). 17 November 2013. Archived from the original on 31 January 2020. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  11. ^ Darshan, Navein (16 July 2020). "Remembering K Balachander: The man who made stars". The New Indian Express. Archived from the original on 26 May 2021. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  12. ^ "Kamal, as we know him". Rediff.com. 8 November 2000. Archived from the original on 21 December 2014. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  13. ^ "From schoolteacher to character artiste". The Hindu. 24 August 2006. Archived from the original on 8 June 2021. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  14. ^ Guhambika, R (22 June 2011). "Community hall or bhoot bungalow?". The New Indian Express. Archived from the original on 8 June 2021. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  15. ^ "Aval Oru Thodarkathai". Gaana. Archived from the original on 26 May 2021. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  16. ^ Kolappan, B. (30 December 2017). "The mimicry artist and the song that has stood the test of time". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 9 November 2020. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  17. ^ "Aval Oru Thudarkadha (1975)". malayalachalachithram.com. Archived from the original on 24 June 2020. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  18. ^ Dhananjayan 2011, p. 265.
  19. ^ Guy, Randor (18 August 1991). "Travails of a working woman". The Indian Express. p. 27. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  20. ^ The Times of India Directory and Year Book Including Who's who. Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd. 1984. p. 234. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  21. ^ "Women of substance". The Hindu. 19 March 2011. Archived from the original on 14 December 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  22. ^ "Experiments in Tamil cinema". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 24 May 2021. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  23. ^ "Movie Milestones". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 10 December 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  24. ^ "Filmmakers' favourites". The Hindu. 13 July 2007. Archived from the original on 11 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  25. ^ "The Very Best of K Balachander". Rediff.com. 2 May 2011. Archived from the original on 29 December 2014. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  26. ^ Rangarajan, Malathi (7 March 2014). "Women of Steel". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 10 April 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2021.
  27. ^ a b "Retrospect: Antuleni Katha – 1976". Telugu cinema. 23 August 2006. Archived from the original on 4 January 2007. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  28. ^ "Anthuleni Katha was the Telugu debut for Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth". The Times of India. 27 April 2020. Archived from the original on 24 December 2020. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  29. ^ "From 'Kokila' to 'Rama Shama Bhama': Five Kamal Haasan Kannada movies". The Times of India. 4 September 2020. Archived from the original on 13 October 2020. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  30. ^ Parthiban Kanavu (DVD)
  31. ^ G. Srinivasan (22 January 2015). "Rich tributes paid to Balachander". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 2 May 2015. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  32. ^ "K Balachander: The man who gave us Rajinikanth, Kamal Hassan dies". The Economic Times. Press Trust of India. 23 December 2014. Archived from the original on 26 March 2016. Retrieved 2 May 2015.


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