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Directed byGangai Amaran
Written byGangai Amaran
Produced byKarumari Kandasamy
J. Durai
CinematographyA. Sabapathy
Edited byB. Lenin
V. T. Vijayan
Music byIlaiyaraaja
Vijaya Movies
Release date
  • 16 June 1989 (1989-06-16)
Running time
138 minutes[1]
Budgetest. 2 million[2]

Karakattakkaran (transl. The Karakattam dancer) is a 1989 Indian Tamil-language romantic comedy dance film written and directed by Gangai Amaran. The film stars Ramarajan and debutant Kanaka, while Santhana Bharathi, Chandrasekhar, Goundamani, Senthil, Shanmugasundaram, Raja Bahadur, Gandhimathi and Kovai Sarala play supporting roles. It revolves around two karakattam dancers who fall in love with each other, but circumstances prevent them from confessing their love for one another. How they overcome these forms the rest of the story.

The soundtrack was composed by Ilaiyaraaja and all the songs were well-received, in particular, "Maanguyilae Poonguyile". The film was released on 16 June 1989 and was a major commercial success, running for over a year in theatres,[3] and won two Tamil Nadu State Film Awards. It was also Goundamani and Senthil's 100th film as a combo. Goundamani and Senthil's banana comedy sequence from this film remains one of their popular act.



Muthaiya is the lead performer of a karakattam troupe based out of a village. Muthaiya's mother was his dance guru. Similarly Kamakshi is also a karakattam dancer in the nearby village and she performs regularly during temple festival of that village. Chinnarasu is the village panchayat board president and he sets an eye on Kamakshi. But Kamakshi hates Chinnarasu. To take revenge on her, Chinnarasu invites Muthaiya's dance troupe to perform during temple festival instead of Kamakshi's performance.

Muthaiya performs well and is widely appreciated by the villagers. Kamakshi also likes Muthaiya's performance. Kamakshi's father invites Muthaiya to his home. And to his shock, Kamakshi's father understands that Muthaiya is his nephew but does not reveal it to him. Muthaiya and Kamakshi fall in love with each other. Chinnarasu gets to know about Muthaiya and Kamakshi's love affair and plans to separate them.

Balaraman is Kamakshi's innocent brother-in-law who works for Chinnarasu. Chinnarasu persuades Balaraman to challenge a dance competition between Muthaiya and Kamakshi for which both accepts. In the meantime, Chinnarasu plans to kill Muthaiya during the dance program. His assassin, a butcher, throws a knife at Muthaiya, but Kamakshi saves him, thereby getting stabbed in her leg after the dance.

Muthaiya's mother gets furious upon realising that Kamakshi is her niece and takes Muthaiya along with her and also does not permit their wedding to happen. She reveals a flashback that Kamakshi's father is her own brother and he eloped with the jewels that were meant to be sold to meet the medical expenses of Muthaiya's father which led to his death. But Kamakshi's father arrives there and reveals the truth that while he went to sell the jewels, he was caught by the police suspecting him to be a smuggler following which he was jailed for a few years.

Now Muthaiya's mother realises her mistake and unites with her brother. Also she agrees for wedding between Muthaiya and Kamakshi. Chinnarasu accuses that Muthaiya and Kamakshi misbehaved in the temple and orders them to walk on fire in the temple to prove that they are pure. Muthaiya and Kamakshi successfully walk on fire while Balaraman exposes Chinnarasu's true identity before of the villagers. Balaraman pushes Chinnarasu on to the fire but Muthaiya saves him which makes Chinnarasu remorseful. Muthaiya and Kamakshi marry.







Gangai Amaran wanted to do a film on the life of Karakattam dancers and their art Karagam. When producers Karumari Kandaswamy and J. Durai approached Amaran to do a project for them they agreed to do the film titled Karakattakkaran.[6] Amaran admitted that his film was reversal of Thillana Mohanambal (1968) with a change of backdrop and it was Ramarajan who suggested the story idea for the film while Amaran revealed he "didn't plan anything for the movie and went on scene by scene".[6][7]



After achieving back-to-back successful films like Enga Ooru Pattukaran (1987) and Shenbagamae Shenbagamae (1988), Ramarajan was the director's only choice for the lead character and it was his 18th project as actor.[6][7] For the lead actress, Kanaka, daughter of Devika made her acting debut with this film.[6] It was Amaran's wife who suggested her for the role.[8] Goundamani and Senthil were chosen to handle comic relief and this film became their 100th collaboration.[8] The comedy track was written by A. Veerappan.[6] Since Amaran wanted a female dancer for Ramarajan's troupe, Kovai Sarala was cast.[6]



The filming was completed in 28 days. The crew found the village some distance off of Madurai Pandiyan hotel on the way to Alagar Kovil where the film was shot while the panchayat scene with the banyan tree and the climax were shot in Arunachalam Studios and Ambica Studios, respectively.[8]



Similar to Thillana Mohanambal, this film also followed the lives of two artist families locked in a feud raised by a romantic interests of the lead pair.[9][10]



The music composed by Ilaiyaraaja. All lyrics were written by Gangai Amaran except "Paattaalae Buddhi", which was written by Ilaiyaraaja.[11][12] The song "Maanguyilae Poonguyile" is set to the Carnatic raga Gourimanohari,[13] "Mariyamma" is set to Mayamalavagowla,[14][15] and "Ooru Vittu Ooru Vandhu" is set to Shanmukhapriya.[16][17] Ilaiyaraaja later adapted "Maanguyilae Poonguyile" as "Endhirayyo" for the Telugu film Shiva Shankar (2004).[18] The song "Nandhavanathil Oru" was adapted by Ilaiyaraaja's son Yuvan Shankar Raja as "Muttathu Pakkathile" in Kunguma Poovum Konjum Puravum (2009).[19] "Ooru Vittu Ooru Vandhu" was remixed by Natarajan Sankaran in Kappal (2014).[20] S. Shankar, the producer of that film, did not acquire permission to remix the song, leading to Ilaiyaraaja taking legal action against him.[21]

Track listing
1."Indha Maan"Ilaiyaraaja, K. S. Chithra04:35
2."Kudagu Malai"Mano, K. S. Chithra04:31
3."Maanguyilae" (Solo)S. P. Balasubrahmanyam04:37
4."Maanguyilae" (Duet)S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, S. Janaki04:25
5."Mariyamma Mariyamma"Malaysia Vasudevan, K. S. Chithra04:31
6."Mundhi Mundhi"Mano, K. S. Chithra03:20
7."Nandhavanathil"Gangai Amaran01:05
8."Ooruvittu Ooruvanthu"Malaysia Vasudevan, Gangai Amaran04:35
9."Paattaalae Buddhi"Ilaiyaraaja04:37
Total length:36:16

Release and reception


Karakattakkaran was released on 16 June 1989.[7] Distributors initially refused to buy the film as they felt that "the rural setting and full length comedy would not be acceptable".[9][10] Despite this, the film became a major commercial success, running for over a year in Nadana Theatre at Madurai.[7][10] Ananda Vikatan rated the film 44 out of 100, calling it a simple, realistic village love story without much grandeur.[22]



At the Tamil Nadu State Film Awards, Karakattakkaran won the Special Prize for Best Film, and D. K. S. Babu won for Best Choreographer.[23]



Karakattakkaran became a cult film for bringing the art of Karagam into prominence.[24][25] The comedy sequences from the film, especially Goundamani and Senthil's banana joke, still remains a cult classic,[26] being referred to in the films Puthu Paatu (1990),[27] Ponnuketha Purushan (1992),[28] Pudhayal (1997),[29] Seerivarum Kaalai (2001),[30] and a deleted scene from Thuppakki (2012).[31] The car Chevrolet Impala, 1960's model used in the film became popular after the film's release.[32]

In an interview with The Hindu in 2002, Somasundaram, a real-life Karakattam dancer was critical of the film, stating that it was an "insult to the dance form".[33] In a 2012 interview, Venkat Prabhu was asked if he would ever remake Karakattakkaran, and said "it would be extremely difficult to do justice to the original".[34] In May 2019, Amaran expressed interest in doing a sequel with the original cast,[35] which Ramarajan opposed the following month.[36]


In a comedy scene from Thangamana Raasa (1990), Goundamani who is jailed for a petty crime, dreams of singing under the music of Ilaiyaraja, he sings "Maanguyile" to Vinu Chakravarthy.[37] In Saroja (2008), when the friends witness the car which they are going to travel, the theme music of Karagattakaran is used as background music for the scene.[38] Ooru Vittu Ooru Vanthu (1990) also directed by Gangai Amaran was named after a song from the film.[39] The 2016 film Jil Jung Juk reveals who had kept Soppanasundari, the previous owner of the pink 1960 Chevrolet Impala according to the Karakattakkaran plot.[40]


  1. ^ a b Dhananjayan 2011, p. 124.
  2. ^ ராம்ஜி, வி. (18 June 1989). ""கரகாட்டக்காரன் பட்ஜெட்; எவ்ளோ செலவாச்சு தெரியுமா?"- கங்கைஅமரன் ஃப்ளாஷ்பேக்" [Karakattakkaran budget; do you know how much it cost? – Gangai Amaran's flashback]. Kamadenu (in Tamil). Archived from the original on 20 August 2019. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  3. ^ S, Srivatsan (2 December 2021). "With Krishnaveni Cinemas, an iconic Chennai landmark gets a much needed image makeover". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 9 December 2021. Retrieved 9 December 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e Dhananjayan 2011, p. 125.
  5. ^ Kumar, Praveen (15 June 2019). "'My wife denies me biriyani inspired by 'Naadhas' Senthil'". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 13 July 2021. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Suganth, M (16 June 2019). "Celebrating 30 Years of Karagattakaran". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 20 August 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d Kumar, Pradeep (15 June 2019). "30 years of 'Karagattakaran': actor Ramarajan goes on rewind mode". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 20 August 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  8. ^ a b c Sekhar, Arunkumar (16 June 2019). "30 years of Karakattakaran – Gangai Amaren: The Vazhapazham comedy track was based on a similar sequence in an Adoor Bhasi film". Cinema Express. Archived from the original on 20 August 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  9. ^ a b "365 days and beyond: Films that ran for more than a year and their success stories!!". Behindwoods. Archived from the original on 17 June 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  10. ^ a b c "Delayed Movies – A Big Hit – Karagattakaran". Behindwoods. Archived from the original on 17 June 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  11. ^ "Karagatakaran (1989)". Raaga.com. Archived from the original on 23 February 2014. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
  12. ^ "Karagattakkaran Tamil Film LP Vinyl Record by Ilayaraja". Mossymart. Archived from the original on 13 July 2021. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  13. ^ Sundararaman 2007, p. 142.
  14. ^ Sundararaman 2007, p. 143.
  15. ^ Mani, Charulatha (11 November 2011). "A Raga's Journey – The magic of Mayamalavagowla". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 15 November 2020. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  16. ^ Sundararaman 2007, p. 150.
  17. ^ Mani, Charulatha (2 September 2011). "A Raga's Journey – Sacred Shanmukhapriya". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 17 June 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  18. ^ "Shiva Shankar music review". IndiaGlitz. 26 August 2004. Archived from the original on 17 June 2019. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  19. ^ Karthik (24 January 2009). "Music review: Kunguma Poovum Konjum Puraavum (Tamil – Yuvan Shankar Raja)". Milliblog. Archived from the original on 17 June 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  20. ^ Srinivasan, Sudhir (25 December 2014). "This Kappal doesn't sink". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 13 November 2017. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  21. ^ "Ilayaraja sends legal notice on copyright to director Shankar". The Hindu. 3 January 2015. Archived from the original on 22 March 2017. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  22. ^ "சினிமா விமர்சனம்: கரகாட்டக்காரன்" [Movie Review: Karakattakkaran]. Ananda Vikatan (in Tamil). 7 July 1989. Archived from the original on 20 April 2020. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
  23. ^ Dhananjayan 2011, p. 126.
  24. ^ Jeshi, K. (15 August 2019). "What happens when Lenin, Santhana Bharathi and Gangai Amaren meet?". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 4 September 2019. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  25. ^ Basu, Soma (11 June 2014). "A care for Karagattam?". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 17 June 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  26. ^ "Suriya and team celebrates Senthil's birthday". IndiaGlitz. 24 March 2017. Archived from the original on 17 June 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  27. ^ Puthu Paatu (motion picture) (in Tamil). Ilaiyaraaja Creations.[time needed]
  28. ^ Ponnuketha Purushan (motion picture) (in Tamil). Mars International.[time needed]
  29. ^ Puthaiyal Tamil Movie Full Comedy | Comedy Jukebox | Goundamani | Senthil | Thamizh Padam (in Tamil). Thamizh Padam. 7 March 2017. Archived from the original on 13 June 2024. Retrieved 12 December 2023 – via YouTube.
  30. ^ Seerivarum Kaalai (motion picture) (in Tamil). Kanna Cine Arts.[time needed]
  31. ^ "Thalapathy Vijay recreates the epic Goundamani-Senthil comedy in the 'Thuppakki' deleted scene". The Times of India. 9 June 2024. Archived from the original on 13 June 2024. Retrieved 13 June 2024.
  32. ^ Frederick, Prince (24 December 2014). "Cars can be funny too". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 17 June 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  33. ^ Chandrasekar, Preethi (24 October 2002). "Bringing it to center stage". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 17 June 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  34. ^ "Santhanam as Goundamani and Premji as Senthil". Behindwoods. 3 December 2012. Archived from the original on 17 June 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  35. ^ Rajendran, Gopinath (29 May 2019). "Karakattakaran to get a sequel". Cinema Express. Archived from the original on 13 July 2021. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  36. ^ "கரகாட்டக்காரன்-2 எடுக்கக்கூடாது – ராமராஜன்" [Karakattakkaran-2 should not be made – Ramarajan]. Maalai Malar (in Tamil). 22 June 2019. Archived from the original on 13 July 2021. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  37. ^ Thangamana Raasa (motion picture) (in Tamil). Rekha Movies. 1989.[time needed]
  38. ^ Saroja (motion picture) (in Tamil). Amma Creations. 2008.[time needed]
  39. ^ Shekar, Anjana (19 October 2020). "Goundamani in Singapore, Yogi Babu in London: 7 hilarious Tamil scenes in foreign lands". The News Minute. Archived from the original on 13 July 2021. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  40. ^ Srinivasan, Sudhir (12 February 2016). "Jil Jung Juk: Quirky, but little else". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 7 May 2018. Retrieved 28 June 2021.


  • Dhananjayan, G. (2011). The Best of Tamil Cinema, 1931 to 2010: 1977–2010. Galatta Media. OCLC 733724281.
  • Sundararaman (2007) [2005]. Raga Chintamani: A Guide to Carnatic Ragas Through Tamil Film Music (2nd ed.). Pichhamal Chintamani. OCLC 295034757.