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Directed by Gangai Amaran[1]
Produced by Karumari Kandasamy
J. Durai
Written by Gangai Amaran
Starring Ramarajan
Santhana Bharathi
Kovai Sarala
Shanmuga Sundaram
Music by Ilaiyaraaja
Cinematography A. Sabapathy
Edited by B. Lenin
V. T. Vijayan
Vijaya Movies
Distributed by Vijaya Movies
Release date
16 June 1989
Running time
138 mins
Country India
Language Tamil

Karakattakaran (English: The Karagattam Dancer) is a 1989 Tamil-language romantic comedy film written and directed by Gangai Amaran and produced by Karumari Kandasamy and J. Durai.The film stars Ramarajan, debutant Kanaka in lead roles while Goundamani, Senthil, Santhana Bharathi, Chandrasekhar, Ganthimathi and Kovai Sarala play supporting roles. Its story is about a male Karagattam dancer who falls in love with a female Karagattam dancer who reciprocates his feelings, but unfortunate circumstances and their egoistic nature prevents them from confessing their love for one another. How they overcome forms the rest of the story.

The soundtrack was composed by Ilaiyaraaja and all the songs were well-received and, in particular, the song "Maanguyilae Poonguyile" has become a classic. The film was released on 16 June 1989 and was a mega blockbuster and completed a 425-day run at the box office. It was also Goundamani´s Senthil´s 100th movie as a combo. Goundamani and Senthil´s banana comedy got well known among the people and is still known today.


Muthaiya (Ramarajan) is the lead performer of a karagattam group based out of a village. His troupe consists of Goundamani, Senthil, Kovai Sarala, Junior Balaiah etc. Muthaiya’s mother Kanthimathi was his dance guru. Similarly Kamakshi (Kanaka) is also a karagattam dancer in the nearby village and she performs regularly during temple festival of that village. Chinnarasu (Santhana Bharathi) is the village panchayat board president and he sets an eye on Kamakshi. But Kamakshi hates Chinnarasu. To avenge 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 Shanmuga Sundaram invites Muthaiya to his home. And to his shock, Shanmuga Sundaram 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.

Chandrasekhar is Kamakshi’s innocent brother in law who works for Chinnarasu. Chinnarasu persuades Chandrasekhar 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. But Kamakshi saves Muthaiya thereby getting stabbed by a knife in her leg after the dance. Now Kanthimathi gets furious knowing that Kamakshi is her niece and takes Muthaiya along with her and also does not permit their wedding to happen. Kanthimathi 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 Kanthimathi realizes her mistake and unites with her brother. Also she agrees for wedding between Muthaiya and Kamakshi. Chinnarasu accuses that Muthaiah 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 Chandrasekhar reveals Chinnarasu's true identity infront of villagers. Chandrasekhar also pushes Chinnarasu on to the fire but is saved by Muthiya which makes Chinnarasu realize his mistake. The movie ends with Muthaiya and Kamakshi getting united.


Special Appearances(in the title song)


Gangai Amaran revealed that he didn’t plan anything for the movie and went on scene by scene and also said that Ilayaraja had composed the music without knowing the plot.[2] Kanaka, daughter of late actress Devika made her acting debut with this film.[3]


The music composed by Ilaiyaraaja.[4] All the songs especially "Maanguyile Poonguyile" became famous and still remain as chartbusters till date. The song "Ooru Vittu" is based on Shanmugapriya Raga while "Mariyamma" is based on Mayamalavagowla Raga.[5][6]

Ilayaraja later adapted "Maanguyile" as "Endhirayyo" for the Telugu film Shiva Shankar (2004).[7] The song "Nandhavanathil Oru" was adapted by Yuvan Shankar Raja as "Muttathu Pakkathile" in Kunguma Poovum Konjum Puravum (2009).[8] The song "Ooru Vittu Ooru Vandhu" was remixed by Natarajan Shankaran in Kappal (2014).[9] S. Shankar, the producer of that film, did not acquire permission to remix the song, leading to Ilaiyaraaja taking legal action against him.[10]

No. Song Singers Lyrics Length (m:ss)
1 Indha Maan Ilaiyaraaja, K. S. Chithra Gangai Amaran 04:35
2 Kudagu Malai Mano, K. S. Chithra 04:31
3 Maanguyilae (Men) SP Balasubrahmanyam 04:37
4 Maanguyilae (Duet) SP Balasubrahmanyam, S. Janaki 04:25
5 Mariyamma Mariyamma Malaysia Vasudevan, K. S. Chithra 04:31
6 Mundhi Mundhi Mano, K. S. Chithra 03:20
7 Nandhavanathil Gangai Amaran 01:05
8 Ooruvittu Ooruvanthu Malaysia Vasudevan, Gangai Amaran 04:34
9 Paattaalae Buddhi Ilaiyaraaja Ilaiyaraaja 04:37


Musicians (top) and Dancers (bottom) known for their contributions in Karagattam.

Karakattam (Tamil: கரகாட்டம் or "karakam (கரகம் 'water pot') dance") is an ancient folk dance of Tamil Nadu performed in praise of the rain goddess Mariamman. The performers balance the water pot on their head very beautifully.[11] Traditionally, this dance is performed in two types - Aatta Karakam is danced with decorated pots on the head and symbolizes joy and happiness and is mainly danced for entertainment, while the Sakthi Karakam is performed only in temples as a spiritual offering. Similar to Thillana Mohanambal (1968), this film also followed the lives of two artist families locked in a feud raised by a romantic interests of the lead pair.[12][13][14]


Distributors refused to buy the film as they felt that the rural setting and full-length comedy would not be acceptable.[12][13] The film ran for one year in Natana Theatre at Madurai.[13]


Behindwoods wrote: "Gangai Amaran’s classy direction, a simple and neat story, good performance of Ramarajan and Kanaga, believable stunt scenes, Ilayaraja’s excellent songs and finally Goundamani, Senthil’s comedy made this movie a block buster".[12]


Karagattakaran became a cult film for bringing the art of "Karagam" into prominence.[15] The film became one of the successful films in the career of Ramarajan.[16] The comedy sequences from the film, especially the joke revolving around Banana, still remains as cult classic.[17][18] The success of the film prompted Gangai Amaran to direct Villu Pattukaran (1992) which featured more or less same cast and crew from the previous film.[19] The car Chevrolet Impala, 1960's model used in the film became popular after the film's release.[20] In an interview to Hindu in 2002, Somasundaram, real-life Karagattam dancer was critical of the film stating that it is an "insult to the dance form".[21]

In an interview to a television channel, Venkat Prabhu was asked if he would ever remake Karakattakaran, he said that it would be extremely difficult to do justice to the original. Regarding the casting, in place of Goundamani and Senthil, he said he would prefer Santhanam and Premji respectively.[22]

The film Jil Jung Juk (2016) reveals who had kept Soppanasundari, the previous owner of the pink 1960 Chevrolet Impala according to the Karagattakaran plot.

In popular culture[edit]

In a comedy scene from Thangamana Raasa (1990), Goundamani who is jailed for petty crime, dreams of singing under the music of Ilaiyaraja, he sings "Maanguyile" to Vinu Chakravarthy.[23] 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.[24] Ooru Vittu Ooru Vanthu (1990) also directed by Gangai Amaran was named after a song from the film.[7] The scene where Shanmugasundaram pleads ignorance about himself to his sister (Gandhimathi) has been parodied by various mimicry artists in various shows. A song titled Soppanasundari is used in Venkat Prabhu s Chennai 600028 II: Second Innings.


  1. ^ Karakattakaran, IMDb, retrieved 2008-11-17 
  2. ^ http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-metroplus/all-rolled-into-one/article2250727.ece
  3. ^ http://behindwoods.com/tamil-movies-slide-shows/movie-4/heiresses/kanaka.html
  4. ^ "Karagattakaran Songs". raaga. Retrieved 2014-02-13. 
  5. ^ http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/a-ragas-journey-sacred-shanmukhapriya/article2418290.ece
  6. ^ http://m.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/a-ragas-journey-the-magic-of-mayamalavagowla/article2618199.ece/
  7. ^ a b http://www.indiaglitz.com/channels/telugufont/musicreview/7239.html
  8. ^ http://itwofs.com/milliblog/2009/01/24/music-review-kunguma-poovum-konjum-puraavum-tamil-yuvan-shankar-raja/
  9. ^ http://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/cinema-reviews/review-this-kappal-doesnt-sink/article6725209.ece
  10. ^ http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/blames-the-director-for-remixing-his-composition-without-permission/article6749679.ece
  11. ^ http://tamilnadu.com/arts/karakattam.html
  12. ^ a b c http://www.behindwoods.com/tamil-movie-articles/movies-01/19-04-06-365-days-tamil-films.html
  13. ^ a b c http://www.behindwoods.com/features/Slideshows/slideshows2/delayed_movies/tamil-cinema-karakattagaran.html
  14. ^ Dhananjayan 2011, p. 242.
  15. ^ http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/a-care-for-karagattam/article6104528.ece
  16. ^ http://www.indiaglitz.com/second-innings-starts-malayalam-news-19104
  17. ^ http://www.indiaglitz.com/noted-comedy-writer-dies-malayalam-news-16519
  18. ^ http://behindwoods.com/tamil-movies-cinema-fans-column/unrivaled-comedy-duo-of-kollywood-goundamani-senthil.html
  19. ^ https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=P9oYG7HA76QC&dat=19921204&printsec=frontpage
  20. ^ http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/man-and-machine-cars-can-be-funny-too/article6722752.ece
  21. ^ http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/lf/2002/10/24/stories/2002102405680200.htm
  22. ^ http://behindwoods.com/tamil-movie-news-1/dec-12-01/santhanam-premji-03-12-12.html
  23. ^ Thangamana Raasa (DVD)
  24. ^ Saroja (DVD)

External links[edit]