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Directed byP. Vasu
Produced byG. P. Vijay Kumar
Pushpa Kandaswamy
C. Ashwini Dutt
Screenplay byP. Vasu
Story bySreenivasan
Music byG. V. Prakash Kumar
CinematographyArvind Krishna
A. D. Karunamoorthy (Additional cinematography)
Edited bySaravana
Kavithalayaa Productions
Seven Arts Films Production
Distributed byAyngaran (Worldwide)
Pyramid Saimira (US)
Release date
  • 1 August 2008 (2008-08-01)
Running time
159 minutes[1]
Box office8crore[2]

Kuselan is a 2008 Indian Tamil-language dramedy film directed by P. Vasu. A remake of the Malayalam film Kadha Parayumbol (2007), it was produced by Pushpa Kandaswamy, Aswani Dutt and G. P. Vijayakumar in two languages. Kuselan stars Rajini and Meena, with Vadivelu and Livingston and Pasupathy supporting roles. The film was simultaneously made in Telugu as Kathanayakudu (transl. Hero).

The plot revolves around a villager, who had shared a strong friendship with a popular cinema actor in his youth. However, due to their different careers they were forced to part ways, one becoming a national figure, the other, a village barber. Decades later, the actor returns to the village to participate in his film's shooting. Whilst the entire village become excited about the prospect of seeing the actor, the barber fears that his old friend would have forgotten him and would neglect him.

Kuselan opened to audiences on 1 August 2008, taking the third-largest opening for a Tamil film up until the date of release. Despite the hype before release, the film ended up evoking negative reviews.[3] Prior to release, the film was heavily marketed by the producers as a Rajinikanth-starrer, although Rajinikanth himself had made it clear that he was only playing a guest role.[4][5]


The emotional tale, the story is about two childhood friends Balakrishnan (Pasupathy) and Ashok Kumar (Rajinikanth). Balan does not stop at anything to make his friend feel happy. As time passes by, they take different paths, and Balan becomes a barber in a small village called Maraiyur. He marries Devi (Meena) and has three children and leads a happy and a clean life. However, his finances are dry and he is often led to the door of Kuppusamy (Livingston), the financier. On the other hand, Balan has tough competition from the more smart and clever "Saloon Kadai" Shanmugam (Vadivelu), who has a saloon right opposite to his shop. Balan is a man with self-respect and honesty. His life continues to roll until one day there is news that a film shooting is going to happen in a place near their village and the hero of the film is Superstar Ashok Kumar. The news spreads like wildfire and Balan knows this but hesitates to show himself as a friend of Ashok Kumar. On the other hand, folks around get to know the friendship of Balan and Ashok Kumar and in this process, those who have been ridiculing him start doing favors for him only with the intention of meeting Ashok Kumar or at least watching him from outside. But hesitant Balan is unable to do what they want and soon people start shunning him, and even his own children start showing anger towards him. But then Ashok Kumar gives a speech at the school where Balan's kids study about his past. It is revealed that Ashok Kumar is in fact the son of Raj Kumar, a poor labourer and he lived off Balan's money until the latter realized his talent in acting and sent him to Madras, where he became a superstar. Balan hears the whole speech and goes home with tears where even Ashok Kumar has arrived and they both meet, he tells him that Balan and his family will stay with from on, where first Balan resists initially and accepts via the love of Ashok.


Cameo appearances
Special appearance in the song "Perinba Pechchukaran"
Special appearances in the song "Cinema Cinema"



Following P. Vasu and Rajinikanth's film, Chandramukhi in 2005, Vasu had been keen to re-cast Rajinikanth in another role and, before signing Kuselan, he had narrated a story titled Vettaiyan, which would have been a sequel of a character featured in Chandramukhi.[7] Early in 2008, Rajinikanth signed up for S. Shankar's Enthiran, while Kuselan was launched at the Taj Coromandel in Chennai on 14 January 2008 coinciding with Pongal.[8] The director, P. Vasu signed up Rajinikanth and Pasupathy to portray the lead roles, while director K. Balachandar agreed to produce the Tamil version of the film along with G.P. Vijayakumar's Seven Arts Productions, while Aswani Dutt agreed to produce the film in Telugu with Rajinikanth and Jagapati Babu in the lead roles. Ileana D'Cruz turned down an offer to act in the film, citing date problems.[9] The film is a remake of the Malayalam movie, Kadha Parayumbol which was written by Sreenivasan who also played the lead role in the movie.

In the Telugu version, comedy actors Sunil and Venu Madhav all signed up to play the roles of Jagapati Babu's fellow villagers.[10] Like the Tamil version, it was said that several prominent Telugu actors had been approached to be a part of a song in the project, but none were selected.[11][12]

Vasu made it clear that Rajinikanth would not be doing an honorary role in the film, which Mammooty had portrayed in the original, but will play a full role, describing that "the whole story revolves around him [Rajnikanth]". The film's launch was halted on 7 March 2008 at the AVM Studios in Chennai with the leading artistes present.[13] P. Vasu, while talking to the media mentioned that the shooting lasted 82 days with the versions being shot simultaneously and that most of the movie was shot inside the Ramoji Rao film city, with other destinations including Kerala and Pollachi.[14]

A promotional event took place on 19 July 2008 at the Jawarhalal Nehru Stadium. The event focused on the music by G. V. Prakash Kumar.[15]


Apart from the role of Rajinikanth, Vasu intended to use entirely different casts in either version of the bilingual film. Livingston, Manobala and Santhana Bharathi were added to the cast of the Tamil version,[16] along with Vadivelu who pipped Vivek, Santhanam and Goundamani to land the role, even though Santhanam managed another role in the film.[17] Furthermore, director S. P. Muthuraman agreed to play a guest role in the film.[18] Despite Trisha Krishnan's request to appear opposite Rajinikanth, Nayantara accepted the role,[8] however finding a female lead opposite Pasupathy was more difficult for the director, with Simran Bagga,[19] Tabu[18] and Sneha all being considered for the role in the Tamil version.[8] However, Meena who played the role in the original, was offered the role in early February 2008 and accepted it.[20] Throughout the production stages, it had been indicated that several prominent film personalities will appear in cameo appearances throughout the film, however no leading actors were approached.[11][12] Indications later revealed that five actresses would appear opposite Rajinikanth in a song with the selected being Nayantara, Mamta Mohandas, Kushboo, Suja and Sneha all of whom apart from Nayantara, play minor roles.[21] G. V. Prakash Kumar operated as the music composer while Arvind Krishna was the cinematographer.[16] The verse alternates between clips shot of an actual movie crew filming on location, intercut with real-life superstar actor Rajinikanth — who plays a fictional superstar actor in this film — spoofing blockbuster movies such as Zorro, Lawrence of Arabia, House of Flying Daggers, and the James Bond series.[22]


Kuselan: The Official Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Released1 July 2008
GenreFeature film soundtrack
LabelBig Music
ProducerG. V. Prakash Kumar
G. V. Prakash Kumar chronology
Ullasamga Utsahamga
Kuselan: The Official Motion Picture Soundtrack
Ananda Thandavam

The soundtrack of Kuselan was released on 30 June 2008. The background score has been composed by G. V. Prakash Kumar along with five songs.[23] The song Cinema Cinema commemorates the 75th anniversary of Tamil cinema. S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Sneha, Mamta Mohandas, Dhanush, Kushboo Sundar and Soundarya Rajinikanth appear in this song along with Rajinikanth, Nayantara and Vijayakumar. Sivaji Ganesan, M. G. Ramachandran, Rajkumar and N. T. Rama Rao, are also shown in this song. The verse alternates between clips shot of an actual movie crew filming on location, intercut with real-life superstar actor Rajinikanth — who plays a fictional superstar actor in this film — spoofing blockbuster movies such as Zorro, Lawrence of Arabia, House of Flying Daggers, and the James Bond series.[22]

No. Song Singers Length (m:ss) Lyrics Notes
1 "Cinema Cinema" Shankar Mahadevan 6:08 Vaali The song commemorates the 75th anniversary of Tamil cinema. Prominent actors play cameos in the song.
2 "Sollamma" Hariharan, Sujatha Mohan, Baby Ranjani & Baby Pooja 6:13 Pa. Vijay A melody picturized on Balakrishnan's family
3 "Om Zaarare" Daler Mehndi, K. S. Chithra & Sadhana Sargam 7:12 Vaali A song on the sets of the film, featuring Rajinikanth and Nayantara
4 "Chaaral" Shreya Ghoshal 4:34 Kiruthiya A song featuring Nayantara, picturized in Alappuzha
5 "Perinba Pechukaran" Kailash Kher, V. Prasanna 5:36 Yugabharathi An interlude with the villagers singing in praise of Balakrishnan after discovering his links with Ashok Kumar.


Kuselan became the third largest release in the history of Tamil cinema, extracting 1000 prints worldwide, numbers exceeded only by Rajinikanth's previous venture, Sivaji.[24] The film upon release, despite the initial hype before release, received negative reviews and unexpectedly took a lukewarm opening at the box office.[25] Unlike previous Rajinikanth films, on day two of its release, tickets were available in almost all theatres across Tamil Nadu, with the film failing to get advance bookings.[25] Traders blamed the producers for using Rajinikanth's "larger than life image" to sell it to distributors, Pyramid Saimira for $12 million, when they knew very well that he was only doing a special appearance.[26] More than $1 million worth of unauthorized DVDs were seized around India featuring Kuselan.[27] In Karnataka, Rajinikanth's home state, Kuselan failed to bring in $300,000, despite being sold for $600,000.[27]

Pyramid Saimeera declared a loss of 403.2 million in the 3rd financial quarter of 2008 (a loss of nearly US$8 million, the highest loss for a single film in the Tamil film industry's 100-year history).[28]

Overseas, Kuselan opened at number 12 at the UK box office, but slid heavily the following week.[29] The film was still labelled as a "colossal flop".[30]

Critical response[edit]

The film, upon release, garnered mainly negative reviews. Rediff.com criticized the film as "rushed", however praised Pasupathy mentioning that he comes "out the winner" in acting scenes, citing that his portrayal was "poetic".[31] Meena is criticized, with the reviewer claiming that she "tries hard to re-create the original version's magic, but perhaps she has been told to over-do it for Tamil: she wears lipstick and pastel shades of saris for every other scene, while trying to prove that they have no idea where the next meal's going to come from". As for the script, "the freshness of the original has been denuded a little to accommodate dialogues that extol the many virtues of the superstar", becoming worse than that of the original.[31] Whilst labelling Vadivelu as providing "antics are the ones that really make you grin", the rest of the supporting actors Manobala, M. S. Baskar, Livingston and Vaiyapuri "are absolutely wasted". Director P. Vasu is criticized by claiming that his "script must shoulder the responsibility of how Kuselan has ultimately turned out" with the only saving grace being "the original story, which pulls the screenplay from descending into nothing". G. V. Prakash Kumar and Thotta Tharani were also singled out by the Rediff reviewer for their adequate performances in their respective fields.[31]

Reviewers also claimed that the producers and P. Vasu had attempted to capitalize on Rajinikanth's fan following in the film. The Deccan Herald reported that "It’s a big con to exploit brand Rajni and make a quick buck. He himself gallops in on a flying horse almost half way through the tortuous proceedings. His oneliners and quirks fall flat. If at all we are able to see flashes of the Rajni of yore, it’s towards the dying moments. By then it’s too late".[32] This claim was echoed by one Sify.com review claiming the film "tries desperately to glorify Rajinikanth’s larger than life superstardom and create a halo around him as a do-gooder and a saint in real life. It loses its focus and moves away from the gist of the original, which was a simple story about human emotions, based on friendship between an ordinary barber and a superstar."[33] In contrast, another Sify.com review praised the film labelling it as "above average". It claims that "Rajinikanth towers above all others, especially in the climax scene where there is a lot of melodrama and the human emotions are well etched out".[33] Pasupathy has a "pained expression throughout" whilst "Meena just repeats her performance in the Malayalam version". It however criticizes Vadivelu who is described as "a bit crass and below-the-belt", in reference to his scenes with Sona Heiden. It adds that "Kuselan is quite an enjoyable watch and is different from previous Rajinikanth films" and that the "touching climax will leave a lump in your throat".[33]


During the 2008 hunger strike organised by SIFAA against Karnataka's stance on the Hogenakkal Falls water dispute, Rajinikanth reprimanded politicians in Karnataka. Further, he appealed to leaders not to inflame the water project issue for political gains and requested that the issue should be resolved soon. He urged the Karnataka politicians "to speak the truth". "They cannot be fooled and will not remain silent if you continue to act in such manner," he stated.[34] Vatal Nagaraj, a Kannada activist and leader of the Kannada Chaluvali Paksha, demanded an apology from Rajinikanth and threatened that he would not be allowed in the state of Karnataka and all his films would be boycotted. In an effort to save the economy of Tamil cinema in Karnataka and ensure welfare of Tamil Nadu-based filmmakers, Rajinikanth made a brief media appearance on the news channel TV9 Kannada and clarified his speech, issuing an apology.[35] Following the release of Kuselan in Karnataka, Rajinikanth thanked the Kannada film industry for allowing the release of the film and lifting the ban. Fellow actors R. Sarathkumar, Sathyaraj and Radha Ravi condemned the apology, with the latter calling it a "disgrace to Tamils".[36]


  • Edison Award for Best Playback Singer - Shreya Ghoshal-'"Chaaral"' - Nominated


  1. ^ https://www.bbfc.co.uk/releases/kuselan-2008
  2. ^ a b "Robot+Rajini=Rs 300 cr : NATION". India Today. 9 October 2010. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  3. ^ Malani, Gaurav (2 August 2008). "Kuselan: Movie Review". The Economic Times. Retrieved 27 June 2020.
  4. ^ "'Kuselan' – A boon or bane to Tamil cinema". IndiaGlitz. 8 August 2008. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  5. ^ https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/kuselan-125916
  6. ^ a b Kuselan (DVD): opening credits from 1.16 to 3.00
  7. ^ Shankar, Settu (2007). "P Vasu's version of Vettaiyan". OneIndia.com. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 27 August 2007.
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  15. ^ "Kuselan's promotional event". Behindwoods. Retrieved 16 July 2008.
  16. ^ a b "Jegapathy Babu in 'Kuchelan'". Cinesouth.com. 2008. Retrieved 23 January 2008.
  17. ^ "Vivek acts in Kuselan!". OneIndia.com. 2008. Retrieved 9 February 2008.
  18. ^ a b "Latest on 'Kuselan'". IndiaGlitz. 2008. Retrieved 23 January 2008.
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  21. ^ "Rajinikant to romance 5 heroines?". Sify. 2008. Retrieved 24 March 2008.
  22. ^ a b http://www.nonstopmp3.com/music/Telugu+-+Movies/albums/Kathanayakudu+(2008)
  23. ^ "Kuselan movie songs". tamilsonglyrics. Archived from the original on 17 February 2015.
  24. ^ "'Kuselan' opens in maximum centres". IndiaGlitz. 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2008.
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  26. ^ "Kuselan Fiasco- A postmortem". Sify. 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2008.
  27. ^ a b Vijayasarathy, R. G. (2008). "Kuselan flops in Karnataka". Rediff. Retrieved 16 September 2008.
  28. ^ http://www.pstl.in/investor_pages/investor/Notes%20on%20Q3%20financials.pdf
  29. ^ "Kuselan Storms UK Box Office". Behindwoods. 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2008.
  30. ^ "Rajnikanth's Kuselan gets rave reviews in Malaysia". Hindustan Times. 2008. Retrieved 16 September 2008.
  31. ^ a b c Srinivasan, Pavithra (2008). "Rajnikanth's show all the way". Rediff. Retrieved 1 August 2008.
  32. ^ "A Kuselan gone Kaput!". The Deccan Herald. 2008. Retrieved 1 August 2008.
  33. ^ a b c "Review:Kuselan". Sify. 2008. Retrieved 1 August 2008.
  34. ^ "Rajnikanth blasts Karnataka over water project – Thaindian News". Thaindian.com. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
  35. ^ "Karnataka groups demand apology". Sify. 5 April 2008. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
  36. ^ "Rajini earns the wrath of Tamil cinema". Behindwoods. Retrieved 9 September 2010.

External links[edit]