From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Marudhanayagam poster.jpg
Launch poster
Directed byKamal Haasan
Produced byKamal Haasan
Written byKamal Haasan
StarringKamal Haasan
Music byIlaiyaraaja
CinematographyRavi K. Chandran
Edited byAnthony
Rajkamal International

Marudhanayagam is a long-delayed Indian historical drama film directed and produced by Kamal Haasan. The film, which started in August 1997 with an exclusive launch by Queen Elizabeth II, originally pulled together several prominent names across Indian cinema as its principal cast and crew. However, after becoming delayed in 1999, the film has not continued production.




Kamal Haasan had considered directing a historical film for a period of four to five years and contemplated doing a historical musical on the lines of Ambikapathy (1937), with the idea of making a film which had only verses for dialogue. Writer Sujatha then suggested that Haasan looked at a folk ballad edited by Tamil scholar Vanamamalai, which introduced them to the historical figure of Muhammed Yusuf Khan, an 18th-century warrior.[1] Haasan immediately agreed to the prospect and felt that the story had the potential to make a good historical film, with the appeal of depicting the rise from the nadir to the top of Khan's life. Sujatha revealed that nearly 80% of the film would be adapted from Samuel Charles Hill's biography of Khan, also known as Marudha Nayagam, and to only use imagination where no solid or substantial information was available, such as on matters concerning his conversion to Islam.[1] The team in 1998, for the first time in India, planned to use a computer for screenplay writing, using a particular software called the Movie Magic Screenwriter with Sujatha working as a screenplay doctor.[1] French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière was also involved in readying the screenplay for the film, as were historian S. Muthiah and poets Puviarasu and Gnanakoothan.[2][3]

The producers brought in Queen Elizabeth II to appear as the chief guest at the launch of the project, which took place in the MGR Film City on 16 October 1997.[4] The Queen spent 20 minutes on the sets of the film, with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, politicians S. Jaipal Reddy and G. K. Moopanar, maverick journalist Cho Ramaswamy and veteran actors Sivaji Ganesan and Amrish Puri also in attendance.[5] A teaser was shown at the launch, with a pilot video consisting of a battle scene which would feature for a few minutes in the film, with the production of the particular scene costing Kamal Hassan 1.5 crores alone.[5] In November 1997, it was reported that the film would cost almost 85 crore to make (equivalent of 650 crore in 2017 prices) and would subsequently become the most expensive Indian film production till then[6] The music for the trailer of the film was composed by Karthik Raja in late 1997, when Kamal Haasan and he were working together in Kaathala Kaathala.[7]


The original cast included veteran Kannada actor Vishnuvardhan playing the role of Wajid Khan, with supporting actors Nassar, Om Puri and Amrish Puri also given pivotal roles. Om Puri pulled out of the film in mid-1998 due to prior commitments and Sathyaraj replaced him in the film.[3] When the film was postponed, the team were still waiting to hear back from actors Amitabh Bachchan and Rajinikanth who were approached to play guest roles.[3] Kate Winslet was offered the lead female role of Marsha, but her rejection led to the makers casting a French debutant.[3] Actor Pasupathy, who has since gone on to appear in successful films, was set to make his debut with the film in the role of an antagonist and had shot for five days.[8][9] Furthermore, actor-director R. C. Sakthi was signed on to essay a supporting role.[10]

The technical team included costume designer Sarika, Kamal Haasan's wife at the time of production, who made a trip to several world museums to get details about the costumes of the British during the 18th century. The make-up duties for the film were shared between Michael Westmore and his apprentice Barry Cooper, with the pair training several Indian make-up artistes during the film's pre-production stages.[11] The graphics of the film were controlled by Pentafour, whose work had been critically acclaimed in Shankar's Jeans.[12] Sabu Cyril was appointed head of art direction with Prabhakaran being one of his assistants, while television director Sundar K. Vijayan and G. N. R. Kumaravelan were signed on as second unit directors.[13][14][15] Ravi K. Chandran was signed on ahead of Santosh Sivan and P. C. Sriram as cinematographer for the film, heading a team including apprentices Ravi Varman and Keshav Prakash while dancer Birju Maharaj was announced as the choreographer.[16][17] Karate expert Shihan Hussaini helped provide security for Kamal Haasan during the making of the project.[18] It was announced that music composing would be a collaborative effort between Ilaiyaraaja and Andrew Lloyd Webber with prominent Carnatic singer, M. S. Subbalakshmi also singing for the film.[5] Classical violinist L. Subramaniam had turned down the opportunity to compose the background score for the film, with Ilaiyaraaja subsequently replacing him.[19]


The launch also saw the inaugural shot canned with Kamal Haasan, in the persona of Marudhanayagam, hearing and reacting to an imperial announcement read out by the character played by Nassar, with Om Puri's character looking on.[5] For the test shoot in Jaipur, Sarika arranged up to 7,000 costumes and accessories to be ready.[3] Official filming began several months later in Velangudi on 10 August 1998 with a scene of where a companion of the lead character, played by Kamal Haasan, is hanged prompting a brief altercation.[20]

The film ran into production trouble in November 1998, when a sector of the Tamil community alleged that the film would contain historical misinterpretations of one of the community's historical icons.[21] Furthermore, another section argued that the film is a distortion of history and that the central character would be portrayed as a hero of the struggle against the British instead of the traitor they felt he was. The allegations prompted Kamal Haasan to abandon extensive sets erected in Karaikudi, in interior Tamil Nadu, and shift to Chalakudy, in Kerala, to continue work on the project.[21]


I need not only the money but also a powerful distribution network from the west to take hold of it and release it properly because it is an English, French, Tamil film. That is the virtue of the film and it has to be done like that. It is not a project that I can sell and walk away. I can start anytime on this project as I already have the first 30 minutes of it ready. I need to ready another two hours of content.

 — Kamal Haasan, on reviving Marudhanayagam[22]

Works on Marudhanayagam suddenly ceased after a British company that had planned to co-produce the film backed out and the film has been indefinitely postponed since.[23][24] Haasan had invested 8 crores of his own wealth into the project through and has since revealed that the film would be revived at a future date.[25] In a turn of events, Haasan announced in November 1999 that shooting will resume in six months after contracts of the technicians and actors were sorted, adding that a French version of the film will also be released.[26]

Haasan met American producers during his visit to Los Angeles in June 2006 to try to find a financier for the film, but talks were unfruitful.[27] In June 2008, Haasan suggested that the film would be revived after the completion of his directorial venture, Marmayogi, but within months, Marmayogi was shelved after pre-production.[28][29] A two-minute soundless trailer of the film surfaced on the internet in January 2008, with critics claiming that there are "scenes which have the grandeur that stuns you instantly" and that "the visuals are astonishing."[30] Haasan announced that he intended on restarting work on the film in 2012, mentioning that the film could be made within a budget of Rs 150 crore, and may feature contemporary leading actor Rajinikanth in another role.[31] Reports again suggested in 2013 that Haasan would resume the film in 2014 following the completion of his directorial venture, but reports were once again baseless.[32][33] In 2014, film maker Kothanda Ramaiah made a public call to Fox Star Studios and other large production companies to consider reviving the project.[34] Kamal Haasan revealed that Allirajah Subaskaran of Lyca Productions had expressed interest in financing the project during late 2015, but restarting the venture would involve extensive pre-production works and he would collaborate with Lyca Productions on a different venture first.[35][36]

The posters of the film were displayed at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, signalling the film's possible revival.[37] However in February 2018, Kamal Haasan revealed that he would only work on two more films before his proposed retirement from acting, Vishwaroopam 2 and Indian 2.[38]

The delay of the film has been subject to references in media and film. In Venkat Prabhu's Saroja, the character played by Premji Amaren supposedly stumbles upon a DVD of Marudhanayagam, while in M. Rajesh's Siva Manasula Sakthi, Santhanam's character mockingly asks for a song from the shelved film to be played on the radio. Director A. L. Vijay revealed that Marudhanayagam was the inspiration behind his successful 2009 film, Madrasapattinam, based on India's Independence movement in 1947.[39]


"Poranthathu Panaiyur Mannu", a single from the film, which was composed by Ilaiyaraaja, was released in early March 2016. The song was performed by Ilaiyaraja.[40]

External audio
Official Audio Song on YouTube


  1. ^ a b c Sudhakar (17 May 1998). "Interview with Sujatha". Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  2. ^ "The Hindu News Update Service". 20 June 2009. Archived from the original on 10 November 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Kamal's New Project & Obsession ! - soc.culture.indian.kerala | Google Groups". Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  4. ^ "Dose of Indian culture leaves Queen shoeless, speechless – The Times of India". 17 October 1997. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d "Rediff On The NeT: Queen Elizabeth visits Kamal Hassan set". Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  6. ^ "Cover story". Archived from the original on 29 April 2010. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  7. ^ "Marudanayagam". Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  8. ^ "The `Virumaandi' villain makes a mark". The Hindu. 7 May 2004. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  9. ^ "Tamil Nadu / Tiruchi News : I want challenges in life too: Actor Pasupathy". The Hindu. 29 December 2006. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  10. ^ "Packaged with skill". The Hindu. 14 March 2003. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  11. ^ "Marudanayagam-Scoop!". Archived from the original on 9 June 2011. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  12. ^[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ Malathi Rangarajan (20 August 2011). "Arts / Cinema : Fun unlimited". The Hindu. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  14. ^ "State-of-the-art". The Hindu. 1 April 2004. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  15. ^ "In the right direction". The Hindu. 15 February 2001. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  16. ^ "Stuff dreams are made of". The Hindu. 7 June 2002. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  17. ^ "Ravi K Chandran – Tamil Cinema Cinematographer Interview – Ravi K Chandran | Ajith | Suriya | Shankar | Murugadoss". Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  18. ^
  19. ^ Narayan (7 January 2000). "A musical family-Dr.L.Subramaniam and Kavita Krishnamurthy – | Google Groups". Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  20. ^ "Marudhanayagam Update!". Archived from the original on 9 June 2011. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  21. ^ a b "Rediff On The NeT, Movies: Gossip from the southern film industry". Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  22. ^
  23. ^ "The Hindu News Update Service". 12 November 2008. Archived from the original on 3 November 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  24. ^ "Kamal on Marudanayagam release – Tamil Movie News – Kamal Haasan | Marudanayagam | Udayanidhi Stalin | KS Ravikumar". 5 January 2010. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  25. ^ "Kamal, a phenomenon". The Hindu. 13 September 2004. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  26. ^ "Kamal Hassan may restart work on Marudhanayagam". 20 June 2004. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  27. ^ "Tamil movies : Marudhanayagam: Finally a saviour from Los Angeles?". 6 June 2006. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  28. ^ "Kollywood Marudhanayagam will be back". STAR Box Office. Archived from the original on 1 April 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  29. ^ "Kamal's comments – Post – Dasavatharam – Dasavatharam Movie Marudhanayagam Marmayogi Rajinikanth Director K.Balachander". 27 November 2007. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  30. ^ "'Marudanayagam' resurfaces – Tamil Movie News". IndiaGlitz. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  31. ^ "Rajini, Kamal Haasan together on screen". Hindustan Times. 16 February 2012. Archived from the original on 16 February 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  32. ^
  33. ^ "No Video Found – AP/TS News updates 24x7 – Video –". Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  34. ^ "Keyaar appeals on behalf of Kamal Haasan's Marudhanayagam". Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  35. ^ D Meera Chithirappaavai. "Lyca Productions to collaborate with Kamal Haasan". Behindwoods. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  36. ^ "Kamal's Marudhanayagam revived?". Retrieved 4 February 2016. External link in |work= (help)
  37. ^ "Kamal Haasan's 'Marudhanayagam' at the Cannes film market". The Times of India. 22 May 2017. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
  38. ^
  39. ^ "Marudhanayagam inspired Madharasapattinam – Tamil Movie News". IndiaGlitz. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  40. ^ "Marudhanayagam song released". The Times of India. Retrieved 6 May 2017.