Merku Thodarchi Malai

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Merku Thodarchi Malai (The Western Ghats)
Merku Thodarchi Malai.jpg
Directed byLenin Bharathi
Written byRaasi Thangadurai (Dialogues)
Screenplay byLenin Bharathi
Produced byVijay Sethupathi
  • Antony
  • Gayathri Krishnaa
  • Abu Valayankulam
CinematographyTheni Eswar
Edited byKasi Viswanathan
Music byIlaiyaraaja
Distributed byVT Cinemas
Release dates
Running time
118 minutes

Merku Thodarchi Malai (English: Western Ghats) is a 2018 Indian Tamil language drama film. It was directed by Lenin Bharathi and produced by Vijay Sethupathi, with cinematographer Theni Eswar and composer Ilaiyaraaja.[1] This is said to be Ilaiyaraaja's 1001th film signed by him in 2015.[2]

The film revolves around the life and times of a group of landless workers living along the foothills of the Western Ghats in India. It depicts how the introduction of commercialization creates conflict in the simple lives of the villagers.[not verified in body]


Daily wage laborer Rengasamy makes a living carrying cardamom sacks from the mountains to the foothills of the Western Ghats in the interior of Tamil Nadu. Chacko, a communist from Kerala, unionizes these workers to prevent the estate owner from exploiting them. As a result, there are frequent clashes between the landlord and the union members.

Rengasamy wants to buy a piece of land from a local, but fails due to objections from the seller's family. He marries his cousin Eshwari, who is a worker on the estate, and joins her union. His second attempt to buy land ends in unexpected tragedy and he loses most of his savings. He later acquires land with a loan and begins farming to pay back the debt.

Meanwhile, in the communist party office, Chacko has a heated debate with a senior comrade about industrialization and the workers' conditions. Another comrade sends Chacko to deliver a message, and while he is away the estate owner closes the estate to make the workers and union members suffer. When Chako returns, the estate owner mocks him, saying that he had plotted with the senior comrade for this purpose.

Angered, Chacko finds the workers who are preparing to leave. He gathers a few of them, including Rengasamy, to take up weapons and confront the estate owner. The mob finds the estate owner with the senior comrade, kill both of them, and are jailed for several years. When Rengasamy returns home, the fertilizer vendor forecloses on his land for outstanding debts. Rengasamy later becomes a security guard for a windmill constructed on the land he once owned.


  • Antony as Rangasamy alias Rangu[3]
  • Gayathri Krishnaa as Eshwari[3]
  • Abu Valayankulam as Chako[3]
  • Anthony Vaathiyar as Kangaani[3]
  • Sornam as Bakkiyam[3]
  • Aarubala as Ravi[3]
  • 'Late' M.S. Lai (a) Sudalai
  • Uoothu Rasa
  • Thevaram Sornam
  • Kodangipatti Mokkathayi
  • Pallavarayan Patti Pandi
  • Vanaraj
  • Master Smith
  • Theni Eswar


Lenin Bharathi, who previously wrote the screenplay for Aadhalal Kadhal Seiveer, made his directorial debut with this film.[citation needed] The film was outlined to Vijay Sethupathi about a year before production, gaining his interest in the project.[4] The shooting for the film began in January or February 2016.[citation needed]

The production budget of the film was 2.3 crore (23 million rupees).[5]



The satellite rights of the film were sold to Kalaignar TV.[6]


Critical response[edit]

The Times of India gave the film three-and-a-half out of five stars and wrote that "The film ends with a bang ... even as it subtly delivers its message - how development also leads to the destruction of a way of life and a community".[3]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • The film was screened during the 21st International Film Festival of Kerala.[7]
  • The film won Best Cinematography at the Bioscope Global Film Festival, Punjab.[8]
  • The film has been nominated for 'Best Screenplay' Category in 17th New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF2017).[9][10]
  • The film was screened at the Singapore South Asian International Film Festival and Chicago South Asian Film Festival.[11]
  • The film was invited to the 6th edition of Toulouse Indian Film Festival in France to complete for both the Jury and Audience Prizes.[12]
Date of ceremony Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
5 January 2019 Ananda Vikatan Cinema Awards Best Film Vijay Sethupathi Won [13]
Best Debut Director Lenin Bharathi Won
Best Production Vijay Sethupathi Productions Won
25–28 April 2019 Norway Tamil Film Festival Awards Best Film Vijay Sethupathi Nominated [14]
Best Director Lenin Bharathi Won
Best Production Vijay Sethupathi Nominated
Best Cinematography Theni Easwar Won
27 February 2019 BOFTA Galatta Debut Awards Best Debut Actor - Male - Critics Choice Antony Won
Most Impactful Film By a Debutant Lenin Bharathi Won
16 August 2019 8th South Indian International Movie Awards Best Debut Director Lenin Bharathi Nominated
Best Debut Actor Anthony Nominated


  1. ^ "Isaignani for Vijay Sethupathi". The Times of India. 24 November 2017.
  2. ^ "Vijay Sethupathy gets Ilayaraja's 1001th (sic!) movie". Indiaglitz. 5 January 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Merku Thodarchi Malai Movie Review {3.5/5}: Critic Review of 'Merku Thodarchi Malai' by Times of India" – via
  4. ^ "Vijay Sethupathi's next?". Behindwoods. 5 January 2016.
  5. ^ "MTM budget".
  6. ^ "Merku Thodarchi Malai 2 Pongal Special Promo 2019". 11 January 2019. Retrieved 12 April 2019 – via YouTube.
  7. ^ "18 Indian films selected for 21st IFFK". 8 October 2016. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  8. ^ Suganth, M (15 November 2017). "Merku Thodarchi Malai wins award for its scriptography". The Times of India. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Merku Thodarchi Malai receives accolades in New York". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  10. ^ "VFC Takes 3 Tamil Films To New York Indian Film Festival". TamilCulture.
  11. ^[bare URL PDF]
  12. ^ "13 Indian films to be screened from 11 April in Toulouse fest in France - Times of India". The Times of India.
  13. ^ Correspondent, Vikatan. "ஆனந்த விகடன் சினிமா விருதுகள் 2018 - திறமைக்கு மரியாதை".
  14. ^ "'Pariyerum Perumal' bags Best Film award at Norway Tamil Film Festival".

External links[edit]