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Punnagai poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed byK. Balachander
Produced byR. Venkatraman
K. Arumugam
H. Nagaraja Rao
S. S. Nachammai
Screenplay byK. Balachander
Story byNarayan Sanyal
StarringGemini Ganesan
R. Muthuraman
M. R. R. Vasu
Music byM. S. Viswanathan
CinematographyN. Balakrishnan
Edited byN. R. Kittu
Vauhini Studios
Distributed byAmutham Pictures
Release date
5 November 1971[1]
Running time
154 minutes

Punnagai (lit. Smile) is a 1971 Tamil-language drama film directed and written by K. Balachander. It is a remake of the Hindi film Satyakam (1969). The film stars Gemini Ganesan, R. Muthuraman, Nagesh, M. R. R. Vasu and Jayanthi.


Sathya (Gemini Ganesan), Rajan (R. Muthuraman), Rajbabu (Nagesh), Mandiramoorthi (M. R. R. Vasu) and Haniff (V. Gopalakrishnan) are friends who graduate from the same college. In order to celebrate it, they go on a drive around Madras in Haniff's car, singing about the then ideals in life. The car crashes and Haniff dies, leaving his friends shocked. Rajan, Rajbabu and Mandiramoorthi later succumb to corrupt lifestyles while Sathya vows to remain a righteous person. He meets a young women Kanchana (Jayanthi), who has been seduced, raped, impregnated and abandoned by a playboy (S. V. Ramadoss). She gives birth to a son Kumar; Sathya marries her, knowing about her history and raises Kumar as his own. The playboy meanwhile, leaves his wealth to his illegitimate son, but Kanchana rejects it. In the meantime, Sathya's kidneys are affected and all of his friends walk away when the doctor asks them of any of them would donate their kidneys for their friend. In the end Sathya dies, his wife realises that she has successfully up held the values that her husband had taught her. The story is narrated by Rajbabu, who wants to write a book and requests his rich friend to get it published. All these sequences are narrated by him and acted by the artistes as chapters of the book. Finally, Sathya's friends realise their folly and bring out the book with the title as Punnagai.



Punnagai is a remake of the Hindi film Satyakam (1969), with some changes made in the screenplay. Although Gemini Ganesan was generally billed with the sobriquet "Kaadhal Mannan" (King of Romance) in film credits, this was the first film where he was billed as "Nadippu Selvam". The cinematography was handled by N. Balakrishnan.[2]


Soundtrack album by
ProducerM. S. Viswanathan

Music by M. S. Viswanathan and Lyrics written by Kannadasan.[3]

No Songs Singer Lyrics Length(m:ss)
1 Naalai Naamoru Rajangam T. M. Soundararajan, S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, K. Veeramani, Saibaba Kannadasan 04:38
2 Aanaiyiten Nerungathe S. Janaki 05:15
3 Naanum Kooda Rajathaane T. M. Soundararajan 03:46

Critical reception[edit]

According to film historian Randor Guy, the film was not a commercial success, but was considered a classic by critics. He praised the performances of Ganesan, Jayanti, Muthuraman and Sakunthala.[2]


  1. ^ "புன்னகை". Vellitthirai. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  2. ^ a b Guy, Randor (6 August 2016). "Blast from the Past Punnagai 1971". The Hindu. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  3. ^ "Punnagai". Gaana.com. Retrieved 11 August 2016.

External links[edit]