Sathya (1988 film)

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Sathya 1988 poster.jpg
Directed bySuresh Krissna
Produced byKamal Haasan
Chandra Haasan
Written byAnanthu (Dialogues)
Screenplay by
  • Ananthu
  • Kamal Haasan
  • Suresh Krissna
  • Javed Akhtar
Story byJaved Akhtar
Music byIlaiyaraaja
CinematographyS. M. Anwar
Edited byN. R. Kittu
Distributed byRaaj Kamal Films International
Release date
‹See TfM›
  • 29 January 1988 (1988-01-29)
Running time
147 Minutes

Sathya is a 1988 Indian Tamil-language action social drama film directed by Suresh Krissna and produced by Kamal Haasan. The latter stars along with Amala. The film was a remake of the 1985 Hindi film Arjun. The film is the directorial debut for Suresh Krishna. The film was dubbed in Telugu under the same name. The cinematography and editing were handled by S. M. Anwar and N. R. Kittu respectively.


Sathyamurthy alias Sathya (Kamal Haasan) is an unemployed youth who does not tolerate injustice anywhere. He stays with his father Raja Rathinam Mudaliar (Bahadoor), who is the sole breadwinner for his family despite his elderly age, stepmother (Vadivukkarasi), and stepsister Sudha. One day, Sathya beats up a group of ruffians who are thrashing a tea vendor for not paying extortion money. These ruffians are the henchmen of a local goon Rangan, who works for the local MLA Mariappa (Rajesh). With this incident, Sathya's life changes as he invokes Rangan's wrath. In retribution, Rangan and his men humiliate Sudha in public, forcing Sathya to thrash Rangan and destroy his bar. Meanwhile, Sathya falls in love with Geetha Nair (Amala Akkineni), a young Malayali woman who works as a salesperson in a cloth shop.

Soon, Sathya begins to grab public attention, as he and his friends start taking the law into their own hands, thrashing anyone who tries to break the law. Mariappa also gets to know of Sathya and thinks that he is working for his arch-rival Dhandapani (Kitty), a social reformer. He orders that Sathya and his friends be eliminated. Mariappa's gang attacks and kills Sundar, one of Sathya's friends, in full public view. Though Sathya tries his best, no one comes forward to give witness to the murder out of fear, and the murderers are soon released due to lack of evidence. Frustrated, Sathya thrashes the murderers on their release and is arrested, but is released on bail by Dhandapani. Sathya's family disowns him for his activities, following which he is approached by Dhandapani, who convinces him to move to his own house and work for him. With Dhandapani's help, he manages to get Sudha married to her boyfriend (Anand), who is the local police inspector, saves the marriage of his other stepsister by paying the dowry of 20,000, and also ensuring that his father's employer (Kavithalaya Krishnan) treats his father with respect. Finally, Dhandapani tells Sathya to get some secret files and documents against Mariappa, which can be used to expose him in public. Risking his life, Sathya gets a hold of the files.

Now the film takes a twist as Sathya comes to known that Dhandapani is a corrupt person and double-crosser who used the evidence against Mariappa to join hands with him and contest the upcoming election in his place, and none of the evidence collected has been published anywhere. Sathya also finds out that his services are no longer needed by Dhandapani, and he is thrown out of his house. Enraged and betrayed, Sathya barges into a political meeting where Mariappa and Dhandapani are present and tries to expose Dhandapani, but is forced out and thrashed by the workers of Mariappa's political party. Undaunted, he sneaks into Dhandapani's house a few days later and takes the file containing evidence of both Mariappa's and Dhandapani's illegal activities. While on the run from Dhandapani's henchmen, he gets shot and seriously injured, but manages to survive. Sadly, the evidence against Mariappa and Dhandapani is destroyed as Sathya used the file as a shield against the gunshots. Sathya, undaunted at the lack of evidence, escapes from the hospital, confronts Mariappa and Dhandapani, and kills them both.


Guest Appearances
  • Delhi Ganesh as Ramanathan
  • Vaali as Mariappa's associate
  • Lakshmi Narayanan as Mariappa's associate


Sathya was a remake of the Hindi film Arjun directed by Rahul Rawail and starring Sunny Deol.[1] It marked the directorial debut of Suresh Krishna who earlier assisted K. Balachander.[2]


The film's music was composed by Ilaiyaraaja and lyrics were penned by Vaali.[3] The song "Valayosai" was originally intended for one of Ilaiyaraaja's studio albums, but on Haasan's insistence, he included it in Sathya.[4] The song is set in the Sindhu Bhairavi raga.[5] The song "Ingeyum" sung by Lata Mangeshkar was not included in the film.

No. Song Singers Length
1 "Eley Thamizha" T. Sunderrajan, Saibaba --
2 "Ingeyum" Lata Mangeshkar --
3 "Nagaru Nagaru" Lalith Sahari, T. Sunderrajan, Saibaba 4:24
4 "Potta Padiyudhu" Kamal Haasan, T. Sunderrajan, Saibaba 4:50
5 "Valaiosai" S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Lata Mangeshkar 4:33

Themes and influences[edit]

Sathya is basically the story of one man who wants to make a difference and ends up becoming a henchman to a political leader who has his own agenda.[6] The movie is an effective commentary on the sorry state of such unemployed youngsters and the resulting unwilling choices they have to make to earn money. It clearly shows us how the youth, in their time of need, become willing toys in the hands of the people with the money to hire them.[7] Kamal's characterisation was similar to his previous film Varumayin Niram Sivappu (1980). Kamal's character is of a person who hails from a lower middle-clas family, he is unemployed, has rough attitude and cannot tolerate injustice.[8]


The character name of Ajith from Yennai Arindhaal is called as Sathyadev. The director Gautham Menon initially wanted to keep this title for the film as he has affinity towards Kamal and the film but later opted against to do so.[9][10] Gautham Menon's Film Vaaranam Aayiram had a scene in which the lead actor Surya was shown dancing in front of the theatre in which Sathya film was shown and there was a huge cutout of the character Sathya behind him. Entertainment portal Behindwoods placed this film along with Nayakan (1987) in Top 10 Gangsters of Tamil cinema.[11]


  1. ^
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  3. ^ "Sathya Songs". raaga. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  4. ^ "Ilaiyaraaja didn't compose Valayosai for Kamal". The Times of India. 4 May 2013. Archived from the original on 3 May 2020. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  5. ^ Mani, Charulatha (10 May 2013). "Light and melodious". The Hindu. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
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External links[edit]