An elderly English woman Amy Wilkinson (Carole Trangmar-Palmer), almost at her deathbed in London, wants to come down to Madras in search of a young man Ilam Parithi (Arya) whom she last saw on 15 August 1947 to return a thali (traditional wedding threads) of his mother, which he gave her as a sign of stating that she belongs to India and nobody can separate them. However, after a turn of events, she had married another man from her hometown and thus felt that the thali was no longer her property.
Amy Wilkinson arrives in Madras with her granddaughter Catherine (Lisa Lazarus), equipped only with a picture of Parithi that was taken sixty years ago. Wilkinson interrogates various people about Parithi's whereabouts. In the process, she recalls the events when she had first visited Chennai, and the chain of events that took place:
A young Amy (Amy Jackson), the daughter of the Madras Presidency Governor, visits Chennai (then called Madharasapattinam) along with her translator Nambi (Cochin Hanifa) and encounters Parithi, whom she calls "brave man". Parithi, a member of the dhobi (launderer) clan is also an experienced wrestler who trains under Ayyakanu (Nassar). He openly opposes the British officials who attempt to build a golf course in the dhobi clan's dwelling place. He challenges a cruel racist officer named Robert Ellis (Alexx O'Nell), who is also Amy's suitor, to a wrestling match to decide the fate of his clan's home. Parithi is successful, and Ellis vows revenge.
Following a series of secret meetings between Parithi and Amy, love blossoms between them, and Parithi affectionately calls her "Duraiyamma", a polite term of addressing British women. However a major threat comes in the form of independence for India on 15 August 1947, which means that all White officials and their families, including Amy, would have to leave India. On the eve of independence, all of India is celebrating. However Amy and Parithi, determined to be together, run away and are hunted by an angry Ellis and his force. An Indian policeman helps the two of them by hiding them in a clock tower on top of the Madras Central Railway Station, but they are discovered by Ellis. After a fierce fight, Ellis is killed and Parithi is badly wounded. Amy helps Parithi to escape by casting him with a life-raft into the Coovum river, before she is captured and taken back to London. She had never known if Parithi survived, or what his fate was.
Back in the present, Wilkinson is urgently called back to London to have a life-saving operation. But she is determined to find Parithi and, by chance, encounters a taxi driver who assumes that she would want to visit a charitable trust named Duraiyamma Foundation. The driver shows her around the foundation, which has organisations providing free housing, education and medical care (which were all promised to the dhobi children by the young Amy several years ago). She realizes that the Duraiyamma Foundation was established by Ilam Parithi, and named after her.
Then When she asks the driver what became of Parithi, he leads her to his tomb, and reveals that he died twelve years ago. She kneels before the tomb and claims the thali (nuptial threads) as her own. She declares "It's mine!" before quietly passing away on Parithi's tomb. Her granddaughter mourns for her, and the taxi driver is dumbfounded to learn that the old woman was "Duraiyamma" herself. The epilogue shows Parithi and Amy (as they were in their younger days) in the afterlife, depicted as a 1940s-style Madharasapattinam. As the credits roll, a series of montage images are shown, illustrating the transformation of Madharasapattinam of the 1940s to modern-day Chennai.
Vijay revealed that Madharasapattinam was supposed to happen later in his career, but the intervention of producer Kalpathi S. Aghoram helped realise the viability of the film earlier. Vijay had first explored the script in his college days and drew inspiration from an English professor who used to talk to us about the freedom movement a lot, furthering Vijay's interest in history. He visualizes about the people who lived in the pre-independence period of India and explored the concept of how it would have been if an English girl fell in love with an Indian boy, laying the foundations for the script. The script took six months to write, with leading Tamil writer Prabanjan and visits to see independence veterans being helpful in understanding the history of the city of Madras between 1945 and 1947.
Arya was finalised to play the lead role and English Miss Teen World winner Amy Jackson was selected after Vijay found a picture of her on the internet and tracked her down. Al Vijay approached Harris Jayaraj as Music composer first. But out of his callsheets, vijay chose GV Prakash Kumar as Music composer of the movie.
Despite being a period film, the film was finished in eight months and released in July 2010.
The soundtrack of Madharasapattinam was composed by G. V. Prakash Kumar and was released on 4 April 2010 by Kamal Haasan and Allu Arjun. Lyrics were written by Na. Muthukumar.
Tamil track list
Telugu track list
The satellite rights of the film were sold to Kalaignar.
Madharasapattinam received generally positive reviews in Tamil Nadu. Indiaglitz wrote: "Away from the madding crowd of commercial cliches, Madharasapattinam is a film that would send positive vibes among those who love meaningful films." Galatta.com wrote: "With a brilliant crew consisting of talents from India and abroad, Madharasapattinam transcends the language boundaries and takes Tamil cinema to the world arena!" Sify stated that the film was a "brave attempt on the part of its makers".
The film's Telugu dubbed version 1947 A Love Story has received positive reviews from critics, who have added that it might not do well at the box office. Fullhyd.com rated it 5.5 out of 10, calling it a film that looks as beautiful as the erstwhile Madras town in which it is set, but also said that despite being a near-perfect concoction of romance, action, drama and comedy, it is a little too slow and sober for the festive season (during which it was released). 123telugu.com rated the movie 3 out of 5, appreciating its art direction, but saying that it doesn't aim too high in terms of its content. Haricharan Pudipeddi of nowrunning.com gave it 3 stars out of 5, and said that the film succeeds in painting one of the cutest love stories of the recent past.
The film opened and stayed at No.1 in Chennai box office charts for 10 weeks.
Filmfare Awards SouthNominated: Best Film – Tamil
Nominated: Best Director – Tamil – A. L. Vijay
Nominated: Best Actor – Tamil – Arya
Nominated: Best Supporting Actress – Tamil – Carole Palmer
Nominated: Best Music Director – Tamil – G. V. Prakash Kumar
Nominated: Best Male Playback Singer – Tamil – Udit Narayan for "Vaama Duraiyamma"
Nominated: Best Lyricist – Tamil – Na. Muthukumar for "Vaama Duraiyamma"
Vijay AwardsBest Costume Designer – Deepali Noor
Best Art Director – Selva Kumar
Nominated: Best Film
Nominated: Best Director – A. L. Vijay
Nominated: Best Actor – Arya
Nominated: Best Cinematographer – Nirav Shah
Nominated: Best Music Director – G. V. Prakash Kumar
Nominated: Best Debut Actor Female – Amy Jackson
Nominated: Best Male Singer – Roop Kumar Rathod for "Pookal Pookum"
Nominated: Best Female Singer – Harini for "Pookal Pookum"
Nominated: Best Visual effects – Karthik Kotamraju (EFX)
Edison AwardsBest Patriotic Movie – A. L. Vijay
Best Music Director – G. V. Prakash Kumar
Mirchi Music AwardsNominated: Best Music Director – G. V. Prakash Kumar for "Pookal Pookum"
Won: Best song of the year for "Pookal Pookum"