Nattamai (English: Village Chief ) is a 1994 Indian Tamil drama film directed by K. S. Ravikumar. It starred Sarath Kumar, Meena and Kushboo in the lead roles. The film became a blockbuster among 1994 deepavali releases and completed a 175-day run at the box office. It is considered to be one of the most popular Tamil films of the 1990s and in general. It became a trendsetter for many films in later years. The Goundamani-Senthil comic duo was one of the most popular aspects about the film.
Sarath Kumar earned both the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor and Filmfare Award for Best Actor - Tamil for his performance in the film. The film was later remade in Tollywood as Pedarayudu starring Mohan Babu, in Bollywood as Bulandi starring Anil Kapoor, both of which had Tamil superstar Rajinikanth in an extended cameo role, and in Kannada as Simhadriya Simha with Vishnuvardhan.
The film became the fourth collaboration between Ravikumar and Sarathkumar. When K. S. Ravikumar approached Kushboo for Nattamai's wife role, initially she hesitated as in most part of the film she had to look old, except in a brief flashback. She asked him whom he will cast if she denies, Ravikumar said he will approach veteran actress Lakshmi, this made Kusbhoo to take up this role. Mahendran was introduced as child artist through this film. Vijayakumar was initially supposed to play the role of the elder brother, but just a few days before shooting began, Ravikumar decided to have Sarathkumar play both the brothers and Bharathiraja was Ravikumar's initial choice for the character of Vijayakumar.
In his early days as an actor, R. Sarathkumar was considered to be close to AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa. However, Sarath's proximity to Jayalalithaa landed him in deep trouble when the film 'Nattamai', which was still running in Tamil Nadu theatres, was aired by Jayalalithaa's television channel JJ TV, using a U-matic tape, which Sarathkumar gave her for personal viewing at her residence. What the understanding between Jayalalithaa and Sarathkumar was we will never know. However, this caused a furore in the film industry as the producer R. B. Choudary threatened action against Sarathkumar for misusing a tape given to him for personal viewing. An embarrassed Sarathkumar explained that he was taken by surprise and that he never expected Jayalalithaa to give it to the channel for telecast. He sought an explanation from both Jayalalitha and JJ TV, but without success. The ruling party reacted predictably, using every forum to attack Sarathkumar.
Soundtrack is composed by Sirpy and lyrics written by Vairamuthu.Naattamai Paadham Patta - Malaysia vasudevan, Jensy
Kotapaakum Kozhundhu Vettalaiyum - Mano, S.Janaki
Meenaponnu - Mano, Sujatha
Naan Uravukaaran - Mohammed Aslam
The film became a blockbuster among 1994 deepavali releases and completed a 175-day run at the box office.
Owing to its success, the film was remade in Telugu as Pedarayudu (1995), It was remade for two times in Kannada as Palegara (1996) and Simhadriya Simha (2001). It was also remade in Hindi as Bulandi (2000). Rajinikanth reprised Vijayakumar's character in Telugu and Hindi remakes.
The tagline Nattamai, theerpa maathi sollu (Chieftain, change your judgement) became popular after release. It became a trendsetter for many films in later years. The success of the film inspired similar themes about village chieftain. Vijayakumar's portrayal of village chieftain received critical acclaim and he went on to be typecasted with similar characters in later films. The film gave breakthrough in the career of Sarathkumar and the actor did similar films - Suryavamsam (1997), Natpukkaga (1998), Maayi (2000), Diwan (2003) and Ayyaa (2005) which featured him in double roles in the backdrop of village.
Nattamai has been parodied and referenced many times. In a comedy scene from Aahaa Enna Porutham (1998), Goundamani mocks at the superstitions of village panchayat saying that chieftain should have assistant tagging along with him and should have a pot of water. Comedian Vivek has parodied this aspect in many films. He did a similar spoof in Sandai (2008) and Thoondil (2008) and made fun of village rituals in Kadhal Sadugudu (2003). Scenes from the film was parodied in Shiva starrer Thamizh Padam (2010), Ponnambalam who did the negative role in the original film had appeared as village chieftain in this film.