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Director  K. S. Ravikumar
Release date  April 9, 1999 (India)
Language  Tamil
7.8/10 IMDb

Genre  Action, Comedy, Drama
Music director  A. R. Rahman
Country  India
Rajinikanth smiling with Ramya Krishnan and Soundarya in the movie poster of the 1999 film Padayappa

Release date  10 April 1999 (1999-04-10)
Songs  En Peru Padayappa
Cast  Rajnikanth (Padaiyappa), Ramya Krishnan (Neelambari), Sivaji Ganesan (Padaiyappa's Father), Soundarya (Vasundhara), Lakshmi, Sithara

Padayappa tamil movie songs audio jukebox rajinikanth soundarya a r rahman

Padayappa is a 1999 Indian Tamil-language drama film written and directed by K. S. Ravikumar. The film features Sivaji Ganesan, Rajinikanth, Ramya Krishnan and Soundarya in the lead roles, while Abbas, Lakshmi, Radha Ravi and Nassar play supporting roles. The soundtrack album and background score were composed by A. R. Rahman.


Rajinikanth wearing white long sleeves, black shades, and brown sash in a movie scene from the 1999 film Padayappa

The plot revolves around Padayappa (Rajinikanth), a mechanical engineer whose father (Sivaji Ganesan) gives up his property to his foster brother (Manivannan), and then dies of shock soon after. Neelambari (Ramya Krishnan) initially loves Padayappa, but plans to humiliate him after his family humiliates her father (Radha Ravi). The rest of the plot deals with Padayappa overcoming all the obstacles placed by Neelambari.

A woman talking to Rajinikanth in a movie scene from the 1999 film Padayappa

principal photography for the film began in October 1998. Padayappa was released on 10 April 1999 on the eve of Tamil New Year's Day. This was the first Tamil film to be released worldwide with 210 prints and 700,000 audio cassettes.

Rajinikanth sitting on the chair while wearing white long sleeves, white pants, black shades, and brown sash

The film became Tamil cinema's highest grossing film at that point. Ramya Krishnan's performance was praised, winning her a Filmfare Award under the Best Actress category. The film also won five Tamil Nadu State Film Awards. Padayappa was dubbed into Telugu under the title Narasimha. The dubbed version was also commercially successful, and had a theatrical run of 50 days at 49 theatres.

Rajinikanth smoking while wearing a black shades, white long sleeves and brown sash


Rajinikanth smiling while wearing a blue polo in the CD poster of the 1999 film Padayappa

Padayappa is an engineer who returns to his village from Chennai to attend his sister's wedding. His sister is engaged to their maternal uncle's son Suryaprakash. During his stay, he comes across Vasundhara, and falls in love with her. However, shyness and fear of Neelambari, her landlady, prevents Vasundhara from initially expressing her feelings. In addition, Neelambari is Suryaprakash's spoiled sister, who is madly in love with Padayappa.

Rajinikanth sitting on the chair while wearing white long sleeves, white pants, black shades, and a brown sash

Unexpectedly, Padayappa's father's foster brother demands a share in the family property. Padayappa's father, the chieftain of the village, refuses to divide the property and instead gives the entire property to his foster brother. This forces Padayappa's family to leave their home. Unable to bear this shock, Padayappa's father dies. Suryaprakash then cancels his wedding with Padayappa's sister and marries the daughter of Padayappa's father's foster brother, who now owns the property of Padayappa's father.

Sivaji Ganesan and Rajinikanth in the movie poster of the 1999 film Padayappa

Meanwhile, Padayappa discovers that a hill on his property is solid granite, which allows him to start a granite business, from which he becomes rich. He uses the money to help the poor in his village, and provide them jobs. As his business flourishes, his family is able to once again settle down. Padayappa assumes his father's position as the village chieftain, and his sister gets married to one of the engineers who work in his company. When Neelambari learns about Padayappa's love for Vasundhara, she becomes jealous of her, and her parents beg Padayappa's widowed mother to allow Neelambari to marry Padayappa. However, to everyone's surprise, Padayappa's mother embarrasses Padayappa's maternal uncle in front of the entire village when she agrees to a marriage proposal made by Vasundhara's mother, her brother's servant. Unable to bear the humiliation, Padayappa's maternal uncle commits suicide. When Neelambari tries to kill Vasundhara by letting a bull loose on her, Padayappa saves her, after which the two marry. After the wedding, Neelambari locks herself in a room in Suryaprakash's house, thinking only about Padayappa for 18 years. In between, Padayappa finds his father's foster brother in trouble and was pulled out by a financier, from whom he had borrowed money on interest keeping the family house, and helps his father's foster brother, who is suffering financially. As a result, Padayappa's father's foster brother becomes indebted to him and seeks Padayappa's pardon for his misdeeds; Padayappa forgives him.

Rajinikanth wearing white long sleeves, black shades, and brown sash in a movie scene from the 1999 film Padayappa

Neelambari plans her revenge on Padayappa, now a father of two daughters. Suryaprakash also has a son, Chandraprakash alias Chandru, who studies at the same college as Padayappa's elder daughter, Anitha. Neelambari advises Chandru to make Anitha fall in love with him. At the same time, Padayappa plans to get Anitha married to his sister's son. Neelambari, having made Chandru pretend to fall in love with Anitha, plans to humiliate Padayappa by making Anitha say that she does not wish to marry a groom of her parents' choice and that she is in love with someone else. At the marriage ceremony, after Anitha does what Neelambari told her to do, Padayappa makes an oath to unite Anitha with her lover by the next Muhurta day, or commit suicide. Padayappa discovers that Chandru really did fall in love with Anitha even though he was only initially pretending to do so on Neelambari's advise. When Padayappa takes Chandru and Anitha to the temple to get married, Neelambari and Suryaprakash give chase to stop them. Suryaprakash is killed in a car accident during the chase.

Rajinikanth smiling while wearing pink long sleeves and maroon pants

Armed with a gun, Neelambari reaches the temple where Chandru and Anitha are married. In anger, she tries to kill Padayappa. However, Padayappa saves her life when he prevents a bull from attacking her, while at the same time dodging the bullets she fires at him. Rather than live with the humiliation of knowing she was unsuccessful in avenging her father's death, as well as having her life saved by her enemy, Neelambari commits suicide, promising to take revenge on Padayappa in her next birth. Padayappa prays for her soul to be at peace and eventually attain salvation.


  • Sivaji Ganesan as Padayappa's father
  • Rajinikanth as Padayappa
  • Ramya Krishnan as Neelambari
  • Soundarya as Vasundhara
  • Lakshmi as Padayappa's mother
  • Sithara as Padayappa's sister
  • Radha Ravi as Neelambari's father
  • Nassar as Suryaprakash
  • Manivannan as Padayappa's father's foster brother
  • Senthil as Azhagesan
  • Abbas as Chandraprakash aka Chandru
  • Preetha as Anitha
  • Anu Mohan as Chinnarasu
  • Ramesh Khanna as Padayappa's friend
  • Vadivukkarasi as Vasundhara's mother
  • Sathyapriya as Neelambari's mother
  • Mansoor Ali Khan as Krishnasamy Mudaliar
  • Prakash Raj in a special appearance as Police Officer Subramaniam
  • Raj Bahadur as a politician named Raj Bahadur
  • Mohan V. Raman as the lawyer who does the formalities for dividing the property
  • K. S. Ravikumar in a special appearance in the song "Kikku Yerudhey"
  • Kanal Kannan in a cameo appearance
  • Development

    In December 1997, Rajinikanth announced his next project, which would have K. S. Ravikumar as director. The title of the film was announced as Padayappa in September 1998. Though principal photography for the film was supposed to start in April 1998, the FEFSI strike delayed the project. After the strike ended, Ravikumar still had to complete the film he was then working on, Natpukkaga (1998), before he could begin Padayappa. After completing Natpukkaga in June 1998, Padayappa was further delayed when Ravikumar agreed to quickly remake Natpukkaga in Telugu as Sneham Kosam (1999).

    Padayappa's story was taken in part from the historical Tamil novel, Ponniyin Selvan, by Kalki Krishnamurthy. Neelambari's character is based on Nandini, a vengeful character in the novel, and at one point, the makers were considering naming the film Neelambari. Due to fear of potential protests from fans of Rajinikanth, the original title, Padayappa was retained. The title Padayappa is a corruption of Aarupadayappa — a sobriquet for Lord Murugan and his six abodes.


    The film was produced by Rajinikanth's personal assistants, K. Sathya Narayana, M. V. Krishna Rao, and H. Vittal Prasad under their production banner, Arunachala Cine Creations, along with P. L. Thenappan as co-producer. Lalitha Mani was the choreographer for the song sequences. Jyothi Krishna, son of producer A. M. Rathnam, was involved in the development of the film's script.

    Simran and Meena were screened for the character of Neelambari before the role went to Ramya Krishnan, who had previously worked with Rajinikanth on Padikkadavan (1985). Simran was also considered for the role of Vasundhara, before the role went to Soundarya, who had earlier worked with Rajinikanth in Arunachalam (1997). Actress Shalini was touted to play the role of Padayappa's sister, but the role eventually went to Sithara.

    The look of the older Padayappa — bearded, with sunglasses — is based on Rajinikanth's look as the character Manik Baashha in Baashha (1995); Ganesh Nadar of Rediff commented, "Give Basha [sic] a cheroot and that's Padayappa." Sivaji Ganesan was cast as the protagonist's father; Padayappa was the last film he worked on before his death in 2001, although Pooparika Varugirom (1999) was his final release. His character's appearance, with a mutton-chop moustache, is based on a similar role he played in Thevar Magan (1992).


    Padayappa launched production at the Ragavendra Kalyana Mandapam on 1 October 1998. The film's climax scene was one of the first to be shot, and was filmed in one take using two cameras. Around 2,000 extras were used for the scene. The car that was used in the scene which introduced Neelambari in the film belonged to Ravikumar. Ravikumar used the newly purchased car in the film at Rajinikanth's insistence. Filming also took place in Mysore. The Vadapalani-based shop, D. V. Nehru wigs, supplied the wigs that were sported by Ganesan in the film. In an August 2016 interview with Sudhir Srinivasan of The Hindu, Ravikumar mentioned that a scene where Padayappa uses his dupatta to pull down a swing from the ceiling on which he sits after not being given a chair to sit by Neelambari, was inspired by a sequence in the Indian epic Ramayana. The sequence features the Hindu god Hanuman making a seat using his tail after Ravana, the demon king of Lanka, does not provide the former a chair to sit.

    "Kikku Yerudhey" was the last song sequence to be shot. For the sequence, Rajinikanth required Ravikumar to sport an outfit similar to Rajinikanth's, and enact a small part in the song. Rajinikanth also selected the part of the song where Ravikumar would make his appearance. After reluctantly agreeing to do the part, a scene was filmed featuring Rajinikanth and Ravikumar. Rajinikanth said he felt the shot did not look right, and re-takes for Ravikumar's sequence were done. After the re-takes were completed, Rajinikanth admitted that the first sequence was fine. When Ravikumar asked the cameraman why he had not told him earlier, the cameraman replied by saying that Rajinikanth wanted Ravikumar to do seven takes, to teach him a lesson for all the takes that Ravikumar had required of Rajinikanth.


    Writing for PopMatters, Ranjani Krishnakumar noted that Padayappa underlined Rajinikanth's political manoeuvres, evident when his character's lover sings "Kaadhal therdhalil kattil sinnathil vetri petru nee vaazgha" (In the election of love, with the symbol of bed, may you win and flourish).


    The film's soundtrack and background score were composed by A. R. Rahman, with lyrics by Vairamuthu. The soundtrack was released through Star Music. Strips of herbal rejuvenator capsules were sold along with the film's music cassettes. Before the film's release, Rahman asked Ravikumar if the soundtrack could be released in August 1999. Ravikumar informed Rahman that he had already discussed a release date with the press, and that Rahman would be blamed for any delay. To make the deadline, Rahman did a live re-recording of both the soundtrack and score to finish them on time.

    The credits for the song "Vetri Kodi Kattu", sung by Palakkad Sreeram, initially went to Malaysia Vasudevan, who publicly stated that the credits for the song should have been attributed to Sreeram. Rahman requested the company who manufactured the audio cassettes to make the change. The song "Minsara Kanna" is based on the Vasantha raga, while "Vetri Kodi Kattu" is based on the Keeravani raga. "Minsara Kanna" established Srinivas as a leading singer in the film industry.

    Singer Charulatha Mani, in her column for The Hindu, "A Raga's journey", called "Minsara Kanna" a "mind-blowing piece". Srikanth Srinivasa of the Deccan Herald wrote, "The music by [Rahman], to Vairamuthu’s lyrics, sounds good while the movie is on, though whether without the presence of [Rajinikanth] they would have, is another thing." S. Shiva Kumar of The Times of India was more critical of the soundtrack, and called it "lacklustre".


    Padayappa was released on 10 April 1999 on the eve of Tamil New Year's Day. This was the first Tamil film to be released worldwide without the involvement of distributors. It was also the first Tamil film to be released worldwide with 210 prints, and 700,000 audio cassettes. The film's rights in Japan were sold for US$50,000, which was the highest an Indian film fetched for commercial release in 1999. Co-producer Thenappan registered the film posters as a Class 34 trademark in 1998, to be used for trademarking such items as beedis, cigarettes, cheroots and tobacco, making it the first instance of brand extension in the Tamil film industry. The pre-release business of the film's overseas rights amounted to 30 million. According to an estimate by trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai, the value of the theatrical and satellite rights for Padayappa was approximately 20 million.

    Critical response

    Ananda Vikatan, in its original review of the film dated 25 April 1999, wrote, "Original stamp of Rajni style can be seen in the film several times ... Ramya Krishnan has matched Rajni and created a royal path separately ... The film is exclusively made for Rajni's fans ...," and gave the film 41 marks out of 100. The Deccan Herald gave the film a positive verdict, claiming that the "positive energy generated by this film is simply astounding", and labelling Rajinikanth's role as "terrific".

    Ganesh Nadar of Rediff also gave a positive review, praising Ramya Krishnan's performance in the film, and said that she "does a fantastic job", concluding, "... if you are a Rajni fan, this film is vintage stuff." P. C. Balasubramanianram and N. Ramakrishnan, in their book, Grand Brand Rajini, said, "Padayappa, in one way, stands testimony to Rajini's life itself." However, S. Shiva Kumar of The Times of India was critical of the film's allusions to the actor's political career, stating that the film was "more style than substance".

    Box office

    Padayappa was a box office success; T. R. Vivek of Business Today says that the film was estimated to have earned 440 million worldwide, with a total of 380 million at the domestic box office, and 60 million overseas. According to The Tribune, it was the highest grossing Tamil film at that point of time before being surpassed by another Rajinikanth film, Chandramukhi (2005), although Rediff stated in 2014 that Padayappa's record was surpassed by Ghilli (2004).

    The film had a theatrical run of 100 days in 86 theatre centres, and was dubbed into Telugu under the title Narasimha. The dubbed version was also a commercially successful venture, and had a theatrical run of 50 days in 49 theatres.


    Ramya Krishnan won the Best Actress at the Filmfare Awards. The film also won five Tamil Nadu State Film Awards.

    Cancelled sequel

    Padayappa's initial final cut lasted for 22 reels, which was considered too lengthy. Rather than cut the film, Rajinikanth suggested to Ravikumar to allot two intervals for the film. Ravikumar was wary of this idea, and went to actor Kamal Haasan for advice, since the initial final cut of Haasan's Nayakan (1987) was also 22 reels. Using his prior experience on trimming Nayakan, Haasan was able to cut Padayappa down to 16 reels. When Kumudam's reporter Kannan asked Rajinikanth to release the scenes which had been cut as Padayappa's sequel, Rajinikanth immediately spoke to Ravikumar about the possibility, but was informed that those reels had been destroyed.


    With the success of Padayappa, Ramya Krishnan, who up to that point in time had only performed glamorous roles, showed her versatility as an actress. The character Neelambari reappears in Baba (2002), where she spots Baba (Rajinikanth) but sees him in her mind's eye in his Padayappa attire; she asks him the time. Her brother drags her away, and berates her for still not overcoming Padayappa. Ramya Krishnan and Nasser reprised their roles in this film. The success of Padayappa led to a film being named after one of its songs, Minsara Kanna (1999), starring Vijay with actress Kushboo appearing in a negative role similar to Ramya Krishnan's in Padayappa; another song from the film, Vetri Kodi Kattu, became the name of a 2000 film directed by Cheran. Ramya Krishnan played the role of Malini in the film Arumugam (2009), in which her character was similar to Neelambari. Ramya Krishnan's character in the television serial, Kalasam, was also named Neelambari. Actress Priyamani, in an interview with Prathibha Joy of The Times of India, stated her character in the Kannada film Ambareesha (2014), is similar to Neelambari. In Chetan Bhagat's novel, 2 States: The Story of My Marriage (2009), when Krish Malhotra, the novel's protagonist, travels to Nungambakkam by auto rickshaw, the auto rickshaw driver stops to worship a poster of Padayappa.

    Some of the quotes from the film that became popular were: "En Vazhi Thani Vazhi." (English: My way is a unique way); "Poda Andavane Namapakam Irukan’’ (English: God is on our side); "Adhigama Aasaipadra Aambalaiyum, Adhigama Kobapadra Pombalaiyum, Nalla Vazhndhadha Sarithirame Kidaiyathu" (English: There is no history of a man who desires too much or a woman who gets too angry living well), "Kashtapadama Edhuvum Kidaikkathu. Kashtapadama Kidaikirathu Ennikkum Nilakkathu" (English: One can gain nothing without working hard for it. Those which are gotten without hardwork will not be there forever); and "Anger is the cause of all miseries. One should know how to control it, otherwise life will become miserable." One of Rajinikanth's climactic dialogues in the film — "En Vazhi Thani Vazhi" — was used as the title of a 2015 film directed by Shaji Kailas. It was also used as the title of a 2010 book on branding by Sridhar Ramanujam. Scenes from the film were parodied in various other films, notable of which are Thirupathi Ezhumalai Venkatesa (1999), En Purushan Kuzhandhai Maadhiri (2001), Annai Kaligambal (2003), Sivaji (2007). Vel (2007), Siva Manasula Sakthi (2009), Malai Malai (2009), Vanakkam Chennai (2013), and All in All Azhagu Raja (2013). Padayappa was also parodied in the Star Vijay comedy series Lollu Sabha, in an episode appropriately named Vadayappa.

    To celebrate the 39th anniversary of Rajinikanth in the film industry, Digitally Inspired Media, a Chennai-based digital agency, made 39 posters of some of his films, in which Padayappa was included. The posters feature one "punch" line from the film, a representative image, and the year of the film’s release. On Rajinikanth's 64th birthday, an agency named Minimal Kollywood Posters designed posters of Rajinikanth's films, in which the Minion characters from the Despicable Me franchise are dressed as Rajinikanth. The digital art was hand drawn on a digital pad by Gautham Raj. One of the posters depicted a minion sitting on a swing and dressed like Rajinikanth's character in Padayappa, reminiscent of the swing scene.


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