Senathipathi (English: Chief) is a 1996 Tamil drama film directed by M. Rathnakumar, an erstwhile assistant of Bharathi Raja and also wrote script for his films Karuthamma and Kizhakku Cheemayile. The film features Sathyaraj, Soundarya and Sukanya in lead roles. The film, produced by Malar Balu and K. Dhandapani, had musical score by Deva and was released on 10 November 1996.
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Senathipathi Thevar (Sathyaraj) is a rich, respected village man who is married to Meenakshi (Sukanya), while his little brother Sethupathi (Sathyaraj) is a good-for-nothing young man. Senathipathi and Lingappan Naicker (Vijayakumar), another rich respected village man and their area chief, are best friends. Senathipathi has been charged for past 10 years with the duty to protect the village against the robbers, which he has done with 100% efficiency. Lingappan Naicker's daughter Aishwarya (Soundarya), a clever, beautiful and arrogant girl, returns after studying in the city. Sethupathi and Aishwarya eventually fall in love with each other. But, lingappa nayakkar is totally against caste inter-marriage, and sees them together. Nagappa naickar (Manivannan) is a long-distant relative of Lingappa and head of their rival village. Though he is rich, nagappa has very bad habits and so does his only son. Lingappa's and Nagappa's villages clash every year, to receive water from the canal during farming seasons, though justice is on lingappa's village. After failing to get water for the past 10 years, nagappa gets the photos of Sethu and Aishwarya clubbing each other. he sends the photo to all of his caste's big heads so that none would wed aishwarya. then, nagappa can make his son marry her and get all properties of Lingappa's to himself, including canal's checkdams owned by him.
meanwhile, to protect aishwarya, lingappa cleverly assigns her to live in Senathipathi's house till her marriage, so that she would be a gaurded-object of senathipathy, so that his brother would be away from her. Sethu and aiswarya try to break up, but can't. Aiswarya blackmails sethu to marry her the next day or she will commit suicide. The next day, at the moment of marriage, senathipathi intercepts sethu. he asks sethu to either surrender Aiswarya or come to a one-on-one till death. Sethu surrenders aiswarya, and is expelled from the house. All of this is seen by lingppa afar. he tries to get an alliance to aiswarya, but fails. Then, nagappa proposes an alliance, and it is taken by lingappa. Sethupathi hands over aiswarya and thus keeps his honor. Then, aiswarya and her mom plead for lingappa to change his mind. When he is about to, nagappa and his son come and drag aiswarya out to be wed. Lingappa shoots both of them dead, and starts to find sethupathi. But, meanwhile senathipathi and his wife are attacked on the way home. Though sethu joins them, a traitor stabs both senathipathi and his wife in the back. At the dying moments, senathipathi consents for marriage and he removes the thali from his dead wife's neck and gives it to sethu. Sethu then marries aiswarya there. After few days, it is seen that Sethupathi is the new Chief of village guards.
The film score and the soundtrack were composed by film composer Deva. The soundtrack, released in 1996, features 5 tracks with lyrics written by Vairamuthu and M. Rathnakumar.