The film opened to positive reviews from critics, but was declared as an average grosser by box office analysts. It won three prizes at the 61st National Film Awards including Best Tamil film award. It was the only Tamil film to be screened at Indian Panorama in International Film Festival of India, IFFI, Goa, 2013.
A poor laborer Kalyani (Ram) is devoted to his young daughter Chellamma (Baby Sadhana), but the child has problems at school with her studies, classmates and teachers. Kalyani wants his daughter to be happy, no matter what. Kalyani is a man who toils pretty hard to meet both ends, thereby trying not to live in his father's shade, but is forced to. His daughter Chellama is a sweet, angelic girl who fares below average in the class, but is all chirpy and gleeful when she is with her father. Without a proper job and an income the tension that prevails in the house forces him to take up a job far away from the reach of his lovely daughter. 'Thanga Meengal' is a coming-of-age story of an unfit father struggling to make ends meet, told through the eyes of his eight-year-old daughter. The film offers a critique of primary education in Tamil Nadu and makes poignant observations through social commentary.Ram as Kalyani
Baby Sadhana as Chellamma
Shelly Kishore as Vadivu
Rohini as Parvathi
Padmapriya as Elvita
Lizzy as Stella
Aruldoss as Evita's husband
Poo Ramu as Kalyani's father
Gomathi as Kalyani's sister
Baby Sanjana as Nithyashree
Master Adithya as Adithya
After his debut directorial Kattradhu Thamizh, Ram was expected to commence his second project, which was tentatively titled Saddam Hussain and was to feature Dhanush and Bhavana in the lead roles. However, the commercial failure of Kattradhu Thamizh hindered him from starting his next directorial immediately after, with no producer willing to fund the project. Furthermore, comedian Karunas, who played a pivotal role in that film and had bought the distribution rights of the film, lost around ₹ 75 lakhs and demanded compensation for the loss. Ram took a break before starting work on his next project. He had penned a story titled Thanga Meengal and, as claimed by reports in August 2009, had eventually found a producer to fund this film under the banner of Touch Stone. Comedian Karunas, school mate of Ram, who played a lead role in the director's first film, too, was roped in to play the lead role in this film. The film's shoot was supposed to begin in late 2009, but got delayed and didn't take off until mid-2010. Media reports claimed that the producer got into a financial crisis and decided to drop the film, which prompted Karunas to take up the film and produce it himself. However, the film was subsequently taken over by director-producer Gautham Menon, whose Photon Kathaas Productions along with R. S. Infotainment would produce the film. Gautham asked Ram to enact the protagonist's role, which he agreed to after shooting rehearsal scenes with Suba Pandian and cinematographer P. G. Muthiah and being "thoroughly convinced".
Thanga Meengal was disclosed to illustrate the story of a middle-aged man who gets separated from his wife and daughter to search for a job "just for the sake of earning money". Ram declared that the female lead and other characters would be enacted by newcomers, one of them being an eight-year-old Chennai-based girl Sadhana Venkatesh. Director Ram auditioned over 150 girls for the role of Chellamma before he zeroed in on her. Malayalam television actress Shelly Kishore was roped in to play the mother character, Vadivu. Filming was finally started on 18 January 2011 in Nagercoil. In January 2012, Padmapriya was roped in for an important role, making a comeback to Tamil films after a long gap of 2 years. The shoot of the entire film was completed in 53 days and it was held in places like Wayanad, Cochin, Nagercoil, Achankoil and other scenic locations.
For Thanga Meenkal's soundtrack, Ram collaborated with composer Yuvan Shankar Raja and lyricist Na. Muthukumar again, who he had worked with in Kattradhu Thamizh, too. The soundtrack album features four tracks. One of the songs, which was sung by children Sadhana and Sanjana, who both acted in the film, was described by the director as an "anthem for school children" that would speak about the current education system, examinations and teachers. The team created a special album featuring school children with Yuvan Shankar Raja also making an appearance in the video. The audio released on 30 April 2013 at Sathyam Cinemas with directors Lingusamy, Prabhu Solomon, Vetrimaran, Samuthirakani, Chimbudevan, Cheran and Balu Mahendra being present. Anirudh Ravichander, Karthik, Alphonse Joseph and the two girls in the film sang an unplugged version of all the songs.
Behindwoods gave the album 3.5 stars out of 5 and gave a verdict "Alluring and endearing, Yuvan at best". In its film review it wrote, "Yuvan Shankar Raja has again delivered his best for Ram and you will have plenty of hair-raising moments as he weaves magic with his instruments, for the movie's BGM score". Rediff wrote, "Yuvan’s music in Thanga Meenkal strikes the right chord, be it the beautiful songs or the haunting background music". IBN Live wrote, "Yuvan's background score takes the film up a notch, while his music is equally uplifting". Indiaglitz wrote, "Yuvan's BGM is spot on and delivers quite well. The signature tune that echoes through the movie dwells well with the movie's pace". Sify wrote that one of the highlights was the "outstanding BGM and soul stirring music by Yuvan Shankar Raja especially “Aanandha Yazhai..” song".
The film was given a "U" certificate by the Indian Censor Board. The distribution rights were acquired by JSK Film Corporation. The film released on 30 August 2013.
Rediff gave 4 stars out of 5 and wrote, "Thanga Meenkal is a heartwarming story told brilliantly with a simplicity and honesty that is seen so rarely in films these days". Behindwoods gave 3.75 stars out of 5 and wrote, "Thanga Meengal brims with heart felt heavy emotions, has lifelike performances and is a brilliantly made film". IBN Live gave 3.5 out of 5 and wrote, "Barring few minor flaws, Thanga Meengal cuts you deep emotionally and achieves what several films in the recent past couldn't". The Times of India gave 3.5 stars out of 5 and wrote, "Thanga Meenkal shares many of Kattradhu Thamizh's film's strengths and flaws. It is a well-intentioned effort, strikingly shot, and held together by persuasive performances. At the same time, it is also relentlessly grim and bludgeons you into submitting to the point of view of the filmmaker, and by the time it ends, makes you believe you have personally gone through the ordeals of the film's characters. But, thankfully, it doesn't have the intense — and incredibly misplaced — anger that scorched through the latter, to leave you feeling miserable in the end. In its place, there is a welcome amount of poetry and grey, and a little bit of warmth, which shows a filmmaker evolving, trying to polish off his rough edges". Sify wrote, "Thangameengal is an honest and brave attempt by director Ram, though not in the same league as his Kattradhu Thamizh. It is a simple, heart-warming tale of love and bonding between a father and daughter, told in a high pitched melodramatic way". Indiaglitz gave 3 stars out of 5 wrote, "Ram deserves a special mention for his direction cum acting, with only two movies he has proved his mettle and Kollywood needs more directors like him no doubt".
In contrast, The New Indian Express wrote, "A film should either entertain or be inspiring and stir one emotionally. Unfortunately, Thanga Meengal does neither". However, its review was lambasted by its readers in comments section
Sudhish Kamath later picked Thanga Meenkal as one of five Tamil films that have redefined Tamil cinema in 2013, calling it "a heart-warming story about a father-daughter bond" and "a film treated with great restraint and understatement, one that rarely lapses into melodrama". He further wrote, "It’s never easy to direct and act at the same time, but director Ram manages to extract a fantastic performance from even the child actor Sadhna. But the reason it won me over is the painstaking cinematography. We haven’t seen better use of landscape in storytelling, and the director of photography Arbindhu Saara has literally climbed mountains for seconds of diegetic credibility and exhaustive coverage of ambience and location. World-class visuals".
Thanga Meenkal was selected for screening at the 44th International Film Festival of India which was held in Goa in November 2013. It was the only Tamil fim among 25 films selected for screening at the Indian panorama section. The film would also be screened in the non-competitive section ("Children's World") at the 18th International Children's Film Festival India to be held in Hyderabad from 14 to 20 November 2013. The film was named the best film in the 11th Chennai International Film Festival, while Sadhana was given the best child artist award.61st National Film Awards
Best Tamil film
Best Lyrics - Na. Muthukumar ("Ananda Yaazhai Meettugirai")
National Film Award for Best Child Artist - Sadhana Lakshmi Venkatesh
61st Filmfare Awards South
Best Tamil Film
Best Lyrics - Na. Muthukumar ("Ananda Yaazhai Meettugirai")
Best Playback Singer - Male Sriram Parthasarathy - "Aananda Yaazhai"
Vijay Award for Best Film
Kalvi Foundation Tribute Award 2013
SIIMA 2014. Best child artist. Sadhna Lakshmi Venkatesh
chennai international film festival. 2014. Special award for Sadhna Lakshmi Venkatesh
Mirchi music awards 2014
Tamil Nadu media council award. Best child artist. Sadhna Lakshmi Venkatesh
RKV film institute Best child artist. Sadhna Lakshmi Venkatesh