Adimai Penn (transl. Slave Woman) is a 1969 Indian Tamil-language action adventure film directed by K. Shankar and produced by M. G. Ramachandran and R. M. Veerappan. The film stars Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa, with Ashokan, Pandari Bai, Rajasree, Manohar, Chandrababu and Cho in supporting roles. It revolves around the efforts of a deceased king's son to free the enslaved people of a kingdom from their tyrant king.

Adimai Penn
Adimai Penn.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byK. Shankar
Story by
Produced by
CinematographyV. Ramamoorthy
Edited byK. Narayanan
Music byK. V. Mahadevan
Emgeeyaar Pictures
Release date
  • 1 May 1969 (1969-05-01)
Running time
180 minutes[1]
Budget50 lakh[2]

Ramachandran had the desire to make Adimai Penn as early as 1963. The project entered production with him directing and starring, B. Saroja Devi and K. R. Vijaya co-starring and P. N. Sundaram as cinematographer, but was dropped after some progress. When revived with a new story, it had a largely new cast and crew while Ramachandran remained as the star. Filming took place primarily in Jaipur, Rajasthan, and was completed within 100 working days.

Adimai Penn was released on 1 May 1969 and became a box office success, with a theatrical run of over 175 days, and a turning point in Ramachandran's career. It won many awards, including the Filmfare Award for Best Tamil Film, and three Tamil Nadu State Film Awards, including Best Film (First Prize) and Best Female Character Artiste for Pandari Bai. A digitally restored version of the film was released on 14 July 2017


Abhirami Mangamma, a princess, is desired by Sengodan, a king. Several years later, Sengodan sees Abhirami (now a queen and married) out hunting. He declares his love, but Abhirami says that she is a mother. Sengodan tries to kill her infant son, prince Vengaiyan and Abhirami severs Sengodan's leg. The king Vengaiyan from the Vengaiya mount kingdom goes to Sengodan's country (Soorukathu kingdom) seeking justice, and Sengodan agrees to a duel. The duel takes place over a net with spears below it; the dueller will lose if he loses his weapon or falls from the net, and his country will be enslaved by the winner. Since Sengodan has only one leg, king Vengaiyan binds his own leg and the duel begins. Vengaiyan wins, but then Sengodan kills him.

Sengodan orders his men to seize the country and summon the queen and her son Vengaiyan. One of the king's aides escapes and saves the queen, but Vengaiyan is taken prisoner. All women in the country are enslaved. The queen stays in hiding for many years. The king's aide is imprisoned and sees Vengaiyan, who has been forced to live in a two-foot-high cell, and has not learnt how to speak or eat with his hands. They escape from the prison by the river. The aide dies in his granddaughter Jeeva's arms after she promises to heal Vengaiyan and help abolish slavery in their country. Jeeva takes Vengaiyan to her hut, teaches him to speak, write and fight. Vengaiya begins to understand that he is a prince, but is a hunchback because of his confinement.

Vengaiya saves a girl from two warriors. When he is helping the girl (who is bound between two heavy wooden planks, like a pillory), his spine straightens, allowing him to stand normally. Jeeva tells the prince what he must do, and shows him his mother. When he sees his mother's condition, Vengaiyan vows to free the country from Sengodan's enslavement. The prince, with help from Jeeva and others, attacks a group of soldiers and begins freeing people from slavery. During one assault, he meets Magudapathy, the leader of the neighbouring Pavala kingdom who is related to Sengodan. Magudapathy is astonished to see Jeeva because of her resemblance to his queen, Pavalavalli. He conspires to replace the queen with Jeeva and take over the country, which separates Vengaiyan and Jeeva from their followers. The commander, claiming the prince is a spy, hides Jeeva.

Pavalavalli, who is actually Jeeva's sister, presides over the prince's trial. She is attracted to him, and orders that he be released and posted as her bodyguard. The commander plans to kill both the queen and the prince at a party with a poisoned drink, but it is moved by one of the prince's aides, a magician. The commander orders the arrest of the prince and the queen. Jeeva impersonates the queen so she and Vengaiya can be freed and allowed to return to their country. Pavalavalli is dressed in Jeeva's clothes and kept in captivity, to be killed later. The commander goes to the prison and admits his plan; Vengaiyan kills him and escapes with Pavalavalli, thinking she is Jeeva.

Vengaiyan finally reaches his country, which has changed during his long absence. His house has been gutted by fire, his farms plundered and his men oppose him. Vengaiyan tells them his story, coercing them to rejoin the army. Pavalavalli joins Sengodan's side, awaiting revenge. Abhirami Mangamma is captured by Sengodan's men, who threaten to execute her. Vengaiyan and his men sneak into the palace and fight Sengodan; he kills Sengodan, releases his mother and frees his kingdom.




M. G. Ramachandran had the desire to make Adimai Penn as early as 1963.[8] As director, producer and lead actor, he launched the film with B. Saroja Devi and K. R. Vijaya as the lead actresses and P. N. Sundaram as cinematographer. Some scenes were filmed, but the project was dropped. When relaunched with a new story, Ramachandran remained in his positions (except directing, which was given to K. Shankar) and Jayalalithaa was cast as the sole female lead, while V. Ramamoorthy was hired as the new cinematographer,[9] and K. Narayanan as the editor.[10] This was the second film Ramachandran produced after Nadodi Mannan (1958).[11] This was Chandrababu's last film with Ramachandran;[12] as he was in financial crisis, Ramachandran gave him a substantial fee.[11]


Filming took place primarily in Jaipur, Rajasthan,[9] During the filming, Ramachandran was given a white fur cap to shield him from the desert sun; this would later become his signature look.[13] While filming in the Thar Desert, Jayalalithaa had to walk barefoot on the sand to portray her character; the sand became gradually hotter and Ramachandran suspended filming after noticing her discomfort.[14] For the climax scene, Ramachandran fought with an actual lion which was later named Raja.[15] It was the last Tamil film to be shot in City Palace, Rambagh Palace and Samode Palace until Annabelle Sethupathi (2021).[16] Filming was completed within 100 working days.[2] The film was colourised using Eastmancolor.[17]


According to Ramachandran, Adimai Penn is neither a historical nor a social, or a "story with exciting, cinematic effects", but it focuses "on some fundamental issues in the society, which makes the human spirit to suffer and weaken."[17]


The soundtrack of the film was composed by K. V. Mahadevan.[18] It marked Jayalalithaa's debut as a playback singer;[19] on the sets of Kannan En Kadhalan (1968), Ramachandran saw her perform a Meera bhajan. Impressed, her offered her to sing "Amma Endral Anbu" for Adimai Penn.[20] Although the first Tamil film signed by playback singer S. P. Balasubrahmanyam was Shanti Nilayam,[21] Adimai Penn (in which he sang "Aayiram Nilave Vaa") ended up releasing earlier.[22] T. M. Soundararajan was chosen to sing "Thaai Illamal" as it needed "more zeal".[9]

1."Aayiram Nilave Vaa"PulamaipithanS. P. Balasubrahmanyam, P. Susheela4.56
2."Amma Endral"VaaliJayalalithaa4.59
3."Kaalathai Vendravan"Avinashi ManiP. Susheela , S. Janaki6.14
4."Thaai Illamal"Alangudi SomuT. M. Soundararajan3.36
5."Unnai Paarthu"VaaliT. M. Soundararajan5.14
6."Yemmattraathe"VaaliT. M. Soundararajan4.37
Total length:28.16


Adimai Penn was released on 1 May 1969.[23] The film was a commercial success and became a turning point in Ramachandran's career.[24] It ran for 175 days at the Chintamani Theatre in Madurai, for 100 days in theatres in Madras, Trichy, Kovai and Salem, and 120 days at the Central Theatre in Nellai.[25] In 1970, a dubbed Hindi version named Koi Ghulam Nahi (transl. No one is a slave) was released.[26]

Critical receptionEdit

The Indian Express wrote on 10 May, "Some movies are made for the passion of making them. Some are made for regretting later. Some are made to entertain. When entertainment is the prime factor everything that is possible is brought in to please the masses. One such movie is Emgeeyar films Adimai Penn". The reviewer praised V. Ramamurthy's cinematography, but felt the music was "not up to the other achievements of the film".[27] On 1 June, Ananda Vikatan called it a new type of film, saying no such film was made in Tamil so far, and compared it favourably to American films like Ben-Hur (1959) and Samson and Delilah (1949).[6] Reviewers appreciated Jayalalithaa for singing in her own voice, comparing her favourably to actresses T. R. Rajakumari and P. Bhanumathi who were known for singing in their own voices as opposed to using playback singers.[28]


Event Award Awardee Ref.
17th Filmfare Awards South Best Film – Tamil Adimai Penn [29]
Tamil Nadu State Film Awards Best Film (First Prize) Adimai Penn [25]
Best Character Artiste (Female) Pandari Bai [8]
Best Music Director K. V. Mahadevan [30]
Tamil Nadu Cinema Fans Association Awards Best Actress Jayalalithaa [31]

In popular cultureEdit

One scene in the film involving the magician changing the various glasses of juices kept while narrating a story to Magudapathy, by which Magudapathy's glass with poison gets mixed up, was re-enacted in Andaz Apna Apna (1994).[32]


Adimai Penn was digitally restored and re-released on 14 July 2017.[3][33]


  1. ^ Rajadhyaksha & Willemen 1998, p. 398.
  2. ^ a b "பிளாஷ்பேக் : பொன்விழா ஆண்டில் அடிமைப்பெண்" [Flashback: Adimai Penn in its 50th year]. Dinamalar (in Tamil). 21 January 2019. Archived from the original on 7 May 2019. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d Rangan, Baradwaj (20 July 2017). "Southern Lights: Adimai Penn". Film Companion. Archived from the original on 4 February 2018. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  4. ^ "எம்.ஜி.ஆருடன் நடித்த போது... ஜெயலலிதா!" [When I acted with MGR... Jayalalithaa!]. Dinamani (in Tamil). 13 December 2017. Archived from the original on 23 July 2018. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  5. ^ Vamanan (12 September 2016). "பால்யத்திலிருந்து பாட்டியாகும் வரை ஆடிக்கொண்டிருந்த ஜோதிலட்சுமி!". Dinamalar (in Tamil). Nellai. Archived from the original on 3 July 2020. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  6. ^ a b "சினிமா விமர்சனம்: அடிமைப் பெண்" [Movie Review: Adimai Penn]. Ananda Vikatan (in Tamil). 1 June 1969. Archived from the original on 1 May 2020. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  7. ^ "'என் ஆதரவு ஓ.பன்னீர்செல்வத்துக்கே!'' - கொந்தளிக்கிறார் ராகுல் தாத்தா". Ananda Vikatan (in Tamil). 7 February 2019. Archived from the original on 7 July 2020. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  8. ^ a b "175 நாட்கள் ஓடி வெள்ளி விழா கண்ட அடிமைப் பெண்! 50-வது ஆண்டு!". Dinamani (in Tamil). 29 July 2019. Archived from the original on 10 August 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  9. ^ a b c Raman, Mohan V. (2 May 2019). "Adimai Penn: The film that made icons". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 7 May 2019. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  10. ^ Dhananjayan 2011, p. 244.
  11. ^ a b சுந்தரதாஸ், ச. (1 July 2019). "பொன் விழா ஆண்டில் இந்தப் படங்கள் 1969–2019". Thinakkural (in Tamil). Archived from the original on 29 May 2021. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  12. ^ "Adimai Penn gets the digital treatment". Cinema Express. 13 July 2017. Archived from the original on 17 July 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  13. ^ Kannan 2017, p. 147.
  14. ^ Vaasanthi (2016). Amma: Jayalalithaa's Journey from Movie Star to Political Queen. Juggernaut. pp. 24–25. ISBN 978-8193284148.
  15. ^ "Birth Anniversary Special: A Tribute to M G Ramachandran, Tamil Nadu's Demigod". Deccan Chronicle. 17 January 2014. Archived from the original on 5 September 2020. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  16. ^ Lakshmi, V (15 September 2020). "Taapsee and Vijay Sethupathi on a heritage trail in Jaipur". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 22 September 2021. Retrieved 10 September 2021.
  17. ^ a b Kantha, Sachi Sri (6 August 2018). "MGR Remembered – Part 46 | Nadodi Mannan and Adimai Penn". Ilankai Tamil Sangam. Archived from the original on 3 July 2020. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  18. ^ "Adimai Penn (1969)". Archived from the original on 30 June 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  19. ^ "MGR – J Jayalalithaa's Adimai Penn digitalised". Deccan Chronicle. 18 February 2017. Archived from the original on 17 July 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  20. ^ Sundaram, Vaasanthi (8 April 2020). The Lone Empress: A Portrait of Jayalalithaa. India: Penguin Random House. ISBN 9789353056636. It was during a break on the sets of Kannan en kaadalan (1968) [...] that MGR chanced to hear Jayalalithaa sing an intricate Meera bhajan [...] He was so impressed that he wanted her to sing in their forthcoming magnum opus Adimai penn.
  21. ^ நவ்ஷத் (6 January 2017). "எஸ்பிபி 50 ஆண்டுகள்: 'எனக்கு இசைதான் தாய்மொழி'" [SPB 50 years: Music is my mother tongue]. Hindu Tamil Thisai (in Tamil). Archived from the original on 27 February 2020. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
  22. ^ "MSV: Master of melodies". Manorama Online. 14 July 2015. Archived from the original on 22 August 2017. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  23. ^ "Adimai Penn". The Indian Express. 1 May 1969. p. 12. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  24. ^ Kannan 2017, p. 146.
  25. ^ a b "கே.ஆர்.விஜயாவுக்கு பதிலாக nஜயலலிதா நடித்த படம்". Thinakaran (in Tamil). 1 October 2013. Archived from the original on 4 May 2020. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  26. ^ Joshi, Namrata (7 December 2016). "Jayalalithaa's fleeting Hindi cinema connect". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 20 December 2017. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  27. ^ "Outdoors exploited". The Indian Express. 10 May 1969. p. 5. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  28. ^ Weidman, Amanda (2021). Brought to Life by the Voice: Playback Singing and Cultural Politics in South India. University of California Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-520-97639-9.
  29. ^ The Times of India Directory and Year Book Including Who's who. Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd. 1970. p. 296. Archived from the original on 5 September 2020. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  30. ^ "கருணாநிதி மறந்த 'மந்திர சக்தி!'". Dinamalar (in Tamil). Nellai. 1 May 2017. Archived from the original on 3 July 2020. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  31. ^ Jha, Lata (6 December 2016). "Ten films to remember Jayalalithaa by". Mint. Archived from the original on 11 September 2018. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  32. ^ "Hindi cinema copied his scenes". DT Next. 8 December 2016. Archived from the original on 29 September 2017. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  33. ^ "Nine films to open on July 14!". Sify. 10 July 2017. Archived from the original on 27 February 2020. Retrieved 27 February 2020.


External linksEdit