Amarkalam (About this soundpronunciation ) (transl. First Class)[1] is a 1999 Indian Tamil-language action romance film written and directed by Saran and produced by V. Sudhir Kumar for the banner Venkateswaralayam. The film featured Ajith Kumar, making it his 25th film and Shalini in the lead roles with Raghuvaran, Raadhika and Nassar in other pivotal roles. The film opened in August 1999 to positive reviews from critics and became a blockbuster at the box office.[2] The film was dubbed in Telugu as Adbutham. It was also remade in Telugu as Leela Mahal Center and in Kannada as Asura.

Directed bySaran
Written bySaran
Produced byV. Satya Narayana
V. Sudhir Kumar
V. Sumanth Kumar
StarringAjith Kumar
CinematographyA. Venkatesh
Edited bySuresh Urs
Music byBharathwaj
Release date
  • 13 August 1999 (1999-08-13)
Running time
155 minutes


Vasu (Ajith Kumar) is a ruthless hooligan who lives in a cinema theater owned by Aarumugam (Vinu Chakravarthy). He had a tortured childhood and wastes his days by drinking, fighting, and sleeping. It all starts when Vasu's friend, Thilak (Dhamu), loses an Annaamalai movie reel to Mohana (Shalini). Vasu and Mohana clash when he attempts to retrieve the reel. Mohana's family are members of the police, headed by Birla Bose (Nassar), Mohana's father. At this point, Tulasi Das (Raghuvaran), an ex-mafia "dada" who spent many years in jail because of Bose, comes to the theater. He does not like Bose and hires Vasu to kidnap Mohana. Vasu later cries out his childhood pain in the song "Satham Illatha." Mohana falls in love with Vasu after hearing his pain. When Tulasi realizes that Mohana loves Vasu, he hires Vasu to pretend that he loves her back. At first, it is just pretended, but then he too begins to love her. Tulasi visits Bose to inform him of his daughter's love for a gangster and realizes that Mohana is indeed his daughter. A flashback showing the parted friendship between the two men, and Ganga (Raadhika), Tulasi's wife, abandons him and their child when she comes to know that her husband is a don. Knowing that Mohana is his daughter, Tulasi instructs Vasu to give up his love. When Vasu refuses, Tulasi visits Mohana and tells her about his ploy and that Vasu's love for her was fake. Eventually, Vasu proves to Mohana that his love was true and unites with her after a clash between the cops and some goons of the locality.




The producers of the previous collaboration of Ajith Kumar and Saran during Kaadhal Mannan, Venkateswaralayam had lost a lot of money on that film so Ajith Kumar insisted on doing another film for the studio.[3] The film initially began production without a script but only title Amarkalam being revealed.[3]

Saran initially came up with a script revolving around a gangster who loses his eyesight and makes a lot of enemies; however he changed the script when his friends told him that several films on a similar subject were made at that time.[3] He built a story around a setup of "a father meets his daughter without she releasing that he was her dad" based on a film he had seen and made this script completely into "a hero-centric film".[3]


Jyothika was the first choice for the lead actress but couldn't accept it due to scheduling conflicts.[3] Saran initially approached Shalini, who was studying at the time, and she refused, but after a three-month pursuit, he finally got her to sign on as well.[1] Saran wanted Shalini because he found her "eyes to be arresting" and she gained "image of 'everybody’s adorable daughter' after Kadhalukku Mariyadhai", which he felt would be right for this role.[3] The role of Tulasi Das was initially offered to Amitabh Bachchan who accepted before later pulling out of the film.[4] Raghuvaran was Saran's next choice for the role who agreed because Saran felt "he’d understand this complex character, who wasn’t a violent one or routine villain character. Also, I was particular that no one should be able to guess the film’s turning point".[3]


The film began production in January 1999 and during the production of the film, the lead pair Ajith Kumar and Shalini fell in love and eventually got married in April 2000.[5][6] For the lead protagonist's staying place, Saran decided to use film theatre as a backdrop, he found Srinivasa Theatre after looking at its infrastructure.[3]


Soundtrack album by
LabelThe Best Audio
Bharathwaj chronology
Parthen Rasithen

The film's score and the soundtrack were composed by Bharathwaj, with lyrics written by Vairamuthu. Shalini sang a song in the film, with Saran recommending her after he had heard her humming to a tune.[3] Saran did not want the song "Satham Illamal" to be cinematic for that he created a sad past of Ajith Kumar's character to justify the presence of the song in the film.[3] The song's lyrics were based on a poem written by Vairamuthu where every line ended with the word "vendum" (I want). Bharathwaj suggested that "instead of 'vendum', we should use 'kaetaen' (I asked), so that the song would convey that the hero asked for everything, but ultimately didn’t get any, including death". S. P. Balasubrahmanyam performed this song in an breathless manner.[3]

1."Kaalam Kalikalam"Srinivas4:40
2."Sontha Kuralil Paada"Shalini4:59
3."Satham Illatha"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Sujatha Mohan4:19
4."Megangal Ennai Thottu"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam5:44
5."Unnodu Vaazha"K. S. Chithra5:18
6."En Seidhaayo"Bharathwaj2:19
Total length:27:19


The film released on 13 August 1999. It received positive reviews from the critics and the audience. The reviewer from Indolink praised ajith shalini and raghuvaran's performance and saran's direction but also criticized that the film had many resemblances of other gangster movies." Another reviewer said that Ajith should be really applauded for his performance but also said saran the director could have made this movie more wonderful through his effective screenplay.[7]

The film went on to become a large commercial success at the box office, extending the lead actor Ajith Kumar's success after his previous film Vaali.[8][9] Ajith Kumar went on to purchase Saran a car as a token of gratitude for the success.[10]


A digitally restored version of Amarkalam was released in May 2014 celebrating the 43rd birthday of actor Ajith Kumar.[11]


Due to the success of the film, it was subsequently dubbed into the Telugu language with title Adbhutam and produced by V. Sathyanarayana.[12] It was later remade in Kannada as Asura starring Shiva Rajkumar and Raghuvaran, who reprised his role. Despite the release of dubbed version there was a 2004 remake version in Telugu titled Leela Mahal Center with Aryan Rajesh.[13]


  1. ^ a b "Rediff On The NeT, Movies: Director Saran on matters close to his heart". 10 February 2000. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  2. ^ "The age of rage". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 31 May 2002. Archived from the original on 4 July 2003. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "20 years of Ajith's Amarkkalam". Times of India. 13 August 2019. Archived from the original on 15 August 2019. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  4. ^ "Rediff On The Net, Movies: Where is Karisma?". 30 April 1998. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  5. ^ "Tamil Nadu / Tiruchi News : From a child artiste to badminton player". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 15 September 2006. Archived from the original on 4 March 2009. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  6. ^ "Rediff On The NeT, Movies: The Ajit-Shalini romance". 15 September 1999. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  7. ^ "Movie Review | Amarkkalam". Indolink. Archived from the original on 24 September 2009. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
  8. ^ ", Movies: Gossip from the southern film industry". 14 June 2000. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  9. ^ "Filmfare — Print Edition". Archived from the original on 6 October 2013. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  10. ^ ", Movies: Gossip from the Southern film industry". 11 August 2000. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  11. ^ "Ajith's Amarkalam to release again". Times of India. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  12. ^ "Rediff On The NeT, Movies: Gossip from the southern film industry". 8 December 1999. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  13. ^ "Mean Street mogul". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 28 May 2002. Archived from the original on 19 July 2004.

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