Bharathiraja (born 17 July 1942) is an Indian film director who works mainly in the Tamil film industry. Making his debut in 1977 with 16 Vayathinile, he is known for realistic and sensitive portrayals of rural life in his films. As of 2017, he has won six National Film Awards, four Filmfare Awards South, two Tamil Nadu State Film Awards and a Nandi Award. He has also directed films in Telugu and Hindi. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Shri award, India's fourth-highest civilian honour, in 2004 for his contribution to the film industry.

Director Bharathiraja at Salim Movie Audio Launch.jpg

(1942-07-17) 17 July 1942 (age 77)[1]
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter, film producer, actor
Years active1977–present
ChildrenManoj Bharathiraja, Janani Raaja Kumar
  • Periyamayathevar
  • Meenakshiyammal
AwardsPadma Shri (2004)

Film careerEdit

Bharathiraja started his film career as an assistant to Kannada filmmaker Puttanna Kanagal.[3] Later, he assisted P. Pullaiah, M. Krishnan Nair,[4] Avinasi Mani and A. Jagannathan. His first film 16 Vayathinile, for which he wrote the script, broke the then existing convention to create a new genre of village cinema. The film is now regarded as a milestone in the history of Tamil Cinema. About the film, Bharathiraja said: "This movie was meant to be a black & white art film produced with the help of National Film Development Corporation", but turned out to be a commercially successful colour film and a starting point for several important careers.[5] His next film Kizhake Pogum Rail produced similar results and eventually brought in criticisms that Bharathiraja was capable of catering only to village audiences. This led him to make Sigappu Rojakkal, about a psychopathic woman-hater that was totally westernized in terms of both conception and production.[6]

Bharathiraja confirmed his versatility and refusal to be tied down to one particular genre with an experimental film Nizhalgal (1980), and the action thriller Tik Tik Tik (1981). But undoubtedly, rural themes proved to be his strong suit as his biggest hits in the 1980s; Alaigal Oivathillai (1981), Mann Vasanai (1983) and Muthal Mariyathai (1985) were strong love stories in a village backdrop. Muthal Mariyathai starred Sivaji Ganesan in the lead, playing a middle-aged village head. Radha is a poor young woman who moves into his village for a living. The love that bonds these two humans separated not just by age but also by caste and class, is told by Bharathiraja with poetic touches.[7]

Vedham Pudhithu dealt with the caste issue in a stronger manner.[8] The film's narrative was seamless and starred Sathyaraj as Balu Thevar. It contains some of Bharathiraja's trademark touches as well as several ground-breaking scenes. However, it does follow the anti-Brahmin trend common in Tamil films – in this respect it departed from his earlier success Alaigal Oiyvadhillai, where the caste and religion factor was given a more balanced treatment. Bharathiraja has successfully managed to modernise his film-making techniques for the 1990s. The commercial success of Kizhakku Cheemaiyile and the awards that Karuththamma garnered stand as testimony to his ability to thrill the younger generation as well. Bharathiraja was on the same stage in 1996 to receive another National Award for Anthimanthaarai.

In late 1996, Bharathiraja was signed on to direct two films, with the Sarathkumar-starrer Vaakkapatta Bhoomi announced in October. The following month, he began work on a film titled Siragugal Murivadhillai, with Napolean, Heera Rajgopal and Prakash Raj in the leading roles. Both films were later shelved.[9]

His 2001 film Kadal Pookal won him that year's National Film Award for Best Screenplay. The well-known Tamil film director Bhagyaraj was one of his assistant directors. In 2008, Bharathiraja made his television debut with series Thekkathi Ponnu which aired on Kalaignar TV.[10] He went on to direct two other series Appanum Aathaalum and Muthal Mariyathai for the same channel.[11]

During early 2016, Bharathiraja was embroiled in a legal tussle with director Bala on making a film titled Kutra Parambarai, though neither filmmaker eventually made their respective films.[12][13] He later moved on to plan a film starring director Vasanth's son, Ritwik Varun, and Vikram's nephew, but did not begin shooting for the venture.[14] In 2018, Bharathirajaa is working on a film titled November 8, Iravu 8 Mani starring Vidharth, which narrates events following the decision to demonetise certain banknotes in India.[15][16]

Style, critique and public perceptionEdit

When the old era was dominated by films shot inside studios, Bharathiraja directed village themed films which inspired Tamil cinema to capture live locations. Array of village films in Tamil cinema started after his trendsetting film 16 Vayathinile.[17][18] He changed the attire of male lead role as simple and without much cosmetics and female leads in his films as dusky looking which were before dominated by fair skinned ladies.[19] He started the style of directors speaking to the audience with his famous dialogue "En Iniya Thamizh Makkale(My sweet Tamil people)”.[20][21] Bharathiraja is revered as one of the best directors of Indian cinema. His ideas were original and his subjects were complex ideas expressed in a manner every common man could understand.[22]

He is also known for introducing hundreds of new faces to the film industry.[19][23] He has introduced many actors as new face notable among them are Karthik, Radha, Revathi Raadhika,and Vijayashanti.[24][25][26][27] Apart from lead actors he have introduced bunch of supporting actors. Notable among them includes Janagaraj, Vadivukkarasi, Chandrasekhar, Pandiyan and Napoleon.[28][29][30] As an experimental initiative he used to give new actors a small role in his films later they becoming popular among people and turning to busy actors. Many present day directors who were unknown to people turned into actors after playing a debut petty role in his films, K. Bhagyaraj, Manivannan, Manobala, Thiagarajan, Ponvannan are among them.[31][32] He was also instrumental in portraying Sathyaraj for the first time in lead role.,

Bharathiraja inspired many young film makers and runs a school called Bharathi Raja International Institute of Cinema (BRIIC) on film making.[33][34] His films were inspired by other directors like Maniratnam, Priyadarshan and more.[35]

Bharathiraja directed socially themed films with special emphasis on women and their complicated interpersonal relationships. He addressed other social evils like caste discrimination in his films.[24][18]

Personal lifeEdit

Bharathiraja was born as Chinnasamy to parents Periyamayathevar and Karuthammal. He is married to ChandraLeela and has two children Manoj Bharathiraja and Janani.

Manoj is an actor who was introduced in Tajmahal and he is married to actress Nandana.[36][37] Janani is married to Malaysian Rajkumar Thambiraja.[36] Bharathiraja's brother-in-law Manojkumar has directed films such as Mannukkul Vairam, Vandicholai Chinraasu, Vaanavil and Guru Paarvai.[38] His brother Jayaraj made his acting debut with Kaththukkutti.[39] His relative Stalin is a television actor who acted in serials such as Saravanan Meenatchi and 7C.[citation needed]


Civilian honoursEdit

National Film AwardsEdit

Filmfare Awards SouthEdit

Tamil Nadu State Film AwardsEdit

Nandi AwardsEdit

Vijay AwardsEdit

Other awardsEdit

  • South Indian Film Technicians : Best Technician Award for Kallukkul Eeram


  • He attended the Heroes Day conference at Jaffna and appreciated its heroism and valour.[43] Tamil Nadu Congress president Krishnasamy claimed he met the LTTE's leader Prabhakaran, accused of planning the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and who is banned in India.
  • He organised a protest by Tamil Nadu artists against the Indian state of Karnataka for not releasing Cauvery water at Neyveli. During a SUN TV interview, film co-stars such as Sarath Kumar and Radhika who attended the conference accused him of using that opportunity to eulogise current Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalitha and launching attacks on Rajinikanth's home state's ethnicity.[44][45]



No. Year Title Language Credited as Role Notes
Director Writer Actor
1 1977 16 Vayathinile Tamil  Y  Y Remade in Telugu as Padaharella Vayasu
Remade in Hindi as Solva Sawan
Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Director
2 1978 Kizhake Pogum Rail Tamil  Y Remade in Telugu as Toorpu Velle Railu
3 1978 Sigappu Rojakkal Tamil  Y  Y Remade in Hindi as Red Rose
Filmfare Award for Best Tamil Director
4 1979 Solva Sawan Hindi  Y  Y
5 1979 Puthiya Vaarpugal Tamil  Y Remade in Telugu as Kotha Jeevithalu
6 1979 Niram Maaratha Pookkal Tamil  Y
7 1980 Kallukul Eeram Tamil  Y Direction Supervision / 8 1980 Kotha Jeevithalu Telugu  Y  Y
9 1980 Red Rose Hindi  Y  Y
10 1980 Nizagal Tamil  Y
11 1981 Alaigal Oivathillai Tamil  Y Remade in Telugu as Seethakoka Chiluka
Remade in Hindi as Lovers
Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Director
12 1981 Tik Tik Tik Tamil  Y  Y Remade in Hindi as Karishma
13 1981 Seethakoka Chiluka Telugu  Y National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu
14 1982 Kaadhal Oviyam Tamil  Y
15 1982 Valibamey Vaa Vaa Tamil  Y
16 1983 Man Vasanai Tamil  Y Remade in Telugu as Mangammagari Manavadu
17 1983 Lovers Hindi  Y
18 1983 Dhavani Kanavugal Tamil  Y Guest appearance
19 1984 Pudhumai Penn Tamil  Y
20 1985 Oru Kaidhiyin Diary Tamil  Y Remade in Hindi as Aakhree Raasta
21 1985 Yuvadharam Pilicindi Telugu  Y
22 1985 Mudhal Mariyathai Tamil  Y National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil
23 1985 Ee Tharam Illalu Telugu  Y
24 1986 Saveray Wali Gaadi Hindi  Y
25 1986 Kadalora Kavithaigal Tamil  Y Remade in Telugu as Aradhana
26 1988 Jamadagni Telugu  Y
27 1987 Vedham Pudhithu Tamil  Y Dubbed for Nizhalgal Ravi, National Film Award for Best Film on Other Social Issues
28 1987 Aradhana Telugu  Y
29 1988 Kodi Parakuthu Tamil  Y Dubbed for Manivannan
30 1990 En Uyir Thozhan Tamil  Y  Y
31 1991 Pudhu Nellu Pudhu Naathu Tamil  Y
32 1991 Idhayam Tamil  Y Guest appearance
33 1991 Thanthu Vitten Ennai Tamil  Y Guest appearance
34 1992 Nadodi Thendral Tamil  Y
35 1993 Captain Magal Tamil  Y
36 1993 Kizhakku Cheemayile Tamil  Y Remade in Telugu as Palnati Pourusham
37 1994 Karuthamma Tamil  Y National Film Award for Best Film on Family Welfare
38 1995 Pasum Ponn Tamil  Y
39 1996 Tamizh Selvan Tamil  Y
40 1996 Anthimanthaarai Tamil  Y National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil
41 1999 Taj Mahal Tamil  Y
42 2001 Kadal Pookkal Tamil  Y  Y National Film Award for Best Screenplay
43 2002 Kadhal Virus Tamil  Y Guest appearance
44 2003 Eera Nilam Tamil  Y
45 2004 Kangalal Kaidhu Sei Tamil  Y
46 2004 Aayutha Ezhuthu Tamil  Y Selvanayagam
47 2008 Bommalattam Tamil  Y  Y
48 2010 Rettaisuzhi Tamil  Y Singaravelan
49 2013 Annakodi Tamil  Y  Y
50 2013 Pandianadu Tamil  Y Kalyanasundaram Vijay Award for Best Supporting Actor
51 2014 Ninaithathu Yaaro Tamil  Y Guest appearance
52 2017 Kurangu Bommai Tamil  Y Sundaram
53 2017 Padaiveeran Tamil  Y Krishnan
54 2018 Seethakaathi Tamil  Y Himself (Special appearance)
55 2019 Kennedy Club Tamil  Y Savarimuthu
56 2019 Namma Veetu Pillai Tamil  Y Arunmozhivarman
57 2020 Meendum Oru Mariyathai Tamil  Y  Y  Y Om
58 2020 Rocky Tamil  Y
59 2020 Maanaadu Tamil  Y


Dubbing artistEdit



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External linksEdit