Mudhalvan (transl. 'Chief Minister, leader') is a 1999 Indian Tamil-language political thriller film produced by R. Madhesh and S. Shankar written, and directed by S. Shankar. The film features Arjun and Manisha Koirala playing the lead with Raghuvaran playing the antagonist while Vadivelu and Manivannan feature in supporting roles. The film featured an award-winning soundtrack composed by A. R. Rahman, cinematography by K. V. Anand and dialogues by Sujatha.[4]

Film poster
Directed byS. Shankar
Produced byS. Shankar
R. Madhesh
Written bySujatha Rangarajan
Screenplay byS. Shankar
Story byS. Shankar
Manisha Koirala
Music byA. R. Rahman
CinematographyK. V. Anand
Edited byB. Lenin
V. T. Vijayan
S Films
Distributed byS Films
Release date
7 November 1999
Running time
178 minutes[a]
Budget200 million[3]
Box office560 million[3]

The film revolves around an ambitious TV journalist, Pughazhendi, who gets his first interview with the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Pughazh asks harder questions, and the Chief Minister starts trembling and asks him to put his money where his mike is and become his replacement CM for a day. After initially rejecting the offer, Pugazh agrees and does such a great job on his first day, that the actual cabinet collapses and fresh elections are held, where state voters eventually elect him to be their new official Chief Minister. The subsequent unpopularity and jealousy that the old Chief Minister goes through results in him taking revenge on Pugazh, and how he is stopped forms the crux of the story.

The film was released on 7 November 1999, as a Deepavali release. The film enjoyed positive critical acclaim and emerged as one of the top grossing Tamil films of 1999. The film ran for over 100 days in theaters and won awards on a regional scale. The film was then dubbed and released in Telugu as Oke Okkadu and later remade in Hindi as Nayak starring Anil Kapoor. This movie was also unofficial remade twice in Dhallywood Bangladesh as Minister directed by Kazi Hayat starring Manna & Top Hero directed by Montazur Rahman Akbar starring Shakib Khan.The movie also loose remade in Kolkata Bengali as MLA Fatakeshto directed by Swapan Saha starring Mithun Chakraborty.


N. Pugazhendi aka Pugzeh (Arjun) is a news reporter working for QTV in Chennai. One day, a riot occurs between the students and the bus drivers in the city following a communal clash which disrupts normal life. The Chief Minister (CM) of the state, Aranganathar (Raghuvaran), informs the police over wireless not to arrest the protesters as they belong to his community and political party. The conversation is recorded by Pugazh in his video camera. Pugazh meets a village girl named Thenmozhi (Manisha Koirala) and falls in love with her. However, her father (Vijayakumar) does not accept the marriage proposal as he wants to get Thenmozhi married only to a government employee.

One day, QTV arranges for a live interview with Aranganathar and the anchor in charge does not turn up at the last moment. Pugazh is thrilled and excited as he gets the opportunity to interview the CM. During the course of the interview, Pugazh unmasks many events done by Aranganathar and his party against the welfare of the state, for political reasons with necessary evidences, and he also blames Aranganathar for not taking action while at the riot by evidencing his recorded video taken at the time of the riot. Aranganathar justifies his indifferent stands and challenges Pugazh to accept his post for a day so that he will realize the pressures faced on a daily basis. Pugazh, after a brief trepidation, accepts the challenge provided the constitution permits. Lawmakers confirm that such a provision is possible, and Pugazh is sworn in as the CM for 24 hours.

To everyone's surprise, Pugazh does not prefer speaking to the waiting media crew, but he gets into action immediately by collecting a list of irresponsible civil servants and issuing suspension letters immediately. He helps poor people rightfully reclaim houses allotted by the government and requests every Indian citizen to pay all required taxes even if it is for a day, highlighting the effects of avoiding the same. Mayakrishnan (Manivannan), an honest official, is the government secretary and helps Pugazh through his one-day mission. Finally, Pugazh digs a case of corruption against the ruling party leading to the arrest of Aranganathar.

The next day, Aranganathar retains as the CM and cancels all orders issued from the previous day. Taking Pugazh's success as his defeat and a demean to his long-standing political career, he plans to take revenge and sends goons to kill Pugazh, who escapes with heavy injuries. Aranganathar's image is tarnished before the public, and the coalition parties withdraw their support, resulting in dissolving the government and leading to another election.

A huge crowd gathers in front of Pugazh's house, requesting him to contest in the upcoming election. Other political parties also come forward to offer their support for their own reasons. However, Pugazh is not for it as he wants to have a safe and secure life. Thenmozhi's father advises him not to go in politics, while accepting him to marry Thenmozhi. Mayakrishnan makes him understand how much the people have gathered themselves and shows the plight of people and advises him to sacrifice his comfort zone for the sake of achieving heights in the politics and doing good for the people. Finally, Pugazh accepts to it and contests in the ensuing election and wins by the vast majority of voters ever in the political history of Tamil Nadu. After assuming the office, Pugazh is keen in the state development and gets busy in his schedule of doing welfare to the people, while Aranganathar and other politicians unite as they are worried by the change of events.

They hire a hitman to get Pugazh killed, but he escapes with the help of the Z Cadre security guard officials, who shoot the hitman to death. A bomb planted in Pugazh's house to kill Pugazh, instead claims the lives of his parents. Pugazh, on knowing that Aranganathar is behind this, gets enraged and challenges the latter that the law will not spare him. Aranganathar plans to create a havoc in the rule of Pugazh, and hence, he has his men plant bombs across Chennai. Pugazh and Mayakrishnan get to know of this by a tactful inquiry of Chinnasamy (Cochin Haneefa), who is Aranganathar's right-hand henchman. The bomb squad diffuses all the bombs except one. Aranganathar blames Pugazh to be the man behind the entire episode and claims it as a ploy to win public support.

Pugazh realizes that he will be prevented from performing his duties and invites Aranganathar to his office. As their conversation progresses, Pugazh pulls out a gun and shoots himself without causing any major injuries. He throws the gun to Aranganathar who catches it out of his reflexes. At the same time, the security guards officials rush in upon hearing gunfire and see Aranganathar pointing the gun at Pugazh. The security guards officials then shoot and kill Aranganathar to save Pugazh.

Pugazh feels glad that he can continue his mission without being interrupted, but he also feels guilty for having staged a false incident to kill Aranganathar. He confesses to Mayakrishnan that even he has been forced to play the game of politics. Mayakrishnan supports him by consoling that he played the politics only for a good cause and that Aranganathar deserves this. Thenmozhi's father realizes the greatness of Pugazhendhi and consents to the marriage.

The movie ends showing Tamil Nadu as a developed state under the rule of Pugazh with world class infrastructures and free of violence.



Following the success of Jeans (1998), Shankar chose to make a political action film, which would later become Mudhalvan.[5] The idea for the story was inspired by Indian actor Sivaji Ganesan being named the honorary mayor of Niagara Falls, New York for one day during his visit to the United States.[6] The lead role was initially written with Rajinikanth in mind, but he was unwilling to star in the film.[7] Vijay was also considered by Shankar for the role, though the actor turned the offer down.[8][9][10] Shankar revealed that he even approached Kamal Haasan for the film, but he was doing Hey Ram at that time.[11][12] Arjun, who had previously collaborated with Shankar in Gentleman (1993), was willing to offer bulk schedule dates for the film and was subsequently signed on.[12][13] Shankar noted that he was interested in casting Meena in the leading role, but he opted against doing so as the actress was working with Arjun in another film in the same period, Rhythm (2000).[14][15] Subsequently, Manisha Koirala, who worked with Shankar in Indian, was selected to play Arjun's heroine. Raghuvaran was signed to play the chief antagonist in the film, while Vadivelu and Manivannan were also chosen to play other characters. Despite reports that Shilpa Shetty was added to the cast in February 1999, it was later clarified to be untrue.[16] Laila, who had made her acting debut earlier in the year with Kallazhagar, was signed on to portray the role planned with Shetty instead.[17] Originally, her role was supposed to feature throughout the film, but Shankar shortened her character, owing to her call sheet problems.[12] Renowned muralist Natanam and Kalairani were cast as Arjun's parents.[18][19][20] S. Sashikanth, who went on to produce films like Thamizh Padam (2010) and Kaaviya Thalaivan (2014), and K. R. Mathivaanan, who directed Aridhu Aridhu (2010), worked as assistant directors.[21][22]

The film was jointly launched by S.Shankar and his co director R. Madhesh in October 1998 at an event attended by actors and technicians from the Tamil film industry, with actors Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan being the special invitees.[23] Production continued for several months, with reports suggesting that the film was delayed due to Manisha Koirala's unavailability though Shankar later stressed the production work demanded such delay. Parts of the film were also shot in Bikaner, Rajasthan while the team also shot extensively in rural Tamil Nadu.[24] The film's cinematographer later noted that the scenes involving crowds shot on Anna Salai, Chennai were among the hardest and most satisfying scenes he had worked on.[25] The song "Shakalaka Baby" was the last song to be shot, with Sushmita Sen selected to feature in a special appearance for the song.[26][27] Stunt master Peter Hein revealed that he worked as a body double for Arjun in the scene where he had to run nude on the streets.[28]

Themes and influencesEdit

The film dealt with the theme of a television cameraman who is forced to take over the duty of Chief Minister for one day. It also dealt with the concept of opportunities for educated people in politics and demonstrated it is possible to bring change in the country. The film's basic idea was inspired from Nixon-Frost interviews which were broadcast in 1977.[2]


Soundtrack album by
RecordedPanchathan Record Inn, Chennai
GenreFeature film soundtrack
LabelFive Star Audio
ProducerA. R. Rahman
A. R. Rahman chronology
Taj Mahal

The soundtrack features six songs composed by A. R. Rahman and lyrics penned by Vairamuthu. The song "Shakalaka Baby" was re-edited by A. R. Rahman and featured on the international musical production Bombay Dreams, which ran in Europe and North America from 2002 to 2005. This version was also released as a single. A Mandarin Chinese remix of the track sung by Singaporean singer Kelly Poon was featured in her album In the Heart Of The World (2007).[12]

The release of the soundtrack was held at Sathyam Cinemas, Chennai, on 31 October 1999 with two songs from the film being performed on stage. The special guests for the event were actor Kamal Haasan and actress Sushmita Sen, who performed an item number in the film. The event was well attended by the cast and the crew of the film, with other guests including cinematographer P. C. Sriram, actress Sarika, and actor Suriya.[29]

The soundtrack was a success, and the initial day audio sale alone was more than three lakh units.[30] The song "Azhagana Rakshasiye" is based on Rithigowla Raga.[31]

All lyrics are written by Vairamuthu; all music is composed by A. R. Rahman.

Track listing
1."Kurukku Chiruththavale"Hariharan, Mahalakshmi Iyer6:42
2."Mudhalvanae"Shankar Mahadevan, S. Janaki5:29
3."Uppu Karuvadu"Shankar Mahadevan, Kavita Krishnamurthy5:38
4."Azhagana Ratchashiyae"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Harini, G. V. Prakash Kumar6:11
5."Ulundhu Vithakkaiyilae"Srinivas, Swarnalatha, Hariharan, Mahalakshmi Iyer6:05
6."Shakalaka Baby"Vasundhara Das, Pravin Mani5:23


The film's release prints were 4,876 m (15,997 ft) long.[2] Upon release on 7 November 1999, this high-budget production won positive reviews and was successful at the box office. The film was then dubbed and released in Telugu as Oke Okkadu and later remade in Hindi as Nayak starring Anil Kapoor.[32] The film went on to run for over one hundred days in cinemas with an event being held at Kamaraj Hall on 25 February 2000 to mark one hundred days since release. The event, similar to the launch, attracted several people from the film industry with Kamal Haasan, once again, being the chief guest of the event.[32]


On 21 November 1999, Ananda Vikatan in its review gave 43 marks and appreciated the film stating that: "One can see Shankar's grandeur in the way he presented a social problem magnificently. Shankar has approached a serious social issue with usual entertainment elements".[12] The Hindu said "Shankar scores again". In regard to the lead performances, Arjun is described as having "acquitted himself with aplomb", while Manisha's performance was criticized with claims that she "lacks the freshness that one always associates her with".[33] The critic also referred to Shankar's direction and Sujatha's dialogs as a "positive", while drawing praise to the videos of the songs describing that "every song and dance sequence seems a magnum opus by itself". The New Indian Express described the film as "absorbing" and praised certain scenes, although it criticized the videos of the songs as a "fiasco".[34] Indiaglitz wrote: "Mudhalvan spoke about current affairs in India. With an absorbing screenplay and conveying the message of change in the political system, the film was a runaway hit."



The scene where a crowd gathers around the protagonist's house to persuade him to contest elections was included by in their list of "Top 20 Mass Scenes".[35]

Popular cultureEdit

The scenes, songs and dialogues from the film has been parodied in Budget Padmanabhan (2000),[36] Kandha Kadamba Kathir Vela (2000),[37] Kanna Unnai Thedukiren (2001),[38] Run (2002),[39] Dubai Seenu (2007),[40] Sivaji (2007),[41] Singakutty (2008),[42] and Kaalaippani (2008)[43]


  1. ^ gives the runtime of 170 minutes,[1] whereas the 2011 book The Best of Tamil Cinema by G. Dhananjayan gives the runtime as 169 minutes.[2]


  1. ^ " Buy Mudhalvan DVD, Blu-ray Online at Best Prices in India - Movies & TV Shows". Archived from the original on 16 October 2015. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Dhananjayan 2011, p. 210.
  3. ^ a b "Mudhalvan". dsrmedias. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Love makes the filmi world go round". Rediff. 4 November 1999. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012.
  5. ^ malathi rangarajan. "Maverick maker". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 15 January 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  6. ^ The Penguin-Landmark Quiz Book pp. 60, 173
  7. ^ "Rajinikanth was to do Shankar's 'Mudhalvan'". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 13 January 2015. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  8. ^ "Shankar is the Spielberg of Indian cinema: Vijay". Sify. Archived from the original on 5 March 2014.
  9. ^ "Shankar connects with fans". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 28 December 2013.
  10. ^ "The list of movies missed by Ajith Vijay Kamal Rajini and". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  11. ^ Sudhir Srinivasan. "Shankar and I". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 15 January 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  12. ^ a b c d e Dhananjayan 2011, p. 211.
  13. ^ "Minnoviyam Star Tracks". Archived from the original on 9 July 2012.
  14. ^ "Shanker". Sify movies. Archived from the original on 5 March 2014.
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Do not disturb". Rediff. Archived from the original on 15 February 2009.
  17. ^ "Minnoviyam Star Tracks".
  18. ^ "Muralist Natanam honoured". The New Indian Express. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  19. ^ "The Hindu : Magic of metal". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 15 January 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  20. ^ "The Hindu : Power-packed performer". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 15 January 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  21. ^ Sudhish Kamath (2 March 2012). "Why Not?". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 15 January 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  22. ^ nikhil raghavan. "Getting better". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 15 January 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  23. ^ "Tamil Movie News!". Archived from the original on 19 December 2014. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
  24. ^ "Film maker with a Midas touch". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
  25. ^ "K V Anand talks in detail about his Mudhalvan experience". Archived from the original on 27 December 2013.
  26. ^ "Gentleman are back". The Indian Express. 29 October 1999. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011.
  27. ^ "Frank and forthright". Deccan Herald. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
  28. ^ "Living on the edge". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 15 January 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  29. ^ "First Shot". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
  30. ^ M Suganth (11 November 2011). "Audio CDs stay in tune with digital era". The Times of India.
  31. ^ CHARULATHA MANI. "Riveting Ritigowla". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 15 January 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  32. ^ a b "Mudhalvan - the mega hit - celebrates 100 days". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011.
  33. ^ "Mudhalvan". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  34. ^ "Absorbing film". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
  35. ^ "9. Mudhalvan - Top 20 Mass Scenes". Archived from the original on 28 April 2015. Retrieved 11 September 2015.
  36. ^ Budget Padmanabhan (DVD): clip from 1.40.28 to 1.40.43
  37. ^ Kandha Kadamba Kathir Vela (DVD): clip from 45.21 to 45.29
  38. ^ Kanna unnai thedukiren Vivek Comedy. 29 July 2013. Archived from the original on 15 January 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2015 – via YouTube.
  39. ^ Run (DVD): clip from 1.28.35 to 1.28.38
  40. ^ Dubai Seenu (DVD): clip from 2.08.33 to 2.09.00
  41. ^ Sivaji (DVD): clip from 1.12.07 to 1.12.10
  42. ^ Singakutty Tamil Movie - Vivek Mudhalvan Spoof - Vivek Comedy. 23 January 2015. Archived from the original on 15 January 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2015 – via YouTube.
  43. ^ Kaalai Pani Tamil Movie - Mudhalvan Spoof - Comedy Scene. 28 November 2014. Archived from the original on 15 January 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2015 – via YouTube.

External linksEdit