Muthu (1995 film)

Muthu (transl. Pearl)[1] is a 1995 Indian Tamil-language romantic drama film directed by K. S. Ravikumar. The film stars Rajinikanth and Meena with Sarath Babu in lead roles. The film's score and soundtrack is composed by A. R. Rahman. The film was a remake of the Malayalam film Thenmavin Kombath (1994).

Muthu (1995 film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byK. S. Ravikumar
Produced byRajam Balachander
Pushpa Kandaswamy
Screenplay byK. S. Ravikumar
Sarath Babu
Music byA. R. Rahman
CinematographyAshok Rajan
Edited byK. Thanigachalam
Release date
‹See TfM›
  • 23 October 1995 (1995-10-23)
Running time
165 minutes

Muthu was released on 23 October 1995, during Diwali, and became a major success. The film became one of the highest-grossing Tamil films at the time, running for over 175 days in theatres across Tamil Nadu. A dubbed Japanese version released in 1998 and became a major success in Japan.[2] The film was remade in Kannada as Sahukara (2004).


Muthu is a kind-hearted man working in the zamin of Sivakami Ammal taking care of the chariot and the horses used by her son Raja Malayasimman. Muthu is very loyal to the zamin family and in the meantime, Muthu and Raja encounter Ranganayaki, a stage artist during their visit to a show and Raja immediately falls in love with Ranganayaki. Ambalathar is the maternal uncle of Raja and he has plans of getting his daughter Padmini married to Raja. Though Padmini loves Raja, he does not respond to her love.

Muthu and Raja offer lift to Ranganayaki's troupe for their performance and Raja signals to Ranganayaki to meet him discreetly after the show if she loves him however she does not hear Raja and walks away. Then a battle breaks out between villagers and Ranganayaki's troupe when the performance is on going. As the battle ensues, Muthu and Ranganayaki end up falling in love with each other.

After getting chased by the villagers and stranded in a remote island Ranganayaki shares about her past to him. Ranganayaki had brother in law who is a police officer in Andhra, killed her sister and is now finding her. Muthu brings Ranganayaki back to Raja's palace. Raja falsely believes that Ranganayaki came to the palace responding to his discreet message earlier.

Ranganayaki's drama troupe faces financial issues and Raja offers jobs to the entire troupe in his zamin. Kaali is a spy for Ambalathar working in the zamin and keeps informing him about the happenings in the zamin. Kaali lies to Raja that Muthu is forcing Ranganayaki to marry him. This angers Raja and he has Kaali beat up Muthu, then orders him to leave the zamin. Sivakami gets angry on hearing about her son's behaviour and informs him the truth that both Muthu and Ranganayaki are in love which shocks Raja. She reveals that Muthu is the real proprietor of Sivakami and Raja's property.

In a flashback, it is shown that Muthu's father is the zamindar and real owner of all the properties. Rajasekhar is the cousin of zamindar. Sivakami is married to Rajasekhar and their son Raja is adopted by the zamindar as he did not have children. Later the zamindar's wife gives birth to a child and dies. Rajasekhar and Ambalathar plan to grab the zamindar’s properties by forging false documents. The zamindar on knowing these worries about the nature of people around him and decides to give all the properties to Rajasekhar and his family and also to leave the place along with his son Muthu. But Sivakami pleads for guilty of her husband and asks to at least give his son so that she will raise him. The zamindar hands over Muthu to Sivakami but says that he should be brought up as an ordinary man, not as a zamindar, and Sivakami agrees. Rajasekhar feels bad about his cruel activities and upon seeing the generous behaviour of the zamindar, commits suicide. The zamindar leaves the place and Sivakami moves to another town.

Sivakami says she lied that the zamindar's child died, and that the zamindar currently lives in a nearby place as a nomad and Raja, realising his mistake, decides to go and meet the zamindar and bring him back. Kaali overhears the conversation made between Sivakami and Raja and reports to Ambalathar. Now Ambalathar decides to murder Raja and frame Muthu so that he can take over all the zamin properties. But he is saved by zamindar and is married to Padmini. Finally, Muthu comes to know all the truth and wishes to see his father but he leaves the place before Muthu could reach there. He asks Sivakami whether his father didn't like him and regrets that at least while leaving he could've blessed him. Suddenly in a fast wind, his father's robe flies in the air and falls on him. Muthu considers it as a sign of blessing and prays in silence. Muthu becomes the new zamindar, but prefers to see himself as a worker.


As seen in opening credits:[3]



Rajinikanth wanted K. S. Ravikumar could direct a film for him; Ravikumar agreed to Rajinikanth's request once he finished work on Periya Kudumbam (1995). Rajinikanth narrated the outline of the Malayalam film Thenmavin Kombath (1994) and told Ravikumar to develop the screenplay while forbidding him from watching the film. Ravikumar developed the screenplay at Woodlands Hotel with help from his assistant directors and Ramesh Khanna, while occasionally going to Rajinikanth's office for discussion.[7] Though the remake rights had been bought,[8] Ravikumar wrote the screenplay to suit Rajinikanth's image and the tastes of Tamil-speaking audiences.[9]

After the script was complete, Ravikumar was allowed to watch Thenmavin Kombath and was shocked to see the film's lack of resemblance to his screenplay. Rajinikanth told Ravikumar he did not want him to watch the film to avoid getting "inspired". Nonetheless, the remake retained the original's core premise of a boss and his worker falling in love with the same woman, and several other scenes including the worker and his lover losing their way and ending up in a new land. The project did not initially have a producer,[7] but it was picked up by K. Balachander's Kavithalayaa Productions,[10] and produced by Rajam Balachander and Pushpa Kandaswamy. Cinematography was handled by Ashok Rajan, and editing by K. Thanikachalam. The film was initially titled Velan before being retitled Muthu.[11]


Rajinikanth played two roles: the title character and his zamindar father, a character not present in the original Malayalam film but created by Ravikumar. Meena was Ravikumar's first choice for the role of the female lead Ranganayaki. Though her mother was concerned about the amount of screen time Meena would receive when compared to the film's "second heroine" played by Subhashri, Meena was convinced of her role and accepted the offer. Arvind Swami was initially approached to portray Raja Malayasimman, but was hesitant to do the scene where the character slaps Muthu, since he was a fan of Rajinikanth and felt slapping the actor would incur the wrath of his fans.[7] Jayaram was later approached for the role, but declined for the same reason.[12] Though Jayaram suggested changing the scene, Ravikumar refused to do so. When Rajinikanth suggested Sarath Babu for the role, Ravikumar agreed.[7]


The first shooting schedule took place in Mysore. After shooting the opening scenes of the introductory song "Oruvan Oruvan", the team went on to shoot the climax scene which involved a crowd of more than 5000 people. This was followed by scenes involving Muthu's father,[7] which were shot at Lalitha Mahal.[13][14] The rest of the film was shot at Travancore Palace in Madras,[7] though shooting also took place in Kerala.[6]


Numerous critics have felt that the dialogue "Naan eppo varuven, epdi varuvennu yarukkum theriyathu. Aana vara vendiya nerathula correcta vandhuduven" (Nobody knows when or how I will come, but I will come when the time is right) hinted at Rajinikanth's political aspirations.[15][16][17] Writing for Mint, Shoba Narayan said that Rajinikanth's heroines play to every traditional stereotype, beginning with their names, and cited Ranganayaki (Meena's character) as an example, adding, "The names set the tone for the character."[18]


Soundtrack album by
Released1995 (1995)
RecordedPanchathan Record Inn
GenreFilm soundtrack
ProducerA.R. Rahman
A. R. Rahman chronology
Love Birds

The soundtrack was composed by A. R. Rahman, with lyrics by Vairamuthu. Muthu is the first Rajinikanth film for which Rahman composed music.[19] The soundtrack for this movie turned out to be a major hit and Rahman gained popularity in Japan when the movie was released in Japanese. The Hindi version is titled Muthu Maharaja and had lyrics penned by P. K. Mishra, whereas the Telugu version of Muthu is penned by Bhuvanachandra.[20] The "Omanathinkal Kidavo" portion of "Kuluvalilae" is written and composed by the famous Malayalam poet Irayimman Thampi. The song "Vidukathaiya" is set in Chakravakam raga.[21]

The video for the song "Thillana Thillana" became famous for the belly dance of Meena featuring a lot of closeup shots of her navel.[22] Rahman sampled African humming in the song; French group Deep Forest had earlier sampled the same in their song "Night Bird".[23] "Thillana Thillana" was later adapted by Nadeem–Shravan as "Deewana Deewana" for the 1996 film Jung.[23] The soundtrack of Muthu was selected as the most popular foreign soundtrack in Japan.[24][25] The songs from Muthu were later retained in the Kannada remake Sahukara (2004), though Rajesh Ramanath was credited for the music.[26]

All lyrics are written by Vairamuthu.

Muthu (Original tracklist)
1."Kuluvalilae"Udit Narayan, K. S. Chithra, Kalyani Menon6:13
2."Thilana Thilana"Mano, Sujatha Mohan6:32
3."Oruvan Oruvan"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam6:25
4."Kokku Saiva Kokku"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Theni Kunjarammal, Febi Mani, Ganga Sitharasu, A. R. Rahman5:30
6."Theme Music"Instrumental3:09

All lyrics are written by Bhuvanachandra.

Muthu (Telugu tracklist)
1."Thilana Thilana"Mano, Sujatha Mohan6:32
2."Kalagalile Prema"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, K. S. Chithra6:13
3."Konga Chitti Konga"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Ila Arun5:30
4."Virisinada Vidhi Galam"Hariharan6:19
5."Okade Okkadu"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam6:25
6."Theme Music"Instrumental3:09

All lyrics are written by P. K. Mishra.

Muthu Maharaja (Hindi tracklist)
1."Uparwala Malik Hai"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam6:25
2."Phoolwali Ne"K.S. Chitra, Udit Narayan6:13
3."Koi Samjhade"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Ila Arun5:30
4."Rangeela Rangeela"Mano, Sujatha Mohan6:32
5."Chhod Chala Nirmohi"Hariharan6:19
6."Theme Music"Instrumental3:09

Release and receptionEdit

Muthu was released on 23 October 1995, Diwali day.[27][28] The film was a blockbuster and completed a 175-day run at the box office. It was dubbed into Telugu under the same title. It was also dubbed in Hindi as Muthu Maharaja and was distributed by Eros Labs. Indolink wrote "What makes the movie charming is the clean, simple hearted humour, and of course the unfailing Rajnikanth formula – dances, punch lines, fights, comedy, and restrained doses of preaching. And add some political undercurrent in the dialogue/lyrics, you have a jubilee film".[29]

Japanese versionEdit

In 1996, Japanese film critic Jun Edoki discovered the film at a video shop in Singapore's Little India. He said, "[Muthu] was absolutely fascinating—even without subtitles". He then approached several Japanese distributors to release the film in Japan, before Xanadeux eventually agreed to release it.[30] In 1998, the film was dubbed in Japanese, by the distributor Xanadeux. It was given the Japanese title Muthu Odoru Maharaja (ムトゥ 踊るマハラジャ), which means Muthu – The Dancing Maharaja.[31]

It initially had a limited release on 13 June 1998 at Cinema Rise in Tokyo's Shibuya district, where it completed a 23-week run, selling 127,000 tickets and grossing ¥208 million ($1.7 million). It was the theatre's highest-grossing film of 1998, with distributor Atsushi Ichikawa describing it as "the 'Titanic' of the art theaters".[30] It then received a nationwide release across 100 theatres,[32] drawing nearly 500,000 audiences[30] and grossing ¥400 million,[32] which was equivalent to $3,055,651[33] (126,073,105)[34] in 1998, or $4.8 million (₹457 million) adjusted for inflation.

Prior to Muthu, the previous highest-grossing Indian film in the country was the Shah Rukh Khan starring Bollywood film, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman (1992), which released in Japan in 1997. Muthu surpassed it to become the most successful Indian film in Japan, as well as becoming 1998's top film in the category of independent “first-run show” theatres. The success of Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman and especially Muthu sparked a short-lived boom of Indian films released in Japan, up until 1999.[35] Muthu was also the second highest-grossing 1995 Indian film overseas, behind only another Shah Rukh Khan starring Bollywood film, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.[36] Muthu remains the highest-grossing Indian film in Japan, as of November 2018.[32]

Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a special note about the reach of this film among the Japanese in his speech at the National Diet of Japan on 14 December 2006.[37][38] A 4K remaster of the film was released in Japan on 23 November 2018.[32]

Awards and nominationsEdit



The quote "Naan eppo varuven, eppadi varuvenu yaarukkum theriyadh. Aana, varavendi nerathula correct-a varuven." (Translation: "No one can tell when or how I'll arrive, but I always do, when the time is right") became popular.[39]

In popular cultureEdit


  1. ^ "Chennai hotels offer Kabali dishes in quintessential Rajini style". Asianet News Network Pvt Ltd. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  2. ^ Ramachandran, Naman (12 December 2015). "What recession when there is Rajinikanth? How the Tamil superstar added Japan to his conquests with 'Muthu'". Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  3. ^ Muthu (motion picture) (in Tamil). Kavithalayaa Productions. 1995. Opening credits, from 0:00 to 10:42.
  4. ^ a b c Ramachandran 2014, p. 162.
  5. ^ "A supervillain for a superstar". Cinema Express. 12 January 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  6. ^ a b Ramachandran 2012, p. 38.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Lakshmi, V (23 October 2020). "#25YearsOfMuthu: Rajini sir was confident that Muthu would work: KS Ravikumar". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 26 October 2020. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  8. ^ "KS Ravikumar: Even if it's a remake, I only take the basic story and do my own screenplay". The Times of India. 21 September 2020. Retrieved 21 October 2020.
  9. ^ Dhananjayan 2011, p. 177.
  10. ^ Ramachandran 2014, p. 161.
  11. ^ "சாதனை புரிந்த தமிழ் படங்கள் – 308– எஸ்.கணேஷ்". Dinamalar (in Tamil). Nellai. 15 August 2017. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  12. ^ "Slap in the face for Kamal". 18 August 2000. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  13. ^ Khajane, Muralidhara (16 June 2007). "Fans in Mysore disappointed". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 26 October 2020. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  14. ^ Ramachandran 2014, p. 4.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ Ramachandran 2014, p. 163.
  20. ^[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ Mani, Charulatha (25 May 2012). "A Raga's Journey — Charming Chakravaham". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
  22. ^ "'Bollywood navel fashion has led to re-emergence of sari' : Blog Radio – India Today". Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  23. ^ a b Ramachandran 2014, pp. 163–164.
  24. ^ "Films don't believe in borders". Archived from the original on 18 December 2008. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  25. ^ Ramachandran 2014, p. 20.
  26. ^ "Best of both". The Hindu. 23 August 2004. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  27. ^ "ரஜினி அரசியல்: 16- எப்ப வருவேன்; எப்படி வருவேன்?" [Rajini Politics: 16- When will I come; How will I come?]. The Hindu (Tamil). 30 January 2018. Archived from the original on 10 November 2019. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  28. ^ Sundaram, Nandhu (23 October 2020). "25 Years On, Kamal Haasan's 'Kuruthipunal' Has Aged Better Than Many Of Its Contemporaries". HuffPost. India. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  29. ^
  30. ^ a b c "Dancing Maharajas". Newsweek. 9 May 1999. Archived from the original on 30 March 2018. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  31. ^ Mutu: Odoru Maharaja Archived 22 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ a b c d "見る極楽浄土!4K版「ムトゥ 踊るマハラジャ」新写真8枚到着". Natalie (in Japanese). 9 November 2018. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  33. ^ "Official exchange rate (LCU per US$, period average) – Japan". World Bank. 1998. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  34. ^ "Official exchange rate (LCU per US$, period average) – India". World Bank. 1998. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  35. ^ Matsuoka, Tamaki (2008). Asia to Watch, Asia to Present: The Promotion of Asian/Indian Cinema in Japan (PDF). Senri Ethnological Studies, Reitaku University. p. 246. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2011.
  36. ^ "Top Overseas Grossers 1995". Box Office India. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  37. ^ "It's India-Japan Friendship Year". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 15 December 2006. Archived from the original on 20 May 2007.
  38. ^ "The Statesman". Archived from the original on 5 March 2009. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  39. ^ "Rajinikanth's punchnama". The Hindu. 13 December 2013. Archived from the original on 24 May 2015. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  40. ^ Ethiri (DVD): clip from 51.39 to 51.50
  41. ^ "Rajini wows French filmmaker". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 17 September 2015.

External linksEdit