Thanneer Thanneer

Thaneer Thaneer (transl. Water... Water...) is a 1981 Indian Tamil language political drama film written and directed by K. Balachander, starring Saritha, Shunmugham, V. K. Veeraswami and Radha Ravi. The film, based on the 1980 play of the same name by Komal Swaminathan, was filmed by B. S. Lokanath and featured music by M. S. Viswanathan. It was released during the Diwali day in 1981.[1]

Thaneer Thaneer
Thanneer Thanneer.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byK. Balachander
Screenplay byK. Balachander
Story byKomal Swaminathan
Produced byP. R. Govindarajan
J. Duraisamy
CinematographyB. S. Lokanath
Edited byN. R. Kittu
Music byM.S.Viswanathan
Kalakendra Movies
Release date
  • 26 October 1981 (1981-10-26)
Running time
143 minutes

Thanneer Thanneer deals with issues such as water scarcity and political corruption. Inhabitants of a drought-ridden village in Tamil Nadu, Athipati, try a cooperative method to bring water to their village, but their attempts are thwarted by unscrupulous politicians who try to use the water problem for their political gains. The film has been highly critically acclaimed and considered a "classic",[2] and fetched several accolades including two National Film Awards and two Filmfare Awards South. IBN Live included the film in its list of 100 greatest Indian films of all time.[3] Balachander has revealed that there is no existing copy of the negative of the film anymore.[2]


When a remote village, Athipatti in Madurai district faces severe water shortages, the inhabitants adopt all possible means to bring their problem to the attention of the authorities. But the process soon reveals the apathetic attitude of politicians, bureaucrats and the press alike. A convict Vellaiswamy wanted for the murder of a local landlord turns the villagers' plight to his advantage and begins a co-operative scheme to transport water in a cart from a spring ten miles away with help of Vathiyar. The local politicians try to make people of village to vote for them in election. But all people of the village boycott the elections. The local politician beats the convict and breaks the vehicle used for transporting water. The villagers decide to build canal by themselves. But Alagiri, husband of Sevanthi, comes to the village and finds the convict hidden in the village.

The convict promises to Alagiri that he will surrender after the canal is finished. But fate intervenes in the form of a Public Works Department Officer, who stops villagers from finishing the canal work. The villagers are shot by police. The convict dies due to thirst for water. A villager joins the naxalites. Vathiyar is arrested for aiding the convict. The villagers leave the town. But Sevanthi watches the sky every evening in hope of rain. These incidents are narrated by a Press reporter who had come to the village. The final scene mocks bureaucracy by showing pictures of government sponsored meetings for water resource improvement. It shows all the political parties' flags in the farmland. It shows that bureaucracy and politics fail the common man's aspirations.


  • Saritha as Sevanthi
  • R. K. Raman as Vathiyar
  • Shunmugham
  • A. K. Veeraswami
  • Radha Ravi as Alagiri
  • Guhan as Vellaisamy


Thaneer Thaneer is a film about administration negligence of suffering villagers, excessive bureaucratic regulation (Red tape), greed, power and powerlessness.[4]


Soundtrack was composed by M. S. Viswanathan and songs were written by Kannadasan and Vairamuthu.[5]

Track listing
1."Maanathile Meen Irukka"VairamuthuKasthuri4:26
2."Megam Thiraluthadi"KannadasanS. Janaki, Malaysia Vasudevan6:42
3."Kannana Poo Magane"VairamuthuP. Susheela3:40
4."Ondrupatta Makkalundu"VairamuthuM. S. Viswanathan3:41
Telugu Track listing[6]
1."Manasaina Maradalinee"Sri SriP. Susheela 
2."Thaayaku Bommarinta"Sri SriP. Susheela 
3."Megham Thiruguthadi"Sri SriS. Janaki, S. P. Balasubrahmanyam 
4."Kannu Nethi Kethinaavu"Sri SriS. P. Balasubrahmanyam 


P. S. Vaidyanathan of India Today in his review praised the film citing "With his masterly touch, Balachander makes every scene throb with life – life as it is lived in the raw in India's poverty-stricken villages. Therein lies his – and the writer's – triumph. And that's what elevates the film far above the general run-of-the-mill movies and the director's own acclaimed previous efforts and converts it into a bold, thought-provoking classic."[7] Kalki wrote, "Balachander at his best!".[8] Saritha supposedly lost the National Film Award for Best Actress to Rekha (for Umrao Jaan) that year by a narrow margin.[9]



  1. ^ ராம்ஜி, வி. (26 October 2022). "தண்ணீர்ப் பிரச்சினையைக் கண்ணீருடன் சொன்ன 'தண்ணீர்... தண்ணீர்'". Kamadenu (in Tamil). Retrieved 1 November 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Intl. Water Day – Thaneer Thaneer". IndiaGlitz. 22 March 2010. Archived from the original on 24 October 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2011.
  3. ^ "100 Years of Indian Cinema: The 100 greatest Indian films of all time". IBN Live. Archived from the original on 25 April 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
  4. ^ Krishnamoorthy, Sugeeth (14 April 2017). "From Book to Celluloid : Thaneer Thaneer". The Cinema Resource Centre. Retrieved 1 December 2022.
  5. ^ "Thanneer Thanneer Tamil Film EP Vinyl Record by M S Viswanathan". Macsendisk. Archived from the original on 11 March 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  6. ^ "Daham Daham Telugu Film EP Vinyl Record by M.S.Viswanathan". Mossymart. Archived from the original on 11 March 2022. Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  7. ^ Vaidyanathan, P. S. (15 December 1981). "Thirst for realism". India Today. Archived from the original on 16 September 2019. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  8. ^ "தண்ணீர் தண்ணீர்". Kalki (in Tamil). 1 November 1981. p. 63. Retrieved 13 October 2022.
  9. ^ "Indian Cinema 1985" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 July 2015. Retrieved 30 May 2015.

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