The topic per se has been triggered by the bonhomie of the on-screen brothers of Vettai which seems to have rubbed off, off-screen too. Madhavan's recent take on his camaraderie with “Jammy” (Arya) at all the promo drives and their friendly jibes at press meets have made the right impact — the filmgoer is curious about their roles in the just-released Vettai. Siblings, step-brothers, identical twins (never fraternal, remember) — Tamil films with two male leads generally garner attention. Fiascos in this category are rare. So here's a chance to celebrate screen brothers of the past and the present! malathi rangarajan writes…

Agni Nakshatram

Probably for the first time, going past the melodramatic travails of a husband and his two wives, a film chose to dwell on the angst and complexes of their sons. The extremely well-etched roles of the step-brothers essayed by Prabhu and Karthik showcased the perceptive skill of Mani Ratnam. A hit that warranted a perfect ten!


Another winner in the Ratnam retrospective that had a son born to a teenager out of wedlock, and another after her marriage. Each character, big and small, had well-defined parts to play in this film, which had an imposing cast. One of the best performances from superstar Rajnikanth, Thalapathi remains fresh for another reason too — the launch of Arvind Swami, as Rajni's step-bro.

Arindhum Ariyaamalum

Not exactly brothers, but somewhat so! For Arya, AA ensured a fabulous landing in tinseldom. Though an anti, Vishnuvardhan's comic twist to the character where Arya, the adopted sibling, tries to help out his foster father's son (Navdeep), had you in splits. I still remember what Arya told me just after AA's release —“Vishnu met me for the role and acted it out completely, jumping from one chair to the other animatedly! His zest floored me.” Naturally, AA gained a prime slot in the popularity chart of the period.

Avan Ivan

While on step-sons, can you forget Bala's recent Avan Ivan? Vishal's stupefying squint-eyed effort, Arya's grimy, red-haired look and the bonding behind the façade of animus are unforgettable. “Arya is a good friend. Never once did he feel I would hog the limelight or vice versa,” Vishal said.

Dharmathin Thalaivan

A film in which Prabhu and Rajni (in a dual role) came up with commendable performances playing brothers! While Prabhu depicted the sorrow of losing a sibling, the guilt trip it involved and the impact of meeting his brother's clone convincingly, Rajni's absent-minded professor's part took care of the humour quotient.


The mute but smart villain and the suave and gullible sibling in Vaali were crowd-pullers all the way. Vaali is easily the front-runner among Ajith's all-time bests. Simran's portrayal of the vulnerable heroine is another reason for Vaali's staying power.


Jeans breathed freshness. Yet amidst the bewitching presence of a young Aishwarya Rai and the unparalleled grandeur of a Shankar creation, Prashanth's dual role didn't attract much attention. For that matter, neither did Ponnar-Shankar, the hero's comparatively recent attempt at duality.


A forgettable trip by Jiiva in the roles of a scheming lawyer and womaniser pitted against a straightforward fish vendor, the line made little impression despite being a story of look-alikes.

For a personal touch —

My list of unforgettables

Uthama Puthiran That one scene where the arrogant twin callously goes up and down on the swing as his mother rebukes and pleads with him to mend his ways, is enough to ensure the everlasting shelf-life of the decades-old offering from the stable of Sivaji Ganesan. Catch it the next time it is telecast. It's worth it.

Aaha Raghuvaran's commendable underplay in the role of a responsible brother with a past will live on…

Villain Ajith's enjoyable comedy, particularly in the sequence with Karunas looking pathetic and the policeman getting fooled easily by the hero's mentally-challenged act, in an imitation of his twin, lingers.

Aboorva Sagodharargal “In these days of CG wizardry, an actor playing a vertically-challenged part is child's play. But at the time I donned the role of the circus clown, it involved great physical exertion,” Kamal Haasan told me long ago, when he spoke to me about his role in AS. The commitment has helped him scale heights, not many can reach.