The numbers game: Tamil cinema’s numerical titles

MGR and Jayalalithaa in "Aayirathil Oruvan".  

Since the release of Aayiram thalai vaangiya apoorva chintamani in 1949 and till the 2017 flick Ettu thottakkal, Tamil movie makers have tried and tested various methodologies for catchy titles. Here’s a look at prominent films which had numbers in the titles.

Number 1

Who can forget the MGR-Jayalalithaa 1965 classic Aayirathul Oruvan? Jayalalithaa herself said that the film paved the way for her entry into politics. “Even 50 years after its release, the film remains like a fresh lotus depicted in a beautiful painting," she said during the launch of the film's digitised version in 2014. There was also a Selvaraghavan movie with the same name in 2010, in which Karthi acted. Kollywood also gave us Oruvan (Sarath Kumar), Ennaipol Oruvan (Sivaji Ganesan), Enakkul Oruvan, Unnaipol Oruvan (Kamal Haasan ) and Evano Oruvan (R. Madhavan.

Mohanlal and Gowthami in "Iruvar".

Mohanlal and Gowthami in "Iruvar".  


Number 2

Iruvar. Directed by Mani Ratnam, loosely based on the real lives of M.G. Ramachandran and Karunanidhi, the film marked the debut of Aishwarya Rai in 1997.

Number 3

Moondru Deivangal (1971) was star-studded, with Sivaji Ganesan, Nagesh and Muthuraman. K. Balachandar’s Moondru Mudichu (1976) had a successful combination of Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth, which was a trend in the late 1970s. Moondram Pirai, (1982) fetched Kamal Haasan his first National Award for acting and director Baalu Mahendra got he National Award for Best Cinematography. Rajinikanth’s Moondru Mugam (1982) and 3 (Directed by Rajini’s daughter Aiswharya and starring his son-in-law Dhanush are other films featuring the number 3 in the title.

The numbers game: Tamil cinema’s numerical titles

Number 4

These two low budget films feature the number four in the title — Naalu Veli Nilam(1959) directed by Mukhta Srinivasan and Naalu Policeum Nalla Irundha Oorum (2015).

Number 5

Panchathanthiram (2002) remains at the top of Kamal Haasan’s comedy classics. Apart from this, there is Ainthu Ainthu Ainthu (2013), a romantic thriller and Aintham Padai (2009). Another low-key movie starring Sarath Babu and Ambika, Rendum Rendum Anju was released in 1988.

Rajinikanth and 'Fadafat' Jayalakshmi in "Aarulirunthu arubathu varai".

Rajinikanth and 'Fadafat' Jayalakshmi in "Aarulirunthu arubathu varai".  


Number 6

Aarilirunthu Arubathu Varai (1979): The film cleared the air for those who had doubts over Rajinikanth’s acting skills. The superstar played the role of a man struggling for survival till his end. Aaru (2005) was director Hari’s first sojourn with Surya.

Number 7

Antha Yezhu Naatkal, Bhagyaraj’s cult classic, was released in 1981. The film is widely-known for the novel climax and the dialogue by the hero, 'Palakkad' Madhavan, “Saare, enda kaathali ningalu manaivi ayittu varum, pakshe ningalu manaivi ende kaadhali aagathu” (Sir, my lover can become your wife, but your wife cannot be my lover). While Yezhavathu Manidhan (1982) took Raghuvaran to stardom, 7am Arivu (2011), an A.R. Murugadoss film, saw Suriya sparkling in the roles of Bodhidharman and Aravind.

Suriya in '7am Arivu'.

Suriya in '7am Arivu'.  


Number 8

Ettu thottakkal: Actor M.S. Bhaskar, known for his character and comedy roles, was at his best, in an antagonist’s role in this 2017 critically-acclaimed crime thriller.

Number 9

Navarathiri  was the 100th film of legendary actor Sivaji Ganesan. The actor portrayed the Navarasams (nine types of human behaviour) with élan. Navagraham (1970) was a comedy drama by K.Balachandar with Nagesh in the lead. But the credit for a chaste Tamil title goes to Thankar Pachan for his family drama Onbadhu Roobai Nottu released in 2007.

Sivaji Ganesan in nine different roles in "Navarathri".

Sivaji Ganesan in nine different roles in "Navarathri".  


Number 10

Dasavatharam. Though Kamal Haasan often proclaims himself as a student of Sivaji Ganesan, he ultimately had an urge to outdo, or rather pay a tribute to the thespian. Here, he acted in 10 different roles. Not all films with ‘pure’ Tamil titles are watchable. Vikram’s 2015 flick Pathu enrathukulla is definitely not be in the actor's memorable hit list.

M.S. Bhaskar in "Ettu thottakkal".

M.S. Bhaskar in "Ettu thottakkal".  


Number 16

In Sondham 16 (1989), actor Mohan, the silver jubilee star, also known as ‘Mike’ Mohan due to his inseparable link with mikes as a singer in films, dubbed in his own voice for the first time. Incidentally, S.R. Surendhar, actor Vijay’s uncle, gave voice to him for nearly 75 films. 16 Vayadhinile (1977), Bharatiraraja’s debut classic, took Tamil cinema from the studios of Kodambakkam to rural areas featuring realistic portrayals of village life. A galaxy of artists contributed to the film’s hit, including Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth, Ilayaraaja, Kannadasan and Goundamani. Varusham 16 (1989)Directed by Fazil, the film had Karthik and Kushboo in the lead with melodious Ilayaraja in the background, and reignited the 'family values drama' in the late 80s. Duruvangal 16 was directed by a 23-year-old Karthick Naren. Though the movie released shortly after Jayalalithaa’s demise, it proved to be dark horse and ended year 2016 with a hit. “A procedural with solid writing, first-rate filmmaking”, wrote film critic Baradwaj Rangan in his review.

Kamal Haasan (s) in "Dasavatharam".

Kamal Haasan (s) in "Dasavatharam".  


Number 18

Vazhakku enn 18/9 (2012) was a neat presentation by Balaji Sakthivel. With an all-new cast and fresh narration, the film opens with the climax and will keep you hooked till the end.

Number 23

Imsai Arasan 23m Pulikesi (2006) — Director Shankar was shrewd enough to produce this historical fiction directed by debutant Simbu Thevan, a cartoonist-turned-director. The film took the audience a world of fantasy and set the mood for more historical fiction. Imsai…with its satirical dialogue reflecting the contemporary tamashas of society, catapulted Vadivelu to Himalayan heights in Kollywood.

Vadivelu in 'Imsai arasan 23m Pulikesi'.

Vadivelu in 'Imsai arasan 23m Pulikesi'.  


Number 24

24 (2016) is a science fiction thriller based on time travel, directed by Vikram Kumar, starring Suriya in triple roles.

Number 36

36 Vayadhinile (2015) was a comeback in style for Jyotika. The movie was produced by her actor husband Suriya.

Jyotika in '36 Vayadhinile'.

Jyotika in '36 Vayadhinile'.  


Number 40

Alibabavum 40 Thirudargalum (1956) — A typical “costume drama” on folk heroes, the trend in the 1950s, this MGR starrer was the first full-length colour movie.

Number 47

47 Naatkal — Based on Siva Sankari’s novel, the move was directed by K. Balachandar and released in 1981.

Number 100

In K. Balachandar’s Nootrukku Nooru (1971), Jaishankar, the James Bond of the South, was cast in a different role of a professor, finding it hard to prove his innocence in a sexual harassment case. Nooravathu Naal, released in 1984, remains one of the best psycho-thriller films of Tamil cinema till date.

Number 1000

A popular hit in modern theatres, Aayiram thalai vaangiya apoorva chintamani was released in 1949 and one of Rajinikanth’s earliest films. Aayiram Jenmangal (1978) is a horror film directed by Durai.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 4:49:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/the-numbers-game-tamil-cinemas-numerical-titles/article19967003.ece

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