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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tatineni Prakash Rao
Produced by G. N. Velumani
Screenplay by Sakthi T. K. Krishnasamy
Story by Nannu
Starring M. G. Ramachandran
B. Saroja Devi
Music by Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy
Cinematography P. L. Roy
Edited by C. P. Jambulingam
Saravana Films
Release date
3 November 1964
Country India
Language Tamil

Padagotti (English: Coxswain) is a 1964 Indian Tamil-language social problem film directed by Tatineni Prakash Rao and produced by G. N. Velumani. The film stars M. G. Ramachandran and B. Saroja Devi in the lead roles, with M. N. Nambiar, S. V. Ramadoss, Nagesh, Manorama and Jayanthi in supporting roles. It deals with the enmity between two fishing communities in a village, which is fuelled by the village's zamindar, who stands to gain the most from it all.

Padagotti's screenplay was written by Sakthi T. K. Krishnasamy, based on an original story by Nannu, and cinematography was handled by P. L. Roy. The film was shot predominantly on locations near the seashore. It was released on 3 November 1964, during that year's Diwali day. Despite facing competition from other films released on the same day, Padagotti became a commercial success and ran for over 100 days in theatres.


Manickam is the leader of a small fishing community named Thirukaai Meenavargal. In the same area lives Alaiyappan, the leader of an opposing fishing community named Sura Meenavargal.

The enmity between the two groups goes way beyond competition. While Manickam is honest, compassionate and principled, his counterpart, Alaiyappan, is exactly the opposite, driven mainly by greed. Manickam's father's main wish is to end the dispute between the two groups, and he persuades them to be friends. However the Sura Meenavargal refuse, and beat him to death. Manickam promises to fulfill his father's wish, and works hard to end the dispute. The person responsible for fuelling this enmity between the two groups is the man who stands to gain the most from it all – the village zamindar Yajaman. Alaiyappan’s blind allegiance is to the zamindar.

Manickam soon falls in love with Alaiyappan's daughter Muthazhagi, and she shows the same. However, their romance is strongly disapproved of by their communities. When Manickam again goes to Sura Meenavargal to seek peace, he is beaten to his apparent death. Because of this, his men nearly kill Alaiyappan, who is then saved by a mysterious old man. Thankful to the old man, Alaiyappan allows him to stay with for the night at his home. Muthazhagi later realises the old man is actually Manickam in disguise, but keeps it a secret from everyone.

One day, it is a boat race between the two communities. But Manickam (still in disguise) chooses to go with Sura Meenavargal, and they eventually win the race. However, his fake beard falls down after the race, and everyone recognises him as Manickam. The Thirukaai Meenavargal, enraged for his betrayal, force him to leave Muthazhagi.

When Alaiyappan suddenly goes bankrupt, Yajaman agrees to help him, but wants to be married to Muthazhagi in return. Alaiyappan, initially hesitant, later agrees but Muthazhagi is not ready. She is kept custody at Yajaman's mansion and is unable to escape, even Manickam (in a new disguise) is unable to save her. But Yajaman's wife secretly helps Muthazhagi out of the mansion. In doing so, she is killed by Yajaman. He begins to chase Muthazhagi, but is cornered by Manickam and a fight ensues between the duo. Shortly after, the local police arrive and arrest Yajaman because he murdered his wife. With both the communities finally reconciling, Alaiyappan agrees for Muthazhagi and Manickam to be married.



Padagotti was directed by Tatineni Prakash Rao, and produced by G. N. Velumani under the banner of Saravana Films.[1] It was the company's first colour film,[2] being colourised through Eastmancolor.[3] The screenplay was written by Sakthi T. K. Krishnasamy, based on an original story by Nannu, and cinematography was handled by P. L. Roy,[4] while C. P. Jambulingam was chosen as editor.[5] M. G. Ramachandran and B. Saroja Devi were cast as Manickam and Muthazhagi respectively, while S. V. Ramadoss was cast as Muthazhagi's father Alaiyappan. Nagesh was cast in the role of a self-styled leader of the community who beats people whenever a gramophone plays a certain background music. This part of the story is based on an episode of The Three Stooges. Manorama was cast as his lover. M. N. Nambiar was cast as the zamindar, and Jayanthi as his wife. Most of the film was shot on actual locations near the seashore.[3] It was poet Vaali who chose the title Padagotti for this film.[6]


Padagotti is a social problem film that deals with groupism among fishermen,[3] and the problems of fishermen in general.[7] Tamil Canadian journalist D. B. S. Jeyaraj wrote that Ramachandran portrayed different roles in his films "so that different segments of the population could relate to and identify with him", citing his role of a coxswain in Padagotti, an agriculturist in Vivasayee (1967), and a rickshaw puller in Rickshawkaran (1971) as examples.[8] S. Rajanayagam, author of the book Popular Cinema and Politics in South India: The Films of MGR and Rajinikanth, felt the title Padagotti, like the titles of many other Ramachandran films, was "sober, occupation-oriented and positive".[9]


The film's original soundtrack was composed by the duo of Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy, while the lyrics were written by Vaali.[10] The song "Thottal Poo Malarum" was composed in the carnatic raga known as Suddhadhanyasi, and according to singer Charulatha Mani, this song "changed the outlook of this raga in films".[11] It was later re-tuned by A. R. Rahman for the 2004 film New.[12] The song "Tharaimel Pirakka" was composed in Bilaskhani Todi, a Hindustani raga.[13] The song "Koduthadellam Koduthan" was originally written by Vaali for Paadhai Theriyudhu Paar (1960) which was rejected by the director of that film and later it was used in this film.[14] Velumani felt the song "nicely captured MGR's characteristics" through the lyrics "Koduthadellam koduthan, Avan yaarukaaga koduthaan, Orutharukka koduthaan illai oorukaaga koduthaan" which translate to "He gave all that he gave, to whom did he give? Did he give for just one? No, he gave for everyone".[15]

"Thottal Poo Malarum" was included by The Hindu in their list Best of Vaali: From 1964 - 2013.[16]

Song Singers Lyrics
"Tharaimel Pirakka" T. M. Soundararajan Vaali
"Thottal Poo Malarum" T. M. Soundararajan, P. Susheela Vaali
"Koduthellam Koduthaan" T. M. Soundararajan Vaali
"Kalyana Ponnu" T. M. Soundararajan Vaali
"Paatukku Patteduthu" T. M. Soundararajan, P. Susheela Vaali
"Naan Oru Kuzhandhai" T. M. Soundararajan Vaali
"Azhagu Oru Ragam" P. Susheela Vaali
"Ennai Eduthu" P. Susheela Vaali

Release and reception

Padagotti was released on 3 November 1964,[1] during that year's Diwali day.[17] Despite facing competition from two other Diwali releases (Navarathri and Muradan Muthu),[18][19] it became commercially successful, running for over 100 days in theatres.[3] The Indian Express wrote on 14 November 1964, "A bright piece of acting by Ramadas and P. L. Rai's excellent outdoor photography which bares the bountiful beauty of the backwaters of Kerala are the only two redeeming features of the film. But they are as much a consolation as having enjoyed the cool breeze during a day-long futile angling."[20] Film historian Mohan Raman, writing for The Hindu, praised Nambiar's villainous performance, describing it as "unforgettable."[21] For the same newspaper, historian Randor Guy said the film would be remembered for "Excellent performances by M. G. Ramachandran, Saroja Devi, M. N. Nambiar, Nagesh and Manorama, and the melodious songs and meaningful lyrics of Vaali".[3]


  1. ^ a b Film News Anandan (2004). Saadhanaigal Padaitha thamizh thiraipada varalaru [Tamil film history and it's achievements] (in Tamil). Sivagami Publications. Archived from the original on 31 July 2017.
  2. ^ "எம்ஜிஆர் 100: 16 - அர்ப்பணிப்புடன் கூடிய உழைப்புக்கு சொந்தக்காரர்!". The Hindu (in Tamil). 8 March 2016. Archived from the original on 4 August 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e Guy, Randor (28 February 2016). "Padagotti (1964)". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 1 March 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  4. ^ "Padagotti". The Indian Express. 3 November 1964. p. 12.
  5. ^ Padagotti (motion picture) (in Tamil). Saravana Films. 1964. Opening credits, from 0:00 to 3:09.
  6. ^ Kannan 2017, p. 91.
  7. ^ Jagathrakshakan 1984, p. 45.
  8. ^ Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (20 February 2016). "Kandy-born actor-politico "MGR" reigned supreme in Tamil Nadu cinema and politics". Daily FT. Archived from the original on 30 August 2018. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  9. ^ Rajanayagam 2015, p. 129.
  10. ^ "Padagotti | Tamil Movie Audio Jukebox". YouTube (in Tamil). Saregama. 12 November 2014. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  11. ^ Mani, Charulatha (9 December 2011). "A Raga's Journey — Soulful Suddhadhanyasi". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 31 July 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  12. ^ Rangarajan, Malathi (15 July 2004). "New". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 31 July 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  13. ^ Guy, Randor (30 July 2015). "More on MSV's favourite raag". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 17 November 2018. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  14. ^ "சினிமாவுக்கு வாலியின் முதல் பாட்டு: சுசீலா பாடினார்". Maalai Malar (in Tamil). 2 April 2017. Archived from the original on 31 July 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  15. ^ Kannan 2017, p. 98.
  16. ^ "Interactive graphic: Best of Vaali: From 1964 - 2013". The Hindu. 19 July 2013. Archived from the original on 31 July 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  17. ^ "1964 Diwali Puja, Lakshmi Puja Timings for Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, India". Archived from the original on 31 July 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  18. ^ "Navarathri". The Indian Express. 3 November 1964. p. 3.
  19. ^ "Muradan Muthu". The Indian Express. 3 November 1964. p. 12.
  20. ^ "Padahotti". The Indian Express. 14 November 1964. p. 3.
  21. ^ Raman, Mohan (17 November 2010). "Reel villain, real hero". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 31 July 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2017.


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