Karakattakkaran (transl.The Karakattam dancer) is a 1989 Indian Tamil-language romantic comedy film written and directed by Gangai Amaran and produced by Karumari Kandasamy and J. Durai. The film stars Ramarajan and debutant Kanaka in the lead roles while Goundamani, Senthil, Santhana Bharathi, Chandrasekhar, Ganthimathi and Kovai Sarala play supporting roles. Its revolves two Karakattam dancers who fall in love with each other, but circumstances and their egoistic nature prevent them from confessing their love for one another. How they overcome these forms the rest of the story.

Directed byGangai Amaran
Produced byKarumari Kandasamy
J. Durai
Written byGangai Amaran
Music byIlaiyaraaja
CinematographyA. Sabapathy
Edited byB. Lenin
V. T. Vijayan
Vijaya Movies
Release date
  • 16 June 1989 (1989-06-16)
Running time
138 minutes
Budgetest. 2 million[1]

The soundtrack was composed by Ilaiyaraaja and all the songs were well-received and, in particular, the song "Maanguyilae Poonguyile" has become a classic. The film was released on 16 June 1989 and was a major commercial success, running for over a year in theatres. It was also Goundamani's and Senthil's 100th film as a combo. Goundamani and Senthil's banana comedy got well known among the people and is still known today.


Muthaiya (Ramarajan) is the lead performer of a karagattam group based out of a village. His troupe consists of Goundamani, Senthil, Kovai Sarala, Junior Balaiah etc. Muthaiya's mother Kanthimathi was his dance guru. Similarly Kamakshi (Kanaka) is also a karagattam dancer in the nearby village and she performs regularly during temple festival of that village. Chinnarasu (Santhana Bharathi) is the village panchayat board president and he sets an eye on Kamakshi. But Kamakshi hates Chinnarasu. To take revenge on her, Chinnarasu invites Muthaiya's dance troupe to perform during temple festival instead of Kamakshi's performance.

Muthaiya performs well and is widely appreciated by the villagers. Kamakshi also likes Muthaiya's performance. Kamakshi's father Shanmuga Sundaram invites Muthaiya to his home. And to his shock, Shanmuga Sundaram understands that Muthaiya is his nephew but does not reveal it to him. Muthaiya and Kamakshi fall in love with each other. Chinnarasu gets to know about Muthaiya and Kamakshi's love affair and plans to separate them.

Chandrasekhar is Kamakshi's innocent brother in law who works for Chinnarasu. Chinnarasu persuades Chandrasekhar to challenge a dance competition between Muthaiya and Kamakshi for which both accepts. In the meantime, Chinnarasu plans to kill Muthaiya during the dance program. But Kamakshi saves Muthaiya thereby getting stabbed by a knife in her leg after the dance. Now Kanthimathi gets furious knowing that Kamakshi is her niece and takes Muthaiya along with her and also does not permit their wedding to happen. Kanthimathi reveals a flashback that Kamakshi's father is her own brother and he eloped with the jewels that were meant to be sold to meet the medical expenses of Muthaiya's father which led to his death. But Kamakshi's father arrives there and reveals the truth that while he went to sell the jewels, he was caught by the police suspecting him to be a smuggler following which he was jailed for a few years.

Now Kanthimathi realizes her mistake and unites with her brother. Also she agrees for wedding between Muthaiya and Kamakshi. Chinnarasu accuses that Muthaiah and Kamakshi misbehaved in the temple and orders them to walk on fire in the temple to prove that they are pure. Muthaiya and Kamakshi successfully walk on fire while Chandrasekhar reveals Chinnarasu's true identity in front of villagers. Chandrasekhar also pushes Chinnarasu on to the fire but is saved by Muthiya which makes Chinnarasu realize his mistake. The movie ends with Muthaiya and Kamakshi getting united.


Special Appearances(in the title song)



Gangai Amaran wanted to do a film on the life of Karakattam dancers and their art Karagam, when producers Karumari Kandaswamy and J. Durai approached Amaran to do a project for them they agreed to do this project.[2] Amaran admitted that his film was reversal of Thillana Mohanambal (1968) with a change of backdrop and it was Ramarajan who suggested the story idea for the film while Amaran revealed he "didn't plan anything for the movie and went on scene by scene".[2][3]


After achieving back-to-back successful films like Enga Ooru Pattukaran (1987) and Shenbagamae Shenbagamae (1988), Ramarajan was the director's natural choice for lead protagonist and it was his 18th project as actor.[2][3] For the film's lead actress, Kanaka, daughter of late actress Devika made her acting debut with this film.[2] It was Amaran's wife who suggested her for the role.[4]

Goundamani and Senthil were chosen to handle comic relief and this film became their 100th collaboration together.[4] The comedy track was written by A. Veerappan.[2] Since Amaran wanted a female dancer for Ramarajan's troupe, Kovai Sarala was cast. Santhanabharathi was chosen as the antagonist while Shanmugasundaram, was cast as Kanaghaa's father and Gandhimathi as Ramarajan's mother. Vagai Chandrasekar was selected to play Kanaga's brother-in-law.[2]


The filming was completed in 28 days.[4] The crew found the village some distance off of Madurai Pandiyan hotel on the way to Alagar Kovil where the film was shot while the panchayat scene with the banyan tree and the climax were shot in Arunachalam Studios and Ambica Studios, respectively.[4]


Similar to Thillana Mohanambal (1968), this film also followed the lives of two artist families locked in a feud raised by a romantic interests of the lead pair.[5][6]


The music composed by Ilaiyaraaja and lyrics for all songs were written by Gangai Amaran.[7] All the songs especially "Maanguyile Poonguyile" became famous and still remain as chartbusters till date. The song "Ooru Vittu" is based on Shanmukhapriya Raga while "Mariyamma" is based on Mayamalavagowla Raga.[8][9]

Ilayaraja later adapted "Maanguyile" as "Endhirayyo" for the Telugu film Shiva Shankar (2004).[10] The song "Nandhavanathil Oru" was adapted by Yuvan Shankar Raja as "Muttathu Pakkathile" in Kunguma Poovum Konjum Puravum (2009).[11] The song "Ooru Vittu Ooru Vandhu" was remixed by Natarajan Shankaran in Kappal (2014).[12] S. Shankar, the producer of that film, did not acquire permission to remix the song, leading to Ilaiyaraaja taking legal action against him.[13]

1"Indha Maan"Ilaiyaraaja, K. S. ChithraGangai Amaran04:35
2"Kudagu Malai"Mano, K. S. Chithra04:31
3"Maanguyilae" (Men)SP Balasubrahmanyam04:37
4"Maanguyilae" (Duet)SP Balasubrahmanyam, S. Janaki04:25
5"Mariyamma Mariyamma"Malaysia Vasudevan, K. S. Chithra04:31
6"Mundhi Mundhi"Mano, K. S. Chithra03:20
7"Nandhavanathil"Gangai Amaran01:05
8"Ooruvittu Ooruvanthu"Malaysia Vasudevan, Gangai Amaran04:34
9"Paattaalae Buddhi"IlaiyaraajaIlaiyaraaja04:37

Release and reception

Karakattakkaran was released on 16 June 1989.[3] Distributors initially refused to buy the film as they felt that "the rural setting and full length comedy would not be acceptable".[5][6] The film ran for over a year in Nadana Theatre at Madurai.[3][6]

Behindwoods wrote: "Gangai Amaran's classy direction, a simple and neat story, good performance of Ramarajan and Kanaga, believable stunt scenes, Ilayaraja’s excellent songs and finally Goundamani, Senthil’s comedy made this movie a block buster".[5]


Karakattakkaran became a cult film for bringing the art of Karagam into prominence.[14] The film became one of the successful films in the career of Ramarajan. The comedy sequences from the film, especially the joke revolving around Banana, still remains as cult classic.[15] The car Chevrolet Impala, 1960's model used in the film became popular after the film's release.[16] In an interview to The Hindu in 2002, Somasundaram, a real-life Karakattam dancer was critical of the film stating that it was an "insult to the dance form".[17]

In an interview to a television channel, Venkat Prabhu was asked if he would ever remake Karakattakkaran, he said "it would be extremely difficult to do justice to the original". Regarding the casting, in place of Goundamani and Senthil, he said he would prefer Santhanam and Premgi Amaren respectively if he was told to remake the film.[18]

The film Jil Jung Juk (2016) reveals who had kept Soppanasundari, the previous owner of the pink 1960 Chevrolet Impala according to the Karagattakaran plot.

In a comedy scene from Thangamana Raasa (1990), Goundamani who is jailed for petty crime, dreams of singing under the music of Ilaiyaraja, he sings "Maanguyile" to Vinu Chakravarthy.[19] In Saroja (2008), when the friends witness the car which they are going to travel, the theme music of Karagattakaran is used as background music for the scene.[20] Ooru Vittu Ooru Vanthu (1990) also directed by Gangai Amaran was named after a song from the film.[10] The scene where Shanmugasundaram pleads ignorance about himself to his sister (Gandhimathi) has been parodied by various mimicry artists in various shows. A song titled Soppanasundari is used in Venkat Prabhu's Chennai 600028 II.


  1. ராம்ஜி, வி. (18 June 1989). ""கரகாட்டக்காரன் பட்ஜெட்; எவ்ளோ செலவாச்சு தெரியுமா?"- கங்கைஅமரன் ஃப்ளாஷ்பேக்" [Karagattakaran budget; Do you know how much it was costed? - Gangai Amaran's flash back]. Kamadenu (in Tamil). Archived from the original on 20 August 2019. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  2. Suganth, M (16 June 2019). "Celebrating 30 Years of Karagattakaran". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 20 August 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  3. Kumar, Pradeep (15 June 2019). "30 years of 'Karagattakaran': actor Ramarajan goes on rewind mode". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 20 August 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  4. Sekhar, Arunkumar (16 June 2019). "30 years of Karakattakaran – Gangai Amaren: The Vazhapazham comedy track was based on a similar sequence in an Adoor Bhasi film". Cinema Express. Archived from the original on 20 August 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  5. "365 days and beyond: Films that ran for more than a year and their success stories!!". Behindwoods. Archived from the original on 17 June 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  6. "Delayed Movies – A Big Hit – Karagattakaran". Behindwoods. Archived from the original on 17 June 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  7. "Karagatakaran (1989)". Raaga.com. Archived from the original on 23 February 2014. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
  8. Mani, Charulatha (2 September 2011). "A Raga's Journey – Sacred Shanmukhapriya". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 17 June 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  9. Mani, Charulatha (11 November 2011). "A Raga's Journey – The magic of Mayamalavagowla". The Hindu. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  10. "Shiva Shankar music review". Indiaglitz Telugu. 26 August 2004. Archived from the original on 17 June 2019. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  11. Srinivasan, Karthik (24 January 2009). "Music review: Kunguma Poovum Konjum Puraavum (Tamil – Yuvan Shankar Raja)". Milliblog. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  12. Srinivasan, Sudhir (25 December 2014). "This Kappal doesn't sink". The Hindu. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  13. "Ilayaraja sends legal notice on copyright to director Shankar". The Hindu. 3 January 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  14. Basu, Soma (11 June 2014). "A care for Karagattam?". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 17 June 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  15. "Suriya and team celebrates Senthil's birthday". Indiaglitz Tamil. 24 March 2017. Archived from the original on 17 June 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  16. Frederick, Prince (24 December 2014). "Cars can be funny too". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 17 June 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  17. Chandrasekar, Preethi (24 October 2002). "Bringing it to center stage". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 17 June 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  18. "Santhanam as Goundamani and Premji as Senthil". Behindwoods. 3 December 2012. Archived from the original on 17 June 2019. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  19. Thangamana Raasa (DVD)
  20. Saroja (DVD)
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