Alai Payuthe – One of the Better Tamil Films

(Recommended by SI reader shadowfax_arbit)

Slipped the Alai Payuthe DVD into our player.

Directed by Mani Ratnam, Alai Payuthe features B-grade Tamil film star Madhavan with Shalini (now Ajith’s wife) playing his heroine.

Madhavan is not a bad actor but we wonder if anyone gives a flying f**k for this Nai-kutty (puppy) faced fella.

After all, Kollywood is mostly a business dominated by big stars like Rajnikanth, Kamal Haasan and a bunch of podi pasanga (kids) like Vijay, Ajith, Surya et al.

Alai Payuthe starts off with a smiling Madhavan riding his motorbike and listening to music on his headphone.

As the titles flash on the screen, the song Endrendrum Punnagai is playing in the background.

Madhavan heads to the train station where we see him waiting for Dr.Shakti (presumably Shalini).

We’ll update this post after watching the movie.


By no stretch of imagination is Alai Payuthe a masterpiece that had us muttering Oohs and Aahs at any time.

But this Mani Ratnam film is one of the better movies to emerge from Cooumwood a.k.a. Kollywood.

As is normal to most Indian movies, this one too is about love.

Mercifully, the film goes beyond the superficial celebration of love and explores the tensions as love evolves into marriage and beyond.

If you want proof that the course of love never did run smooth, all ye have to do is to watch Alai Payuthe.

Madhavan and Shalini do an adequate job as the youngsters experiencing both the ecstasy of love and the torment of grief as family tensions intrude into their lives.

Say what you will, Shalini is a better actress than her spouse Ajith Kumar.

As far as beauty goes, we’d say Shalini is just a notch above average.

So what.

Never has a girl looked more alluring and seductive than when Shalini crunches into a red chilli in one of the songs. Alas, she’s not a good dancer. The woman lacks the easy grace that an actress like Amala used to bring to her steps.

Madhavan is a decent actor and if you ignore his pathetic performance during the last 20 minutes, there’s not much to whine about his acting here.

Besides the OK story and acceptable acting, the third leg that holds up this movie is music.

Boy, how well does A.R.Rahman hold up this film.

We’ll wager anything in our possession that it’d be hard for any sane mind to pick a single favorite song from the movie. For most of the songs from the movie keep echoing in the mind long after the screen goes dark.

Nearly a decade after the movie first saw the light of the day, Kaadhal Sadugudu, Snegithanae and Pachchai Nirame must most certainly still be thrilling millions of listeners.

Kudos to Mani Ratnam for not marring the songs with shoddy picturization.

If you ignore the crappy, dragging 20 or 25 minutes towards the end (the hospital scenes particularly), we’d say Alai Payuthe is a decent movie.

And that’s what makes Alai Payuthe so unlike a Tamil movie.

23 Responses to "Alai Payuthe – One of the Better Tamil Films"

  1. arshadsod   August 6, 2009 at 3:41 am

    For me this film sucked big time , only the songs were good , the movie was damn slow as many other manirathnam films …
    Specially after the accident of Shalini the film just slows down even further .
    kindly review thiruda thiruda (manirathnam movie) .it was an awesome movie but was not a box office hit . Responds:

    Unfortunately, Netflix does not have Thiruda Thiruda.

  2. SRINIVAS   August 6, 2009 at 4:40 am

    reveiw is quite ok ….but cant understand what’s wrong with Madhavan now ?….A Tamilian will look like a Tamilian …Can’t look like a Tom Cruise ? Responds:

    You write: A Tamilian will look like a Tamilian …Can’t look like a Tom Cruise ?

    Funny. 😉

  3. deepa   August 6, 2009 at 4:40 am

    I have to admit, i thought the ending went a bit too sappy and too much masala towards the end. Daddy died, she couldnt make it to see him in time then she suspects Mathavan then she meets with an accident…wow….its was literally her most fucked up day man!! Responds:

    Yes, we were angry with Khushboo for not doing a better job when she knocked her down with the car. 🙁

    That’d have shortened everyone’s misery.

  4. shadowfax_arbit   August 6, 2009 at 5:11 am

    I know you would like the movie. Agree it is not a great movie or anything but it is one of few movies Shalini acted in her very short career. Unfortunately she married and stopped acting just when she was peaking..

    Kudos to PC Sriram for those vibrant colors and picturization in Pachai Nirame/Snehithane… Responds:

    The problem for Indian stars if they happen to be women – get married, get knocked up, get kids.

    Ridiculous (although this trend was good in Jyotika’s case as she spared us further agony through her non-acting).

  5. shadowfax_arbit   August 6, 2009 at 5:15 am

    Have you seen Mounaragam? It is a wonderful romantic movie by Manirathnam, quite old but similar to this. There are very few characters in the movie with power-packed performance from Revathi and Mohan in lead roles and Karthik in guest role. Responds:

    Unfortunately, Netflix doesn’t have Mouna Ragam. When we searched for Mouna Ragam, we got Morning Raga, a decent movie featuring Shabana Azmi et al.

  6. shuaib68   August 6, 2009 at 7:42 am

    Decent review for decent movie.

    Before watching the movie, I first fell in love with “Snegithane” song. It is after listening to the song a thousand times that I watched the movie. It was released in Sri Lankan theatres after about 06 months of the first release of the songs of the movie, I suppose.

    A.R. Rahman did a nice job and it is still loved by many until now. Responds:

    Thank god for Netflix. Do you have something similar in the Gulf region where you can legally rent DVDs/download movies from a huge stock?

  7. shadowfax_arbit   August 6, 2009 at 9:53 am

    Is Kannathil Muthamital available in Netflix? It is an excellent movie by Manirathnam about Srilankan war… Responds:

    We’ve seen Kannathil Muthamital a few years back.

  8. scout   August 6, 2009 at 11:47 am

    i think Mani Ratnam is horribly over rated.
    I liked only Alai Payuthey & Dil Se. Responds:

    You write: i think Mani Ratnam is horribly over rated.

    Agree 100%. But as the old saying goes…In an industry filled with idiots, the less retarded one is the king.

  9. shuaib68   August 6, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    We have DVD renting shops at every nook and corner in Abu Dhabi. They call it “Video Clubs” almost all of it are run by mostly malayalis. You can only keep original DVD’s or CD’s.

    Keeping pirated stuff is a punishable act like in any other developed countries. I don’t say there are not any pirated stuff available here. That business is also run by the mallus. They knock at your doors with a quite a number of selections to choose from. This country is infested with cheapos, so, there is an undying demand too. You simply can’t watch they’re all “Camera Copies”. These are sold at Dhs. 2/- to 5/- (US cents.-/60 for CD and DVDs at USD. 1.50) Mostly coming from Pakistan,Malaysia and China.

    DVD’s are hired at Dirhams. 10 (Equavalent to USD. 3/-) and CDs for Dhs. 5/- (USD. 1.50).

    Guys do download from various Indian websites. I don’t have any info about the charges. Responds:

    If Pak & China are involved in pirating Indian movies, it must be part of their gameplan to hurt the Indian business.

    The other day there was a report that Pak is involved in fake Indian currency printing.

  10. shuaib68   August 6, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    SI:If Pak & China are involved in pirating Indian movies, it must be part of their gameplan to hurt the Indian business.

    Maybe so. If they can deal in narco drugs,this is nothing for them. The other hard fact is that Pakistan & China are only the origins of the pirated DVDs the local dealers and agents are mostly Indians and Pakistanis combined. There are soft kind of MAFIAS operating many businesses here. You get many pirate stuffs from Branded clothes to electronics, perfumes, watches..etc. The list is very very long. They’re getting caught all the time. But, business is as usual. Responds:

    So, the underlings are Indians. Interesting.

  11. boopalanj   August 6, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    100% Agreed with the opinion on Music.

    200% Agreed on the scene you noted – Shalini biting a Chilly in Pachai Nirame Song – I used to wait for the scene and watch, whenever that song was played in tv.

    300% Agreed, she had far better acting skills than Ajith. [Do you believe, he has nearly 30+ thousands of fan clubs (rasigar mandram) in TN.]

    ..Hmm, Mouna Raagam was another decent movie, and Anjali is a good movie. [Anjali is a movie that does not revolve around love, but a family and its emotions (love from parents, siblings, etc) towards a born-retarded-kid].

    You would have watched Bombay and Roja. They are, decent movies again.

    But, most of mani’s movies, as claimed by himself, have sources of inspirations somewhere real-time. Thalapathi – Mahabharat (Did you watch it, as said?), Guru – Ambani story, Nayagan – Some Mudaliyar don in bombay then, etc.

    Good that we do not get to see the usual crap in Mani’s movies. Responds:

    1. You write: Do you believe, he has nearly 30+ thousands of fan clubs (rasigar mandram) in TN.

    We refused to believe that our Tamils are that stupid. Are they for real or sponsored by the star, film producers and distributors?

    Even Vishal does a better job on the acting front compared to that clown Ajith.

    2. Thalapathi? Watched just the famous song featuring Sonu Walia and Rajni. Will complete it soon.

    3. You write: Nayagan – Some Mudaliyar don in bombay then

    Nayagan was inspired by Varadaraja Mudaliar.

  12. boopalanj   August 7, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    What happened to ‘To be and To have’.. Responds:

    Couldn’t watch it yesterday….was out almost the whole day to fix a mini-crisis.

    Will try to watch it tonight after we resolve the crisis.

  13. zxcvbnm3007   August 8, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Nadodigal movie is breaking all time box office records here in Tamil Nadu. I don’t understand why these offshore distributors distribute only crappy Ajit, Vijay movies in U.S.

    It has became a cliché when some SI reader asks you whether you seen this or that good tamil movie, and your answer is always No. It is unfortunate that these movies misses your radar. Can’t blame you though.

    You can read some genuine Nadodigal movie reviews here Responds:

    Read the review you cite above.

    Movie looks interesting. Guess, we’ll have to wait for Netflix.

    Instead of releasing in multiple theatres as distributors of Rajni/Vijay/Ajith/Surya films do, confident producers/distributors of low-budget, offbeat films should release in just a handful of theatres initially (say one in NJ and one in Bay Area) and depending on response and word of mouth, then take the next step towards a wider release here. This is doable.

  14. mallukuttan   August 8, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    @ Scout

    Kannathil Muthamittal, Nayagan, Mouna Ragam, Anjali, Iruvar – these were all nice movies.. Then how come you can call him ‘horribly’ overrated? He’s one of the best we have here.

    Nadodigal was crap.. The movie was just a rehash of S’Puram.. I don’t think SI will like Nadodigal..

    I saw someone recommending ‘Thiruda Thiruda’. The movie is not at all worth watching. Same abt Aayitha Ezhuthu.

    BTW off topic: Did u watch any of the Quentin Tarantino flicks? Responds:

    We don’t think we’ve seen his films but we may have seen some of the CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) episodes of which he was an occasional (??) writer.

    Just checked…we have Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs in our Netflix queue.

    We’ll try to watch Iruvar Sunday evening. God-promise, no make that Abhishek Bachchan-promise 😉 .

    Abhishek’s Raavan seems to be getting delayed for some reason or the other (Mani Ratnam’s heart attack, rains, elephant attack on mahout). Maybe, God is on our side. 🙂

  15. mallukuttan   August 8, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Guys do download from various Indian websites. I don’t have any info about the charges.

    There are a gazillion sites which allows you to download literally any Indian movie.. They release good quality CAM prints called Pre-Release DVD’s within 2-3 days of release – even with a subtitle. x( Responds:


    Watching a movie on a PC/laptop is not for us. The effect is lost.

    BTW, in the U.S. all Bollywood films released in theatres have English sub-titles but not the Tamil films.

  16. shadowfax_arbit   August 8, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    I agree with mallukuttan on two things. Most of Mani’s movies are good, so we shouldn’t call him ‘horribly’ overrated. And Nadodigal is total crap, please don’t watch it. It has a bizarre story and crawling screenplay, which is not surprising, the director being some megaserial director.

    For Quentin’s movies, you gotta watch Pulp Fiction. It is awesome. And I’m awaiting Inglorious Basterds.

    Raavana Tamil version should be good with Vikram in lead role, unlike Abhishek in Hindi. You like Vikram, dont you? Responds:

    We’ll definitely watch Pulp Fiction soon.

    Looks very interesting. Travolta, Samuel Jackson, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman..

    Doubt Inglorious Basterds had a wide release even here.

  17. shadowfax_arbit   August 8, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Watch this movie. (Thevar Magan). You’ll love it… Responds:

    Strange. Can’t remember clearly if we have seen the entire film or only bits of Thevar Magan.

    Likely, we’ve seen only some bits on YouTube.

    Would have watched it but Netflix doesn’t carry it.

  18. Albert Camus   August 8, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Inglourious Basterds release date:21 August 2009 Responds:


    There may have been a limited release because there are several reviews out already. Or the reviews are based on the Cannes screening.

  19. mallukuttan   August 9, 2009 at 2:18 am

    SI said: Abhishek’s Raavan seems to be getting delayed for some reason or the other (Mani Ratnam’s heart attack, rains, elephant attack on mahout). Maybe, God is on our side. 🙂

    LOL it seems like u guys love horseshit more than Jr. Bachchan. 😉

    The tamil version has Prithviraj & Vikram – so that’s a relief. Go for the tamil version guys.. 🙂

    BTW abt tarantino flicks – I love Pulp fiction and Reservoir dogs. Highly, Highly recommended.

    Thanks for ur views mate. Reservoir dogs & Pulp fiction are my all time favorites. 😀 Now watching Jackie brown 8) Responds:

    You write: The tamil version has Prithviraj & Vikram – so that’s a relief. Go for the tamil version guys.. 🙂

    The way things are going with Mani, it’s probably going to take another 8-10 months before the movie is out.

    We like both Prithviraj & Vikram.

  20. SRINIVAS   August 11, 2009 at 6:43 am

    SI: We like both Prithviraj & Vikram

    Aishwarya is the female lead ? …u like her Responds:

    You write: Aishwarya is the female lead ? …u like her

    Aishwarya is a rotten actress. Porn starlets in the U.S. emote better.

    Prithviraj and Vikram pack some decent acting skills.

  21. Albert Camus   August 11, 2009 at 9:09 am

    Oh, I thought Abhishek was in the tamil version too.. what a disappointment.. Damn, Prithviraj was born in 1982..(looks matured for 23 in Kana Kandaen). I guess I am also nearing the autumn of my life (like a great SI). Any of you (SI & fellow readers) seen his parents act? Were they good actors? good looking?
    Does Prithvi have a mild case of “eye ptosis” like Forest Whitaker? Responds:

    We thought he has a mild squint. Or as they say in India, LLTT (London Looking, Tokyo Talking). 😉

  22. vjcool   November 4, 2009 at 6:57 am

    the comments seem to have veered towards Mouna Ragam and Anjali than Alaipayuthe. Alaipayuthe after the debacle of Uyire, was not upto the manirathnam mark, but was still decent.

    I wouldnt know what’s wrong with Uyire, but maybe a little more drama at the climax, but the suddenness was appropriate, maybe Mani wanted to just shock and let it linger. It was a little off but still was one of the better films, much better than the so called patriotic films that become big hits , and all they have is hammy dialogue. Watch Uyire in hindi ‘Dil Se’ the songs are better and the film holds better in hindi.

    As for Alaipayuthe, it looks like manirathnam wanted a hit and went back to romantic mode, and managed quite well.

    Mouna Ragam.. is one film that makes me sit before the TV whenever its telecast and that’s almost at least once a month

    BTW found Netflix has Munnabhai M.B.B.S, it’s far better than Lage Raho, the latter felt a little mixed up. Munnabhai is clean entertainer, the ulaganayagan didnt make the tamil version that clean. the best thing about Munnabhai is that its a great mix of ‘Patch adams’ and ‘one flew over the cuckoos nest’ (OFCN) both serious movies and OFCN is cruel.. and to think a great comedy can comeout of OFCN.. well watch both Responds:

    We’ll watch Dil Se soon.

    Couldn’t stand Lage Raho. Plain awful…All that Gandhigiri nonsense…wasn’t in the least convincing.

  23. shiva84   May 26, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Have you watched pretty women, one of the best romantic movies that i have seen. Responds:

    You write: Have you watched pretty women,


    On screen we’ve only seen Pretty Woman.

    Off-screen, of course, we’ve watched many Pretty Women. 😉

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