The early Tamil movies had a right mix of genres. There were masala action as there were socio-political movies, there were fairy tales as there were historical fictions. I think one of the most entertaining of all were the stories based on Hindu Gods and mythical characters. Don’t rate the yesteryear mythical classics with the new age graphical so called “Godly” movies. The modern movie directors of mythical fiction should be given exclusive screening of Thiruvilayadal.

Thiruvilayadal (1965)

The first movie that comes to any one’s mind when thinking about mythical movies is Thiruvilayadal. Thiruvilayadal is an excerpt of 4 stories from the 64 stories, which tells the greatness of the Hindu God Shiva. Lord Shiva according to South Indian beliefs has two sons, Vinayagar (Ganesh in North India) and Muruga (lesser known in the North with the name Karthik). Murugan fights with his parents as they give the divine fruit to the cleverer elder son and Murugan goes to the Palani Hills relinquishing all his virtues and luxuries. Different people try to convince him and finally his mother Parvathy explains the various godly miracles of his father Lord Shiva.

The four episodes include the encounter with Nakkeeran, the poet in the Pandya Kingdom, the rift between Parvathi and Sivan – Parvathi being born as a fisher woman. The story of the over-proud singer and Sivan teaching him a lesson as a wood cutter.

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Sivaji Ganesan, Savithri, Muthuraman, Nagesh, Manorama, TS Balaiah were few of the huge star cast it had. The music was composed by the legendary KV Mahadevan and the movie was directed by AP Nagarajan.

Why is it so special?

  1. I think this is the best mythical movie ever to be made in Tamil. I don’t think somebody could make a better one than this. Even AP Nagarajan tried to emulate it and never succeeded in the process.
  2. The movie had everything to make it as the best myth movie. The grandeur, scintillating music, perfect portrayals of actors (right casting) and the choice of the episodes.
  3. The dharumi character of Nagesh, his encounter with Sivaji Ganesan as Lord Shiva is arguably one of the best comic scenes to be made in Tamil Cinema. I never understood the fact of how all the mythical characters and historical characters suit Sivaji so well. He fits in to the role of Lord Siva like a perfect T.
  4. The most important reason for the success of the movie was the music. Pazham Neeyappa by KB Sundarambal, Oru Naal Pothuma by Balamurali Krishna, Isai Tamil nee Seitha Arut Sadanai and Paatum Naane by TM Soundarajan are fantastic renderings still ringing in the ears of music buffs. The flawless screenplay by AP Nagarajan makes this movie a must watch.

Why it makes to the list?

1.Myth is the part and parcel of life in India. Movies are not an exception. I could not think a better movie than this to list in this genre.

2.Do I need one more reason?


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1. The Dharumi character was not present in the movie originally. Nagesh was so very popular in those years that it was a crime not having in the movie. The director had to create a character to accomodate Nagesh in to the movie. It was said that the Dharumi character was based on a person called Krishnaswamy iyer.  It seems he was found in the banks of Mylapore Tank repenting about his poverty.

2. Krishnangoyal Venkatachalam Bhagavathar Mahadevan aka KV Mahadevan was born in Nagarcoil in 1917. He was working with HMV for few years and later turned towards music composing. His first movie was Avan Amaran and he was one of the most sought after music directors in his prime. His famous hits include Sankarabharanam, Vasantha Maligai along with Thiruvilayadal. He had composed more than 600 movies in different Indian languages. A legendary music director. 

3. Akkammapettai Paramsivan Nagarajan was born in a wealthy landowner family, after losing his parents, was made to join a boys company by his maternal grand mother Manickammal. Later, he moved on to Avvai Shanmugam’s troupe and did a lot of female roles or “sthreepart”. He also worked with Sivaji Ganesan and Kaka Radhakrishnan in Sakthi Nadaga Sabha. He started his own drama company, Pazhani Kadhiravan Nadaga Sabha and his film entry was through one of his famous plays, “Nalvar” in which played the lead. His first mythological movie was Sampoorna Ramayanam (1958) for which he wrote the screenplay. He produced social movies like Makkalai Petra Maharasi along with VK Ramasamy. He started his own production company with Navarathri.

4. APN was a smart businessman as he held the rights for his movies. His son CN Paramasivam worked hard to re-release some of his father’s movies. The first one was Karnan that was released in 2012 that had a houseful run in theatres for 25 days in 10 theatres (was released in 72 theatres). Thiruvilayadal had a re-release in 2012 after a legal tussle with Vijaya Pictures and Gemini Film Circuit. It did have a decent run.

5. Read this interesting nugget from Nagesh’s autobiography “Sirithu Vazha Vendum” on how Sivaji Ganesan made sure that the whole Tharumi episode didn’t have any cuts.


  1. The Hindu article on AP Nagarajan and Thiruvilayadal – “Master of mythological cinema” by Mohan Ram
  2. The Hindu article on re-releases – “Classic gets a new life” by Nikhil Raghavan

YouTube link of the movie

Video Thumbnail thiruvilayadal
Thiruvilayadal is the best movie to represent the mythical genre of movies in Tamil.

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Posted by Sylvian

Marketing Analyst by profession, a quizzer by passion, a blogger by choice, a poet by chance, a non-conformist by gene and a rebel by birth


  1. The "Paatum Naane" song is one of THE best songs EVER!TMS's voice is like a gold mine…Sivaji's portrayal is a revelation,like how NTR was THE image of krishna. I can watch this song repeatedly for n number of times particularly for Sivaji and TMS's voice!


  2. Konjum Salangai was not KVM. Its S M Subbaiah Naidu


  3. rajuviswanathan November 2 at 5:53 pm

    lovely post: Avvaiyar, for that epoch was equally good, perhaps. Thiruvilayadal undoubtedly is simply great: did’nt TRMahalingam sing, too? or, was it only TMS? Nagesh asking the Lord (Sivaji) “Ellame nee thanaa?” just sits firmly in ones memory store!


    1. Isai Tamil Nee seitha Arut Sadhanai was indeed sung by TR Mahalingam and I have just missed his name in between. He also acts in the movie. Thanks for pointing out the mistake


  4. As u said “Myth is the part and parcel of life in India”… Enjoying mythology for its grandeur and believing in myth are two different things. Am an atheist, but have seen this movie umpteen no. of times, just for the sheer brilliance of it. My favorite is the “Angam Puzhidhi pada” monologue by Lord Shiva to Nakeeran and Nakeeran witty reply that insults the Lord.. Gr8 addition to the list… Truly a Tamil movie to watch before one dies.


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