Theatrical release poster
|Produced by||R. Ravindran|
|Music by||G. V. Prakash Kumar|
|Editing by||Kola Bhaskar|
|Studio||Dream Valley Films|
|Distributed by||Ayngaran International|
|Release date(s)||14 January 2010|
|Running time||183 min|
Aayirathil Oruvan (Tamil: ஆயிரத்தில் ஒருவன், English: One Man in a Thousand) is a 2010 fantasy adventure Tamil–language film directed by Selvaraghavan, who with the project, directs his fifth feature film. The film stars Karthi Sivakumar, Reemma Sen and Andrea Jeremiah in the lead roles with Parthiban playing a pivotal role. The film, produced by R. Ravindran at a budget of 32 crore rupees, features music composed by G. V. Prakash Kumar, cinematography by Ramji and editing by Kola Bhaskar.
The film begins with an episode in 1279 AD, when the successor of the last great Chola Emperor, pending invasion, sends his people, to survive the threat. The story resumes with an archaeologist, a coolie and a member of the army going in search of the archaeologist's father to the ruined city that was the place the exiled Chola Prince retreated to. An expedition is promptly arranged, and on the course they stumble on the lost Chola civilization and its king and find unexplained links between them and the culture. The shocking events and the problems that arise forms the crux of the story.
The film languished in development hell due to slow progress of the shoot and the extensive pre and post-production works, evading release dates ranging one year. Shooting began in July 2007, and took place in various locations: Chalakudy, Kerala; Jaisalmer, Rajasthan; and other regions throughout India with a record number of extras. Prior to release, the film was given an adult rating by the Central Board of Film Certification and worldwide theatrical and television rights for the film were sold for a record Rs.35 crores. The film released coinciding with the festival of Thai Pongal on 14 January 2010, with a Telugu dubbing version following suit weeks later. Upon release, the film remarkably received contrastingly mixed reviews whilst proceeding to become a successful venture commercially.
The film begins with a therukoothu ("street play"), with the folk art showing the last minutes of the Chola King's reign. Then the audience is taken to A.D. 1279, where the death of the Chola dynasty seems imminent and people are being driven out of their kingdom by the Pandyas in southern India. To escape from them and save the life of his successor, the Chola emperor sends his son, along with his people to a secret territory unknown to his enemies. The prince is seen leaving with the chosen few who are made responsible for the safety of the prince and the rest of the people. The Cholas also take away with them an idol sacred to the Pandyas, which angers them even more. To capture the escaped Cholas and retrieve their idol, the Pandyas extend their invasion to the unexplored territories which the Cholas cover with their prince, but eventually fail.
Several centuries later, in 2009, Indian archaeologists continue searching for the existence of the lost Chola group based on clues left by the ancient Pandyan warriors. But all the archaeologists, who attempt to search for the secret land disappear during the search missions. Archaeologist Chandramouli (Pratap Pothan) is the most recent person to have reportedly traced the empire but he also fails to return from his mission.
The Indian government organizes a search expedition led by officer Anitha Pandiyan (Reemma Sen) to find Chandramouli and the Chola Empire with assistance from the Indian army led by Ravisekharan (Azhagam Perumal). They meet archaeologist Lavanya (Andrea Jeremiah), the estranged daughter of the missing archaeologist Chandramouli, and she assists Anitha and gives crucial documents prepared by her father on the Chola dynasty with instructions on the route to reach the destination. She also joins the expedition since her insight is considered essential for the success of the project.
Along with the army, Anitha employs a group of porters headed by Muthu (Karthi Sivakumar), to transport the baggage during the journey. The crew embark on a voyage leading them to an island, Min-gua, near Vietnam. Here they are faced with the seven traps set by the Cholas: sea creatures, cannibals, warriors, snakes, hunger, quick sand and a village. Many porters and army men are killed on their way.
Muthu, Anitha and Lavanya get separated from the others. They reach the ruins of a village where they get subjected to black magic. They nearly go mad before finally reaching the secret hideout of the Chola dynasty. The three of them find an ethnic isolated primitive Tamil group ruled by a Chola king (R. Parthiban). The king and his people are in hiding, awaiting the arrival of the fabled messenger whom they believe will bring glory and prosperity back to their land and/or lead them back to their motherland (Thanjavur). The king and the priest consult the Gods for omens and order Muthu, Anitha and Lavanya to be burnt alive as sacrifice to their gods.
At this point, Anitha tells the king that she is the messenger he has been eagerly awaiting, sent from the homeland. Muthu and Lavanya are taken as slaves. Anitha is given a chance to prove herself as the messenger. She tries to seduce the king and convinces the Chola king to heed her message - to march towards the homeland two days from then with his people and he would be crowned a proper king. He suspects her bona fides since none of Anitha's actions match the qualities of the messenger described by his ancestors and ancient paintings - the messenger will be ill-treated at first, but will eventually help out the local tribe and, also his arrival will be preceded by hail.
Meanwhile, Anitha drugs the priest and poisons the water sources. She catches a glimpse of the Pandyas' sacred idol and leaves, finally exposing her identity as a descendent of the Pandya Dynasty. For generations, her race has been trying to find the whereabouts of the Chola prince and his people who escaped with the idol. The central minister who sponsors the expedition also is shown to be of Pandyan descent. The Chola king is shattered for having believed in Anitha as his true messenger. Anitha, with Ravishekaran, gathers an army and assaults the hidden kingdom. The Cholas are at war once again with the Pandyas. In due course, the king finds that Muthu is the true messenger - the chosen one who would save the Cholas from the clutches of Anitha and the army.
They fight bravely but the Cholas lose and are taken prisoners. Their women are molested and raped by the army and the king is killed. The men drown in the seas. The story ends with Muthu saving the Chola prince. Thus the seed of the Chola dynasty is brought back to India by the messenger as predicted.
Following the disappointing reception to his 2006 gangster film, Pudhupettai, Selvaraghavan took a sabbatical to plan future projects and set up a production company, White Elephants, whose first project Idhu Maalai Nerathu Mayakkam started in November 2006. The film was co-produced by new producer, R. Ravindran, and the first schedule began with Karthi Sivakumar, whose first film Paruthiveeran was yet to release, and Sandhya. However the film was stalled in early 2007 due to cinematographer Arvind Krishna's decision to leave White Elephants and the project was eventually shelved. In July 2007, Selvaraghavan announced a new film with a new team of Karthi and Reemma Sen in the cast, with Ramji replacing regular Arvind Krishna as the cinematographer. Erum Ali, wife of actor Abbas, became the team's head costume designer, whilst, Selvaraghavan's sister-in-law and Rajinikanth's daughter, Aishwarya Dhanush was signed on as an associate director. The film, was named after a popular M. G. Ramachandran film, Aayirathil Oruvan, and the producer was announced to be R. Ravindran whilst Yuvan Shankar Raja was appointed as music director following five previous successful soundtracks in Selvaraghavan films. Despite early indications that the director's brother, Dhanush was going to play a guest role, it became evident that the role was subsequently handed to R. Parthiban. Andrea Jeremiah was also signed up for a role in the film in October 2007, signing her second film after Pachaikili Muthucharam and director-actor Azhagam Perumal followed suit in November 2007.
Following nearly six months of filming, Yuvan Shankar Raja was ousted from the project, with claims from Selvaraghavan that the music director had failed to complete tracks in time. Subsequently, the role of the music director was handed to G. V. Prakash Kumar, for whom Aayirathil Oruvan became his biggest project to date. The film's stunt director, Rambo Rajkumar, died in April 2009 with reviews after the release, unanimously praising his action choreography. The film's music released two months later to much appraisal in a well-held ceremony. Soon after the filming finished, the lead actors moved onto other projects as did Selvaraghavan whilst post-production works went on. In August 2009, Selvaraghavan divorced his wife, Sonia Agarwal with his close proximity to Andrea being a speculated cause. During the period, G. V. Prakash Kumar and Selva also worked on the music in Mumbai whilst re-recording was also held in Austria and London. Towards the end of the year, the film began to announce release date of Christmas which was later further delayed to coincide with the Pongal festival. A date clash occurred with Karthi's Paiyaa, with an eventual hearing leading to the Karthi's latter film being delayed. Throughout December 2009, release work began with a trailer and promotional songs being released on the 13 December with Kamal Haasan and Surya Sivakumar attending as special guests. The film was subsequently censored before the end of the year by the Central Board of Film Certification and settled with an adult rating, after Selvaraghavan refused to get rid of gory scenes. On December 31, it was announced that the film was sold worldwide for 35 crore rupees for theatrical, television and other rights.
Following much development and pre-production which took four months for scripting, the film started the first schedule in the forests of Chalakudy in Kerala with Karthi, Reemma Sen and Andrea during October 2007. Thirty five days into the shoot, Selvaraghavan gave a statement that the film was forty percent over and the film should release by May 2008 whilst also mentioning that rains in Kerala led to the budget going over expectations two months into the project. In January 2008, the unit moved to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan to shoot in the deserts in the region, however they were affected by unseasonal rains delaying schedules. Missing its original release date, the film's progress carried on through 2008, with shooting occurring towards the end of the year inside sets at Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad. In the studios, choreographer Shivshankar composed a classical dance for Reemma Sen and Parthiban, and the sequence was shot for twenty days. Shooting carried on in sets for three more months filming the scenes in the second half of the film. Shoots in all regions, were tough and demanding for the crew of the film, as the film featured more than three thousand junior artistes from a variety of unions across India, with the language barrier becoming a problem. The film, eighteen months into shoot, soon began to face questions about the progress of the film, with the producer, Ravindran, having to complain to the Tamil Film Producers Council that Karthi was trying to change his look for his next film, Paiyaa, following the long period he had spent with Aayirathil Oruvan. In February 2009, the film was announced complete after 263 days of shoot, with the producers signalling a summer release, which was then postponed by six months.
In regard to the long periods of shoot, the lead actor expressed that they were also unaware of the longetivity of the film's shoot. Andrea, originally signed for three months, whilst Reemma Sen signed for forty days, without knowing the film would last them two and a half years with 260 days of shoot. Furthermore, Parthiban claimed to have been signed for forty days, whilst his segment lasted up to 140 days.
After languishing in development hell, the film was finally released on 14 January 2010 coinciding with the Tamil festival of Thai Pongal. The film faced competition from three other Tamil films on the day, with Selvaraghavan's brother, Dhanush, having a release in Kutty; whilst Naanayam and Porkkalam also released across Tamil Nadu. Aayirathil Oruvan took the biggest opening by a considerable distance earning Rs. 70,04,264 in the opening weekend across Chennai, more than double the opening of Kutty. Furthermore, in the United Kingdom, the film opened across seven screens and grossed £29,517 in the opening week, becoming the biggest opening for a film without the six established leading actors of the Tamil film industry. The film, distributed by Ayngaran International opened at 22nd place. The film also managed to beat the other Indian releases in Malaysia, earning $340,082 in the second weeking, after opening in seventh. Similarly, the Telugu dubbing version of the film which released on February 5, Yuganiki Okkadu; took a strong opening and was declared a super hit following the opening weekend. The Telugu version released across 93 screens across Andhra Pradesh and grossed 1.78 crore in its opening weekend, a major achievement for a dubbed film.
Upon release, the film remarkably gained predominantly either extremely positive reviews or extremely negative reviews. Reviews were often based upon the expectations that the film created prior to release, hampering the chances of the film living up to expectations. A reviewer from Sify.com, cited that the film represented "something new in the placid world of Tamil cinema" adding that it "broke away from the shackles of the stereotypes". Selvaraghavan also was praised by the reviewer with claims that "the director transports us to a whole new world and at the end of it all, we are dumb stuck by the visuals, the packaging and the new way of storytelling". Furthermore, in regard of the crew, Sify described the "top class camera work" by Ramji and that G. V. Prakash Kumar's background score and his music was "tangy". Rediff.com, gave the film a highly 3.5 out of 5 claiming that viewers should "steel your stomach before [you] watch it" and "regardless of the minor discrepancies, AO is definitely a movie to watch". The reviewer, like Sify.com's review, continues to praise Selvaraghavan for attempting such a subject, whilst praising the film technically, claiming it is "a visual treat". Moreover it claims that G V Prakash's music sets the tone for the period pieces; adding that "otherwise, the BGM is adequate". Whilst Ramji's cinematography "is brilliant but the movie could use some editing". In contrast Behindwoods.com gave the film 0.5 out of 5 describing the film as "wildly crass", dismissing that "the underdeveloped script lacks everything - starting from strong plot twists to captive locations to graphics to credibility, above all".
In regard of the performances of the lead cast, the Sify reviewer cites that Reemma Sen brings "an uninhibited joie to her role as Anitha" and has "extracted a fine performance". Andrea Jeremiah is described as "likeable", whilst Parthiban is "adequate as the king". Karthi Sivakumar is unanimously praised, citing that he "is a scream. Right from his introduction scene till the end, he is lovable and provides humour" and "has made a sensational comeback three years after his debut film". Similarly Rediff claims that Reemma is "revelation", whilst alo praising the performances of Karthi and Andrea. Meanwhile, the Behindwoods reviewer criticizes all three actors claiming that Karthi has "very little to spare for Aayirathil Oruvan", whilst Reemma Sen fails with her "improper synchronization" and that Andrea might be "multi-talented, but acting, sadly, is not one of those".
|Soundtrack by G. V. Prakash Kumar|
|Released||14 June 2009|
|Genre||Feature film soundtrack|
|Producer||G. V. Prakash Kumar|
|G. V. Prakash Kumar chronology|
The film was launched in 2007 with Selvaraghavan's regular music director, Yuvan Shankar Raja, following five successive successful albums together. However, Yuvan Shankar Raja was ousted form the project in March 2008 due to differences of opinion. Subsequently, young music director G. V. Prakash Kumar was signed on for his biggest project to date and work for the soundtrack began again from scratch. Controversially, a song composed for the project by Yuvan Shankar Raja was re-used in Vishnuvardhan's Sarvam, whilst a song with a similar tune released later in the album of Aayirathil Oruvan.
The soundtrack to Aayirathil Oruvan was released on 14 June 2009 at a University Auditorium in Chennai, in a critically praised event. Prominent film personalities across the South Indian film industry attended the launch, which became one of the first films, to play live music at the audio launch. The launch featured live performances from G. V. Prakash Kumar and Andrea Jeremiah for several songs, as well as songs from Selvaraghavan's brother, Dhanush and his wife, Aishwarya Dhanush. Furthermore, the night featured a fashion show from Erum Ali, a Kalari performance in Chenda Melam by dancers from Kerala led by actress Poorna and choreographed by Sivashankar.
The album features ten tunes; six being songs, two being alternate versions and another two being theme music. The album featured vocals from singers Karthik, Vijay Yesudas, Bombay Jayashree, Nithyasree Mahadevan and P. B. Srinivas, who made a comeback to playback singing with his song. Moreover husband-wife personality, Dhanush and Aishwarya Dhanush sung for the album along with the composer, Prakash Kumar and lead actress, Andrea Jeremiah. Lyrics for the songs were written by Vairamuthu, Veturi Sundararama Murthy, Selvaraghavan and Andrea Jeremiah. Moreover, for a song set in the thirteenth century, research was carried out to find instruments used during that period, and a Yaazh, a melodic instrument used in the Sangam age from Sri Lanka and a horn, a brass instrument made from animal horns from Bhutan were used. The soundtrack garnered critical acclaim and was considered Prakash Kumar's finest work to date. Furthermore, shortly after the music release, an album success meet was held.
In the film, only three songs from the album are used in their entirety. Moreover, the first song in the film, not included in the soundtrack, is the original version of Adho Andha Paravai Pola from the 1965 film Aayirathil Oruvan, which was bought from the original copyright holders of the song in December 2007. Montages of the original song featuring M. G. Ramachandran, whom Karthi's character is a fan, are shown throughout the song with replicating actions from the original as does Reemma Sen's character. Oh Eesa appear in the film in the form of an alternate music video shot in studios with Gothic sets. The video appears when the trio along with many other officers and coolies are towards the beginning of their expedition struggling to keep in terms with the physical demands of the mission. Another, Un Mela Aasaidhan, appears once the trio finally reach their destination and are high after eating camel meat and intaking liquor due to their hunger. The film's picturisation of the three exploring the ruins of the fallen kingdom in the song, were praised. Thaai Thindra Mannae was also shown pictured on Parthiban and Reemma Sen, whilst small extracts from the musical scores of Indha Paadhai and Pemmane were used. The most-appreciated song of the soundtrack, Maalai Neram was left out of the film altogether.
|1.||"Oh Eesa (Composers Mix)"||Karthik, Andrea Jeremiah||5:22|
|2.||"Maalai Neram"||Andrea Jeremiah, G. V. Prakash Kumar||5:58|
|3.||"Un Mela Aasadhaan"||Dhanush, Aishwarya Dhanush, Andrea Jeremiah||4:30|
|4.||"The King Arrives"||3:02|
|5.||"Thaai Thindra Mannae (The Cholan Ecstasy)"||Vijay Yesudas, Nithyasree Mahadevan, Shri Krishna||5:57|
|6.||"Pemmane"||P. B. Srinivas, Bombay Jayashree||5:59|
|7.||"Celebration of Life"||3:32|
|8.||"Thaai Thindra Mannae (Classical Version)"||Vijay Yesudas||7:17|
|9.||"Indha Padhai"||G. V. Prakash Kumar||4:53|
|10.||"Oh Eesa (Club Mix)"||Big Nikk||4:53|