Muthal Mariyathai poster

Muthal Mariyathai

  • 15 Aug 1985
  • 2h 43m
  • Drama
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  • Status Released
  • Release date 15 Aug 1985
  • Running time 2h 43m
  • Genres Drama


National Film Awards - 1985
Best Feature Film
National Film Awards - 1985
Best Lyricist
Filmfare Awards South - 1985
Sivaji Ganesan
Best Actor
Filmfare Awards South - 1985
Best Actress
Cinema Express Award - 1985
Best Film


The film opens with the friends and family of an ailing village chief, Malaichami, gathered around him on his deathbed. The plot then moves along in a series of flashbacks.

Malaichami is unhappily married to his cousin Ponnatha, a shrew who always shows him contempt. Though they live together, they do not share a husband-wife relationship. Also living with them is Ponnatha's daughter Rasamma, her husband and Malaichami's orphaned nephew Chellakannu, who assists him at his farm.

Years roll by. Malaichami, the village chief, is respected by one and all. Kuyil, a young woman, comes to the village with her father looking for work. They build a hut on the river bank and Kuyil works as a boatwoman with a coracle. Malaichami and Kuyil become good friends despite the wide gap in their age and socioeconomic status. Since Malaichami receives no emotional support or love at home, he enjoys Kuyil's company.

Chellakannu loves Sevuli, the daughter of the cobbler Sengodan, and they plan to elope when Sevuli's wedding arrangements are being made. On learning this, Malaichami berates Chellakannu. Kuyil intervenes and convinces Malaichami to let them marry. After the marriage, when Chellakannu and Sevuli are alone in a field, an unseen man kills Sevuli, who managed to bite off his big toe, and steals her jewellery. After Sengodan tells Malaichami he found a toe in Sevuli's mouth, Malaichami sees Rasamma's husband without a toe, realises he is the killer and hands him over to the police. Chellakannu later commits suicide.

When the villagers whisper about the relationship between Malaichami and Kuyil, Ponnatha takes Malaichami to the panchayat, asking for a solution. Malaichami, angered at being questioned by everyone, blurts out that he is indeed in a relationship with Kuyil, just to stop the gossip. He goes to Kuyil to ask for her pardon for having said so in public. However, Kuyil reveals that she indeed is in love with him and that he too must be loving her within himself but is hiding the truth. Though Malaichami denies it at the moment and leaves her asking her to change her mind, he is deeply disturbed at what really could be between them.

At home, Ponnatha angrily tells Malaichami he sent Rasamma's husband to prison because he is not Rasamma's biological father, a fact Rasamma never knew before. Malaichami hits back at her and as he recollects the past, reveals to Rasamma that Ponnatha conceived Rasamma out of a casual relationship with someone at a village fair and that he married Ponnatha only to save her father from disgrace.

Angered further, Ponnatha invites all her relatives to her house for a settlement of the issue. She throws a feast for them where she requests they kill Kuyil and promises that she will take care of the consequences by spending money for their case. As Malaichami hears this, he challenges the relatives to face him before they can harm her and goes to stay with Kuyil to defend her and to stay with her thereafter.

As Malaichami goes to Kuyil, he finds her home empty and later finds her stained with blood and convicted for the murder of an unknown man. He pleads with her to tell the truth of what transpired so that she can be rescued. She reveals, after making Malaichami promise that he would not proceed to argue on her behalf as it would negate the purpose of her sacrifice, that the person she killed was Mayilvaganam, Rasamma's biological father.

Mayilvaganam was on his way to the village after serving a prison term and was planning to lay claim to Ponnatha and her wealth. As this would affect the reputation of Malaichami's family, she killed Mayilvaganam on her coracle. Malaichami is spellbound by her sacrifice and vows that he will not die till Kuyil returns and chooses to stay in her hut.

In the present, as Malaichami is dying, Kuyil is brought on parole to see him. Malaichami dies after meeting her. While returning to prison on a train, Kuyil also dies.

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