Agni Natchathiram poster

Agni Natchathiram

  • 15 Apr 1988
  • 2h 26m
  • Action, Crime, Drama
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Agni Natchathiram is a 1988 Indian Tamil action-drama film written and directed by Mani Ratnam. The film stars Prabhu, Karthik, Amala, and newcomer Nirosha, with Vijayakumar, Jayachitra, Sumithra, Tara, S. N. Lakshmi, and G. Umapathy in supporting roles. It revolves around two half-brothers who come into conflict with each other in their claim for legitimacy as sons of a common father.

Mani Ratnam intended for Agni Natchathiram to be his next film after Mouna Ragam (1986) and completed the script, but chose to prioritize Nayakan. Despite shooting some scenes during a break from that film, production on Agni Natchathiram was stalled for nearly a year and resumed only after Nayakan's release in Diwali 1987. The film was produced by Ratnam's brother G. Venkateswaran, filmed by P. C. Sreeram, and edited by B. Lenin and V. T. Vijayan.

Agni Natchathiram was released on 15 April 1988 and became a box office success, running for over 200 days in theatres. The film won two Filmfare Awards South, three Tamil Nadu State Film Awards, and five Cinema Express Awards. It became a trendsetter in Tamil cinema for its setting of a new standard in the use of lighting and was remade in Hindi as Vansh (1992).





  • Status Released
  • Release date 15 Apr 1988
  • Running time 2h 26m
  • Genres Action, Crime, Drama


In Madras, half-brothers Gautham and Ashok are the sons of senior government Indian Administrative Service (IAS) official Vishwanath. Gautham's mother is Vishwanath's first wife Susheela, and Ashok's mother is Vishwanath's second wife Kamala. Both Gautham and Ashok inappropriately express their anger towards their father to others, and display open antipathy towards each other.

Gautham, a trainee Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, meets the Commissioner's daughter Anjali and they slowly become lovers. After graduating from the police academy, Gautham is appointed Assistant Commissioner in Madras. Around the same time, Ashok meets a mysterious girl and they also form a romantic relationship. Meanwhile, Vishwanath is appointed head of an inquiry commission to investigate a nefarious factory owner called Chidambaram.

One night, Ashok and his friends run into Gautham and Anjali; one of Ashok's friends teases Gautham, who arrests Ashok's friend on an invented charge. Enraged, Ashok and his gang throw stones at Gautham's house, accidentally injuring Susheela. The next day, Gautham arrests Ashok after provoking him into attacking him. Because Vishwanath is out of town, Susheela helps Kamala bail Ashok and offers snide, unsolicited advice about raising her children to be law-abiding. Meanwhile, Chidambaram repeatedly tries to bribe Vishwanath but is rebuffed and orders an assault on Vishwanath.

On the day when Ashok's sister Mallika is meeting a prospective groom's family for a matchmaking ceremony, Vishwanath fails to arrive, causing the groom's family to question the seriousness of the marriage between Kamala and Vishwanath. Ashok is enraged; he goes to Vishwanath's house and berates him but realises his paternal grandmother has died; Gautham throws him out. Later, Ashok learns his girlfriend also comes from a broken family. The Commissioner learns of Gautham's romance with Anjali and, based on his father's behaviour, doubts his monogamy.

Mallika runs into Gautham and Anjali on a commuter train; Gautham protecting her from ruffians hired by Chidambaram to harass her, and he and Anjali accompany Mallika home safely. Mallika addresses Gautham as her elder brother but before he can respond, Ashok arrives and throws him out. Another altercation occurs at a wedding. The next day, they get into a huge brawl in public. Vishwanath berates them both, lamenting his public humiliation at his sons' behaviour.

While Vishwanath is leaving his office, he is run over by a truck driven by one of Chidambaram's thugs and becomes comatose. Mutual fear brings the families closer as Susheela and Kamala wait by his bedside. Chidambaram arranges for Vishwanath's murder in the hospital. When the thugs attack, Gautham and Ashok foil the murder attempt by switching to the ambulance that Vishwanath was in. The next day, the brothers take the bandaged Vishwanath into the commission's office to submit evidence of Chidambaram's crimes. Chidambaram is arrested and the brothers high five each other.


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