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Happy Father's Day 2022: The best Tamil movies to watch: From Nayakan, Vaaranam Aayiram to Don

Here’s a list of the best Tamil movies you and your father can binge together, this Father’s Day.

  • Team OTTplay

Last Updated: 07.35 PM, Jun 19, 2022

Happy Father's Day 2022: The best Tamil movies to watch: From Nayakan, Vaaranam Aayiram to Don
A still from Nayakan, Abhiyum Naanum and Vaaranam Aayiram/Twitter

In Tamil films, the different moods and roles of dads have never failed to be captured; a father who is close to his daughter or a strict authority figure or a father who is his son's best friend. Tamil cinema has come of age most notably with father character portrayals. Major actors have portrayed doting fathers throughout Tamil cinema's history, as envisioned by their directors.

On Father’s Day, we present to you a list of Tamil films (in no specific order) that attempt to portray meaningful father-child relationships on screen. And, these always had our hearts.

Bama Vijayam (1967): The K Balachander's film follows three daughters-in-law who try to impress an actress who becomes their neighbour via absurd means. In an interview with the Hindu, Playwright Crazy Mohan said no attempt at comedy could ever match Bama Vijayam. “The spontaneity in that humour is unbelievable. No one can ever equal his ability to pen sharp dialogue,” he said.

Mr Bharath (1986): A remake of the Hindi film Trishul, it revolves around a son's revenge against his father for cheating on his mother. Directed by SP Muthuraman, the film stars Rajinikanth, Sathyaraj, Ambika in lead roles.

Mahanadhi (1994): It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say this film has gone down in cinematic history as one of the best films of Kamal Haasan. The actor not only featured in it but also had written the story and screenplay. Speaking to the Hindustan Times, Kamal Haasan said he has never spoken of what prompted him to write Mahanadhi. "Now my daughters are old enough to understand the ways of this world I can... My household help, all of them, conspired to kidnap my daughter for ransom. They even did a dry run. By accident, I discovered their plan. I was angry, unnerved and ready to kill for my baby's safety." 

Mahanadhi won two National Film Awards.

Naan Mahaan Alla (2010): The father-son bonding between Jayaprakash and Karthi is appealing, in this film, directed by Susienthiran. Set in Chennai, it revolves around Jeeva (Karthi), an unemployed and carefree young man whose father becomes the target of a gang of young criminals after witnessing a kidnapping. The film opened to good reviews and made steady progress at the box office.

Nallavanukku Nallavan (1984): Adapted from the Telugu film Dharmatmudu from 1983, the film stars Rajinikanth and Radikaa, Major Sundarrajan, YG Mahendra and Visu in key roles. The story revolves around a worker who inherits his late boss's business, earning the wrath of the boss's son who believes he cheated on his father. Directed by SP Muthuraman, the film was written by Visu.

En Bommukutty Ammavukku (1988): Directed by Fazil, the film featured Sathyaraj, Suhasini, and Geetu Mohandas, in key roles. En Bommukutty Ammavukku is a remake of Fazil's Malayalam film, Ente Mamattukkuttiyammakku. An accident causes Lakshmi and Vinod to lose their daughter, so they decide to adopt a girl from the local orphanage. The problem arises when the child's biological parents Mercy and Alex try to locate her.

Nayakan (1987): Despite being India's official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 60th Academy Awards, it did not make the final cut. But, the Mani Ratnam directorial was included in TIME's "All-Time 100 Best Films".

"When Kamal came onto the Nayakan set, he had made several impressive films. We had to film three back-to-back intense scenes, in which a father loses his son, carries the deceased body to cremation, and then deals with his daughter's loss. I narrated the scenes to Kamal, who, after a while, internalised them and cried his heart out in front of me," Mani Ratnam had told the Hindu.

Thanga Meengal (2013): Directed by Ram, the film revolves around a slow child and her equally child-like father. Thanga Meengal, also featuring Sadhana, won three prizes at the 61st National Awards. It is a coming-of-age story told through the eyes of an eight-year-old daughter, about a father struggling to make ends meet.

Thevar Magan (1992): Written by Kamal Haasan and directed by Malayalam filmmaker Bharathan, Thevar Magan won five National awards and was selected as India’s official entry to the Oscars. The film has a cult following, thanks to its strong storyline, brilliant performances by veteran actors Sivaji Ganesan, Kamal Haasan, Nassar and Revathi, and music by Ilaiyaraaja. Kamal Haasan had acknowledged that Thevar Magan was inspired by The Godfather and Kaadu. Also, the actor-politician announced a sequel to this one, a couple of years ago.

Avvai Shanmugi (1996): Directed by KS Ravikumar and co-written by Crazy Mohan, the film, starring Kamal Haasan, Meena and Ann, is heavily inspired by the American film Mrs Doubtfire. The plot revolves around a divorcee who disguises himself as a nanny to be close to his daughter, who is only in the custody of his ex-wife.

Kannathil Muthamittal (2002): A little girl is told by her parents that she is adopted. Determined to find her real mother, she begs to be taken to Sri Lanka, where her mother works with a militant group of activists. The film, starring Simran, Madhavan, Nandita Das and Keerthana Parthiban, is directed by Mani Ratnam.

Vaaranam Aayiram (2008): Written and directed by Gautham Menon, Suriya plays the role of the father and son. The film follows the emotional bond between the father and the son and chronicles several important phases in their lives.

Unnal Mudiyum Thambi (1988): A son of orthodox Carnatic Musician voices for social causes against his father's will and in a way gains the trust of local people and brings self-awareness to neighbouring villages. The film, starring Gemini Ganesan, Manorama, Kamal Haasan and Seetha, in the lead, is directed by K Balachander.

Yennai Arindhaal (2015): A sincere police officer tries to stop an organ trafficking racket. But he is unaware that the man performing the illegal trade is the same person who killed his beloved. The film, directed by Gautham Menon, features Ajith Kumar, Anika, Arun Vijay, Trisha and Anushka, in key roles.

Kireedam (2007): A police constable's son, aspires to be a cop himself. What happens when he crosses paths with a local, forms the rest of the story. Directed by Vijay, the film stars Ajith Kumar in the lead. Kireedam was later dubbed into Telugu as Poorna Market.

Appa (2016): Directed by Samuthirakani, the story revolves around a father who nurtures his son to make him a good man in this society. Appa that has music by Ilaiyaraaja, was remade into Malayalam as Aakashamittayi, with Jayaram playing lead.

Agni Natchathiram (1988): Written and directed by Mani Ratnam, the film has Vijayakumar, Prabhu, Amala, Karthik and Nirosha, in key roles. The film became a box-office success and ran in theatres for over 200 days. Two men have the same father, but different mothers hate each other and often get into fights. But they are forced to join hands when their father's life is endangered.

Abhiyum Naanum (2008): This feel-good film, directed by Radha Mohan, is about a doting dad and how he brings up his daughter. For fathers who love their daughters, this is your pick.

Santhosh Subramaniyam (2008): A young man narrates his past on how his father wants the best things for him but never asks his son's opinion on whether he likes them or not. Directed by Mohan Raja, the film has Prakash Raj, Jayam Ravi and Genelia, in key roles.

Deiva Thirumagal (2011): The hero, with a mind of a six-year-old, finds it unbearable when his five-year-old daughter is separated from him forcefully. Directed by Vijay, the film stars Vikram, Sara Arjun, Anushka Shetty and Amala Paul in key roles. Deiva Thirumagal is a remake of I Am Sam, though the makers never acknowledged it, in open.

Raja Rani (2013): John (Arya) and Regina (Nayanthara), who dislike each other, are forced to get married and lead troubled lives. However, things take a turn when the couple suffers a sudden tragedy. Directed by Atlee, the film has memorable scenes involving Sathyaraj and Nayanthara that depict an ideal father-daughter relationship.

Sethupathi (2016): While conducting an investigation into the mysterious death of a fellow officer, a cop's reputation is questioned when a suspect in his custody is shot. Directed by Arunkumar, the film has Vijay Sethupathi, in the role of a doting cop-father.

Siruthai (2011): After establishing himself as a serious actor and then a middle-class lover-boy, Karthi decided to make the transition into an all-out action hero. Directed by Siva, the film partly focuses on the father-daughter relationship. Siruthai is a remake of the 2006 Telugu film Vikramarkudu, directed by SS Rajamouli of Baahubali-fame.

Gnana Oli (1972): Directed by P Madhavan and written by Vietnam Veedu Sundaram, the film features Sivaji Ganesan, in the lead role. Antony, an ex-convict, leaves the country after killing his daughter's lover. He returns many years later as a reputable man, but his friend, Lawrence, recognises him and tries to expose him. The film also has a few heartwarming scenes that depict the emotional bond between a father and a daughter.

Peranbu (2019): A single father tries to raise his daughter, who has cerebral palsy, even as she is beginning to wake up to her sexuality. Directed by Ram, the film starring Mammootty and Thanga Meengal-fame Sadhana, opened to rave reviews. Also starring Anjali, Anjali Ameer, PL Thenappan has produced this film while Yuvan Shankar Raja has composed the music.

Kabali (2016): A reformed gangster is released from prison and attempts to protect his family from his enemies. Just as Velu Naicker (Kamal Haasan) took to the gun to do good for his people, in Nayakan, here, in Kabali, Rajinikanth helps Malaysian Tamils secure their rights. Directed by Pa Ranjith, the film also stars Radhika Apte, Winston Chao and Sai Dhanshika, in key roles.

Em Magan (2006): Emtan (Nassar) runs a provision shop in a village. His son Krishna (Bharath), a student of poultry science, helps him in the shop. A strict father, Emtan is always at his son's back. His strict ways of dealing with his son leave an uncomfortable scene in the house. Written and directed by Thirumurugan, the film stars Bharath, Gopika, Saranya Ponvannan and Nassar, in key roles.

Mahaan (2022): Gandhi Mahaan, a school teacher, is abandoned by his family after he decides to live a life of his own, with personal freedom. Directed by Karthik Subbaraj, Mahaan marks the first collaboration of Vikram and Dhruv Vikram. The film also stars Simran and Bobby Simha, in key roles.

Pariyerum Perumal (2018): A law student from a lower caste begins a friendship with his classmate, a girl who belongs to a higher caste, and the men in her family start giving him trouble over this. While this remains the plot of Pariyerum Perumal, the film also explores a delicate relationship between Pariyan (Kathir), and his father (Vannarpettai Thangaraj).

Theri (2017): When his daughter's life is endangered by a local gang, Joseph Kuruvilla (Thalapathy Vijay) will do whatever it takes to stop them. However, at the same time, his dangerous past slowly resurfaces. Directed by Atlee, the film also features Samantha, Amy Jackson, and Nainika, in key roles.

Haridas (2013): The bonding between a father and his 10-year-old autistic son, and the boy and his empathetic school teacher forms the fulcrum of Haridas. Sivadas, the father, gropes in the dark, trying to understand the mind of his motherless son, Hari, who seems to live in a world of his own. The film is directed by GNR Kumaravelan and has Kishore and Sneha in the lead roles.

Mersal (2017): A detective arrests a doctor for crimes targeting medical professionals but later finds the real culprit in a tale of revenge, corruption and magic. Directed by Atlee, the film features Thalapathy Vijay, Samantha, Kajal Aggarwal, Nithya Menen and SJ Suryah, in key roles. The story has an age-old formulaic pattern followed from the MGR period, where lookalikes swap places to avenge their detractors, with Atlee taking a contemporary issue for Vijay.

Kanaa (2018): A woman who hails from a middle-class family background aims to excel in the competitive world of cricket with the help of her supportive father. Directed by Arunraja Kamaraj, the film features Aishwarya Rajesh, Sathyaraj and Sivakarthikeyan, in key roles. Aishwarya Rajesh underwent intense cricket coaching for her role.

Viswasam (2019): A village ruffian, who settles disputes in his native, takes on a big shot when he tries to sort out the rough patch in his marriage after several years. According to reports released by Twitter India, Viswasam, directed by Siruthai Siva, has been labelled the most used hashtag on Twitter in India for the first half of 2019. The film, which was released in January, featured Ajith and Nayanthara starring in the lead roles.

Priyamanavale (2000): Vijay has no faith in marriage. However, on his father's insistence, he marries Priya but lays down a condition wherein at the end of the year he will decide whether to continue their marriage or not. Directed by Selvabharathi, the film has Simran, SP Balasubrahmanyam, Vivek and Radhika Chaudhari in key roles.

Bigil (2019): A former football player struggles to train a women's football team and avenge his father's death. The sports drama, which is the third collaboration between Vijay and filmmaker Atlee, also stars Nayanthara, Jackie Shroff, Yogi Babu, Varsha Bollamma, and Indhuja.

Pasanga 2 (2015): The film, directed by Pandiraj, focuses on the issue of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) among children, and the impact of the disorder on their lives and the people around them. The film features Suriya, Amala Paul, Nishesh and Vaishnavi, in key roles. The film marked Pandiraj's last trilogy series for children, following Pasanga and Marina.

Papanasam (2015): Desperate measures are taken by a man who tries to save his family from the dark side of the law after they commit an unexpected crime. Though Drishyam was a film done by Mohanlal, Kamal Haasan thought it’d be a good idea for him to do it. He told the Hindu, "I wanted to bring it to my people.” In Papanasam, the actor plays a self-made man from Tirunelveli called Suyambulingam. In his review of Papanasam, Baradwaj Rangan had written, "And it’s terrific to see Kamal Haasan play a ‘normal’ part, something that doesn’t ask you to view it through special Subtext Revealing Glasses. Directed by Jeethu Joseph, the film also featured Gautami, Nivetha Thomas, Esther Anil and Asha Sarath, in important roles.

Thoongaavanam (2015): A cop with a connection to the criminal underworld finds his secret life exposed when he and his partner are caught stealing cocaine from a powerful drug dealer, a move that puts his son's life in jeopardy. Directed by Rajesh M Selva, the film has Kamal Haasan, Prakash Raj, Trisha, Kishore, Sampath Raj, and Yugi Sethu, playing important roles. The film also has some heartwarming scenes that depict the bond between a father and a son.

Darbar (2020): A police officer is on a chase to hunt down a dreaded gangster to fulfil his secret agenda. Directed by AR Murugadoss, Darbar stars Rajinikanth, Nayanthara, Sunil Shetty, Nivetha Thomas, and Yogi Babu in important roles. The film has music by Anirudh Ravichander.

Tik Tik Tik (2018): After discovering that an asteroid the size of a city is going to impact Earth in less than a month, India recruits a misfit team to save the country. Directed by Shakti Soundar Rajan, the film, inspired by Armageddon, features Jayam Ravi, Aaron Aziz and Nivetha Pethuraj in the lead roles.

Asuran (2019): The teenage son of a farmer from an underprivileged caste kills a rich, upper-caste landlord. Will the farmer, a loving father and a pacifist by heart, be able to save his hot-blooded son is the rest of the story. Directed by Vetrimaaran, this action-drama features Dhanush and Manju Warrier, in lead roles. Asuran is an adaptation of Vekkai, a Tamil novel by Poomani.

Don (2022): Set against a college backdrop, Don sees Sivakarthikeyan playing an Engineering college student, who follows his heart. Directed by Cibi Chakravarthi, the film has emotional scenes involving Sivakarthikeyan and Samuthirakani, who play son and father, respectively.

Keladi Kanmani (1990): Directed by Vasanth Sai, the film stars SP Balasubrahmanyam, Raadika, Ramesh Aravind and Anju. The film was a commercial success and ran for over 285 days at theatres. Keladi Kanmani had three layers; it talked about a love story between a young couple; it discussed a mature relationship between a middle-aged couple, and then it tried to dissect the bond between a father and a daughter craving for a mother’s love. The film tried to hold a mirror to the middle-class’ notion of a family that existed then and exhorted viewers to question if that was right.