Sathya (1988 film)

Not to be confused with Satya (film).
Directed by Suresh Krissna
Produced by Kamal Haasan
Chandra Haasan
Written by Ananthu (dialogues)
Story by Javed Akhtar
Starring Kamal Haasan
Music by Ilaiyaraaja
Cinematography S. M. Anwar
Edited by N. R. Kittu
Distributed by Raaj Kamal Films International
Release dates
29 September 1988
Country India
Language Tamil

Sathya is a 1988 Indian Tamil action film directed by Suresh Krissna and produced by Kamal Haasan starring Kamal Haasan himself along with Amala. The film was remake from the 1985 Hindi film Arjun. The film is the debut directional venture for Suresh Krishna. The film completed a 150-day run at the box office. The cinematography and editing were handled by S. M. Anwar and N. R. Kittu respectively.


Sathyamurthy alias Sathya (Kamal Haasan) is an unemployed youth who does not tolerate injustice anywhere. He stays with his father Mudaliar (Bahadoor), stepmother (Vadivukkarasi) and stepsister Sudha. One day Sathya beats up a group of ruffians who are thrashing a tea vendor for not paying extortion taxes. These ruffians are the henchmen of a local goon Rangan, who works for the local MLA Mariappa (Rajesh). With this incident, Sathya's life changes as he invokes the wrath of Rangan. In retribution, Rangan and his men humiliate Sudha in public, forcing Sathya to thrash Rangan and destroy his bar. Meanwhile, Sathya falls in love with Geetha Nair (Amala Akkineni), a young Malayali woman who works as a salesperson in a cloth shop.

Soon, Sathya begins to grab public attention, as he and his friends start taking the law into their own hands, thrashing anyone who tries to break the law and harass innocents. Mariappa also gets to know of Sathya and thinks that he is working for his arch-rival Dhandapani (Kitty), who is a social reformer. He orders that Sathya and his friends be eliminated. Mariappa's gang attack and kill one of Sathya's friends Sundar in full public view. Though Sathya tries his best, no one comes forward to give witness to the murder out of fear, because of which the murderers are released. A frustrated Sathya thrashes the murderers on their release, leading to his arrest, but is later released on bail by Dhandapani. Soon, Sathya's family disowns him for his activities, following which he is approached by Dhandapani, who convinces him to move to his own house and work for him. With the help of Dhandapani, he manages to get Sudha married to her boyfriend (Anand), who is the local police inspector, saves the marriage of his other stepsister by paying the dowry of 20,000 and also ensuring that his father's employer (Kavithalaya Krishnan) treats his father with respect. Finally, Dhandapani tells Sathya to get some secret files and documents against Mariappa, which can be used to expose him in public. Sathya gets that secret file on his life risk.

Now the film takes a twist as Sathya comes to known that Dhandapani is a corrupt person and double-crosser who used the evidence against Mariappa to join hands with him and contest the upcoming election in his place, and none of the evidence collected has been published anywhere. Sathya also finds out that his services are no longer needed by Dhandapani, and he is thrown out of his house. To add to Sathya's growing frustration and anger against Dhandapani, he learns that his friend Anand was also used by Dhandapani and Mariappa to eliminate one of Mariappa's associates Seena Thana (Nassar), who is in jail, as they feel that he would turn informer against them in court. Though Anand did the murder to get the money required to treat his sick mother and get his sister married, he does not receive the money, his mother dies and his sister elopes with somebody, forcing him to commit suicide while under custody. An enraged and betrayed Sathya barges into a political meeting where Mariappa and Dhandapani are prsent and tries to expose Dhandapani, but is forced out and thrashed by the workers of Mariappa's political party. Undaunted, he sneaks into Dhandapani's house a few days later and takes the file containing evidence of both Mariappa's and Dhandapani's illegal activities. While on the run from Dhandapani's henchmen, he gets shot and seriously injured, but manages to survive. However, the evidence against Mariappa and Dhandapani is destroyed as Sathya used the file as a shield against the gunshots. Sathya escapes from hospital, confronts Mariappa and Dhandapani and kills them both.



The film was a remake of Hindi film Arjun directed by Rahul Rawail and starring Sunny Deol.[1] Sathya marked the directorial debut of Suresh Krishna who earlier assisted K. Balachander.[2] S. P. Balasubrahmanyam lent his voice for Kitty who played the negative role in the film.


The film's music was composed by Ilaiyaraaja and lyrics were penned by Vaali.[3][4] Ilaiyaraaja had originally composed the number "Valayosai" for one of his studio albums, and on Kamal Haasan's insistence, included it in Sathya.[5] The song is set in the Sindhu Bhairavi raga.[6]

No. Song Singers
1 Eley Thamizha T. Sunderrajan, Saibaba
2 Ingeyum Lata Mangeshkar
3 Nagaru Nagaru Lalith Sahari, T. Sunderrajan, Saibaba
4 Potta Padiyudhu Kamal Haasan, T. Sunderrajan, Saibaba
5 Valaiosai S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Lata Mangeshkar

Themes and influences

Sathya is basically the story of one man who wants to make a difference and ends up becoming a henchman to a political leader who has his own agenda.[7] The movie is an effective commentary on the sorry state of such unemployed youngsters and the resulting unwilling choices they have to make to earn money. It clearly shows us how the youth, in their time of need, become willing toys in the hands of the people with the money to hire them.[8] Kamal's characterisation was similar to his previous film Varumayin Niram Sivappu (1980). Kamal's character is of a person who hails from a middle-clas family, he is unemployed, has rough attitude and cannot tolerate injustice.[9]


The character name of Ajith from Yennai Arindhaal is called as Sathyadev. The director Gautham Menon initially wanted to keep this title for the film as he has affinity towards Kamal and the film but later opted against to do so.[10][11] Gautham Menon's Film Vaaranam Aayiram had a scene in which the lead actor Surya was shown dancing in front of the theatre in which Sathya film was shown and there was a huge cutout of the character Sathya behind him. Arun Vijay starrer Jananam (2004) was compared with "Sathya".[12] Prior to the release of Velaiyilla Pattathari (2014), there were concerns raised that the film was similar to the Kamal Haasan starrer, Sathya. Dhanush clarified that there were no similarities between the films, nor was it similar to another Haasan film, Varumayin Niram Sivappu, except for the fact that the protagonist was unemployed.[13] Entertainment portal Behindwoods placed this film along with Nayakan (1987) in Top 10 Gangsters of Tamil cinema.[14]


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