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The Top 10 Tamil Gangster Films

August 01, 2014 16:01 IST

Image: Rajinikanth in Billa
S Saraswathi/ in Chennai

From Billa to Mankatha, we take a look at the best.

Fans love to watch their heroes playing God in all-powerful roles in gangster films. Bashing up the bad guys never seems to go out of fashion.

As Pizza director Karthik Subbaraj’s gangster movie Jigarthanda comes up for release this weekend, here’s a look at some of the best gangster movies that have entertained us over the years.

Billa (1980)

Superstar Rajinikath's Billa acquired cult status and became an inspiration for a number of films with the same name and theme. 

The film was a remake of one of Hindi superstar Amitabh Bachchan's biggest hits, Don, which released in 1978.

Rajini played the dual role of a feared mafia don and a lookalike country bumpkin planted by the police to infiltrate his gang. 

The film became the superstar's first-ever commercial success.


Nayagan (1987)

Image: Kamal Haasan in Nayagan
S Saraswathi/ in Chennai

Mani Ratnam's Nayagan -- starring Kamal Haasan -- was a landmark film in Indian cinema, and one of the actor's most memorable performances. 

The film chronicled the life of Mumbai underworld don Varadarajan Mudaliar, and was inspired by the iconic American film The Godfather.

Nayagan was India's official entry for the 1988 Academy Awards.

The film won much critical acclaim and was a huge commercial success as well. 

Nayagan won three National Film awards, including the Best Actor award for Kamal Haasan as the mafia chief.

Baasha (1995)

Image: Rajinikanth in Baasha
S Saraswathi/ in Chennai

Suresh Krissna was scriptwriter and director of Baasha. 

Rajinikanth once again essayed the role of a powerful don, Manik Baashha.

The character and his many memorable dialogues, especially the line Naan oru dhadavai sonna nooru dhadavai sonna madhiri (If I say it once, I've said it a hundred times) became legendary in Tamil cinema. 

Baasha completed a 175-day run at the box office.

Gemini (2002)

Image: Vikram and Kiran in Gemini
S Saraswathi/ in Chennai

Gemini, a commercial potboiler, directed by Saran became the biggest hit of 2002.

Vikram played a daring, paan-chewing gangster who is later reformed by his girlfriend Kiran.

Kalabhavan Mani, who played the antagonist, impressed with his mimicry skills and comic timing.

The music by Bharadwaj created a sensation, particularly the O Podu number.

Arinthum Ariyamalum (2005)

Image: A scene from Arinthum Ariyamalum
S Saraswathi/ in Chennai

Arya made a sensational debut in Vishnuvardhan's Arinthum Ariyamalum as the rogue son of a feared gangster, played by Prakash Raj. 

The action-filled, fast paced entertainer loaded with humour, good performances and stimulating music, became a huge hit.

Arya won favourable reviews for his excellent performance.

His association with Vishnuvardhan continued in another gangster film, Pattiyal, which was also a huge commercial success.

Pudhupettai (2006)

Image: Dhanush in Pudhupettai
S Saraswathi/ in Chennai

Dhanush gave a brilliant performance in Pudhupettai, directed by his brother Selvaraghavan.

The film was set in the backdrop of the slums of Pudhupettai in Chennai. The story was about a young boy forced to take to violence for survival.

The hard hitting film exposed the harsh realities of life in a slum and received much critical acclaim.

Billa (2007)

Image: Ajith in Billa
S Saraswathi/ in Chennai

Billa, directed by Vishnuvardhan, was a stylish adaptation of the super hit Rajinikanth starrer of the same name. 

Ajith played the lead, along with Nayanthara and Namitha.

Billa opened to positive reviews and its huge success inspired a sequel, Billa II, which released in 2012.

Pokkiri (2007)

Image: Vijay in Pokkiri
S Saraswathi/ in Chennai

Prabhu Dheva made his directorial debut in Tamil cinema with Pokkiri.

It was a remake of Puri Jagannadh's 2006 Telugu film Pokiri.

The film starred Vijay and Asin. 

The story of a young IPS officer who goes undercover to expose the criminal activities of a dangerous gang was a massive success.

Prabhu Dheva remade the film in Hindi as Wanted, with Salman Khan in the lead.

Mankatha (2011)

Image: Ajith in Mankatha
S Saraswathi/ in Chennai

Mankatha was ranked the fourth biggest grosser in Tamil film history.

Written and directed by Venkat Prabhu, Mankatha was Ajith's 50th film.

The plot revolved around illegal betting on cricket matches carried out by Ajith and his double-crossing cohorts.

The film had a racy script and was brilliantly executed by Venkat Prabhu. 

Soodhu Kavvum (2013)

Image: Vijay Sethupathi in Soodhu Kavvum
S Saraswathi/ in Chennai

A low-budget film by debutant director Nalan Kumarasamy, Soodhu Kavvum surprisingly became one of the biggest blockbusters of 2013.

It had an ingenious script and an unconventional protagonist in Vijay Sethupathi, who played a 40-year-old kidnapper with an imaginary girlfriend.

Light, sarcastic and thoroughly enjoyable, the film was an instant hit.  

The film became a cult classic and Vijay Sethupathi was catapulted to stardom overnight.