Amazon houses a wide range of regional content in India, as compared to Netflix. With so many options out there, we’ve taken the time out to sift through it all to bring you the best Tamil movies on Amazon Prime.
The Tamil film industry, fondly called Kollywood, has grown exponentially from its humble origins in the early 1900s. The first full-length talkie in Tamil was made in the year 1932. American Ellis R. Dungan – University of South California (USC) alumnus – came to Madras in 1935, and made Tamil films till 1950. He directed many popular Tamil actors including M.G. Ramachandran, the future Chief Minister. T.P. Rajalakshmi was the second female director in India. She made her directorial debut with the 1936 Tamil film Miss Kamala. A.V. Meiyappan of the AVM Studios – one of the oldest studios in India – dubbed the Kannada film Harishchandra to Tamil in the year 1943. From then on, dubbing became a common practice in Indian cinema. The 1948 film Chandralekha became the first popular Tamil cinema to be distributed nation-wide.
Tamil cinema was the stronghold of the Dravidian political movement. Five cine personalities went on to become the state’s Chief Minister. The 1952 melodrama Parasakthi, scripted by M. Karunanidhi, became popular for its iconoclastic dialogues that criticized the dogmas of Tamil society. While many star heroes have flourished with their mindless commercial cinema, socially-conscious drama continues to be a mainstay in the Tamil cinema space. In 1954, Andha Naal was made, a mystery/thriller with no songs and inspired by film noir and Kurosawa’s Rashomon (1950).
Over the turn of the century, Tamil films have established a global presence, inspiring filmmaking in countries like Sri Lanka and Malaysia. Today, there’s no dearth of talent as an exciting batch of directors and actors take the stage to show the rest of the film fraternity what they’re capable of.
So, here are some of their works to get you started on Tamil cinema. Don’t waste time surfing. Get streaming!
1. Saani Kaayidham (2022)
Only few Tamil filmmakers make an effort to focus on the form as much as the content. Now Arun Matheswaran joins the ranks of Mysskin, Vetrimaaran, Pa. Ranjith, and Mari Selvaraj for withholding a distinct visual language. Saani Kaayidham is Arun’s sophomore feature. Similar to his debut work Rocky (2021), it’s also a revenge drama. Bolstered by two phenomenal central performances by Keerthy Suresh and Selvaraghavan, Saani Kaayidham is set in the late 1980s and its chief conflict is rooted in virulent caste pride.
The film unfolds in chapters, chronicling the grave injustice imposed upon the protagonist, Ponni. When the legal route denies her justice, Ponni with the help of her estranged brother goes on a vengeance-filled journey. Saani Kaayidham doesn’t have a unique story, but the layered writing and fascinating visual texture offers us a very engaging movie experience.
2. Jai Bhim (2021)
TJ Gnanavel’s Jai Bhim is based on the many real-life stories of police brutality directed against tribal and scheduled caste communities. It opens with a depiction of freshly released prisoners, belonging to the lower rungs of the caste system, being selected by policemen in order to arrest them again on false charges. Later, we see a young man from a tribal community getting wrongly charged with a theft case. The next day, the police say he escaped their custody. But his whereabouts are unknown. A lawyer who takes pro-bono human rights cases takes up the case and unearths horrific truths about the system.
Jai Bhim is a horrific and depressing film to watch. The on-screen portrayal of violence is at times gratuitous and repetitive. But it compellingly showcases the reality of the judiciary system and policing in India. The narrative is perfectly anchored by the brooding performance of Suriya who plays the lawyer Chandru.
3. Karnan (2021)
Mari Selvaraj’s second feature film is a rousing call to arms against a system rooted in injustice. Dhanush stars as the titular character, a savior of the inhabitants of a small village called Kodiyankulam. Mari establishes his characters, gradually leading to a chilling pre-interval block where Karnan rises up against the power and caste nexus. This is an interesting narrative decision. Instead of an actual antagonist, we get a bus as a stand-in for all the discrimination that the villagers have had to face. This sets up the face-off between the villagers and the police force led by the conniving Kannabiran.
Selvaraj continues his crusade of narrating socially conscious tales with Karnan. The performances are excellent all across. Dhanush nails the brief, making us feel a gamut of emotions in his journey as a reluctant hero. Lakshmi Priya Chandramouli, Natarajan, and Gouri Kishen are all impressive in their respective roles. Santhosh Narayanan’s exhilarating score helps awaken us from a slumber of ignorance.
Watch Karnan on Amazon Prime
4. Master (2021)
Lokesh Kanagaraj delivers on his promise of a classy mass movie with his latest release. It’s always a pressure to make a film with Vijay, arguably one of the biggest stars in Kollywood. It’s a fine balancing act, trying to satisfy eager fans, while still retaining his voice as a creator. Lokesh comes fairly close to achieving this objective. So, we get JD, an alcoholic, but lovable professor whose tryst with destiny lands him in a reformatory school for juvenile delinquents. His attempts to mend the ways of the inmates become the rest of the plot.
Lokesh also throws in a formidable antagonist in the form of Bhavani, played by a charismatic Vijay Sethupathy. He gives us a backstory for the villain, showing us what makes Bhavani truly threatening. The scenes where both the stars face off against each other are a treat. But, Malavika’s character seems underwritten despite her having a strong role to play in JD’s awakening. The entire college portion doesn’t really divulge any new information about the characters and only serves to add to the overstretched runtime of nearly 3 hours. Despite these shortcomings, we’d recommend Master for Anirudh’s electrifying background score and Lokesh’s audacious attempt to reinvent the “masala” movie.
Watch Master on Amazon Prime
5. Dharala Prabhu (2020)
Dharala Prabhu is the official Tamil adaptation of Shoojit Sircar’s sleeper hit Vicky Donor. Director Krishna Marimuthu retells the tale of a sperm donor with a fresh pair of eyes. He deftly tweaks the film to suit the local audience better, without ever losing sight of the intentions of the original. While Vicky takes up the offer to donate sperm for his personal gains, Prabhu here only agrees after he learns the truth about his football coach being impotent. Krishna adds an extra emotional layer to make it easy for us to root for the lead. Harish Kalyan’s earnest performance certainly helps as well.
In Vicky Donor, we only see the couple adopting a child towards the end of the film. Dharala Prabhu takes it a step further by introducing the adopted kid much earlier in the film. We get to see the entire family warm up to the new child. So, when Nidhi and Prabhu contemplate separating, they’re forced to consider the newest member in the family as well. This naturally makes for a more satisfying conclusion.
6. Soorarai Pottru (2020)
Sudha Kongara’s impressive biopic narrates the struggles and triumph of an entrepreneur with dreams to build a low-cost airline. Bolstered by Surya’s intense performance, the dramatic heft inherent in the underdog tale conceals few tepid sub-plots. Moreover, Soorarai Pottru brings the vital socio-political aspects to the fore that lie behind shunning low-cost aviation. Perhaps, the writer/director could have avoided a very one-dimensional portrayal of Paresh as a corporate bully. Yet, it’s an engaging drama worth cherishing.
7. Asuran (2019)
Vetrimaaran’s Asuran is a loose adaptation of the acclaimed Tamil novel Vekkai (Heat) by Poomani. It deals with caste-based oppression and the never-ending cycle of violence it initiates. Asuran revolves around a middle-aged father Sivasamy (Dhanush) who tries to save his family from a powerful, landowning casteist clan. Sivasamy himself has a chequered past, and the violence from his previous life seeps into the present.
Vetrimaaran convincingly combines the turbulent father-son relationship with the larger societal issues. There are moments where violence is stylized and a bit glorified. Yet on a broader note, Asuran delivers a strong message on the tools essential to resist caste-based humiliation and oppression. Moreover, the narrative deeply engages us due to Dhanush’s ingenious performance. He perfectly turns himself into a worn-down fifty-plus villager. The role got him his second National Award for Best Actor.
8. To Let (2019)
To Let has been shot beautifully and shot with the purpose of showcasing the realities and sorrows of those who suffer silently — the common people who are living within a false sense of security. It’s fragile as a feather. Even a light gust of wind can take it away, just like the symbolic balloon in the trailer. Human life is fleeting and so is its value in today’s world. The film delves into the dark side of humanity. It’s very powerful in its portrayal of the lives of the less fortunate. ToLet nails its point home as it takes you on a journey with a stranded family who are desperately looking for a place to live after being evicted from their house. The premise is simple yet it is made engaging with the help of some wonderful performances and remarkable direction.
Watch To Let on Amazon Prime
9. Thadam (2019)
This investigative suspenseful thriller has a lot going for it. The edgy cinematography stands atop some great acting as we delve deeper and deeper into the detective drama. The plot revolves around a murder for which two lookalikes are suspected and both of them could have been equally guilty or equally innocent. There are not many clues that the movie gives us initially but the final reveals are quite satisfactory. The movie, with its great execution, kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. It is definitely worth a watch and also manages to squeeze a very prevalent social issue into the plot.
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime
10. Peranbu (2019)
Peranbu is a heartfelt, humanist masterpiece that holds a mirror to our sad reality. It deals with real issues that directly or indirectly threaten the lives of those the society doesn’t consider ‘normal.’ The movie revolves around a father and his daughter, who is afflicted with cerebral palsy and chronicles their journey through a world that is against them only because their orthodox mentalities deem them to be dangerous. So ensues a series of betrayals from those they called their own, those they believed in and of course those who opposed them from the beginning. Peranbu is a disturbing watch while being deeply impactful.
The chapterised novel-like storytelling technique helps add more sophistication to the film and allows for a much more planned and honed approach. The performances by both the leads are on par with the greatest of actors and the chemistry they share on-screen, which develops throughout the film, is uncannily realistic. Watch it if I haven’t said it enough.
Watch Peranbu on Amazon Prime
11. Vellai Pookal (2019)
A great detective movie to say the least. It borrows from a lot of classics by keeping things simple yet complex; by dangling the culprit right in front of your eyes and providing a vast number of red herrings. What I personally appreciate about this movie was that the detective protagonist was not someone with superhuman intelligence or great strength or power but a common man — a retired police officer. The plot that follows is discovered by him and us simultaneously. Thus, he too is led astray often due to the red herrings mentioned earlier.
The acting is superb and so is the execution. Tamil cinema’s renowned comedy actors Vivek and Charlie efficiently play the somber central characters. It may not be an artistic masterpiece but it is not bad in that regard either. And the final twist is truly a banger. You are never going to expect it and it will hit you in your unsuspecting face with all its might. Vellai Pookal is a well-actualised whodunit thriller.
12. Monster (2019)
Monster is a crazy, whacky comedy loosely based on the 1997 Hollywood film Mouse Hunt. The Tamil movie has its own culturally appropriate additions which make it more palatable for Indian audiences. The premise is simple. It’s the storytelling that rules here. A man wants to get rid of a rat that is infesting his house. He fails despite repeated attempts. The film keeps you engaged throughout its runtime packed with some twists and turns along the way. SJ Suryah is as usual delightfully over-the-top in the central character. And while it entertains, it subtly puts across a significant message.
Watch Monster on Amazon Prime
13. Pariyerum Perumal (Horse-laden Deity) (2018)
Mari Selvaraj, in his ambitious debut feature, attempts to tackle brutal social realities, in particular the caste-based hegemony and identity politics. The film’s titular character (Pariyan) is a lower-caste law student. His friendship with a dominant caste girl leads to a series of troubles and humiliations. The narrative, however, rises above the usual display of caste-based victimization and focuses on Pariyan’s awakening and realizations.
There are definitely some problems with the film, emerging particularly from the director’s obligation to appease mainstream audiences. Specifically, the passive and one-dimensional characterization of the lead female character (Jyothi). Moreover, Selvraj’s effort to humanize the oppressor is deemed problematic by some. Yet, Pariyerum Perumal serves a rare glimpse into the dark cultural and social practices.
14. Kaala (2018)
Ranjith’s second collaboration with actor Rajinikanth was definitely more coherent and compelling than Kabali. Despite pre-release misgivings, Kaala sees Ranjith effectively using Rajini’s star power to deliver a politically-charged tale of the oppressed. The film, set in the slums of Mumbai’s Dharavi, chronicles the intense conflict between a local Tamil chieftain (Rajini) and a crafty white-clad politician (Nana Patekar).
Director Ranjith is not-so-subtle with his message on land ownership and caste discrimination. Nevertheless, Kaala is a gutsy film in the current political climate, championing anti-saffron colors and cleverly reinterpreting Ram-Raavan politics. Moreover, Kaala provides ample space for Rajinikanth, the actor and downplays his overly hyped star persona. Altogether, it’s an uneven, loud yet empowering tale about the underprivileged communities.
Watch Kaala on Amazon Prime (Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam)
15. Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru (Theeran – Chapter One) (2017)
Theeran is based on the true incident of a high profile case, successfully handled by Tamil Nadu police in the 1990s. A young, idealistic cop is entrusted with the task of solving a series of murders. It seems to be the handiwork of the notorious Baawariya criminal tribe (from Rajasthan). The narrative tracks down the TN police force’s painful attempts to nab the deadly gang in their own domain.
Director Vinoth deftly and authentically portrays the functioning of police bureaucracy. The usual commercial glorification of police characters are largely amiss. Karthi plays the titular role with aplomb and Abhimanyu Singh is terrific as the gang’s leader. The stunt sequences in the parched lands of Rajasthan are well choreographed. Theeran would have been a great action thriller, if only it had scissored the irritable romantic track.
16. Aruvi – Stream (2017)
Arun Prabhu’s much-hyped directorial debut is a part satirical comedy, part character study of an ostracized young woman. Aruvi opens as a simple tale of a free-spirited girl. But her adult life in the repressive and unforgiving urban atmosphere takes unexpectedly worse turns. The lead character’s outcast status gradually becomes a prism that reflects the ugly side of the society.
There are a few narrative inconsistencies. But Arun Prabhu’s flawless direction and Aditi Balan’s deeply emotional performance create an indelible experience. The narrative tactic of withholding key information in the initial part imparts huge payoff to the proceedings. Like other good debut features of the year, Aruvi expresses its righteous fury over the rapidly urbanized, mechanized and corrupted contemporary Tamil society. The film also boasts a rare, (for Tamil cinema) sensitive and empathetic on-screen portrayal of a transgender character.
Overall, Aruvi is a refreshing addition to the growing list of intriguing Tamil social dramas.
Watch Aruvi on Amazon Prime
17. Thupparivaalan – Detective (2017)
With Thupparivaalan, critically-acclaimed director Mysskin has once again taken a chance with mid-budget cinema and star cast. The last time he took that chance (Mugamoodi), it brought out the worst possible film in his career. However, this Vishal-starrer procedural retains the director’s distinct brand of quirkiness and visual acuity. It is true that Thupparivaalan neither contains top-notch intellectual twists nor a staggering emotional arc. But it’s definitely a watchable action thriller with quite a lot of well executed sequences.
Vishal plays Kanniyan Poogundran, an eccentric private detective. He takes a little boy’s request to investigate the murder of his beloved Pomeranian dog. The simple and the seemingly silly investigation puts the detective to track down a family of ruthless criminals. The action set-pieces are spectacularly realized, but the film’s major flaw is its non-thrilling and dragged out second-half.
18. Seethakaathi (2018)
Balaji Tharaneetharan’s refreshing offbeat drama revolves around a versatile septuagenarian drama actor Ayya Aadhimoolam (a very restrained Sethupathi). Although Sethupathi appears for roughly 40 minutes, he is the narrative’s heart and soul. The supporting cast, particularly debutante Sunil, is also brilliant. Similar to Balaji’s debut-feature Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom, Seethakaathi possesses wonderfully quirky and inventive humor. The fantastical elements in the narrative add depth to Balaji’s quasi-satirical look at the Tamil film industry. At 173 minutes, the film is definitely overlong. Nevertheless, this is one of the rare, reflexive commentaries in Tamil cinema on art and the artist.
This is among the best Tamil movies on Amazon Prime available for streaming right now.
19. Maanagaram – Metropolis (2017)
Lokesh Kanagaraj’s socially conscious debut feature is a good, complex interplay of dramatic elements. It follows the structure of hyperlink cinema. The narrative revolves around a kidnapping incident and four diverse characters: a youngster from a small town seeking employment in a BPO; a carefree, tough guy who woos a well-employed girl; a taxi-driver who has moved to Chennai for his son’s asthma treatment; and a wannabe criminal whose naivety incites gales of laughter.
Initially, the plot unfurls like a ‘city-bashing’ feature. But the sensible writing doesn’t turn the narrative into one-long condemnation of city life. Even though the narrative relies on an unbelievable number of coincidences, the dark humor and tense atmosphere keep things lively. The final, idealistic stand may seem a bit blunt, but it’s definitely a fine meaningful entertainer.
20. Uriyadi (2016)
There are a lot of admirable factors in Vijay Kumar’s micro-budget debut feature Uriyadi. Even though, like many other young Tamil filmmakers, Vijay Kumar has chosen ‘college’ as the primary setting, he has actually tried to deal with a volatile subject. There is no heavy commercialization: like forced romance and bland comedy tracks.
Some may call the acting a bit amateurish, but that doesn’t affect the feel of the film. The four college students in the story have a realistic character sketch. But the stodgy, brutal violence employed in the final act mars the film’s efficiency.
Watch Uriyadi on Amazon Prime
21. Pudhupettai (2006)
Tamil cinema’s so-called anti-hero always has a reason for his anti-social behavior. It’s usually emphasized in a melodramatic flashback. Selva Raghavan’s anti-hero in Pudhupettai, however, doesn’t have any neatly packaged reasons or redeeming factors. The harsh violence faced by Kokki Kumar (brilliantly played by Dhanush) in his adulthood is hinted as a reason. But for the most part, Kumar engages in dark deeds and savagery, because he has a desire for it. And surprisingly, his selfishness is not harshly punished.
Pudhupettai is partly a rites of passage film, where an innocent youngster transforms into a blood-thirsty gangster. It’s also a hard-hitting observation of the unbreakable chain between crime and high-end politics. Apart from Kumar’s characterization, the film’s biggest strength is Selva Raghavan’s raw, unflinching staging.
22. Anbe Sivam – Love is God (2003)
Kamal took on the themes of globalization, religious fatalism, and economic disparity in this brilliant re-working of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987). Anbe Sivam is a buddy road film involving a trade-union activist Nalla Sivam and an upper-class ad-executive Anbarasu (Madhavan). Circumstances force these polar opposite figures to travel together from Bhubaneswar to Chennai. Although they disagree on everything, a brotherhood is forged through their shared humanity.
Kamal Haasan’s script, apart from the formulaic flashback, shines with humor as well as thought-provoking word-plays. In the era of clashing lifestyles, religious and cultural views, the film’s laudable message is simple enough to not forget: ‘Love is God.’
23. Kannathil Muthamittal – A Peck on the Cheek (2002)
Mani Ratnam is often rightly criticized for turning complex real-life political conflicts into spectacle cinema. Movies where the melodramatic aspects take center stage. In Kannathil Muthamittal, which touches on the Eelam crisis, Mani Ratnam somewhat balances the personal and political narrative. Amudha, on her 9th birthday, learns that she is adopted. Her biological mother, a Srilankan Tamil refugee, has gone back to her people to fight in the bloody civil war. On Amudha’s insistence, the adopted parents make a trip into the escalating war zones of Sri Lanka. As I mentioned earlier, unlike Mani Ratnam’s Roja or Bombay, the central conflict of Amudha is intricately realized. Besides, Mani Ratnam’s mise en scène reaches new heights in the film, especially during the final 30 minutes.
24. Alaipayuthey – Saathiya (2000)
Alaipayuthey is a great deconstruction of the Indian romance genre. It starts off like any other feel-good love story of an urban boy and a girl. But, Mani Ratnam astoundingly peels the layers of their love until the overly sentimental climax. The film proves why he is a master when it comes to realizing intimate as well as muted emotions. The onscreen pair – Madhavan (his debut) and Shalini – are outstanding.
No other director can render perfect visuals to A.R. Rahman’s songs. Alaipayuthey‘s intoxicating songs show you why. The film gives a subtle, much-needed message about marriage and relationships. Ratnam’s OK Kanmani (2015) could work as a good companion piece (although its scope was limited) to this one.
In 2002, Ratnam’s ex-assistant Shaadi Ali remade the film in Hindi as Saathiya.
25. Iruvar – The Duo (1997)
Iruvar is a tale of friendship and love, set under Tamil Nadu’s Dravidian political backdrop. Unlike Bombay or Roja, Iruvar caused a huge controversy in Tamil Nadu. There are a lot of anecdotal references to friendship/rivalry between Tamil Nadu’s two influential politicians – M.G.R. and Karunanidhi. The censors cut down a lot of alleged controversial dialogues. The final cut didn’t look as powerful as Mani Ratnam wanted it to be. Those who aren’t aware of these giant politicians couldn’t follow many of the muted or cut underlying elements. Yet, Iruvar happens to be a rare and well accomplished political drama. And the finest film to explore the long-lasting relationship between cinema and politics in Tamil Nadu. Aishwarya Rai made her debut as Kalpana. The character was apparently based on late chief minister Jayalalitha.
The film finely illustrates the intense interactions and speeches that shaped the rivalry between the two political leaders. No words can describe Mohan Lal and Prakash Raj’s excellent acting range. In a scene towards the end, Chief Minister Anandan (Mohan Lal) meets opposition leader Tamilchelvan (Prakash Raj). It’s a marriage function and the two leaders sit side by side. With the help of Santosh Sivan’s cinematography and A.R. Rahman’s music, Mani Ratnam spectacularly dwells on their inscrutable emotions.
Tamilchelvan’s thunderous poetry recital in the end is another memorable scene.
26. Uyire (Dil Se) (1998)
Dil Se was the better one among Mani Ratnam’s unofficial ‘terrorism’ (or political) trilogy. The usual simplification of the socio-political backdrop wasn’t so bothersome in Dil Se.
It’s a great love story at heart with career-best performances from Shahrukh Khan and Manisha Koirala. As Amar, Shahrukh gives a layered performance, transforming from a carefree youngster to a desperate adult. There’s a scene when Manisha tries to cry but her frozen emotional state doesn’t bring out the tears. Such endearing moments prove why she is one of the best actresses in Indian cinema.
Visually, Dil Se is among Ratnam’s top three works. Santosh Sivan’s majestic portrayal of Ladakh will stay forever in our minds.
The Telugu-dubbed version Prematho is also available for viewing on Amazon Prime.
27. Bombay (1995)
Bombay is a fairly convincing indictment of communal hatred in post-independent India. The first half captures the romance between Shekhar (Arvind Swamy) and Shaila Banu (Manisha Koirala), set in rural Tamil Nadu. The two elope and settle in Mumbai after facing strong disapproval from their orthodox families. When a possibility for peace between religiously different families arrives, the first wave of Hindu-Muslim riots hit the city. The riots were triggered by fascist elements in the Maharashtra state (after the demolition of Babri Masjid).
Ratnam brilliantly captured the full range of human emotions. Despite the emotionally appealing nature of the film, there were a few undermining elements, like the climax and the understated portrayal of Hindu hegemony.
28. Roja (1992)
Mani Ratnam loves to do contemporary redesigns of Hindu mythological stories. In Roja, he takes the Satyavan and Savitri story, mixing it with real-life incidents. For good or bad, Roja was an important film in Ratnam’s filmmaking career. The superbly realized individual conflicts in his previous films were now replaced with ‘individual vs the giant political system’ conflicts.
Apart from Arvind Swamy and Madhu’s great central performances, Pankaj Kapur stole every scene he was in. His performance as the jihadist militant rises above the constrained characterization. Roja, once again, is a very emotionally appealing film to mass audiences. Yet, its portrayal of Kashmir militants and blunt showcase of patriotism were problematic.
The film also marked the great music director A.R. Rahman’s debut. The music and the emotionally aching visualization of the songs are fascinating parts of the film.
29. Thalapathi (1991)
Rajinikanth plays Surya (son of Sun god aka Karna) in this modern interpretation of the epic Mahabharata. Mammooty, as usual, brilliantly underplays Devaraj (Duryodhan). Arvind Swamy made his debut in the supporting role as Arjun (Arjuna). Narrative-wise, Thalapathi plays out like a familiar gangster-policeman story.
Nevertheless, watch this one for its aesthetic style (courtesy DoP Santosh Sivan) and power-packed moments. Everything from the shot composition to the explosive dialogues to Illayaraja’s heartrending music create an unforgettable experience. Before fully immersing himself in larger-than-life, over-hyped roles, Rajini gave one of his best performances in this one. Ratnam weaves great heroic moments (especially the collector-office scene) without compromising Rajini’s understated performance.
This is one of the best Tamil movies on Amazon Prime streaming right now.
30. Nayakan (1987)
The gangster epic — inspired by Mario Puzo’s Godfather — brought together three greats of Indian cinema. Kamal Haasan, Illayaraja and Mani Ratnam. It’s the story of a down-trodden young, rebellious guy becoming a savior of his fellowmen. The film is partly based on real-life Tamil gangster Varadarajan Mudaliar. The nuance Kamal Haasan brings to the central role (Velu Naicker) is up there with Brando’s Corleone. While Mani Ratnam had creative freedom in Mouna Raagam, it was only in Nayakan that he fully developed his directorial voice. His penchant for sharp angles, light and darkness, and sweeping set-ups were well established here.
This was P.C. Sreeram-Mani Ratnam’s second collaboration. Both were at an early phase of their career. It was with Nayakan that they started their journey of capturing a slice of life with all its layered features. There are few dated and mediocre elements in the film. But, Nayakan was much ahead of and different from its contemporaries.
31. Andha Naal (1954)
Sundaram Balachander’s mystery thriller was a commercial failure but went on to win the second Best Feature Film in Tamil at the 2nd National Film Awards in 1955. The first in the film noir genre in Tamil cinema, made without songs, dance or stunts, Andha Naal has gained a cult status over the years.
Set in 1943, during World War II, the narrative begins with the murder of a Madras radio engineer Rajan (Sivaji Ganesan). The ensuing investigation takes us to different perspectives and establishes Rajan’s identity and the motive behind his killing. In 2013, CNN-News18 counted it in its 100 Greatest Indian Films of All Time list.
There we are! These are some of the best Tamil movies on Amazon Prime available for streaming right now. We’ve tried to incorporate the works of stalwarts like Mani Ratnam and Mysskin, while also making room for promising talents like Vetrimaaran, H. Vinoth, Mari Selvaraj, Pa. Ranjith, and Lokesh Kanagaraj. Bookmark this page to stay on top of all that’s newly added to the platform.
Which of these have you seen? What are your favorites? What did we miss? Tell us in the comments below.