Sarpatta Parambarai

Sarpatta Parambarai
Sarpatta Parambarai.jpg
Official release poster
Directed byPa. Ranjith
Written byPa. Ranjith
Tamizh Prabha
Produced byShanmugam Dhakshanraj
CinematographyMurali G.
Edited bySelva R. K.
Music bySanthosh Narayanan
Distributed byAmazon Prime Video
Release date
  • 22 July 2021 (2021-07-22)
Running time
174 minutes

Sarpatta Parambarai (transl.Sarpatta Clan), or more simply as Sarpatta, is a 2021 Indian Tamil-language period sports action film directed by Pa. Ranjith, who also co-produced the film under his banner Neelam Productions, along with Shanmugam Dhakshanaraj of K9 Studios.[1] The film stars Arya, Shabeer Kallarakkal, Dushara Vijayan, Pasupathy, Anupama Kumar and Sanchana Natarajan. Set during the 1960s, the film revolves around a clash between two clans namely Idiyappa Parambarai and Sarpatta Parambarai in North Chennai, which also showcases the boxing culture in the locality and also the politics being involved in it.[2]

Pa. Ranjith shelved his biopic drama based on the life of Birsa Munda, and wrote this script with Karthi in mind, but due to his prior commitments, he later approached Arya to play the lead role. The film was eventually supposed to begin production in during February and March 2020, after the intensive training sessions of the actors being involved in the film, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic induced lockdown, the production delayed further and eventually began on September 2020 which was completed within December 2020, with filming took place for nearly four months in and around North Chennai.[3] The film's technical crew comprises of music director Santhosh Narayanan, cinematographer Murali G. and editor Selva R. K.[4]

Sarpatta Parambarai was originally scheduled for theatrical release was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which as a result, the makers opted for a direct-to-digital release, and the streaming rights were acquired by Amazon Prime Video. The film released through the streaming service on 22 July 2021, coinciding the Prime Day celebrations and received positive reviews praising the characterisation and performances of the lead cast members, direction, story, screenplay, music, cinematography and other major technical aspects of the film. Critics further praised Ranjith for the setting and realistic portrayal of North Madras and the 1970’s boxing culture.


The film opens in North Madras in the early 1970s. Kabilan, is a young worker at the Madras Port, who has a passion for boxing, and wants to become a prominent boxer like his father Munirathnam. But his mother Bakkiyam, refuses his claims to become a boxer, as Munirathnam eventually became a thug, running errands for politicians, and was killed; Bakkiyam fears that his son may face the same fate if he gets involved in boxing. Due to his mother's displeasure towards boxing, he gets dissed by Rangan Vaathiyar, a prominent boxer and an ardent supporter of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) as Kabilan could not train under his guidance. But however Kevin (Daddy), an English-speaking Kongu Tamil and Kabilan's friend, whom Bakkiyam works for, has supported Kabilan's passion since his childhood. This often causes Bakkiyam and Kevin at loggerheads with each other as a result.

In 1975, when the 18-month emergency period was imposed in India, Rangan Vaathiyar manages to host a boxing tournament between the Sarpatta and Idiyappan clans, due to DMK's stand against Indira Gandhi and their laws.[5] At that tournament, Sarpatta clan faces a massive failure after Meeran, who was the mainboard boxer of that clan, gets defeated by Vembuli, who is one of the powerful and talented boxers representing the Idiyappa clan. Displeasured by the defeat, Rangan announces that he may bring up a prominent boxer to defeat Vembuli in the following match, and is also advised that the clan may be banished from the forthcoming tournaments if they face defeat. Rangan Vaathiyar announces that Raman, an amateur boxer will battle against Vembuli, much to the disapproval of the other clan members. But he gets dissatisfied by Raman's performance in the sessions, which leads to Raman practice along the guidance of a trainer from Karnataka, saying that his methodologies were outdated. He also speaks ill of Rangan Vaathiyar during that session. Kabilan, who hears of it, asks Raman to have a sparring match between them and Kabilan defeats Raman in that match.

Surprised by Kabilan's fighting techniques, Rangan Vaathiyar decides to bring him as the boxer against Vembuli, but Kabilan is initially hesitant, due to his mother's hatred for boxing. However, Rose interrupts and asks Kabilan to defeat him in that following match, in order to spar against Vembuli, for which he agrees to defeat him in just two rounds. Rose, nicknamed 'Dancing' Rose for his movements resembling dancing, is one of the talented boxers who had defeated all key players. Kabilan manages to learn his movements and knocks him out in the second round as stipulated, much to the surprise of the audience as he was an undefeated boxer by then. Later, Vembuli challenges Kabilan to defeat him in the following match after the clan's victory, and Kabilan accepts the offer. On the match day, Kabilan immediately gains the upper hand by pummeling Vembuli with heavy blows, but Thaniga sets henchmen to attack Kabilan and vandalise that match, as Vembuli teams up with Thaniga to escape defeat, and also to avenge Kabilan for Raman's defeat, by stripping him nude. Eventually, Rangan Vaathiyar gets arrested as the DMK government is dismissed by the centre in 1976, following the emergency and other party members are also jailed following the MISA act.

Kabilan decides to quit boxing after the incident and plans to live a modest life with his mother and wife Mariyamma. But Rangan's son Vetri Selvan, a friend of Kabilan, asks him to meet his father who was in prison, eventually the two meet Thaniga, who was responsible for the vandalism incident, and tries to attack him in the restaurant. In a fit of rage, Kabilan assaults Thaniga with a sword; though Thaniga survives the attack with heavy scarring, Kabilan gets imprisoned for six months following the assault. Vetri Selvan joines the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), led by M. G. Ramachandran, following its split from DMK,[6] and with the help of party supporter Maanja Kannan, employs Kabilan as his henchman. The two also start the business of manufacturing illicit liquor, while Kabilan slowly gets addicted to alcoholism. This causes his family life to spin out of control, eventually causing Bakkiyam and a pregnant Mariyamma to leave him, but Mariyamma later reconciles with him.

Four years pass. Rangan gets released from prison and observes the changes since the time of his prison life. Kabilan, now overweight and despondent due to alcoholism, happens to see a boxing tournament between Raman and Vembuli, where the former gets severely defeated. Vembuli gets challenged by Kabilan and Daddy, reminding him of his part in causing the vandalism incident four years prior. Embarrassed by this, Vembuli challenges Kabilan to defeat him again. However, Rangan Vaathiyar is disappointed with that choice, seeing Kabilan's current state, but the other members of that clan support him. Kabilan is beaten effortlessly by Raman during a sparring match, which led the other clan boxers mocking him. Kabilan gets extremely disappointed with this, and wails to Bakkiyam that night. But to his surprise, Bakkiyam, asks Kabilan to pursue boxing, so he can redeem himself. The following day, Daddy sends Kabilan to Beedi Rayappan, a retired fisherman-boxer, to train him, as per his mother's request. He successfully manags to regain his physique, with Rayappan's guidance. On the match day, Vembuli dominates in the early rounds and Kabilan gets injured badly. Rangan Vaathiyar and other members of his clan show up at the ring and motivate Kabilan. Kabilan knocks Vembuli out in the final round of the match with a few heavy blows, and the Sarpatta clan gains its victory after years of failure. The entire people celebrate Kabilan and the clan's victory.


  • Arya as Kabilan Munirathnam aka Kabilan
  • Pasupathy as Rangan Vaathiyar, Kabilan's boxing coach
  • Dushara Vijayan as Mariyamma, Kabilan's wife
  • John Vijay as Kevin aka Daddy, Kabilan's friend
  • John Kokken as Vembuli
  • Shabeer Kallarakkal as 'Dancing' Rose
  • Anupama Kumar as Bakkiyam, Kabilan's mother
  • Kalaiyarasan as Vetriselvan, Rangan Vatthiyar's son
  • G. M. Sundar as Duraikannu Vaathiyar, Vembuli's boxing coach
  • Santhosh Prathap as Raman
  • Vettai Muthukumar as Thaniga
  • Kaali Venkat as Koni Chandran
  • Sanchana Natarajan as Lakshmi, Vetriselvan's wife
  • Priyadarshini Rajkumar as Missiamma, Kevin's wife
  • Geetha Kailasam as Rangan's wife
  • Tiger Thangadhurai as Tiger Garden Thangam
  • Maran as Maanja Kannan
  • Saravana Vel as Gauthaman
  • Gajapathy as Beedi Raayappan
  • Kishore as Munirathnam, Kabilan's father (Cameo appearance)
  • Gana Bala as uncredited role



Sarpatta Parambarai is the name of the movie , The word Sarpatta really means "Four Patta Knives" , The word Paramparai means "Clan", It is from the language Urdu as because this clan was supported by the North Chennai Muslim community, In Urdu it is "چار پٹا" in Hindi it is चार + पट्टा , Meaning - Four Patta knives Clan, Which come from the older clan named Babu Bhai Paramparai, The other clan is " Idiyappa Parambarai" comes from the Tamil words இடி + அப்பா, Meaning they hit like Thunder, There other clain is "Ellappan Chettiar Paramparai". [7]


Pa. Ranjith shelved his Bollywood debut project based on the life of tribal freedom fighter Birsa Munda,[8][9] and later worked on another script based on boxing culture of North Chennai in the 1980s.[10][11] Ranjith initially wrote the script with Surya and Karthi in mind, after working with the latter in Madras (2014),[12] but he could not approach both of them due to their prior commitments in other projects and later narrated the script to Arya,[10] whom he immediately agreed after being convinced with the narration.[10] Ranjith and Arya discussed the progressions of the script and was later finalised on September 2019, with Arya playing a boxer in the film.[13] Tamil Prabha who written the novel Petta, based on life of people living in Chintadripet was announced as the writer.[14][15] In December 2019, Pa. Ranjith announced the film as a part of their five projects produced under his own banner Neelam Productions, while K9 Studios co-produced the film.[16][17] Ranjith's norm composer Santhosh Narayanan, and cinematographer Murali G. worked on the project, with Selva R. K. who earlier worked in Ranjith's productions Pariyerum Perumal and Irandam Ulagaporin Kadaisi Gundu was also a part of the technical team.[3] The film was tentatively titled as Salpetta Parambarai and Salpetta,[18] before the official title Sarpatta Parambarai was unveiled with the first look poster was released on 3 December 2020.[19][20]


People from the 1970s came in to tell us how boxing was at those times and how they prepared. Extensive research has gone into the making of the film; the way we speak, the body language, the costumes, art department, are all reflective of that.

Arya, on the casting and characterisation of the actors in the film

Arya played the role of Kabilan, a boxer hailing from North Chennai,[13] which he revealed it as the "most challenging role in his career".[21] To portray the role he underwent six hours of training for seven months, with a combination of cardio, boxing and regular gym. As a result, he shed his weight in order to obtain a lean and "ripped" physique.[22] His look from the fiilm was revealed on February 2020, which drew applause from fans.[23][24] In September 2019, Attakathi Dinesh and Kalaiyarasan who were part of Ranjith's previous films were reported to be a part of the project,[25] as was Magizh Thirumeni.[26] But, excluding Kalaiyarasan, both Dinesh and Thirumeni did not sign the project eventually. In March 2020, Santhosh Prathap was announced to portray a pivotal role in the film.[27] The same month, debutante Dushara Vijayan was announced as the leading lady for the film.[28][29]

During September 2020, John Kokken announced being a part of the film and worked intensively for the role.[30] Sanchana Natarajan was announced to be an integral part of the film, whose character name was revealed to be Lakshmi.[31] Anupama Kumar played the role of "Bakkiyam", whom she described as "loud", "emotional", "fiery" and "lovable".[32] On 28 March 2021, Pa. Ranjith released a special video introducing the characters of the film which is about the fitness and sports training of the male actors, as well as featuring snippets from the acting workshop, which featured the actors and the supporting artists.[33] Further revealing the character names, it was also revealed that Kaali Venkat, Pasupathy, John Vijay and Shabeer Kallarakkal were playing pivotal roles in the film,[34] the latter as Dancing Rose.[35][36] Maran (of Ghilli fame) played a supporting role in the film as Maanja Kannan, which will be his posthumous film before his death in May 2021.[37]


Pa. Ranjith inspired real life prominent boxers for the characters of the film. Arya's character Kabilan was inspired from the famous American boxer Muhammad Ali, a still from that film released by the makers, resembled that of Muhammad Ali's pose in the film.[38] Vembuli's (John Kokken) role was modelled on Mike Tyson.[38] The character 'Dancing' Rose played by Shabeer Kallarakkal was inspired from the British boxer Naseem Hamed, who was known for his unique fluidic movements that almost mimics a dance form.[39][40][41] Santhosh Pratap's character Raman, was based on George Foreman, who is considered to be one of the oldest heavyweight champions in the history of international boxing. The character Beedi Rayappan (played by Gajapathi) too was inspired from Githeri Muthu, a fisherman-boxer, who was known for defeating a prominent Anglo-Indian boxer Nat Terry.[42] Attracted by Muthu's play, Periyar E. V. Ramaswamy, the social activist and the founder of Dravidar Kazhagam, bestowed the title of 'Dravida Veeran' (The Dravidian braveman) to Muthu.[43]


Principal photography was initially scheduled to kickstart on November 2019, but Ranjith delayed the shoot since the male actors underwent extensive training in order to achieve a ripped physique for their roles in the film.[25] The team planned to start the shoot on March 2020, but it was delayed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 lockdown in India which was announced in the same month.[22] The shooting of the film kickstarted on 15 September 2020,[44] after government granted permission to resume shooting with 75-member crew in the sets and was conducted adhering to the safety precautions set for preventing COVID-19 spread.[45] Arya and Kalaiyarasan were present in the shooting of the first schedule where John Kokken joined the sets the following day.[45] The shooting of the film was mostly set in and around North Chennai. Shooting of the film was completed on 14 December 2020, with the entire filming taking place for four months.[46]

Themes and analysis

The film which is mostly based on the life of North Chennai based boxers, and had the influences of political ideologies, unlike Ranjith's previous films Madras, Kabali and Kaala, which focus on the life of the lower-class people and Caste system in Hinduism.[47] It also had references to Ambedkarism and Buddhism, as Ranjith was an ardent follower of the ideologies of B. R. Ambedkar and it was translated in his films to propose the subject of Dalit colossus.[48][49] In one scene, the film shows about Indian Republic Party (IRP), rooted from Ambedkar's Scheduled Caste’s Federation.[43][50]

Sarpatta Paramabarai is set in the 1970s and to reflect the era, political incidents such as The Emergency (India) imposed by the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi during 1975–77 and its opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in Tamil Nadu, then followed by the splitting of the party into two, the latter as All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) by M. G. Ramachandran was portrayed in the film in order to be "realistic".[51] Ranjith said in an interview to the Press Trust of India, that "We had to properly handle these political aspects in minute proportions in the movie though the film is not based on Emergency, which serves only as a political backdrop".[51] He added that the boxing culture in India was present in North Madras from pre-Independence times and after India's Independence, the culture has been split into diverse clans.[52] Sarpatta Parambarai also focused on the ground realities of the working class people.[51][53]

The film also shows the DMK government being dismissed by the central government in January 1976, over its stand against emergency, and real footages of the arrests of the party members, including politician M. Karunanidhi's son, M. K. Stalin, during the Maintenance of Internal Security (MISA) Act was shown in the film.[43][54] As a result, there were difficulties in organising boxing matches and the boxers and kabaddi players turned into mercenaries, following lack of employment.[43] Bhagath Veera Arun, a researcher of North Chennai said that "Though boxers hailed from many communities, boxers from the fishing community were dominant in ‘Sarpatta Parambarai’, whose epicentre was Panaimara Thotti, a place in Royapuram".[43]


Santhosh Narayanan composed the soundtrack and film's score for Sarpatta Parambarai; It marked the composer's fifth consecutive film with Pa. Ranjith, since his and the director's debut film Attakathi (2012). According to Santhosh, he said that "the film is influenced by the aspects of Madras, as it is mostly about the descriptive and realistic portrayal of North Chennai, while the boxing culture during the 1970s also serve as the subplot".[55] He also replicated the film score from The Hateful Eight originally composed by Ennio Morricone.[56] The album featured a theme song under the title "Neeye Oli", which was originally curated by Shan Vincent de Paul in collaboration with Santhosh Narayanan.[57] Shan, who also sung the track with female rap vocals by Navz-47, has created the song for the studio album Made in Jaffna, which was set to be released by the independent music platform Maajja. It was released as a single on 30 June 2021, with the video song released on 16 July, directed by Shan himself with Kalainithan Kalaichelvan as the co-director.[58] The film version of this song was composed and sung by Santhosh, who created a different strophe for this track and also had additional lyrics written by Arivu.[59] Another track for the film is titled "Vambula Thumbula", sung by Santhosh along with Gana Muthu and Isaivani, who were a part of Ranjith's Casteless Collective music band and 'Gana Ulagam' Dharani; the lyrics for this song is written by Kabilan and Madras Meeran.[60] Following popular demand, Santhosh unveiled the theme music for the character Dancing Rose on 28 July 2021.[61]

Track listing
1."Neeye Oli"Shan Vincent de Paul, ArivuSanthosh Narayanan, Navz-47, Shan Vincent de Paul3:57
2."Vambula Thumbula"Kabilan, Madras MiranGana Muthu, Isaivani, Gana Ulagam Dharani, Santhosh Narayanan5:01
3."Neeye Oli" (Film Version)ArivuSanthosh Narayanan4:28
4."Dancing Rose" (Theme)Instrumental3:26
Total length:16:53


Sarpatta Parambarai was initially scheduled for theatrical release, but was later decided for a direct-to-digital release through Amazon Prime Video due to COVID-19-related cinema closures.[62] The film made a business of 35 crore (US$4.9 million) prior to its release, including the satellite television rights and Hindi dubbing rights of the film.[63] The broadcast rights of the film were acquired by Star Vijay.[63]

The film which was originally slated for release on 12 August 2021 during the Independence Day weekend. However, on 8 July 2021, Amazon Prime Video India announced a series of the original shows and contents for the platform's July release, to coincide the Prime Day celebrations (26–27 July),[64] with Sarpatta Parambarai being scheduled for release on 22 July 2021.[65][66] The date coincided the anniversary of Rajinikanth's Kabali (2016), also directed by Pa. Ranjith.[67][68] However, Sarpatta Parambarai released earlier on the midnight of 21 July 2021, along with its Telugu dubbed version Sarpatta Parampara.


The film opened with positive reviews from critics praising the setting, production values, script, direction, music, cinematography and performances of the lead cast in particular. M. Suganth of The Times of India, rated the film 3.5 stars (out of 5), saying "The film’s major success lies in transporting us to the era and ensuring that not a character or a prop feels out of place" and praised the casting and production design. He further added "Even as the drama around boxing keeps us hooked, as in this director’s films, the social and political undertones give us another story in parallel — of another community, which has to fight both inside and outside the ring to reclaim its rights".[69] Sowmya Rajendran of The News Minute too gave 3.5 stars (out of 5) saying "Sarpatta Parambarai is like watching a live match ― it brings the heat of the sport, the excitement of each move, and most of all, the glorious unpredictability of sport".[70] In his review for The Hindu, Srinivasa Ramanujam praised Pa. Ranjith for the setting of North Madras in the 1970s, and further said that "the incorporating of elements such as caste conflict and the question of pride into the sporting milleu makes the film an engaging watch".[71]

Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV called that the film "vivifies a 1970s North Madras milieu in a strikingly effective manner, in the process transporting the audience back in time to a space and culture with its own unique rhythm", further calling "The screenplay, production design and propulsive soundscape serve to create a socio-political and cultural ambience that lends the film's underdog-fighting-all-odds story the shape and scope of an intriguing and enlightening period chronicle even as it plays out on largely familiar genre lines."[72] Vishal Menon of Film Companion South wrote, "It’s this kind of filmmaking that urges you to remember Ranjith for the astonishing craftsman he was in Madras".[73] Giving a score of 3.5 stars (out of 5), Manoj Kumar R of The Indian Express called Sarpatta Parambarai as one of the "best boxing film in the history of Tamil cinema" as "the bar for combat sport films set by Ranjith’s predecessors was quite low; in a way, Ranjith has broken new ground in the genre by simply trying to be mindful of the sport he’s dealing with and tried to show has tried to show boxing as authentically as possible". He further called "Sarpatta Parambarai isn’t a giant leap for the genre, but it takes first baby steps in the right direction".[74]

A critic from Sify called the film as "a comeback film for both Pa. Ranjith and Arya".[75] Nandini Ramanath of wrote: "Ranjith’s screenplay sets out to layer the average boxing drama with questions about identity politics and the political dynamics of the era. Yet, it is the depiction of the sport and its practitioners that endures over the nearly three hour-long movie."[76] Behindwoods rated three out of five stars for the fillm, saying "Arya, Pa Ranjith and team have delivered an intense and inspirational sports drama that works well".[77] The Hindustan Times-based critic Haricharan Pudipeddi wrote "Sarpatta Parambarai is already the contender for the best film of the year. But it’ll be more importantly remembered as the film that marked Ranjith’s return to form. This rousing story of an underdog’s triumph set against the boxing culture of North Madras is unmissable, simply because it’s more than a sports drama."[78] Ranjini Krishnakumar of Firstpost gave 4 (out of 5) stars rating and said "Sarpatta Parambarai is a rooted film. Both in writing and direction, Ranjith is in complete control. He straddles his role as a storyteller and an anthropologist with precision. This film certainly packs a punch."[79]

However, Prahlad Srihari of The Quint gave a mixed review saying "Ranjith’s boxing opus throws some forceful punches to the classic underdog story. Only, the end result doesn’t pack much of a wallop". He gave 2 (out of 5) stars for the film.[80] Gauthaman Bhaskaran of News18 wrote "There is much hysteria and dramatics outside the ring, and all these diversions dilute the core plot – probably in the mistakenly belief among producers, writers and directors that the ticket-paying masses want “wholesome entertainment”, which does not quite work in these times."[81] Sudhir Srinivasan of Cinema Express wrote "With this film, Ranjith continues to jab at Indian mythology, while throwing strong punches at anyone who doesn’t stand for equality".[82]


In 1980, M. G. Ramachandran brought boxing icon Muhammad Ali to Chennai in order to raise funds for Tamil Nadu Amateur Boxing Association, but it was not showcased by the team.[43] Former Tamil Nadu fisheries minister D. Jayakumar from the AIADMK government, and criticised Pa. Ranjith for the portrayal of M. G. Ramachandran in poor light.[83] He further recalled the schemes introduced by MGR to encourage sportspersons from underprivileged backgrounds to participate in international sports events and said "Not only in boxing, MGR also excelled in other sports like maan kombu (a type of martial art), fencing and horse riding. In most of his films, he showcased himself as a sportsman. Inspired by his films, many of his fans took up sports".[83] He further called the film as a "DMK propaganda film", following the incident and also questioned Pa. Ranjith about criticising DMK in the past.[83][84] MGR Viswanathan, a supporter of Ramachandran too criticised the director and also threatened to protest in front of his residence.[85]


Sarpatta Parambarai became the most watched Tamil film on the streaming service Amazon Prime Video,[86] and became the second-most watched regional film on the platform only bested by Soorarai Pottru (2020), another Amazon original film.[86] Many celebrities such as directors and actors among the Tamil film fraternity, praised the film through social media.[87] A report said that the film has been watched over multiple households living across 3,200 towns and cities in India, and was further streamed in more than 150 countries and territoriesacross the world.[88]

See also

  • Bhooloham, a 2015 Tamil-language film, also features the boxing rivalry of North Chennai


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