Set in early 20th century, this historical saga delves into the lives of two theatre artistes in pre-independent India. Thavathiru Sivadas Swamigal (Nassar) runs a drama troupe in which Thalaivankottai Kaliappa Bhagavathar (Siddharth) and Melachivilberi Gomathi Nayagam Pillai (Prithviraj) are his direct disciples.
Gomathi is left by his father in the troupe of Swami. Kali is found by Swami during a train trip where the boy is singing and begging alms. Impressed by his singing talents, Swami takes the boy with him. Gomathi and Kaliappa have relationship like brothers. They grow up together and stage many plays where Gomathi often plays "Sthripart" - the female role and Kali plays "sidepart"- supporting characters.
While Vadivambal (Vedhicka) joins as the female member in the group, soon falls in love with Kali, while Gomathi falls for Vadivu, however, Kali loves Rangamma (Anaika Soti), the princess of the zameen. Bhairava (Ponvannan) who is another student of Swami is a popular "Rajapart" - performing main title characters of a stage play.
He becomes headstrong over his acting capabilities and does not attend the rehearsals for which he gets scoldings from Swami. After a quarrel, he leaves the troupe as he could not bear the torture of Swami. Swami does not give up and conducts an audition for the main character role of Soorapadman in which Kali and Gomathi perform. Kali gets selected, which leaves Gomathi angry. The reason behind Swami's bias towards Kali is never answered clearly to Gomathi which leaves him more frustrated.
After following Kali secretly, Gomathi informs to Swami about Kali's love to take revenge on him. Swami scolds Kali and curses him that he will never play any characters in stage. But Kali wants Swami to pardon him and keep him with the troupe as a servant.
Swami agrees and asks him to forget the princess if he wants to continue in the troupe. Kali promises but Swami agrees to keep him with the troupe like a servant but does not take back the curse. The following day, the entire troupe leave the village and head to another place. Kali cannot forget Rangamma and she is also shown to be searching Kali and one night, a man from the village comes to Kali to inform that Rangamma has committed suicide due to the forcing of her parents to get married. The man also says that she was pregnant when she died.
Kali fully drunk comes to the troupe and curses Swami that he is the reason for Rangamma's and his unborn child's death. Swami gets ill suddenly and dies. But before dying he blesses Kali who pardons to forgive him which drives Gomathi in more anger and jealousy. After Swami's death, Gomathi takes charge of the troupe and he wants Kali to be out of it. Kali fights with Gomathi and leaves.
It is shown that the troupe travels to Ceylon, Malaysia, Singapore in five years time and becomes popular. Now, Gomathi is a famous "Rajapart" as he wished to be and Vadivu is known to be the famous "Ganakokilam" Vadivambal. They return to Madurai and join hands with a famous stage play producer (Mansoor Ali Khan) who produces the plays.
When they are getting ready to stage the play "Karnamotcham", Gomathi falls severely ill. He asks the people from his troupe to go in search of other drama actors to perform his role. A man goes and brings Kali who is a drunkard now. Feeling delighted to see his troupe members, he agrees to play the role of "Karnan" though he is given the role of "Arjuna" by Gomathi who says that it has been long since they performed together.
Gomathi performed well, but surpassed by Kali as he sings a song and drives the attention of audience to himself, Gomathi still feels ill and could not perform in any plays meanwhile Kali fills the gap and earns good reputation as "Rajapart" which makes Gomathi even more jealous. He knows the interest of Kali towards freedom movement stage plays and arranges a person to get Kali arrested for performing in plays which is against the British. Gomathi visits him in jail on pretext of taking him in bail.
Inside the jail, Kali meets other people involved in freedom movement and encouraged by them he agrees to do stage plays on that topic. As, Gomathi fall in love with Vadivu and pesters her to marry him. Meanwhile, her mom makes arrangements to make her the mistress of a Jamin king.
Distressed Vadivu leaves the troupe and waits for a call from Kali to join his "Bharatha Gana Sabha" in which he stages plays based on freedom movement due to which he frequently goes to jail. Meanwhile, audience become interested in Kali's plays than Gomathi's epic plays. Vadivu gets a call after so much persuasion for which she was waiting and joins there eagerly. She expresses her love and it is lately accepted by Kali.
Gomathi's life changes and he turns from a rich man to poor. Kali is informed about Gomathi's situation. Therefore, he approaches Gomathi and asks him to join his troupe and offers him the "Rajapart" role with fondness for which Gomathi agrees. They get ready to stage a play on Bhagath singh for which the British announce shooting warrant. But a brave Kali performs on stage and when the play ends police comes and chaos starts.
The troupe people asks Gomathi, Kali and Vadivu to escape. Police follow them, Kali goes alone, Vadivu and Gomathi escape together inside a forest. A gun sound is heard and Gomathi leaves back Vadivu to go and see what it was. He meets Kali who is safe. Kali tells a plan to meet tomorrow morning. While he leaves, he is shot by none other than Gomathi.
Kali is shocked and asks why he did this to his brother. Gomathi vents out his anger for the first time to Kali saying that Kali snatched the "Rajapart" role of Soorapadman, his love interest Vadivu, regained his "Rajapart" status when he fell ill and states that he is now poor because of the increased popularity of Kali's plays.
Kali says that he knows it was Gomathi who told Swami about his frequent visits to Rangamma's place and he also says that he knows the person who made him sent to jail was the arrangement of Gomathi. But he took all these as good deeds that his elder brother did for him for positive changes in his life and forgave Gomathi each and every time. Gomathi now feels guilty but Kali asks Gomathi to shoot him to death and fights with Gomathi.
During the quarrel accidentally the trigger is pressed and Kali dies. In the last rites ceremony, when everyone are mourning, Vadivu informs that she is pregnant with Kali's child and says he will be reborn again. Gomathi takes the ashes to Varanasi and while dipping in the Ganges, it is shown that Gomathi never comes out of the water.
Vedhika is said to have sported 20 different looks for this film.
Siddharth is said to have sported 25 different looks for this film.
When the director initially approached the legendary A. R. Rahman for the music direction of this movie, he was crestfallen when the maestro rejected the offer, due to his busy schedule. A few days later, when Rahman sent a crisp message, ‘Kittappa is ready,’ he was delighted.
The initial concept of this movie came to the director through Jayamohan, who first sowed the thought of delving into the theatre life of the early part of the last century, when he told him to read Enadhu Nadaga Vaazhkai, an autobiography of theatre doyen T.K. Shanmugham. The book came as a revelation to Vasanthabalan, and his fascination with the story led him to the creation of this movie.
Vedika, whose potential came to the fore in Bala’s 'Paradesi', and Anaika, the heroine of 'Sathya 2', were chosen to play the lead female roles, as they were most ideally suited for the parts.
The director of this movie, Vasanthabalan used to work as an assistant director under veteran director Shankar.
The director, Vasanthabalan denied that this period romance is a spin-off from the life and romance of the stage superstars of the previous era, S.G. Kittappa and K.B. Sundarambal,
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