Aayirathil Oruvan (English: One Man in a Thousand) is a 2010 Indian Tamil-language adventure film written and directed by Selvaraghavan. Produced by R. Ravindran, it features music composed by G. V. Prakash Kumar, cinematography by Ramji and editing by Kola Bhaskar. The film stars Karthi, Reemma Sen and Andrea Jeremiah in the lead roles with Parthiepan playing a pivotal role.
The film begins with an episode in 1279 AD, when the successor of the last great Chola Emperor, pending invasion, sends his people to a mystery location, to survive the threat. The story resumes with an archaeologist, a coolie and a member of the army going in search of the archaeologist’s father to the ruined city that was the place the exiled Chola Prince retreated to. An expedition is promptly arranged, and on the course they stumble on the lost Chola civilization and its king and find unexplained links between them and the culture. The shocking events and the problems that arise forms the crux of the story.
Aayirathil Oruvan languished in development hell due to slow progress of the shoot and the extensive pre- and post-production works, evading release dates ranging one year. Shooting began in July 2007, and took place in various locations with 2,000 extras in areas including Chalakudy, Kerala and Jaisalmer, Rajasthan amongst other regions throughout India. Uncut, the film runs for over 220 minutes, but the theatrical release was heavily cut at 183 minutes. The film released coinciding with the festival of Thai Pongal on 14 January 2010, with a Telugu dubbing version, titled Yuganikki Okkadu, following six weeks later. Upon release, the film received mixed reviews whilst proceeding to become a successful venture commercially.
In 1279 A.D., the downfall of the Chola dynasty seems imminent as the Pandyas drive the Chola people out of their kingdom in southern India. To escape them and save the life of his successor the Chola emperor sends his son along with the Chola people to a secret territory. The refugees take along an idol sacred to the Pandyas, angering them. To capture the escaped Cholas and the stolen idol, the Pandyas extend their invasion to unexplored territories but cannot find them.
Centuries later, in 2009, Indian archaeologists continue searching for the existence of the lost Chola group based on clues left by the ancient Pandyan warriors. All archaeologists who attempted to search for the secret land have disappeared. Archaeologist Chandramouli is the most recent person to have gone missing.
The Indian government organizes a search expedition led by officer Anitha to find Chandramouli and the Chola empire; she is assisted by the Indian army led by Ravisekharan. They recruit archaeologist Lavanya, the estranged daughter of Chandramouli, because her insight is essential for the success of the expedition. She hands over crucial documents on the Chola dynasty, prepared by her father, with instructions on the route to reach the destination.
Along with the army, Anitha employs a group of porters headed by Muthu, to transport the baggage during the journey. The crew embark on their voyage leading them to an island, Min-gua, near Vietnam. They face seven traps set by the Cholas: sea creatures, cannibals, warriors, snakes, hunger, quicksand and a village. Many porters and army men are killed by these traps.
Muthu, Anitha and Lavanya get separated from the others. They reach the ruins of a village where they are subjected to black magic and nearly go mad before reaching the secret hideout of the Chola. The three find an ethnic isolated primitive Tamil group, ruled by a Chola king. The king and his people are in hiding, awaiting the arrival of the fabled messenger who will bring glory and prosperity back to their land and lead them back to Thanjavur, their motherland. The king and the priest consult the gods for omens and order Muthu, Anitha and Lavanya to be burnt alive as sacrifices.
Anitha tells the king that she is the messenger sent from the homeland. Muthu and Lavanya are enslaved while Anitha is given a chance to prove herself. She tries to seduce and convince the Chola king to march towards the homeland in two days so he can be crowned properly as a king. He suspects her bona fides since none of her actions match those described by the king’s ancestors. The ancestors wrote that the messenger will be preceded by hail and following his ill-treatment will eventually help the tribe.
Meanwhile, Anitha drugs the priest and poisons the water sources. She catches a glimpse of the Pandyas’ sacred idol and leaves, finally exposing her identity as a descendant of the Pandya Dynasty. For generations, her race has been trying to find the whereabouts of the Chola prince and his people. The central minister, who sponsors the expedition, is also shown to be a Pandyan. The Chola king is shattered for having believed in Anitha. Ravishekaran who has escaped the traps and is the sole survivor gets backup and a larger army after getting an information from a hypnotized follower of Anitha from the Chola kingdom. The king discovers that Muthu is the true messenger who would save the Cholas from the clutches of Anitha and the army. The priest gives all of his magical powers, like invisibility and invulnerability to Muthu and dies.
The Cholas fight bravely, but eventually lose to technology and are taken prisoners. Their women are molested and raped by the army. The king is killed and the men drown in the seas with the kings body. Muthu is able to escape and save the Chola prince. The seed of the Chola dynasty is brought back to their motherland by the messenger as prophesied.
Directed by Selvaraghavan
Produced by R. Ravindran
Written by Selvaraghavan
Starring Karthi, Reemma Sen, Andrea Jeremiah, R. Parthiepan
Music by G. V. Prakash Kumar
Edited by Kola Bhaskar
Production Dream Valley Corporation
Distributed by Ayngaran International & Dream Valley Corporation
Release date 14 January 2010
Running time 183 minutes