Onbadhu Roobai Nottu (Eng: ’Nine-rupee banknote’) is a 2007 Tamil drama film directed by Thangar Bachan, based on Bachan’s own same-titled novel. It depicts the tragic life and fall of Madhava Padayachi, a simple villager, played by Sathyaraj, and his family. Also starring Archana, Nassar and Rohini in supporting roles, the film was released on 30 November 2007 to high critical acclaim and was praised as one of the best movies in tamil cinema.
A 70-year-old man, Madhava Padayachi (Sathyaraj), meets his old friend’s 23-year-old son Murugan in Chennai, who was leaving for their native village for his father’s death day rites. Padaychi has been away from his village for 12 years and narrates his exile life to Murugan. Murugan feels for Madhava, who was a rich farmer long time back in his village and takes him along by bus.
Madhava is fondly called Madhavar and has lived since birth in his village where he is respected. He and his loving wife Velayi (Archana), their three sons, and two daughters live a happy life in their village. He is an honest and hardworking farmer who will do anything for others. Despite being earning well, Madhavan does not engage in unnecessary expenditures which continuously irks his family except Velayi. When Velayi beats her sons for not getting educated, Madhavan shields them and spoils them. Years later, his daughters get happily married and settle down in neighboring towns. Madhavan’s two sons get married and have children. Madhavan’s eldest son’s in-laws also come to stay in Madhavan’s home.
In the meantime, Dhandapani (Sivashankar), a rich relative and neighbor of Madhavan comes to know that his daughter has become pregnant by an illiterate nephew of his. Dhandapani plans to abort the child, kill his nephew, and get his daughter married elsewhere. The village heads, under Madhavan, intervene and ensure that Dhandapani gets his girl married to her lover. This causes Dhandapani to grow deep hatred against Madhavan and he poisons Madhavar’s children’s mind slowly. In the meantime, Madhavan’s last son falls in love with a girl from a lower caste, and the entire village, including Velayi, is against the marriage. That year, Madhavan reaps a huge profit from harvest and gives it to his wife for safekeeping. Upon Dhandapani’s influence, Madhavan’s two sons and their wives rebel against them and create a huge verbal fight in the house.
This deeply hurts Madhavar and he leaves his home with his wife. Madhavar goes to Chennai to meet his good old friend Hajabhai (Nassar) and his wife Kameela (Rohini) and accommodates himself in their house. Hajabhai was direly helped by Madhavar in his bad times in the past, and Hajabhai gives Madhavan 6 Acres land of his own, to rear cattle and settle. Madhavan and Velayi live there for 6 years. One day Madhavan sees his youngest son in a nearby town. His son works as a coolie for Dhandapani (who is shown to have accepted his son-in-law as heir) and is deeply poor. This melts his heart, and he tells velayi about it. The couple plan to return home, but Velayi dies that night, bitten by a snake. Madhavan sells of all goats and visits Hajabai to give the money. At the same time, Hajabai is to leave for Bangalor for a surgery. Hajabhai informs Kamila’s brothers that he has registered that 6-acres of land on Madhavan’s name, enraging the brothers who have been managing Hajabai’s industries and properties. An unforeseen scuffle incident makes Madhavar leave Hajabhai’s home for good, and he sets off on a long journey that recalls the last years of his life.
Madhavan and Murugan reach their village past midnight, and Murugan accommodates him at his house. Murugan’s mother is shocked to see Madhavan alive and tells what happened in his absence. Dhandapani had instigated fights between the three brothers and caused them to partition their properties. Since the two elder brothers wanted to live in leisure, they sold their properties to Dhandapani for meager rates, over the years. Even Madhavan’s ancestral house was sold to Dhandapani. Madhavan’s second was falsely blamed for a murder and due to repeated legal issues, he committed suicide, and his wife went back to her father’s place with her kids. Madhavan’s eldest son lives like a drunken coolie, while Dhandapani is the richest in surrounding villages. Only, Madhavan’s last son, ostracized by the village, lives in Madhavan’s jack fruit farm with his family. Madhavan’s eldest grandson lives modestly as a cycle-repair shop owner and party local chief. Madhavan’s two daughters are safe and happy in their lives.
Hearing that his entire lineage has crumbled to nothing after many years of his hard work, Madhavan dies the next morning. Madhavan’s body is brought back to Murugan’s house and his final rites are performed. Madhavan’s grandkids beat Dhandapani blue and black for his actions. Murugan decides to quit his job in Chennai and start farming again.
Directed by Thangar Bachan
Produced by A. S. Ganesan
Written by Thangar Bachan
Starring Sathyaraj, Archana, Nassar, Rohini
Music by Bharathwaj
Cinematography Thangar Bachan
Production Indian Cinema Factory
Release date 30 November 2007