Pasi (film)

Directed by Durai
Produced by G. Lalitha
Written by Durai
Music by Shankar Ganesh
Cinematography V. Ranga
Edited by M. Vellaichamy
Release dates
21 December 1979[1]
Language Tamil

Pasi (English: Hunger) is a 1979 Indian Tamil film written and directed by Durai. It stars Shobha, Delhi Ganesh, and Vijayan in prominent roles. The critically acclaimed film won two awards each at the National Film Awards, the Tamil Nadu State Film Awards, and the Filmfare Awards South.


Manian, a cycle-rickshaw puller, is a road-side dweller along with his wife Valliamma and their seven children – two daughters and five sons. Despite being the sole breadwinner of his family, Manian spends the majority of his meager earnings on liquor. His wife struggles to make ends meet with the remaining amount. Her friend Rakkamma, a street food vendor, lends financial support to Valliamma's family.

The educated Krishna, one of Manian's sons, elopes with a girl and separates himself from the family. Manian's daughter Kuppamma along with her friend Chellamma contribute a small income to the family by picking up rags on the roads. Rangan, a kindhearted lorry driver, befriends Kuppamma and offers assistance to her whenever she is in need of any help. They both get close to each other and their friendship leads to a physical relationship. When Valliamma gets to know this, she commits suicide fearing that Kuppamma's act has brought disgrace to the family. Meanwhile, Kuppamma gets shocked when she learns that Rangan is already married. With an intention to not disclose Rangan's identity, she keeps herself away from him. During this time, Kuppamma finds out that she's pregnant. Despite the advice of fellow road-side dwellers to abort the child, she refuses to do so. She also protects Rangan's identity by informing her relatives that her lover had died in an accident.

Knowing that she is about to deliver their child, Kuppamma wishes to meet Rangan. But Rangan had relocated to another locality after she turned down his support. When Rangan's wife gets to know of the relationship, she empathises with Kuppamma and insists that Rangan bring her to their home. When Rangan reaches the slum, he finds Kuppamma in throes of labour pain. Kuppamma dies soon after, upon delivering their child. Rangan and his wife then decide to adopt the child as penance for Rangan's sins.



The film focused on the plight of roadside dwellers. Durai, who is known for making commercial films, made Pasi in a realistic manner by compromising on commercial aspects such as songs and dance sequences. The background score was composed by Shankar Ganesh. The Government of Tamil Nadu provided a subsidy of 100,000 for the film.[2]


Released on 21 December 1979, the film met with unanimous critical acclaim. It was equally successful at the box-office, running for more than 100 days in the theatres. In 1984, Durai himself remade the film in Hindi as Pet Pyaar Aur Paap, starring Smita Patil and Raj Babbar.[2]

A 1980 review from the Tamil magazine Ananda Vikatan appreciated the film for its realistic depiction of the lives of the poor. It also praised Shobha's acting and Ranga's camerawork. Durai's script and dialogues received equal praise but the end credits of the film were criticised as it was considered as not being appropriate to the characters of the film.[2] The same year it was screened at the Tashkent Film Festival.[3]

The film served as a launchpad for Senthil, who would later go onto establish himself as one of the popular comedians in Tamil cinema in the 1980s.[4] Another debutante Sathya, who played Shobha's friend Chellamma, acquired the prefix "Pasi" after the film.[5][2]

Shortly after receiving the Best Actress award at the 27th National Film Awards and a day before the 100th day celebration of the film's success, Shobha committed suicide by hanging herself at her residence in Madras (now Chennai).[2][6]


National Film Awards

Filmfare Awards South[8]
Tamil Nadu State Film Awards[2]


  1. Dhananjayan 2014, p. 260.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Dhananjayan 2014, p. 261.
  3. Parliamentary Debates: Official Report. Council of States, Secretariat. 1982.
  4. "From scratch to success". The Hindu. 8 June 2001. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  5. "Suspense-filled melodrama". The Hindu. 4 April 2002. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  6. "Shobha Mahendra death case: While mystery persists, rumours go on". India Today. 28 January 2014. Retrieved 23 August 2015.
  7. Ashok Kumar, S. R (3 May 2002). "It's a heavy price to pay". The Hindu. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
  8. Sir Stanley Reed (1984). The Times of India Directory and Year Book Including Who's who. Bennett and Coleman.


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