Unnal Mudiyum Thambi (English: You can, Brother) is a 1988 Indian Tamil-language musical-drama film written and directed by K. Balachander. Produced by Kavithalaya Productions, the film features Kamal Haasan and Seetha in the lead roles alongside Gemini Ganesan. Janagaraj, Prasad Babu, Manorama, Delhi Ganesh, and Naasar play supporting roles. The film was a remake of director's own Telugu film Rudraveena (1988).
Unnal Mudiyum Thambi focuses on the ideological conflicts between 'Bilahari' Marthandam Pillai, a reputed carnatic musician and his younger son Udhayamurthy. Pillai's discrimination towards the people belonging to lower caste is met with criticism from Udhayamoorthy, who believes in society's welfare and walks out for good later. The events that led to change in Pillai's views form the remaining part of the story. Ilaiyaraaja composed the film's soundtrack and background score. R. Raghunadha Reddy was the film's director of photography. R. Bhaskaran edited the film and Mohanam was the art director. The film was released on August 12, 1988 to positive critical reception.
Udhayamoorthy (Kamal Haasan) is the younger son of an illustrious Carnatic music maestro, Bilahari Marthandam Pillai (Gemini Ganesan). The father is a strict disciplinarian who is very class conscious and cares only for his art. The maestro's elder son (Prasad Babu) is born mute and hence had to take to an instrument, the nadhaswaram, which he is quite adept at. A car makes an entry into the village. An MP (VK Ramasamy) gets out of the car and finds that the village is self-disciplined in terms of cleanliness, get rid of bad habits such as drinking, etc. He learns that the cause of all this is a young man named Udayamurthy. The MP wonders how only a young man was able to achieve this and expresses this to Udayamurthy; a flashback begins.
Adolescent Udayamurthy from a high society family sees an old blind beggar woman struggling to pick up a banana thrown by a passer-by. Udayamurthy doesn't help the woman and an old man helps the beggar woman instead. The old man calls Udayamurthy and advices him to be helpful to others. The struggle of that elderly woman pinches his mindset due him not helping her in need. Now and adult, Udayamurthy is a very mischievous and happy-go-lucky guy who likes to pull pranks on his family members and gets punished by his father Pilahari Marthandam Pillai, an ardent devotee and a short-tempered Carnatic music singer. One day Marthandam Pillai shouts at his son saying that it is better to die than to live an irresponsible life like this and this hurts Udayamurthy.
Next morning family members are shocked on seeing Udayamurthy hanging himself at the middle of the hall. But actually it is another prank played by him and he did not die so. Angayarkanni hurt by the mischief feels sad for not playing her role as a sister-in-law and not raised Udayamurthy properly and made him as an irresponsible boy. Udayamurthy changes his mind and start to be responsible making his family happy. He comes to a decision of being helpful to the society by reminding of the temple incident in his adolescent life and on seeing an old gardener who wants to live usefully for the society at least by planting trees.
Udayamurthy sees a woman in a government office who protests against an official for rejecting her application for teacher job for not mentioning her caste and religion in the application. Udayamurthy again sees the woman at a theatre when she slaps a thug for misbehaving. Udayamurthy gets attracted to the girl named Lalitha Kamalam (Seetha) on knowing that she and her thoughts are very much secular. Both Udayamurthy and Lalitha fall in love with each other. Udayamurthy could not concentrate on singing when he hears the begging of a night beggar. This angers Marthandam Pillai and shouts that he is not fit to be his disciple.
Marthandam Pillai also get angry on seeing his son loving a girl who come from the caste of untouchables. Udayamurthy and Marthandam Pillai get into fight when Marthandam Pillai brings another man Charukesi (Ramesh Aravind) to become his disciple stating reasons that Udayamurthy can live as a man going behind humanity and not as a devoted singer.
At another incident Udayamurthy gets vexed when Marthandam Pillai does not care to save a dying man by giving lift in his car to hospital but cared only to be punctual for his music program leading to the death of the man due to delay in treatment. Marthandam Pillai challenges Udayamurthy to become a man making his father proud without using the name of his father in the society and then he will listen to what he says. Udayamurthy could not bear to be neglected by his father and he leaves the house.
Udayamurthy meets the wife of the dead man and finds that the government did not give any compensation to the family as the man was drunk while on duty. Udayamurthy finds lot of men laying always at drunkard state and their children go for work to earn for their drinking expense instead of going to school. Hence he sets out to change the people and bring them out of drinking habit.
He becomes unsuccessful in his attempt and at the same time gets attacked by liquor selling group. Lalitha provokes the wives of the drunkard to protest their drunkard husbands to which the women co-operates. Udayamurthy gains the enmity of the drunkards for destroying the liquor shops and for provoking their wives against them.Hence they set out to stop the wedding of Udayamurthy with Lalitha by promising that they would stop drinking if he cancels his wedding to which Udayamurthy accepts. His sacrifice earns up the respect upon the whole village and the drunkards start to obey him. Udayamurthy and Lalitha together start 'Amaidhi Puratchi Iyyakam' (Silent Revolution Society) and bring many reforms.
The MP on hearing the whole story appreciates him a lot and brings the reformation to the light of the government. Udayamurthy becomes famous overnight and gets 'Best Indian' award from Prime Minister for transforming the village in the good path. Pilahari Marthandam Pillai finds that his son achieved his mission and proudly announces that Marthandam Pillai is the father of Udayamurthy rather Udayamurthy is the son of Marthandam Pillai. He also accepts the marriage of his son with Lalitha and unite them.