Moondram Pirai

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Moondram Pirai
Moondram Pirai Poster.jpg
Official Promotional Poster
Directed by Balu Mahendra
Produced by G. Thyagarajan
G. Saravanan
Written by Balu Mahendra
Starring Kamal Haasan
Silk Smitha
Poornam Vishwanathan
Y. G. Mahendran
Music by Ilaiyaraaja [1]
Cinematography Balu Mahendra
Edited by D. Vasu
Sathya Jyothi Films
Distributed by Sathya Jyothi Films
Release date(s)
  • 19 February 1982 (1982-02-19)
Running time 139 minutes
Country India
Language Tamil

Moondram Pirai (English (lit.): Crescent) is a 1982 Indian Tamil film written and directed by Balu Mahendra, starring Kamal Haasan and Sridevi. Ilaiyaraaja composed the music. Kamal Haasan won the National Film Award for Best Actor for his role as Srinivas. Balu Mahendra did the cinematography as well for which he won the National Film Award for Best Cinematography. It was a blockbuster and completed 329-day run at the box office.

The film was dubbed in Telugu under the title Vasantha Kokila and was released on the same day (19 February 1982). The film was remade the following year as the Hindi film Sadma, with much of the cast and crew from the original reprising their roles.


Lakshmi (Sridevi) a modern young girl, meets with an accident while returning from a party in a car and is hospitalised with severe head injuries. When she recovers, she is diagnosed with amnesia and she fails to recognise her own parents. She mentally regresses to the state of a child. While she is undergoing treatment, she is kidnapped and sold to the madam (Gandhimathi) of a brothel through devious methods. Srinivasan alias Cheenu (Kamal Haasan), comes to Chennai to meet his old friend (Y. G. Mahendran) and together, they visit the brothel to relax. The mistress sends Lakshmi, renamed as Vijaya, to his room. Cheenu realises that the call girl is still a child at heart and pities her. He understands that she is from a cultured family, was kidnapped and forced into prostitution.

He returns the next day and after paying a huge sum to the mistress, takes her out in the pretext of a pleasure trip, then takes her away to Ooty, where he is working as a school teacher. He takes her to his residence, where he protects her and also pampers her like a child. Viji, as she is called by Cheenu, has completely forgotten her past and becomes very close to him. Their relation however takes a turn when Viji accidentally spills ink over Cheenu' documents, angering him, but both eventually reconcile. Later, a local woodcutter lusts for Viji and nearly molests her, later she is saved. The sub-plot of the film follows the wife (Silk Smitha) of Cheenu' boss who is attracted to Cheenu, though Cheenu does not reciprocate her feelings.

Viji's father Vedachalam (Veeraraghavan), who was searching her through the police, releases a newspaper advertisement about his lost daughter. A co-passenger who had travelled with Cheenu and Viji from Chennai to Ooty by train gives them a lead. Cheenu takes Viji to an Ayurvedic medical practitioner (Ramanamurthy) and leaves her there for treatment for a day. In his absence, the police come to his house searching for Lakshmi which he later learns from his sympathetic neighbour. Finally, the police learn that Lakshmi is getting treated at the doctor's place and reach there. Cheenu is unable to come as he is afraid of police action. The treatment goes through successfully, Lakshmi regains her memory, becomes normal and completely forgets about the period between her accident and recovery. Vedachalam and his wife are happy and decide to leave. From the doctor, Vedachalam learns that the person who had brought her there had been taking good care of their daughter; hence he withdraws his police complaint and they begin their journey to Chennai with Lakshmi.

After the police leave, Cheenu comes running after the car in which Viji (Lakshmi) is travelling. He follows them to the railway station and tries to gain the attention of Viji, but she is unable to recognise him. Cheenu plays all her favourite pranks, but Viji (Lakshmi), unable to comprehend, thinks that he is mentally challenged and begging for food. Cheenu continues his fruitless attempts to gain her attention. Finally the train leaves with Viji not recognising him. Cheenu, who was hurt while chasing her car and trying to gain her attention, is left alone and limps away heartbroken.



In an interview to Anu Haasan in the talk show Koffee with Anu, Balu Mahendra stated that Moondram Pirai's theme – a temporary relationship between a childlike woman and a matured man, with their relationship abruptly ending – was based on his relationship with actress Shobha who died in 1980, shortly after their marriage.[2] The climax of the film is a clear metaphor for how Shobha left Mahendra without even saying goodbye.[3] In February 2014, Kamal Haasan told The Hindu Business Line, "When he [Mahendra] narrated the story of Moondram Pirai to me for the very first time, I listened to him for 20 minutes and then told him I was on board."[4]


The film's original soundtrack was composed by Ilayaraja. The number Kannae Kalaimanae was written by Kannadasan, and was written in "about two minutes" time.[5] Coincidentally, it was the last song which he wrote, before his death in 1981.[6] The song Ponmeni Uruguthe that was picturised on Kamal Haasan and Silk Smitha developed cult status, in 2003 however Balu Mahendra revealed that he considered the song as "not needed at all".[7]

No. Song Singers Lyrics Length (m:ss)
1 Kannae Kalai K. J. Yesudas Kannadasan 04:13
2 Kanne Kalai (Sad) K. J. Yesudas 01:09
3 Nari Kathai Kamal Haasan, Sridevi Vairamuthu 04:05
4 Ponmeni Uruguthe S. Janaki Gangai Amaran 04:35
5 Poongatre K. J. Yesudas Kannadasan 04:22
6 Vaanengum Thanga S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, S. Janaki Vairamuthu 04:34


Prior to release, Moondram Pirai was given an "A" certificate by the Indian Censor Board.[8]


Reviews were mostly positive. In December 2012, IndiaGlitz said "Balu Mahendra's best direction till date casts Kamal and Sridevi excelling in their roles. How a simple storyline can influence the hearts of millions is the beauty of this movie."[9] In February 2013, entertainment magazine Galatta Cinema said, "Balumahendra’s Moondram Pirai is a tragedy nevertheless, and that too one that had most of us bawling our eyes out." The critic further wrote, "The love that binds them [Kamal Haasan and Sridevi] is so beautifully presented through events and songs, that when the end draws near, you just know it's too good to end well. She gets back her memory but forgets her love..." and concluded that "Sridevi and Kamal just outdid themselves in this one..."[10] S. Saraswathi of Rediff included Moondram Pirai in her list of the "10 best Films of Kamal Haasan".[11]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Filmfare Awards South[edit]

National Film Awards[edit]

Tamil Nadu State Film Awards[edit]


External links[edit]