Nanban (film)

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Nanban film.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed by Shankar
Produced by Raju Easwaran
T. Muthuraj
Written by Shankar
Madhan Karky(dialogues)
Screenplay by Rajkumar Hirani
Abhijat Joshi
Vidhu Vinod Chopra
Story by Rajkumar Hirani
Abhijat Joshi
Vidhu Vinod Chopra
Based on Five Point Someone – What not to do at IIT! 
by Chetan Bhagat
Starring Vijay
Ileana D'Cruz
Music by Harris Jayaraj
Cinematography Manoj Paramahamsa
Edited by Anthony
Release dates
  • January 12, 2012 (2012-01-12)
Running time
181-188 minutes[1]
Country India
Language Tamil
Budget INR55 crore (US$8.7 million)[2]
Box office INR164 crore (US$26 million)[3]

Nanban (English: Friend) is a 2012 Indian Tamil coming-of-age comedy-drama film directed by Shankar.[4] It was a remake of Rajkumar Hirani's 3 Idiots (2009),[5] which itself was adapted from the novel Five Point Someone – What not to do at IIT! by Chetan Bhagat.[6] The film features an ensemble cast that includes Vijay, Jiiva, Srikanth, Ileana D'Cruz, Sathyan and Sathyaraj.[7]

The plot of the film illustrates the embankment of two friends on a quest for a lost buddy, who was once an optimistic and successful student. On their journey, they recount their college life and special moments that the three shared up until their lost friend secretly parted ways after convocation. During their quest, the two encounter a rival classmate who once made a long forgotten bet with them, a funeral that goes impossibly out of control, and a wedding they must crash.

The film's soundtrack and background score were composed by Harris Jayaraj and cinematography was handled by Manoj Paramahamsa. The film was produced by Gemini Film Circuit, who had purchased the remake rights of 3 Idiots in early 2010. A lengthy and controversial delay in casting delayed filming by a year. Filming took place for a total of eight months in various locations in Europe and India.[8] The film was released on 12 January 2012 and received critical acclaim and .[9] Its dubbed version in Telugu, Snehithudu, released on 26 January 2012 in Andhra Pradesh to positive reviews.[10][11] The film was also screened at the Melbourne Film Festival.The movie was declared blockbuster at the box office.


Wildlife photographer Venkat Ramakrishnan (Srikanth) receives a phone call from his college-mate Srivatsan, better known as "Silencer" (Sathyan), telling him that their lost college friend Panchavan "Paari" Paarivendhan (Vijay) has been located. Venkat stops the flight he is on and hires a car. Along with Sevarkodi Senthil (Jiiva), Venkat goes to their college water tank, where Silencer had asked them to come. After boasting about his success in life, Silencer reveals that he wants to know whether Paari won or lost a bet he made with Paari during their college-days which was to see who of the two would become more successful. Then the trio go by car to Ooty, where Paari is believed to be. On their way, they recall their moments with Paari. Paari was a brilliant student, who believed in studying by understanding, while Silencer was involved in meaningless rote learning. Venkat pursues higher studies for his father's ambition of making him an engineer, burying his interest in Wildlife Photography while Senthil studies to improve his poor family's financial status and to get his elder sister married. But Paari studies only to gain knowledge. Paari has a constant tussle with the college's principal, Virumandi Santhanam (Sathyaraj), whom students refer to as "Virus".

One day, when Virus doesn't approve the project of student Paneer Selvam, Paneer commits suicide. Paari tells Virus that he is the cause for the suicide, thus making Virus write letters to the families of Venkat and Senthil. The fury and rage of Virus towards Paari increase when the trio crash Virus's elder daughter Swetha's (Anuya Bhagvath) marriage. He is caught by Virus and his younger daughter Ria (Ileana D'Cruz). Soon, Ria falls for Paari after seeing his kindness. Virus becomes more infuriated and asks Venkat and Senthil to shift to Srivatsan's room, and cut their friendship with Paari. Senthil briefly distances himself from Paari, but they eventually reconcile. Meanwhile the trio pass their exams and Virus challenges Paari that neither Venkat nor Senthil would get a job in the college's campus placements.

During their final year at IEC, the trio ends up drunk in Virus's house as Paari proposes to Ria. Venkat and Senthil urinate at the entrance of Virus's house and create ruckus. Virus, having noticed Senthil during the act, threatens to expel him or Paari. Senthil attempts suicide and ends up paralysed. Following his recovery, Senthil gets a job at the campus placements, while Venkat goes to his father and tells him of his interest in photography and his father accepts it.

On learning this, an infuriated Virus creates a tough exam paper, to fail Senthil. Ria tells this to Paari, and he and Venkat fetch a copy of the question paper from Virus's office. Virus comes to know of this and expels the trio from IEC. Ria hears this and she tells Virus that his deceased son committed suicide, due to Virus's enforcement on him to pursue engineering. Ria leaves for her hospital. Meanwhile the pregnant Swetha goes into labour. When the ambulance stops due to heavy rain, Paari, Senthil and Venkat help Swetha deliver her baby successfully. Virus informs the trio that they will not be expelled. Paari and Senthil pass their exams while Venkat becomes a wildlife photographer.

Returning to the present, Venkat and Senthil reach Paari's house, where they are shocked to see a different man with the name Paari (S. J. Suryah). Silencer tells them that when his secretary Lara came to Ooty to get the appointment for meeting Kosaksi Pasapugazh, the great scientist, he found Paari in a photograph. They go to Paari's house and ask the other man where their friend is. He tells them that, their friend is not Paari, but Pappu, and that the real Paari made Pappu study engineering under his name. He reveals that Pappu, their friend, is at Dhanushkodi. They go to Coimbatore and get Ria from an unwanted marriage and go to Dhanushkodi. They eventually reunite with their long lost friend, who is requested by Silencer to sign a declaration of defeat on losing the bet. Venkat, Senthil and Ria ask their friend what his real name is. He tells them that it is Kosaksi Pasapugazh. Pasapugazh calls Silencer and reveals to him that he is the world-renowned scientist that Silencer had hoped to create a business deal with, proving Silencer had in fact lost the bet.


"I had watched 3 Idiots with my family and enjoyed it to the hilt. But never did I think I would be part of its southern trip. When the offer came my way, I was sceptical and told director Shankar so. ‘This kind of film is new to me too. But I'm sure you'll be apt for the role,' he said"

Vijay, on his experience of playing the character of Paari.[12]


La Defense Office was one of the highlights in the song "Asku Laska"


"When I was shooting for Endhiran [..] I wanted to seen an action film but I ended up watching a comedy. My mind was not on the film but I saw the audience continuously laughing. I got involved in the film and I felt so good at the end of it. It was a wonderful feeling and I thought our Tamil audience must also experience this. However, Nanban is not a literal translation of 3 idiots. The movie had to be fresh and yet retain its soul. I wanted to bring it as close as possible to the Tamil audience by making it earthy and simple".

Shankar on directing Nanban.[15]

Following Gemini Film Circuit's purchase of the remake rights for 3 Idiots in January 2010, there was much speculation in regards to the three title roles played by Aamir Khan, R. Madhavan and Sharman Joshi in the original.[16] Gemini Film Circuit approached noted directors Shankar, Vishnuvardhan and S. Dharani to replace Rajkumar Hirani as the director, with the approval from Shankar leading to him being signed.[17] Despite speculation that he was set to pull out from directing his first remake as it would be a step down from his previous film, Enthiran, Shankar stated his commitment in October 2010.[18][19] He later added that, "he came across 3 Idiots during the making of Endhiran, and it was that moment he decided to break his self-imposed rule – making only original movies – and decided to direct his first remake venture."[20] As Shankar's norm music director, A. R. Rahman couldn't be retained for the project due to his busy schedules. Harris Jayaraj and Yuvan Shankar Raja were approached to compose the soundtrack,[21] with Shankar settling for the former with whom he had worked in the 2005 action film Anniyan earlier.[a] Meanwhile, Manoj Paramahamsa, whose work in Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa and Eeram had been critically acclaimed, was signed on as the cinematographer.[23] Sound designer Resul Pookutty and visual effects designer V. Srinivas Mohan joined the crew, following a successful collaboration in Enthiran.[24]


The Crystal Palace in Buen Retiro Park, another highlight in the song "Asku Laska"

For the lead role enacted by Aamir Khan, initial reports suggested that Suriya was the front runner, who however dismissed the link citing that his commitments had left him busy.[25] A special screening for the film industry included Vijay, who expressed his desire to work in the film, and was subsequently signed up by Gemini Film Circuits to portray the lead role.[26][27] However, by mid-December 2010, soon after trial shoots were held, Vijay walked out the film following disputes over his dates, with Suriya being labelled as his likely replacement.[28][29] Reports claimed that talks with Suriya failed, since the actor had demanded salary increase and dubbing rights for the Telugu-version of the film.[30] Suriya's reasons for refusing the offer was later confirmed not to be true, with Suriya himself revealing that he had opted out only because of other film commitments and "did not want to keep Shankar waiting".[31] As a result, Vijay was once again finalised for the role.[30][32]

The roles of the other two titular characters took considerably longer to confirm. Madhavan was initially approached to reprise his role from the original but made it clear that he was unwilling to be a part of the remake, citing the film had already "gone down in history".[33] Early indications suggested that Udhayanidhi Stalin had replaced him but the claims were false.[26] In November 2010, reports emerged that Vinay Rai or Nakul were set to play the role, however Vinay cited that he refused the project as the role was not as meaty as the other two characters.[34] Consequently, the production house signed Srikanth to play the role, after seeing his performance in Drohi, which had come after several box-office failures for him.[35] Sharman Joshi's role was originally offered to Silambarasan, but after discussions, it was revealed that Silambarasan could not associate himself with the character.[36] Subsequently the role was offered to Siddharth, a protege of Shankar, who also went on to refuse the project.[37] Despite further reports that Arya and Jiiva were being considered, the latter signed on and agreed with Shankar that he would play Joshi's role instead of Madhavan's.[38][39] The role played by Kareena Kapoor in the original was reported to be played by either Shruti Haasan or Asin. However Ileana D'Cruz was signed on for the film after attempts to cast Katrina Kaif in the film had failed.[40] The college professor's role was given to Sathyaraj, despite early indications that Prakash Raj would be approached. Omi Vaidya was unable to reprise his role from the original and comedian Sathyan Sivakumar was signed on to essay his role after attempts to sign Sricharan of Payanam fame has failed, while S. J. Surya signed on to appear in a guest role, portraying the role enacted by Javed Jaffrey.[41][42] Anuya Bhagvath was signed up for a supporting role.[43] Stage artist Sreedevi Gengiah was selected to play Jeeva's sister.[44]


Most of the film was shot at Forest Research Institute, Dehradun.

The first schedule of filming was held in Ooty, where scenes involving Ileana, Srikanth and Jiiva were shot.[45] During the second schedule scenes involving the lead cast were canned at Forest Research Institute, Dehradun and a car chase at various places in Chennai,[46][47][48] while two songs were filmed in London and Buckingham during the third schedule.[49] Some significant parts of the film were shot in Chennai at Sun Studios, Kothandapani Studios and the Ampa Skywalk Mall,[50][51][52] as well as in the Koyambedu water tank for three days, for which an Akila crane was used.[53] Further filming, including the climax, was held at various locations in Europe, Andamans and Coimbatore.[54] Filming was wrapped-up in October with a song featuring Vijay and Ileana, which was choreographed by Farah Khan.[55][56] The filming process lasted for eight months.[57]

Shankar wanted to paint a train for the song sequence, so the team decided to stick paper and then paste the painting on it. Art director Muthuraj hired some 250 artists from various states who were well versed in folk drawings and finished the entire job at breakneck speed and returned the train in time.[58]


Original cover
Soundtrack album by Harris Jayaraj
Genre Feature film soundtrack
Label Gemini Audio
Producer Harris Jayaraj
Harris Jayaraj chronology
7aum Arivu
Oru Kal Oru Kannadi

The soundtrack and background score was composed by Harris Jayaraj, working with Shankar for the second time after Anniyan (2005), while scoring for a Vijay-starrer for the first time. The soundtrack, consisting of six original songs, was released on 23 December 2011, at Hindusthan College of Arts and Science in Coimbatore, before Jayaraj's concert, Harris: On The Edge, commenced at the same venue.[59] Lyrics were provided by Pa. Vijay, Viveka, Na. Muthukumar and Madhan Karky, the latter two penning lyrics for two songs each. Notably, Karky's lyrics in "Asku Laska" include more than 16 different languages.

No. Title Lyrics Singer(s) Length
1. "En Frienda Pola"   Vivega Krish, Suchith Suresan 3:57
2. "Heartile Battery"   Na. Muthukumar Hemachandran, Mukesh 5:35
3. "Asku Laska"   Madhan Karky Vijay Prakash, Chinmayi, Suvi 6:21
4. "Enthan Kan Munne"   Madhan Karky Aalap Raju 2:10
5. "Irukana"   Pa. Vijay Vijay Prakash, Javed Ali, Sunidhi Chauhan 5:10
6. "Nalla Nanban"   Na. Muthukumar Ramakrishnan Murthy 4:25
Total length:

Telugu version[edit]

Lyrics are Penned by Sirivennela Sitaramasastri, Vanamali, Ramajogayya Sastry. The release of the Telugu version album Snehithudu was held on 19 January in Hyderabad. It was attended by Ram Charan Teja, Vijay, S. Shankar, Ileana, Srikanth, Harris Jayaraj, Sathyaraj, S. J. Surya, Sathyan and Dil Raju. Also present were Rajkumar Hirani, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Sharman Joshi, who were part of the original film 3 Idiots.[60][61]

No. Title Singer(s) Length
1. "Mana Friendalle"   Krish, Suchith Suresan 3:57
2. "Heartu lo Battery"   Hemachandran, Mukesh 5:35
3. "Asku Laska"   Vijay Prakash, Chinmayi, Suvi(Rap) 6:21
4. "Toli Adugaina Padalede"   Aalap Raju 2:10
5. "Ileana Chitti Belliana"   Vijay Prakash, Javed Ali, Sayanora Philips 5:10
6. "Ne Vupiri Ne Sonthama"   Ramakrishnan Murthy 4:25
Total length:
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating 3/5 stars[62]
Behindwoods 3.5/5 stars[63]
Rediff 2.5/5 stars[64]

The album received positive reviews. wrote that the music album is "ready to mesmerize you".[65] labelled it a "winner all the way", adding that it had "good variety all through the album [...] and ample scope for festivities in the theater".[63] wrote that it had three songs that "strike spectacularly with its rich music and commendable lyrics", calling it a "good work by Harris".[66] mentioned: "Overall, this Nanban is your well-Known Friend".[62] called it "Youthful and refreshing".[67] On the contrary, Pavithra Srinivasan from Rediff wrote that there was "nothing new about the music in Nanban", concluding that Harris Jayaraj had "obviously taken the safe route, sticking to his usual template for most of the songs in this album".[64]

Themes and influences[edit]

The film is a remake of Rajkumar Hirani's 3 Idiots (2009),[5] which itself was adapted from the novel Five Point Someone – What not to do at IIT! by Chetan Bhagat.[6] The film deals with the theme that one shouldn't run behind success and rather pursue his/her own interests. If one develops right skill anything is possible.[68] According to Gauthaman Bhaskaran of Hindustan Times, "Nanban’s message is profound [..] given India’s exploitative and unimaginative education system. The film lambasts bookishness, the mad chase for marks, [..] the joy of discovering. Parental and peer pressure and the frightfully huge fees for professional courses push boys and girls into performing puppets. The higher your grades, the closer you are to securing a centum, the brighter become your chances of making it in life".[69]

The film shows characters having various interests. The character Pari is against the educational system and insists his classmates not to run behind grades rather derive pleasure by understanding and assimilating things while his principal Virumandi Sandhanam aka Virus (Sathyaraj) wants students to become a book worm to excel in academics. Venkat is interested in wildlife photography but his parents compel him to study engineering. Senthil hails from a poor family and is compelled to study professional course only to bail out his family from all troubles.[68]

The film also uses real inventions by little-known people in India's backyards. The brains behind the innovations were Remya Jose, a student from Kerala, who created the exercise-bicycle/washing-machine; Mohammad Idris, a barber from Meerut district in Uttar Pradesh, who invented a bicycle-powered horse clipper; and Jahangir Painter, a painter from Maharashtra, who made the scooter-powered flour mill which was featured in the original Hindi film.[70]


Prior to the release, Nanban was voted the "most expected film" of 2012 through an online public poll conducted by Vikatan.[71] The film was released on 12 January 2012 for Pongal in 925 screens worldwide.

Nanban advance booking opened well in Chennai city and suburbs.[72] It had the highest number of 77 shows in a single day at Mayajaal multiplex in Chennai at that time.[73][74] The film opened in nearly 625 screens in Tamil Nadu.[8] It was released in 50 screens in Chennai[75] and 31 screens in Hyderabad.[76] It released simultaneously in UK, the US, Malaysia and Singapore.[77] Nanban became the first Tamil film to be released with French subtitles in France.[78] It also became the first film to get exempted from the 30 percent entertainment tax in Tamil Nadu by the new scheme introduced by the Government of Tamil Nadu.[79]


Telugu film distributor Dil Raju bought the theatrical rights of Snehitudu, the Telugu dubbed version of Nanban for Andhra Pradesh market. Snehitudu was released on 26 January 2012.[80]

Home Media[edit]

The Television broadcasting was sold for a record sum to STAR Vijay for INR120 million (US$1.9 million).[81][82][83]Indian DVD were marketed by Moser Baer.[84] Overseas DVD were marketed by Suara DVD.[1]


Critical response[edit]

Sify called it an "engaging film with noble intentions. It deserves viewing because films like this are hard to find".[85] rated the film 3.5/5 and wrote: "Nanban has got more than something for everyone. It is very unlikely that a person finds such a wholesome package unsatisfying. All is absolutely well!"[86] Pavithra Srinivasan from gave the film 3/5 stars, describing it as "the perfect feel-good fare for the festive season, despite minor glitches".[87] Malathi Rangarajan from The Hindu wrote: "Nanban is an enjoyable cocktail of humour with some sentiment and sadness thrown in for that extra appeal. Once again Shankar proves the master craftsman that he is".[88] Anupama Subramanian from Deccan Chronicle gave the film 3/5 stars, while labelling it as a "feel-good film with a larger message and a brilliant feat by Vijay which makes the film a not-to-be-missed one!"[89] Venkateswaran Narayanan from Times of India wrote: "All is well with Nanban because Shankar's retelling of 3 Idiots retains its soul and has its heart in the right place".[90] Zee News wrote: "Nanban is a must watch, grab your tickets now. It’s the best gift Vijay could have given to his diehard fans this Pongal".[91] named it a "clear entertainer", "a whiff of fresh air from the mindless masala movies" and a welcome change".[68] Rohit Ramachandran of rated it 3/5 stating that "Nanban is Rajkumar Hirani's 3 Idiots staged and presented by Shankar in a different language with grandeur. The base material is solid and Shankar obediently traces it. Out comes an uplifting entertainer that will draw raves from viewers of all kinds".[92] gave a positive verdict and wrote, "All is well. It is a Shankar's Sankrathi feast for the audience! Do not hesitate to watch Nanban even if you have seen 3 Idiots".[93] CNN-IBN said that it was "sweet and satisfying".[94] Acclaimed actor Kamal Hassan appreciated Vijay's performance in the movie and lauded the team's effort in making such a good entertainer.[95][96][97] At the Internet Movie Database the film stands up with a rating of 7.8 out of 10 stars.[98] Jeevi from with regards to the Telugu dubbed version Snehithudu commented that "the magic of 3 idiots is missing", and gave 3/5 stars.[99] Indiaglitz stated that Snehithudu was a "passable remake".[100] On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an audience rating of 96% based on nearly 1200 votes.[101]

Box office[edit]


In Chennai city, the film netted INR22.7 million (US$360,000) in its first weekend and 64% of the takings,[102][103] and INR49.5 million (US$790,000) at the end of the first week, staying at first rank.[104][105] The film accounted for 66% of the takings at the Chennai box office on its second weekend[106] and 64% on its third weekend.[107] The film grossed around INR78.9 million (US$1.3 million) in Chennai after seven weeks,[108] out of which about INR10 million (US$160,000) came from Sathyam Cinemas multiplex.[109] In Coimbatore and Nilgiris area, Nanban opened in 70 screens and netted INR52 million (US$830,000) in the first week.[8] It also got a great opening at the Bangalore box-office,[110] where it was still featured in Top 5 even one month after its release.[111] The film's gross collection after its first week from 4 circuits of Coimbatore was around INR55 million (US$870,000), the highest yield since Endhiran.[112]The movie entered the INR100 crore (US$16 million) elite in just 15 days[113] The film completed a 100-day run at the box-office on 20 April 2012.[114]


Nanban was released in 7 screens in Australia and grossed $76,580 in its first weekend.[115] Overall it had grossed $110,422.[116][117] In UK, it collected $173,789 in its first week with a per screen average of $7,241 in 24 theatres. After its 4-week run the film collected £214,735 (INR16.6 million) and became the 4th highest grosser in UK.[118] It also secured the first place in the Malaysian box-office in the first week released in 37 screens,[119] and collected a total of $871,959 after a six-week run.[120] It collected a sum of INR5.8 million (US$92,000) after 18 days at the Australian box office, whereas it had collected INR38.2 million (US$610,000) at the Malaysian box office within the same period.[121]

Awards and Nominations[edit]

Vijay Awards[122]
Year Category Nomineee Result
2012 Entertainer of the Year Vijay Won
Favourite Film Nanban Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Sathyaraj Won
Best Comedian Sathyan Nominated
Best Music director Harris Jayaraj Nominated
Best Art director Muthuraj Nominated
Best choreographer Farah Khan Nominated


  1. ^ Shankar and Harris Jayaraj had previously worked in Anniyan (2005).[22]


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