|Directed by||Gautham Vasudev Menon|
|Produced by||Viswanathan Ravichandran|
|Written by||Gautham Vasudev Menon|
|Music by||Harris Jayaraj|
|Edited by||Anthony Gonsalves|
|Distributed by||Aascar Film Pvt. Ltd (India)
Cloud Nine Movies (worldwide)
Bharat Creations (US)
Vaaranam Aayiram (English: Thousands of Elephants) is a 2008 coming of age Tamil romantic drama written and directed by Gautham Menon. Suriya plays dual lead roles, with Simran, Divya Spandana, and Sameera Reddy . The film had been under production since late 2006, and was released worldwide on November 14, 2008. It was dubbed and released in Telugu as Surya s/o Krishnan.
The film illustrates the theme of how a father often came across his son's life as a hero and inspiration, whose death was deeply mourned in the end. As a tribute to the father of the director, the film opened in several countries with critical acclaim. The film was produced by Venu Ravichandran and has musical score by Harris Jayaraj, making Vaaranam Aayiram his final project with Gautham Menon before the formal break-up of their partnership. It won many awards including the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil. The film was also a commercial success, eventually becoming the biggest hit in Suriya's career then.
The film begins with elderly Krishnan (Suriya) returning home after a haircut. Once he reaches home he vomits a profuse amounts of blood and is kept to bed rest. After the doctor checks him, he is reported dead after a few moments of grief with his wife Malini (Simran), daughter Shreya, and daughter-in-law Priya (Divya Spandana). This news is informed to his son Surya (Suriya) who is in Kashmir on a military mission traveling in a helicopter, to rescue a kidnapped journalist from terrorists . He begins to shed tears and starts thinking about his memorable moments with his father and the story of how his parents loved each other during their college days.
Krishnan is a student in the same college where Malini studies. They fall in love and get married. They soon have a son, Surya. He grows up as a friend to his father. He joins an engineering college near Tiruchi and parts from his family. There he takes part in cultural activities and develops his guitar skills. When he is on a train back home after completion of college, he meets Meghna (Sameera Reddy) who is doing Engineering in Regional College of Engineering,Tiruchirapalli. He soon proposes to her. She rejects him, saying that they have known each other for a very short period and it's not possible to fall in love without taking time to understand him. Surya then tells her that wherever she goes, he will find her.
Surya is disturbed constantly by Meghna's thoughts and consequently ends up going to her house. There she reveals him that she is going to University of California, Berkeley in a week to pursue higher education, Surya bids adieu to her. After that Krishnan, Surya's father, gets his first mild heart attack and is admitted to a hospital.
A few days later, Surya goes to the United States, with the acceptance of his father, and meets Meghna in San Francisco. Though shocked by his presence, Megha feels relieved to find someone of her decent in California.They have the time of their lives there. Meghna is convinced that he is the right person and that he will be accepted by her father. Their happiness does not last long when she goes to Oklahoma City for a project. Surya joins her later traveling by the Greyhound bus. When he reaches there, he witnesses the Oklahoma City bombing and realizes that Meghna is amongst those injured. She dies on her way to the hospital. He meets Shankar Menon at the airport who tries to console him with words and offers him encouragement.A heartbroken Surya returns to India.
Surya still can't take the situation. He starts hanging out with his friends to get over his loss. He meets Priya (Divya Spandana), his sister's friend. However, the thoughts of losing Meghna still haunts him, and he resorts to taking drugs. Surya's parents try to get him to break the habit by locking him up in his room and removing him from all external contact. Once they detect his withdrawal symptoms, they ask him to take a long break to rejuvenate himself. Subsequently, he takes a leisure trip to Kashmir. There he learns that Aditya, the son of Shankar Menon, the person who inspired him in the airport was kidnapped. He visits them in Delhi. On seeing the lethargic attitude of the police, he takes matters into his own hands and goes in search of the kidnappers. After days of roaming streets and gathering information, he locates the kidnapper (Prithviraj) and the place where Aditya is kept. He battles the kidnappers single-handedly, overpowers them and rescues Aditya.
Back home, Surya starts to go out with his sister's friend Priya. One day Priya proposes to him, but he doesn't respond. Surya decides that the only way to forget the pain in his body is to prepare it for bigger things. He goes on a strict workout training and joins the army. After six years, Priya comes to the Indian Military Academy where he is posted to meet him and proposes again; this time he accepts. They marry and have a son. Suddenly Krishnan is diagnosed with throat cancer and is operated on. After some days Surya is called upon to go on a mission to rescue a journalist which brings the scene back to the present day. After completing the military mission with the help of a masked man (Gautham Menon) who tells them where the culprits were, Surya returns home to see his dead father. Surya, his sister Shriya, Malini and Priya let go his father's ashes in the sea and Malini relates her husband's life to Surya by uttering a verse from a prayer. The film ends on a happy note as the four walk away smiling; conveying the message that "Whatever happens, Life has to go on."
- Suriya as Krishnan and Surya Krishnan
- Simran as Malini Krishnan
- Divya Spandana as Priya
- Sameera Reddy as Meghna
- Deepa Narendran as Shreya Krishnan
- Shreya Gupta as Teen Shreya
- Babloo Prithviraj as Asad, the kidnapper
- Ganesh Janardhanan as Antony (Librarian)
- Sathish Krishnan as Surya's Friend
- Danny as Priya's father
- Indra as Priya's mother
- Rajeevan as Meghana's father
- Gautham Menon as Commando informer
- Veera Bahu
Following Kaaka Kaaka in 2003, the director Gautham Menon and Surya Sivakumar expressed their desire to work together on a film. In early 2005, the pair got together for a film tentatively titled Chennaiyil Oru Mazhaikaalam which featured Asin Thottumkal in the lead role and Daniel Balaji in a supporting one. However, after a photo shoot, the film was delayed and then subsequently called off. Nevertheless, in 2006, producer Venu Ravichandran signed up the pair for a new film, which they confirmed was not going to be a sequel of their previous venture; it was going to be a romantic thriller. Initially titles such as Naan Thaan and Udal Porul Aavi were considered for the project, but Menon announced the title was Vaaranam Aayiram, title derived from "Thirupaavai" with the literal meaning of "the strength of a thousand elephants".
Before the start of shooting, technical crew members were signed up, and the shoot commenced without a leading lady on 24 November 2006 at a nightclub in Chennai. In 2007, it was announced that a 10-day shoot in Afghanistan would be followed by shooting in Malaysia, Russia and the United States of America. However, the film only completed a shoot at the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, USA, and shooting was not held in Afghanistan.
In November 2007, Gautham Menon decided to send the reels back to Chennai from San Francisco. Two of the production managers were assigned the task of bringing the reels to the producer's office. But they stayed in Singapore for a couple of days before returning to Chennai. Following their arrival, it was understood the reels went missing in the hotel they stayed in at Singapore, but a search by the police proved unsuccessful. The whole crew of Vaaranam Aayiram was in a fix as the reels held fight scenes, songs and other scenes worth $500,000. Soon after, the reels were found with the Singapore airport authorities. The film finished its shoot in August 2008.
A song was filmed by an assistant cameraman with a high-tech camera, costing about Rs. 1.5 crore, fastened to his hip. While the assistant was moving behind the actors canning the shots, he tripped unexpectedly and the camera broke to pieces. The shot resumed a day later with a similar camera.
Vaaranam Aayiram was believed to be based on the Dutch film by Mike van Diem, Character; others have claimed that it is inspired by the 1994 Hollywood film, Forrest Gump, starring Tom Hanks. Menon too admitted the film will draw inspirations from Forrest Gump but will be fixed to suit the Indian audience. Furthermore Menon stated that Surya Sivakumar will be seen playing the dual roles of a 21-year-old and his father and that the film will be society themed. It was set to release in 2007 and was delayed for a 14 November 2008 release. The audio of Vaaranam Aayiram was released on 24 September 2008. Menon has described the film as "autobiographical and a very personal story and if people didn’t know, that 70% of this [the film] is from my life". Suriya lost weight using capsules and prepared a six-pack for the film through an eight-month fitness regime.
After the cancellation of Chennaiyil Oru Mazhaikaalam, originally starring Surya Sivakumar, Asin Thottumkal and Daniel Balaji, Gautham Menon, keeping the male leads the same, wanted to opt for a new heroine to begin Vaaranam Aayiram. Deepika Padukone was signed up and set to make her debut in Tamil films; she backed out due to the inactivity and signed the Bollywood blockbuster, Om Shanti Om. Soon after, another confirmed heroine, Andrea Jeremiah, was dropped from the film for unknown reasons. Asin expressed her desire to be a part of the project, but the male lead, Surya, refuted her offer citing that she had walked out of his previous film, Sillunu Oru Kadhal and refused to act opposite him.
The producers then announced the film with Divya Spandana, who was making her comeback to Tamil films and Genelia D'Souza in the lead roles. Soon after the start of the shoot, Genelia decided to walk out, after Menon refused to pay the hefty salary that she was demanding and was receiving in Telugu films allowing Sameera Reddy to act in her first Tamil film. Simran Bagga signed and completed her shoots swiftly after she was selected to portray the mother of Surya, after Tabu had rejected the role. TV actress Deepa Venkat and playback singer Chinmayi dubbed for actresses Simran Bagga and Sameera Reddy respectively.
|Soundtrack album by Harris Jayaraj|
|Released||24 September 2008|
|Genre||Feature film soundtrack|
|Harris Jayaraj chronology|
The film has seven songs composed by Harris Jayaraj. All Lyrics are penned by Thamarai, expect Yethi Yethi song (Na. Muthukumar). The songs from the albums were released to four leading radio stations in Chennai, with one song per station, in attempt to popularise it five days before the official launch. The move by Sony BMG was the first of its kind in Indian cinema.
|Song title||Singers||Length (m:ss)||Description|
|"Adiye Kolluthe"||Benny Dayal, Krish and Shruti Haasan||5:17||Filmed at the University of California and locations across the state with Surya and Sameera. Depicts Meghna falling in love with Surya.|
|"Nenjukkul Peidhidum"||Hariharan, Krish, Devan and Prasanna||6:11||Filmed in various locations on Surya and Sameera. Depicts the moment after Surya tells Meghna about his love.|
|"Yethi Yethi Yeththi"||Kunal Ganjawala, Benny Dayal, Naresh Iyer and Solar Sai||4:55||Filmed in locations across South India with Surya and background dancers. Depicts Surya's school days.|
|"Mundhinam Parthene"||Naresh Iyer, Prashanthini and Suriya||5:43||Filmed with Surya and Simran. Depicts when Krishnan loved Malini during their college days.|
|"Oh Shanthi Shanthi"||Clinton Cerejo and S. P. B. Charan||3:05||Depicts Surya searching for Meghna on the university campus.|
|"Ava Enna"||Karthik and Prasanna||5:20||A dappan koothu folk-style song with Surya. Depicts Surya becoming hysterical from memories of Meghna.|
|"Annal Mele Panithuli"||Sudha Raghunathan||5:22||Filmed on Surya and Divya. Depicts the moment when Surya finally falls in love with Priya.|
All Lyrics are Penned by Veturi Sundararama Murthy.
|Song title||Singers||Length (m:ss)||Description|
|"Yedhane Koiyyake"||Benny Dayal, Krish and Bhargavi Pillai||5:17||Filmed at the University of California and locations across the state with Surya and Sameera. Depicts Meghna falling in love with Surya.|
|"Naalona Pongenu"||Harish Raghavendra, Krish, Devan and Prasanna||6:11||Filmed in various locations on Surya and Sameera. Depicts the moment after Surya tells Meghna about his love.|
|"Yegasi Yegasi"||Benny Dayal, Naresh Iyer and Chandran||4:55||Filmed in locations across South India with Surya and background dancers. Depicts Surya's school days.|
|"Monna Kanipinchavu"||Naresh Iyer and Prashanthini||5:43||Filmed with Surya and Simran. Depicts when Krishnan loved Malini during their college days.|
|"Oh Shanthi Shanthi"||Krish and S. P. B. Charan||3:05||Depicts Surya searching for Meghna on the university campus.|
|"Adhey Nannu"||Karthik and V. Prasanna||5:20||A dappan koothu folk-style song with Surya. Depicts Surya becoming hysterical from memories of Meghna.|
|"Nidhare Kala"||Sudha Raghunathan||5:22||Filmed on Surya and Divya. Depicts the moment when Surya finally falls in love with Priya.|
The album received tremendous response from music critics as well as the public. Indiaglitz stated "'Varanam Aayiram' is no doubt one of the best from Harris Jeyaraj and Gautham duo. It is energetic and entertaining. A must listen musical score that is serene even while repeated." Malathy Sundaram from Behindwoods gave a 4/5 rating and praised the album calling it a "blockbuster" further citing "The guitar simply enthralls you. So do the native drums. There is a slight monotony in the instrumentation, but it doesn’t seem to affect the overall effect. Thaamarai needs to be complimented for the soft lyrics." Pavithra Srinivasan from Rediff gave a 3.5/5 rating and said "Put together, you definitely feel that Harris Jayaraj has set out to provide quality music with a difference."
Varanam Aayiram emerged as the biggest blockbuster for Suriya since Ghajini, grossing 5.66 crore in Chennai alone. In overseas market, the film grossed $921,007 from both United Kingdom and Malaysia. The film has grossed around 80 crore for its theatrical run.
Varanam Aayiram received positive reviews. Sify stated that it is a "film straight from the heart". Indiaglitz reviewed that it "proves to be a tame affair" but stated that "Suriya the actor rocks throughout". Behindwoods rated it 2.5/5 stating that "what could have been a subtly told story turns into a sloppy fare" and "there are touching and heart-warming moments in the movie but, they are few and far between". Rediff gave the film 3/5 and called it a "moving story", further mentioning that "It might be just a feather in Gautam's hat. As for Surya, it's an ostrich plume, a justified triumph." The Hindu said, "The same combo came together for Kaakha Kaakha and signed off with a flourish not so long ago! Of course Vaaranam … does have some great moments, but it’s a lengthy film, and you feel it!"
In addition to the following list of awards and nominations, prominent Indian film websites (including Rediff, Sify and Behindwoods) named Vaaranam Aayiram one of the 10 best Tamil films of 2008. Before its release, the film's title had appeared on film websites' "most awaited" lists.
- "Gautham buys back VA from Gemini!". Sify.com. 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
- "It's Suriya all the way!!". Rediff.com.
- "Asin: What a Comeback!". 2005. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
- "Deepika Padukone's Biography". Timepass.com. 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-21.[dead link]
- "Surya + Gautham = 11.5 crores!". Sify.com. 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
- "Surya is back with Vaaranam Aayiram". Sify.com. 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
- "'Vaaranam Ayiram' in Afghanistan". Cinesouth.com. 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
- "Vaaranam Aayiram reels go missing!". Chennai365.com. 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
- "Vaaranam Aayiram re-recording starts!". Sify. 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-19.
- "Varanam Aayiram technician breaks 1.5 crore camera". Behindwoods.com. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
- "Vaaranum Aayiram – Character or Gump?". Behindwoods.com. 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
- "Hottest film in the trade!". Sify.com. 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-05.
- "Interview: Gautam "Vasudev" Menon « Baradwaj Rangan". Baradwajrangan.wordpress.com. 2008-06-05. Retrieved 2012-08-04.
- "Exclusive: Surya on Vaaranam Aayiram, Ghajini - Rediff.com movies". Inhome.rediff.com. 2008-11-14. Retrieved 2012-08-04.
- "Metro Plus Coimbatore / Books : Abs you like it!". The Hindu. 2008-05-12. Retrieved 2012-08-04.
- Sreedhar Pillai, May 4, 2008, 12.00am IST (2008-05-04). "Power packed - Times Of India". Articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com. Retrieved 2012-08-04.
- "Deepika Padukone's Biography". Timepass.com. 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-21.[dead link]
- "The secret behind Gautham's 'Vaaranam Aayiram'". Kollywood.Allindian.com. 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
- "Surya finalises lead lady for Udal Porul Aavi". Behindwoods.com. 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
- "Cute Genelia is the heroine in Varanam Aayiram". CafeBoyz.com. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-08-12. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
- "Surya pairs up with Simran". Behindwoods.com. 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-27.
- "Tabu in 'Anal katru'?". Cinesouth.com. 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
- "Vaaranam Aayiram MUSIC REVIEW - Behindwoods.com". Behindwoods.com. 2007-12-05. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
- "Music review: Vaaranam Aayiram". Rediff.com. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
- "VA- Unique audio marketing!". Sify.com. 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-20.
- "Varanam Aayiram Music Review songs lyrics". IndiaGlitz. 2008-10-01. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
- "Vaaranam Aayiram - Top Ten Movies Tamil Box Office Chennai Collections - Behindwoods.com - Silambattam Thiruvannamalai Abhiyum Naanum Dindigul Sarathy Vaaranam Aayiram Bommalattam Poo Thenavattu Surya Ellam Avan Seyal hot picture gallery images". Behindwoods.com. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
- "Vaaranam Aayiram – Chennai Box office collection". Behindwoods.com. 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
- "Vaaranam Aayiram – United Kingdom Box office collection". Boxofficemojo.com. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-30.
- "Vaaranam Aayiram – Malaysia Box office collection". Boxofficemojo.com. 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-21.
- "Movie Review:Vaaranam Aayiram". Sify.com. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
- "Varanam Aayiram Tamil Movie Review - cinema preview stills gallery trailer video clips showtimes". IndiaGlitz. 2008-11-14. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
- "Vaaranam Aayiram Review - Behindwoods.com - Suriya Simran Sameera Reddy Divya Gautham Menon Harris Jayaraj Aascar Ravichandran images tamil picture gallery images". Behindwoods.com. 2007-12-05. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
- "Review: Vaaranam Aayiram". Rediff.com. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
- "Friday Review Chennai / Film Review : An ode to dad dearest - Vaaranam Aayiram". The Hindu. 2008-11-21. Retrieved 2012-05-07.