poster of the Tamil version
|Directed by||Suresh Krissna|
|Produced by||S. Thanu|
|Screenplay by||Kamal Haasan|
by Kamal Haasan
K. S. Raghunath
|16 November 2001|
164 minutes (Tamil)|
129 minutes (Hindi)
Aalavandhan or Abhay (English: Born to Rule/Fearless) is a 2001 Indian psychological thriller film directed by Suresh Krissna, and produced by S. Thanu. The film stars Kamal Haasan in dual roles, with Raveena Tandon, Manisha Koirala, Sarath Babu, Gollapudi Maruti Rao and Milind Gunaji in supporting roles. It is among the earliest magic realism films in India.
The film was released as a bilingual film, along with Tamil it was simultaneously dubbed and some scenes removed in Hindi with the title Abhay with three different actors. It was also dubbed in Telugu under that same title. The film is an adaptation of the novel Dhayam that was written by Kamal Haasan in 1984. Although a commercial failure during its release, Aalavandhan won the National Film Award for Best Special Effects, and has since attained cult status.
Plot (Tamil version)
Vijay Kumar, an army commando in Delhi is due to marry his girlfriend Tejaswini "Teju", a TV news presenter. Vijay's twin brother Nandu is a paranoid schizophrenic psychopath who has spent most of his life in an asylum for killing his hated stepmother Jayanthi. Vijay cares about Nandu and looks forward to his release, but a doctor tells him that Nandu is a danger to the society and should not be released.
Vijay and Teju visit Nandu to share the news about their impending marriage, which turns disastrous as Nandu sees in Teju his stepmother. Seeking to save Vijay from Teju, Nandu manages to escape custody after killing two other inmates. He later meets his maternal uncle (who was responsible for incarcerating him) who dies of a choking upon seeing him. After their marriage, Vijay and Teju are shocked on learning of Nandu's escape. Nandu's doctor believes it was another patient who escaped, but Vijay is convinced that it was Nandu.
Nandu visits Vijay's home when he is not there and leaves a message to kill Teju. He keeps conversing with his deceased mother in his imagination. While searching for Teju, Nandu meets actress Sharmilee and both develop a liking for each other. Upon being drugged, Nandu visualises Sharmilee as his stepmother and brutally murders her. Regretting his actions, he burns her corpse before exiting the room, but leaves behind evidence through which Vijay deduces him as the murderer.
Vijay and Teju leave for Vijay's ancestral home in Ooty to stay safe from Nandu, but he secretly follows them. Vijay and Teju find Nandu's old diary in the house through which they read his past: Vijay and Nandu's mother committed suicide due to their father Santosh's affair with Jayanthi, who later became their stepmother. Both brothers hate her and Nandu becomes violent at school. The teacher complains about it and Nandu justifies that he is only reflecting the home environment. Enraged, Santosh beats both his sons for abusing his wife. One day, the brothers see Jayanthi having an affair with another man and Nandu tries telling this to his father who pays no heed, and instead beats him. Nandu pleads to his maternal uncle to take him along with him. But as he is suffering from throat cancer, he refuses and suggests a boarding school. Eventually, Vijay leaves with his uncle to a boarding school while Nandu remains home.
The situation gets worse at home with Nandu and Jayanthi turning violent and Santosh gets a heart attack. Nandu overhears a conversation between Jayanthi and a lawyer, and realises that she is after his father's wealth. Seeing this, Santosh dies due to another heart attack. Nandu is now shocked to see both his deceased parents in his hallucination. His mother gives him the mission of killing Jayanthi, which Nandu does. Nandu stays with the corpses in the house before being incarcerated at the asylum.
In the present, Vijay learns from his old friend Thenkoshut that Nandu has reached Ooty. Vijay reaches on time to save Teju from Nandu, who entered their hotel room and leaves with her. Nandu chases the car in which they escape. After a long chase, Vijay manages to push Nandu's car into an abyss and assumes he is dead. However, Nandu escapes and continues his trail. Vijay plans to leave the city and notices Nandu coming to the hotel secretly.
Vijay and his commandos try to nab him but he takes on everyone and kills many. Finally, the brothers have a fight where Nandu overcomes Vijay. He corners Teju who starts whacking him with a belt in self-defence, reminding Nandu of Jayanthi's manner of punishing him. Vijay reaches by then and there is another fight between the brothers. Nandu visualises his mother asking him to join her as Jayanthi is torturing her up there. He realises his mistake and apologises to Vijay for chasing Teju. To kill his stepmother, he lights up some cylinders which explode, killing him. Teju is later revealed to be pregnant with twins.
- Kamal Haasan as Major Vijaykumar 'Vijay' and Nandakumar 'Nandu'/Abhay Kumar in the Hindi version
- Raveena Tandon as Tejaswini 'Teju'
- Manisha Koirala as Sharmilee (cameo)
- Gollapudi Maruti Rao as the Psychiatrist Doctor
- Milind Gunaji as Colonel Santhosh Kumar (Vijay and Nandu's father)
- Sarath Babu as Tejaswini's father
- Fathima Babu as Tejaswini's mother
- Anu Haasan as Vijay and Nandu's real mother Priya
- Kitu Gidwani as Jayanthi, Vijay and Nandu's stepmother
- Riyaz Khan as Sulthan
- Vikram Gokhale as Vijay and Nandu's maternal uncle
- Yashpal Sharma as the terrorist
- Major Ravi
- Nissar Khan as Sonu
- Shiva (actor) as cameo appearance in "Siri siri" song
Exceptions in the Hindi version:
- Naveen Nischol as Tejaswini's father Ravinder
- Smita Jaykar as Tejaswini's mother Geeta
- Vallabh Vyas as the psychiatrist doctor Srinivasa Rao
In the early 1980s, Kamal Haasan wrote a story titled Dhayam for the journal, "Idhayam Pesugiradhu". He had discussed making the story into a film with K. Balachander during the period, but felt that the story was ahead of its time. In 2000, he picked up the story again and agreed to make the film with director Suresh Krissna, a former assistant of Balachander, and producer S. Thanu. When Thanu had agreed to produce a film for Haasan, he had initially rejected the storylines of Pammal K. Sambandam and Nala Damayanthi. This prompted the pair to begin work on Dhayam instead, and the film was revealed to be called Aalavandhan in Tamil and Abhay in Hindi. Abhay was distributed by reputed Shringar Films. Mahesh Mahadevan was signed on to compose the background music, Tirru was selected to be the cinematographer and Sameer Chanda was picked to be the art director. Actor Jayam Ravi also worked on the film as an assistant director.
The film was first announced with Haasan and Simran in lead roles and Bollywood actress Rani Mukerji in a special appearance. Both actresses left the project for its delay in start, being replaced by Raveena Tandon and Manisha Koirala. The film featured Haasan in two distinct roles, for one of which he had his head shaved bald and gained ten kilograms. To play the other in the film, he went to the National Defence Academy for a crash course. Stunt choreographer Grant Page, who had worked in the American film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, was assigned to compose stunt sequences in Kashmir. Another fight sequence was shot in Delhi for 15 days using 39 cars with 3 cameras with a machine called Airramp brought from abroad for jumping scenes.
|Studio album by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy|
|Released||24 August 2001 (India)|
|Genre||Feature film soundtrack|
The soundtrack was composed by music trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. Tamil lyrics were penned by Vairamuthu and Hindi by Javed Akhtar. The album created a record by selling over 2,00,000 copies in less than eight hours of its release. However, according to Rediff, it "did not live up to expectations".
|Tamil track list|
|1.||"Africa Kaattu Puli"||Nandini Srikar||4:57|
|3.||"Kadavul Paadhi"||Kamal Haasan, Nandini||3:14|
|4.||"Kadavul Paadhi"||Kamal Haasan||2:41|
|5.||"Siri Siri"||Kamal Haasan, Mahalakshmi Iyer||6:23|
|6.||"Un Azhagukku"||Shankar Mahadevan, Sujatha Mohan||6:46|
|Hindi track list|
|2.||"Dekho Abhay"||Shankar Mahadevan||3:22|
|3.||"Kal Tak Mujhko Gaurav Tha"||Kamal Haasan||3:17|
|4.||"Hey! Who Are you"||Kamal Haasan & Manisha Koirala||2:43|
|5.||"Hans De Hans De"||Shankar Mahadevan, Kamal Haasan & Mahalakshmi Iyer||6:23|
|6.||"Koyal Se Mili"||Shankar Mahadevan & Sujatha||6:48|
|Telugu track list|
|2.||"Kannulalo Merupu"||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Sujatha||6:46|
|3.||"Nuvvu Evaro ! What are you !"||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Harini||2:42|
|4.||"Aggipidugai"||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam||3:20|
|5.||"Dhaivam Sagamai"||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam||3:16|
|6.||"Navu Navu"||S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Harini||6:22|
Started on a budget of ₹7 crore, Aalavandhan costs trebled by the time of release. The film was released on 16 November 2001, during Diwali. The Hindi version Abhay was bought over in Maharashtra by the reputed Shringar Films. The number of prints in Tamil Nadu had been increased by almost 5 times the average. Both Aalavandhan and Abhay got A (adults only) certificate from the CBFC. Later, both were re-examined upon request to get a UA certificate.
Reviewing Aalavandhan, Prabhu of the Lollu Express said, "The movie is below average and violent movie, which is good for few "A" center moviegoers and it, gets 40/100 only for "KAMAL's" Good acting in few places". Malathi Rangarajan of The Hindu said, "Too much publicity can sometimes affect a film adversely, because of the great expectations triggered. In the case of Aalavandhan, the hype and hoopla built up for months seems justified — to a certain extent". The film won the National Film Award for Best Special Effects at the 49th National Film Awards in 2002.
Reviewing Abhay, Taran Adarsh said, "On the whole, Abhay has nothing to offer to the masses or the classes. Poor". Rediff author R. Swaminathan said, "What happens when an exceptionally talented actor develops an inexplicable urge to delve into the dark side of the human psyche, and worse, decides to paint the town red about it? Well, for one, you get a film called Abhay". Vijay Ramanan of Planet Bollywood rated the film 5.5 out of 10, saying, "The film falls flat on its face because of its failure in the two most important departments of filmmaking – scriptwriting, and direction [...] It almost seems as if Kamal Haasan and Suresh Krishna were high on drugs while making this film. Smriti Kashyap of fullhyd.com said "The movie is a huge letdown. It lacks the pop, snap and crackle to fill you with enough guts to potter down to the theater and watch it. Catch it on the CD, it's easier on the brains."
Contemporary response to this film has become much more lenient, and very positive in social media. The film was shown in the 2016 Fantastic Fest, where it was acclaimed by the American audiences. In 2013, Rediff included the film in its list, "The 10 Best Films of Kamal Haasan".
Following the film's positive response at the 2016 Fantastic Fest, a digitally restored version was announced.
Several years after release, American director Quentin Tarantino acknowledged that the animated violence shown in this film inspired the anime scenes in his Kill Bill films. The song "Kadavul Paathi Mirugam Paathi" inspired a 2015 film of same name directed by Raaj Menon.
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