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Anjali (1990 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byMani Ratnam
Written byMani Ratnam
Produced byG. Venkateswaran
CinematographyMadhu Ambat
Edited by
Music byIlaiyaraaja
Sujatha Productions
Distributed byGV Films
Release date
  • 12 July 1990 (1990-07-12)
Running time
155 minutes[1]

Anjali is a 1990 Indian Tamil-language children's drama film written and directed by Mani Ratnam. It stars Raghuvaran and Revathi, with Tarun, Shruti and Shamili in supporting roles. The film deals with the story of a dying mentally disabled child, and the emotional trauma experienced by her family.

Anjali was released on 12 July 1990 and was critically acclaimed, winning three National Film Awards, and was also featured at the 14th International Film Festival of India in the Indian Panorama section. Anjali was chosen as India's official entry to the Oscars in 1991, but was not nominated.


Civil engineer Shekhar lives with his wife Chitra and their two young children Arjun and Anu. Chitra delivers a third child, but the daughter is claimed to be stillborn. Two years later,[2] Shekar and his family move to a new apartment complex. The family seems to have moved on from their grief due to the stillborn child incident and live happily. After a few altercations with the kids in the colony, Arjun and Anu are accepted by all the kids as their own. The kids are all for pulling pranks and generally causing a clamour around the apartment colony. One such constant joke, they play on a mentally disabled ex-watchman of the colony, much to the chagrin of his wife. The only tenant they are afraid of is Dennis Joseph, an ex-convict, who lives alone in one of the apartments.

On one particular day, Chitra and the kids decide to surprise Shekhar by meeting him at his construction area, unannounced. Nevertheless, on coming to the site, they learn from one of the construction workers that Shekhar has left to conduct an emergency matter elsewhere. When Shekhar returns home for dinner that night, Chitra casually asks him where he was that day, to which he replies that he was at the construction site the whole day. Chitra feels hurt to hear Shekhar lying and leaves the dining hall. Arjun and Anu too sense that their father is lying to them and leave the place. Nevertheless, before leaving the room, Anu blurts out accusations on her father, saying that he's lying about being at the site the whole day. Shekhar apologises to Chitra and consoles her and they both make up.

On New Year's Eve, Arjun slips out late at night with the older children to celebrate while Shekhar is out of town on a business trip. Nevertheless, while dancing with his friends on the road, Arjun sees Shekhar with another woman and is shocked to know that his father has lied to them about going out of the town, but a friend drags him away before he can confront his father. Later, Arjun and the other children are hauled by the police back to their homes. Chitra is furious to learn about Arjun's escapade and when Shekhar comes back, asks him to punish Arjun. While Shekhar inquires about the incident, Arjun, who was still angry at his father, blurts out that he saw Shekhar with another woman on New Year's Eve. Chitra and Anu become shocked on hearing about the incident. Chitra begins suspecting that Shekhar is having an affair with another woman and confronts him about it, but Shekhar swears on both his kids that he is not.

A few days later, while on the bus, Chitra spots Shekhar talking to a woman. She gets out of the bus and confronts him. Without waiting for his explanations, she rushes back home, packs her bags and threatens to walk out of the house with her kids. Shekhar pleads her to stay but she doesn't stop. Finally, Shekhar comes clean.

Their third child, Anjali, was born mentally ill and with a terminal illness a few years ago. The doctors did not give the child more than a couple of months to live. To hide the sadness for a couple of months from an already physically exhausted Chitra and to protect his children from the trauma, he colludes with the doctors to lie to his family that the child was stillborn. But much to the surprise of everyone, the child has made it past her second birthday and is seemingly physically healthy. The woman Shekar was talking to is Anjali's doctor Sheela. Although Chitra is saddened by this betrayal, she decides to bring Anjali back home.

Anjali is not like the other children and requires constant attention from both the parents. This causes the other two siblings to dislike Anjali. Moreover, the other kids in the colony and school tease them by making fun of Anjali's condition. One day, the other kids in the colony make fun of Anjali by tying a string of cans behind her. This causes Arjun to fight with the other kids. He gets bruised which saddens Anjali, but a special bond is born between the siblings. Arjun becomes protective of her and challenges the other kids in the colony to a fight if they can't accept her. The kids accept Anjali and all the kids come to love her.

This causes the parents of the kids to worry as they don't want their kids to be close with a mentally disabled child. During an apartment association meeting, the parents of the kids demand that Shekar and Chitra either leave the apartment or institutionalise Anjali. The only person to argue for Anjali's presence is Dennis. The parents are afraid of him and let it go. But soon, Anjali wins over everyone in the apartment complex and everyone comes to like her.

Meanwhile, Shekhar, during a late-night visit to his construction site with Chitra and Anjali, witnesses a murder. He reports this to the police and the murderer is arrested. The murderer is enraged and visits Shekar's house after getting out on bail. He physically assaults and plans on killing Shekhar. But Dennis comes to their rescue and kills the murderer in the altercation and is arrested. Dennis thanks Shekhar before leaving as Anjali was the only person to show compassion to him.

The next morning, Anu goes to wake up Anjali. When Anjali doesn't wake up despite Anu’s constant shouts, she calls Arjun and her parents, who realize that she has died in her sleep. As more and more people come after hearing Anu's screams, they all are saddened by the demise of the girl who taught them acceptance and forgiveness.




The idea of Anjali was developed by Mani Ratnam during the making of Nayakan (1987).[5][6] He initially approached Dennis Joseph to have the screenplay for Anjali written. Being a fan of Ratnam's work, Dennis Joseph agreed to write but as months went by he could not work on it due to other commitments. Eventually, Ratnam decided to write the film himself.[7] Anjali was also Ratnam's first film since Mouna Ragam (1986) without P. C. Sreeram as cinematographer, for which he used Madhu Ambat instead.[8][9] Ambat said he agreed to work on the film because he liked Ratnam's earlier work.[10] B. Lenin and V. T. Vijayan served as editors.[1]

Casting and filming[edit]

Mohan was originally considered for playing the male lead, but he refused as he believed his fans would not accept seeing him as "the father of two kids".[11] The role later went to Raghuvaran.[12] Shamili was three years old while doing this film. The crew had difficulty to get the character right for her, so they found the solution by recording videos of a special child. Shamili's father put in a lot of effort, and he would make her watch every day to observe the actions of the child.[13][6] Prabhu's character was named after Dennis Joseph.[14] Playback singer Pop Shalini was offered the role of Anjali's sister but her mother refused the role as not to affect her education.[15]


The soundtrack was composed by Ilaiyaraaja and lyrics by Vaali.[16] It is Ilaiyaraaja's 500th film as a composer.[17] For the Telugu dubbed version, all the lyrics are written by Rajasri.[18] For the Hindi dubbed version, all lyrics were written by Sameer.[19]

Tamil Track listing
1."Something Something"Karthik Raja, Yuvan Shankar Raja, Bhavatharini, Venkat Prabhu, Premgi Amaren, Bala, Parthi Bhaskar, Hari Bhaskar5:03
2."Raathiri Nerathil"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam4:58
3."Iravu Nilavu"S Janaki, Karthik Raja, Yuvan Shankar Raja, Bhavatharini, Venkat Prabhu, Premgi Amaren, Parthi Bhaskar, Hari Bhaskar4:46
4."Anjali Anjali"Sathya, Karthik Raja, Yuvan Shankar Raja, Bhavatharini, Venkat Prabhu, Premgi Amaren, Parthi Bhaskar, Hari Bhaskar, Vaishnavi5:33
5."Vaanam Namakku"Karthik Raja, Yuvan Shankar Raja, Bhavatharini, Venkat Prabhu, Premgi Amaren, Parthi Bhaskar, Hari Bhaskar4:51
6."Vegam Vegam"Usha Uthup4:56
7."Motta Maadi"Karthik Raja, Yuvan Shankar Raja, Bhavatharini, Venkat Prabhu, Premgi Amaren, Parthi Bhaskar, Hari Bhaskar4:32
Total length:34:39
Telugu Track listing[18]
1."Paattaku"Kousalya, Lalitha, Subhasri, Prasanna, Sharmila, Jama, R. Sulochana, B Padma, R.Kalpana5:23
2."Meda Paina"Kousalya, Lalitha, Subhasri, Prasanna, Sharmila, Jama, R. Sulochana, B Padma, R.Kalpana4:52
3."Chanda Mama"S Janaki5:13
4."Anjali Anjali"Kousalya, Lalitha, Subhasri, Prasanna, Sharmila, Jama, R. Sulochana, B Padma, R.Kalpana6:18
5."Vegam Vegam"Anitha Reddy5:30
6."Raathiri Vela"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam5:36
7."Gaganam"Kousalya, Lalitha, Subhasri, Prasanna, Sharmila, Jama, R. Sulochana, B Padma, R.Kalpana5:17
Total length:38:11
Hindi Track listing[19]
1."Amber Hamara Raasta"Chorus4:46
2."Aayega Aayega"Kavitha Krishnamurthy, Chorus4:43
3."Ek Love Jodi"Chorus4:27
4."Anjali Anjali"Chorus5:41
5."I Want Something"Chorus4:52
6."Magic Journey"Amit Kumar4:53
7."Star Wars"Abhijeet Bhattacharya4:57
Total length:34:19

Release and reception[edit]

Anjali was released on 12 July 1990 by GV Films.[20] The following day, N. Krishnaswamy wrote for The Indian Express that "directing so many kids must have been such a difficult task ... and [Mani Ratnam] has been so successful in this department."[21] On 5 August 1990, Ananda Vikatan overwhelmingly appreciated the film, rating it 58 out of 100.[22] It was noted to be inspired by the 1979 televised docudrama Son-Rise: A Miracle of Love.[23][24]

A Telugu dubbed version was released later that year.[25] After the success of the Hindi dubbed version of Roja (1992), this film was dubbed in Hindi in 1993.[26]


Anjali was chosen as India's official entry to the Oscars in 1991, but was not nominated.[27] It was screened at the International Film Festival of India along with Sandhya Raagam (1990) as the only two Tamil films as part of Indian Panorama.[28][29]

Event Award Recipient(s) Ref.
Tamil Nadu State Film Awards Special Prize for Best Film Anjali [30]
Best Child Artist Shamili
38th National Film Awards Best Child Artist Shamili, Tarun, Shruti [31]
Best Audiography Pandu Rangan
Best Feature Film in Tamil Anjali
Cinema Express Awards Best Director – Tamil Mani Ratnam [32]
Best Actress – Tamil Revathi
Best Child Actress Shamili

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Rangan 2012, p. 290.
  2. ^ Rangan 2012, p. 92.
  3. ^ Joseph, Raveena; Ramanujam, Srinivasa (13 November 2015). "Child stars on the big screen". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 6 April 2020. Retrieved 1 May 2022.
  4. ^ Kavirayani, Suresh (4 July 2015). "Ads got me movie roles: Chetan". Deccan Chronicle. Archived from the original on 4 July 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2022.
  5. ^ Rangan 2012, p. 93.
  6. ^ a b "அஞ்சலியாக அசத்தும் ஷாமிலி!" (PDF). Kalki (in Tamil). 12 August 1990. pp. 4–6. Retrieved 19 March 2024 – via Internet Archive.
  7. ^ "Many actors were reluctant to play role of Mohanlal's goon, finally this actor came". Kerala Kaumudi. 9 July 2019. Archived from the original on 27 October 2021. Retrieved 22 November 2020.
  8. ^ Rangan 2012, p. 98.
  9. ^ Rangan 2012, pp. 289–290.
  10. ^ Warrier, Shobha (12 January 2000). "'Manoj is going to be the next Spielberg'". Rediff.com. Archived from the original on 30 May 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  11. ^ Kumar, S. Shiva (21 March 2019). "'Mike' Mohan: The unsung phenomenon". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 8 November 2020. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  12. ^ Rangan 2012, p. 96.
  13. ^ Rangan 2012, pp. 99–100.
  14. ^ Nagarajan, Saraswathy (14 May 2021). "Dennis Joseph scripted a new chapter in Malayalam cinema". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 18 November 2021. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  15. ^ "நடிப்பே வேண்டாம் சாமி!". Kalki (in Tamil). 8 August 2004. p. 99. Archived from the original on 25 September 2023. Retrieved 25 September 2023 – via Internet Archive.
  16. ^ "Anjali (1990)". Music India Online. Archived from the original on 28 May 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  17. ^ Aravamudan, Gita (11 June 2019). "Do Ilaiyaraaja's repeated, misplaced outbursts detract from magnitude of maestro's accomplishments?". Firstpost. Archived from the original on 31 August 2021. Retrieved 31 August 2021.
  18. ^ a b "Anjali". Spotify. Archived from the original on 15 July 2022. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  19. ^ a b "Anjali". Gaana. Archived from the original on 13 January 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
  20. ^ "Anjali". The Indian Express. 12 July 1990. p. 11. Retrieved 29 May 2018 – via Google News Archive.
  21. ^ Krishnaswamy, N. (13 July 1990). "Anjali". The Indian Express. p. 7. Retrieved 31 July 2017 – via Google News Archive.
  22. ^ Vikatan Review Board (5 August 1990). "சினிமா விமர்சனம்: அஞ்சலி". Ananda Vikatan (in Tamil). Archived from the original on 30 July 2020. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  23. ^ R, Balajee C. (1 February 2016). "Let's take a look at Kollywood's several attempts in remaking foreign films". Deccan Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2 February 2022. Retrieved 2 February 2022.
  24. ^ "Bypassing copycats, Sandalwood style". Bangalore Mirror. 29 January 2012. Archived from the original on 29 March 2019. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  25. ^ "Did these 5 International movies inspire 'Ponniyin Selvan's director Mani Ratnam to make his earlier films?". The Times of India. 6 July 2022. Archived from the original on 8 July 2022. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  26. ^ "Maniratnam's Roja: Bridging the North-South divide". The Hindu. 14 August 2017. Archived from the original on 17 December 2021. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
  27. ^ "India's Oscar failures". India Today. 16 February 2009. Archived from the original on 29 May 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  28. ^ "Indian Cinema 1990" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals. p. 109. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 February 2022. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  29. ^ "Anjali, Sandhya Raagam selected for Panorama". The Indian Express. 2 November 1990. p. 7. Retrieved 27 December 2022 – via Google News Archive.
  30. ^ "Chinnathambi bags six awards". The Indian Express. 30 October 1992. p. 3. Retrieved 14 February 2021 – via Google News Archive.
  31. ^ "38th National Film Festival" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals. 1991. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 November 2018. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
  32. ^ "Cinema Express Awards presented". The Indian Express. 5 May 1991. p. 3. Retrieved 2 February 2022 – via Google News Archive.


External links[edit]