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Gunaa poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySanthana Bharathi
Produced byAlamelu Subramaniam
Written bySab John
Balakumaran (dialogues)
StarringKamal Haasan
Music byIlaiyaraaja
Edited byB. Lenin
V. T. Vijayan
Swathi Chithra International
Distributed byRaaj Kamal Films International
Release date
  • 5 November 1991 (1991-11-05)
Running time
167 minutes[1]

Gunaa is a 1991 Indian Tamil-language psychological romance film directed by Santhana Bharathi and written by Sab John. The film stars Kamal Haasan, Rekha and Roshini. It revolves around a recently released psychiatric patient (Haasan) who kidnaps a rich woman (Roshini) to make her fall in love with him. He believes she is the avatar of Goddess Abhirami and it is his destiny to marry her.

The film was mostly shot around Kodaikanal. The film's original soundtrack was composed by Ilaiyaraaja.

Gunaa was released on 5 November 1991, Diwali day. It was critically acclaimed for its unique theme and performances, but had an average run at the box office. The film later acquired cult status in Tamil cinema and inspired similar films about mentally obsessed lovers.


Gunaa is a mentally-ill person and receives treatment in a mental hospital in Hyderabad. He does not like his father, and his mother Manonmani is a moll in the house that they live. He assumes a fictitious character named Abhirami (also the name of an Indian goddess) and registers in his mind that she is an angel who is going to marry him on a full moon day. After coming out of the asylum, he believes the story to be true and believes that his Abirami is somewhere around.

A bunch of hooligans led by Guna's uncle trick Guna into robbing a temple of Abirami, an Indian goddess. He happens to see a rich girl Rohini in there, right after his uncle tells him that "Abirami will come". He assumes that she is the one, and in the confusion following the robbery, he takes her with him to a lonely, damaged house situated at the top of a hill in Kodaikanal. Police start an investigation regarding the robbery and the disappearance of Rohini. Initially, Rohini hates him for his weird nature and for holding her captive. Guna comes to know that her parents were killed in an accident and was brought up under a guardian Suresh Kumar aka SK. At one point, she breaks the chains Guna ties her up with and sets out to escape. Here, SK arrives with the help of Guna's uncle and the local goon. SK attempts to kill her to swindle her wealth, but Guna saves her by killing the local goon set by SK.

Thereafter to get away from all these people, Guna takes her to a perilous cave in a remote area, where she is moved by his deep love and is attracted to him. Sequentially, police predict that Guna is a culprit and starts to search for him. She understands Guna's innocent love and accepts his marriage proposal. She convinces him and marries him before the full moon day, but contracts a fever in addition to a broken leg caused by SK. Guna goes out to bring Dr. Ganesh, who recognises him and calls the police.

Meanwhile, Ramaiah, the CBI officer investigating Rohini's kidnapping, also reaches the scene with Guna's family. In the end, Rohini is shot by SK to hide his crimes, and SK is killed by Guna in revenge. Rohini succumbs before she can inform the police about the truth. In his grief, Guna jumps off the cliff with her while proclaiming his eternal love for her through the dialogue, "Manithar unarndhu kolla idhu manitha kadhal alla" (This is not a human love for humans to understand). The film ends with a shot of the full moon conveying that they were killed on a full moon day.




The director Sibi Malayil, cinematographer Venu and actor Kamal Haasan had planned to make a film set in Sri Lanka during a time of insurgency, written by Sab John. The trio met Cho Ramaswamy to learn more about the various issues in the country, but he criticised their decision to tell such a story, resulting in the project being dropped. John later told Haasan about a person nicknamed "Pottan" (Fool) who he knew in his childhood. This led to the development of the screenplay of a film titled Mathikettan Solai, with the protagonist named Guna, based partly on Pottan. By this time, Sibi Malayil was no longer available, resulting in Santhana Bharathi replacing him.[6][7] The film was produced by Alamelu Subramaniam under Swathi Chithra International,[8] and the dialogues were written by Balakumaran.[1] Venu remained cinematographer, and editing was handled by B. Lenin and V. T. Vijayan.[8] The film was later retitled Gunaa after its protagonist due to commercial reasons and belief that the original title will give negative impact to the film.[9]


In portraying the title character, Haasan went on a diet and lost a substantial amount of weight,[10] besides applying makeup to darken his complexion.[11] Newcomer Roshini was selected as the female lead Rohini / Abhirami, and Gunaa was the only film she ever acted in.[12] Her voice was dubbed by actress Saritha.[13]


The pre-credit scene where Gunaa walks around in circles in an asylum with the camera following him was a shot in a single take after a day of rehersing.[14] The caves which the film was shot in were then called Devil's Kitchen, Kodaikanal.[13] It was here that the song "Kanmani Anbodu" was shot.[15] Sathy who worked as production controller for the film revealed that "the cave was about 500 to 600 deep [..] we tied ropes with pulleys and transferred all the production equipments in and out of the 500 feet cave".[16] According to Santhana Bharathi, Haasan insisted to have a dummy used for climax portions similar to his face and physique.[10]


Gunaa was inspired from the Spanish film Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990).[17] The title character Gunaa is mentally affected who assumes fictional character which would marry him. Behindwoods wrote that "though it is steeped in madness, obsession and tragedy, there is one fascinating aspect to the love story here, his love is close to worship, as though she were a goddess".[18]

Kamal said that tracking shots in the early portions of the film was inspired from films directed by the German filmmaker Max Ophüls.[19] He also said that he had written a scene where he fights with his cops, his gun goes off which was meant to be a tribute to his favourite actor Dilip Kumar's film Gunga Jumna.[20]

Hari Narayan of The Hindu compared Guna to Moondram Pirai (1982), saying that in both films the protagonist's image of an ideal dreamgirl animate his antics.[21]


The music composed by Ilaiyaraaja, and the lyrics were written by Vaali.[22] While releasing the audio cassette of Guna in 1991, Kamal included some audio recording sessions with Ilaiyaraaja.[23] The song "Kanmani Anbodu" remains one of the famous songs from the film.[23] The song "Paartha Vizhi" is set in Pavani raga.[24][25]

Film score by
External audio
Audio Jukebox (Tamil) on YouTube
Audio Jukebox (Telugu) on YouTube
Tamil tracklist
1."Appan Endrum"VaaliIlaiyaraaja4:39
2."Unnai Naan"VaaliS. Janaki, Ustad Sultan Khan7:05
3."Paartha Vizhi"Abirami PattarK. J. Yesudas2:33
4."Kanmani Anbodu"VaaliKamal Haasan, S. Janaki5:27
5."Unnai Naan (Bit)"VaaliS. Varalakshmi0:38
6."Oyilala" Chorus1:57
7."Nayaki Nayakan"Abirami PattarChorus 

All lyrics are written by Vennelakanti.

Telugu tracklist
1."Pichi Brahma"Madhavapeddi Ramesh4:39
2."Unna Nekorake"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, S. P. Sailaja4:08
3."Sambhavi"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam & Chorus4:43
4."Kammani Ee Premalekhani"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, S. P. Sailaja5:27
5."Koilalo"Swarnalatha & Chorus1:49
6."Pelli Pelli" (Reprised Tamil old song – Kalyanam aaha kalyanam...)  


Gunaa was released on 5 November 1991, that year's Diwali day,[26] and faced heavy competition from another Diwali release, Thalapathi.[27] Despite receiving critical acclaim, it was above average at the box office due to its experimental nature.[27]

Critical reception[edit]

On 24 November 1991, Ananda Vikatan appreciated the film and mentioned that Kamal had expanded the boundaries of his acting and had achieved a landmark success in this film, concluding that only Kamal could play this role effortlessly.[28] The Indian Express wrote "One comes out with the impression that Kamal Haasan of the film is such a curious blend of Sylvester Stallone, Raj Kapoor and Dustin Hoffman."[29]


Gunaa won the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Film – Third prize,[5] and Haasan won the Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil.[30]


Gunaa acquired cult status in Tamil cinema,[12][31] and inspired similar films about mentally obsessed lovers such as Kaadhal Kondein (2003),[32] Chinna (2005),[33] and Kadhalil Vizhunthen (2008).[12] Actor Karthik Kumar revealed that he had watched Gunaa several times.[34] Santhana Bharathi listed it as one of the favourite films he has directed.[35] Malayalam director Sathyan Anthikad said that female character Kanmani from his directorial Rasathanthram (2006) was inspired from the song "Kanmani Anbodu".[36] Siddharth's de-glamorised look from Enakkul Oruvan (2015) is said to be inspired from Kamal's look from Guna.[37] Malathi Rangarajan in her review of Deiva Thirumagal (2011) says that the "film remind you of Kamal's Guna."[38] The Devil's Kitchen became a tourist spot after the film's release and it later became known as "Guna Caves".[39]

In popular culture[edit]

Guna was parodied many times in various films. In the comedy scene from Ullam Kollai Poguthae (2001), Vivek imitates Kamal's style of rounding from the film revealing the difficulties he faced due to water, he utters "Sivagami" in a same way which Kamal utters "Abirami".[40] In Arul (2004), Vaiyapuri sings "Kanmani Anbodu" which resulting in him getting whacked by Kanmani (Jyothika).[41] In Thaamirabharani (2007), Aarthi mistakes Vishal as Kamal's character from the film.[42] In the 2015 Malayalam film Premam, Shabareesh Varma sings 'Kanmani anbodu..' as his friend George (Nivin Pauly) express his silent love interest for Malar, (Sai Pallavi).[43]


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  41. ^ Arul (DVD)
  42. ^ Thaamirabharani DVD
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External links[edit]