From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Guna (film))

Gunaa poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySanthana Bharathi
Written bySab John
Balakumaran (dialogues)
Produced byAlamelu Subramaniam
StarringKamal Haasan
Edited byB. Lenin
V. T. Vijayan
Music byIlaiyaraaja
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 romantic drama film directed by Santhana Bharathi and co-written by Sab John. The film stars Kamal Haasan, Rekha and newcomer Roshini. It revolves around a newly released psychiatric patient (Haasan) who kidnaps an heiress (Roshini) to make her fall in love with him. He believes she is an avatar of goddess Abhirami and it is his destiny to marry her.

Haasan and John initially planned to make a film set in Sri Lanka during a time of insurgency, but the project was dropped over story concerns. John later developed the story of Gunaa, inspired partly by a mentally-ill person he knew. The dialogues were written by Balakumaran, cinematography was handled by Venu and editing by B. Lenin and V. T. Vijayan. The film was mostly shot around Kodaikanal, including a cave then known as Devil's Kitchen.

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 won a Tamil Nadu State Film Award, a Filmfare Award, and two Cinema Express Awards. It acquired cult status in Tamil cinema and inspired similar films about mentally obsessed lovers, while Devil's Kitchen became a popular tourist spot after the film's release and later known as "Guna Caves".


Gunaa is an asylum inmate. His cellmate tells him a story, whose protagonist Abhirami gets registered in Gunaa's mind; he believes and dreams that she is an avatar of goddess Abhirami who would marry him on a full moon day. After his psychiatrist Ganesh sanctions his release, Gunaa keeps searching for Abhirami. His mother Manonmani runs a brothel after his father deserted her. Her brother-in-law, addressed as "Chitappa", is her aide. Rosy, one of the brothel girls, loves and desires to marry Gunaa, but he does not reciprocate.

Gunaa is an expert at breaking open locks, and Chitappa regularly takes his assistance for stealing. Chitappa decides to break open a hundi at a nearby temple to pay Manonmani's overdue rent. When he takes Gunaa for a rehearsal, Gunaa spots a wealthy heiress in the temple. Since her physical attributes match those of Abhirami as imagined by Gunaa, he approaches her and she smilingly gives him some sweets; her pleasant disposition convinces him that she is Abhirami.

On the scheduled day of heist, Chitappa, Gunaa and their men arrive at the temple. Gunaa opens the lock of the safe room and lets Chitappa's men inside. Seeing the heiress again, he goes after her, accidentally locking Chitappa's men inside. They are caught by officials but manage to escape with some jewels and flee with Gunaa via car. One of them dies when the car crashes, the wounded survivor seizes the heiress's car and starts driving it, with Gunaa also joining.

The wounded man succumbs, and the car falls into the sea. Ramaiah, a CBI officer, investigates the heiress's disappearance, and informs her guardian Suresh Kumar (SK). Having saved the heiress and the jewels from drowning, Gunaa takes them to his house. Landlord Ismail sees the financial reward in a newspaper for the safe return of the heiress. His goons assume her to be a new prostitute brought in without paying their usual bribe and fight with Gunaa. To save her, Gunaa drives her to a dilapidated church on a hilltop, and keeps addressing her as "Abhirami".

The heiress hates Gunaa for his weird nature and tries to escape, but fails every time. With Chitappa's help, SK and Ismail reach the church; SK coerces the heiress, whose real name is Rohini, to sign blank papers so he can control all her wealth. She assents to avoid being killed, but SK tries to kill her anyway. Gunaa intervenes, kills Ismail, knocks SK out and takes the injured Rohini to a cave for safety. Though she first hated Gunaa, she now understands his deep love. She reveals her real name, but prefers the name Abhirami and accepts Gunaa's marriage proposal. Though Gunaa is adamant on marrying on a full moon day, Rohini convinces him it is that day and marries him.

The next morning, Gunaa realises that Rohini has contracted fever; he approaches a doctor to treat her. The doctor's assistant, having seen Gunaa on a newspaper, informs Inspector Moovendhar. When Moovendhar arrives, Gunaa steals a gun and forcibly takes the doctor to the cave. Near the spot, both men are surrounded by numerous policemen led by Moovendhar; Gunaa accidentally shoots a policeman before retreating to the cave where the doctor treats Rohini. Moovendhar seeks more forces and issues a shoot-at-sight order against Gunaa.

Gunaa's kin including Ganesh, Manonmani, Rosy and Ramaiah reach the spot and tell Moovendhar not to kill Gunaa. Rosy enters the cave and requests Gunaa to return the gun which he does through Rosy while remaining inside. Moovendhar then orders Gunaa to surrender. Rohini informs Moovendhar that they are fine, coming out and decides to report SK's crimes. SK overhears this and, to hide his crimes, shoots Rohini. Infuriated, Gunaa kills him. When Gunaa returns, Rohini succumbs in his arms. Gunaa then angrily tells his kin that humans cannot understand his love for Abhirami, and jumps off the cliff with Rohini's corpse, coincidentally 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 desire to tell such a story, resulting in the project being dropped. John later told Haasan about a mentally-ill person nicknamed "Pottan" (Fool) who he knew in his childhood. This led to the development of a new screenplay, with the protagonist based partly on Pottan. By this time, Sibi Malayil was no longer available, resulting in Santhana Bharathi replacing him.[11][12] The film was produced by Alamelu Subramaniam under Swathi Chithra International,[13] and the dialogues were written by Balakumaran.[1] Venu remained cinematographer, and editing was handled by B. Lenin and V. T. Vijayan.[13] The film was originally titled Mathikettan Solai, but later retitled Gunaa after its protagonist due to belief that the original title, which relates to insanity, had negative connotations.[14]

Casting and filming[edit]

In portraying the title character, Haasan went on a diet and lost a substantial amount of weight,[15] besides applying makeup to darken his complexion.[16] For the scenes near the climax, his makeup included many cuts and burns on the face, along with the appearance of a protruding eye.[3] Rohini Kudange, a student of Daisy Irani's acting classes was selected as the female lead Rohini / Abhirami, was given the screen name Roshini,[3] and her voice was dubbed by actress Saritha.[10] Gunaa was the only film she ever acted in.[17] Haasan initially wanted Cochin Haneefa to play Suresh Kumar / S. K., but the role ultimately went to Sharat Saxena.[18]

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 rehearsing.[7] The dilapidated church where Gunaa initially keeps Rohini captive was a set designed by art director Magie at a forest named Mathikettan Solai.[3] The church resembled an old building built 70 years ago.[19] The Kodaikanal caves which the film was shot in, including the song "Kanmani Anbodu Kadhalan", were then called Devil's Kitchen.[10][20] 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". Shooting took place for 45 days at the caves.[21] According to Santhana Bharathi, Haasan insisted to have a dummy used for climax portions similar to his face and physique.[15]


Gunaa has been compared to Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990) as both films involve the deranged protagonist abducting a woman he believes he is destined to marry,[22] First Blood (1982) because of the protagonist's war against the police, and Rain Man (1988) because the protagonist is shown to have certain "extraordinary talents" despite being mentally ill.[23] Haasan said the tracking shots in the early portions of the film were inspired from films directed by Max Ophüls.[24] He also said that the scene where Gunaa fights with the police and his gun goes off was meant to be a tribute to his favourite actor Dilip Kumar's 1961 film Gunga Jumna.[25] Haasan compared Gunaa to the poet Subramania Bharati, "who to his contemporaries was mad and to some a poet".[3] Hari Narayan of The Hindu compared Gunaa to Moondram Pirai (1982), saying that in both films the protagonist's image of an ideal dreamgirl animate his antics.[26] Srivatsan, writing for India Today, believes the death of Gunaa and Rohini on a full moon day "represents time and a metaphorical implication of immortality and eternity. [...] Gunaa, whose journey begins on a full-moon day, ends on the same day."[27]


The music composed by Ilaiyaraaja, and the lyrics were written by Vaali.[28] While releasing the audio cassette of Gunaa in 1991, Haasan included some audio recording sessions with Ilaiyaraaja. "Kanmani Anbodu Kadhalan" became a milestone in Tamil cinema for the way it mixed dialogue and lyrics.[29][2] The song "Paartha Vizhi" is set in Pavani, a Carnatic raga.[30][31]

Track listing
1."Appan Endrum"VaaliIlaiyaraaja4:39
2."Unnai Naan"VaaliS. Janaki, Ustad Sultan Khan7:05
3."Paartha Vizhi"Abhirami PattarK. J. Yesudas2:33
4."Kanmani Anbodu Kadhalan"VaaliKamal Haasan, S. Janaki5:27
5."Unnai Naan (Bit)"VaaliS. Varalakshmi0:38
Total length:22:19


Gunaa was released on 5 November 1991, that year's Diwali day,[32] and faced heavy competition from another Diwali release, Thalapathi.[27] Despite receiving critical acclaim, it was average at the box office due to its experimental nature.[27]


On 24 November 1991, Ananda Vikatan appreciated the film and mentioned that Haasan had expanded the boundaries of his acting and had achieved a landmark success in this film, concluding that only Haasan could play this role effortlessly.[33] Sundarji of Kalki appreciated the film for its cinematography, music and the cast performances.[34] The Indian Express wrote "Gunaa, while having as its central character a man who is a mystic of sorts, a dreamer who wants to rise about the mire that he finds himself in and those around him hopelessly lodged in, lets loose a trail of violence which I for one found difficult to stomach [...] One comes out with the impression that the [Kamal Haasan] of the film is such a curious blend of Raj Kapoor, Sylvester Stallone and Dustin Hoffman."[23]


Event Award Awardee Ref.
Tamil Nadu State Film Awards Best Film – Third prize Gunaa [9]
39th Filmfare Awards South Best Actor – Tamil Kamal Haasan [36]
12th Cinema Express Awards Best Actor (Special) Kamal Haasan [37]
Best Dialogue Writer Balakumaran


Gunaa acquired cult status in Tamil cinema,[17][38] and inspired similar films about mentally obsessed lovers such as Kaadhal Kondein (2003),[39] Chinna (2005),[40] and Kadhalil Vizhunthen (2008).[17] Santhana Bharathi listed it as one of the favourite films he has directed.[41] The Devil's Kitchen became a tourist spot after the film's release and it later became known as "Guna Caves".[42]

In popular culture[edit]

Gunaa was parodied many times in various films. In a comedy scene from Ullam Kollai Poguthae (2001), Arivu (Vivek) imitates Haasan's style of rounding from Gunaa revealing the difficulties he faced due to water, he utters "Sivagami" in the same way which Gunaa utters "Abhirami".[43] In Arul (2004), the title character's friend (Vaiyapuri) sings "Kanmani Anbodu Kadhalan" which results in him getting whacked by Kanmani (Jyothika).[44] In Adi Thadi (2004), Thiruppathi (Sathyaraj) narrates a letter to Priya (Rathi) with his assistant scribing it. When Thiruppathi asks the letter to be read, the assistant sings the opening address "Ammani anbodu kadhalan ayya ezhudhum kaduthasi" to the tune of "Kanmani Anbodu Kadhalan", to which Thiruppathi replies "Paatave paaditiya" in the same tone as Gunaa.[45]

Malayalam director Sathyan Anthikad said that female character Kanmani from his directorial Rasathanthram (2006) was inspired from the song "Kanmani Anbodu Kadhalan".[46] In Thaamirabharani (2007), Meena (Aarthi) mistakes Bharani (Vishal) as Gunaa in a parody of the queue sequence from "Paartha Vizhi" song (along with shots from the original sequence) when Bharani approaches Sakunthaladevi (Nadhiya) who is handing food to devotees, in a manner that unsettles her with the fear that he might kiss her hands the same way as Gunaa kisses Abirami's hands.[47] In the 2015 Malayalam film Premam, Shambu (Shabareesh Varma) teasingly sings "Kanmani Anbodu Kadhalan" as his friend George (Nivin Pauly) express his silent love interest for Malar (Sai Pallavi).[48] In Sangili Bungili Kadhava Thorae (2017), the queue sequence from "Paartha Vizhi" song is parodied as Soornam (Soori) approaches E.B Rajeswari (Kovai Sarala) in a queue of people waiting to pay their electricity bills.[49]


  1. ^ a b c Rajadhyaksha & Willemen 1998, p. 502.
  2. ^ a b c d e Dhananjayan 2011, p. 145.
  3. ^ a b c d e Prasad, Ayyappa. "On location with Kamal's 'Guna'". Screen. Archived from the original on 2 July 2021. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  4. ^ "18 times 'actor' SP Balasubrahmanyam wowed Kollywood buffs". The Times of India. 24 September 2020. Archived from the original on 27 September 2020. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  5. ^ Rangan, Baradwaj (17 June 2019). "Remembering Girish Karnad the director, the actor". Film Companion. Archived from the original on 11 July 2020. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  6. ^ "பிரபல வில்லன் நடிகர்பிரதீப் சக்தி மரணம்". Dinamalar. 21 February 2016. Archived from the original on 13 July 2020. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  7. ^ a b Rajendar, Gopinath (14 June 2018). "Santhana Bharathi talks about going in circles for 'Guna'". The New Indian Express. Archived from the original on 14 January 2019. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  8. ^ "Gunaa Cast and Crew". Moviefone. Archived from the original on 26 April 2021. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  9. ^ a b Dhananjayan 2011, p. 146.
  10. ^ a b c ராம்ஜி, வி. (6 June 2018). "குணா - அப்பவே அப்படி கதை". Kamadenu (in Tamil). Archived from the original on 20 April 2019. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  11. ^ Rangan, Baradwaj (6 November 2017). Kamal Haasan has a tremendous experience of cinematic life" – Sab John | Guna | Kamal Haasan. Film Companion South. Archived from the original on 21 March 2022. Retrieved 11 July 2019 – via YouTube.
  12. ^ Mithran, V (1 June 2020). "Writer of Kamal Haasan's Chanakyan emerges from obscurity with online screenplay class". Onmanorama. Archived from the original on 11 July 2020. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  13. ^ a b Dhananjayan 2011, p. 144.
  14. ^ "கமல் நடிப்பில் உருவான துரோகி, டாப் டக்கர் படங்கள் என்ன ஆனது என தெரியுமா?" [Do you know what happened of Drohi and Top Tucker, in which Kamal acted?]. Ananda Vikatan. 19 September 2016. Archived from the original on 11 July 2020. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  15. ^ a b "An interview with director Santhana Bharathi". Chennai Best. Archived from the original on 12 November 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  16. ^ Maya, Raj (July 2010). "Style Sutra: Kamal Haasan". South Scope. p. 53. Retrieved 14 September 2020.
  17. ^ a b c குமார், ந வினோத் (4 November 2016). "குணா 25 ஆண்டுகள்: அதீத அன்பில் பிறழ்ந்த வாழ்க்கை!". Hindu Tamil Thisai (in Tamil). Archived from the original on 4 March 2020. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  18. ^ Rangan, Baradwaj (14 January 2019). Santhanabharathi On The 'Jesus Christ' Shot, Working With Kamal, and More | Kamal Haasan (in Tamil). Film Companion South. From 17:15 to 17:47. Archived from the original on 19 April 2022. Retrieved 19 April 2022 – via YouTube.
  19. ^ "மலாக்காவை உருவாக்கினேன்". Kalki (in Tamil). 18 January 2004. pp. 72–73. Retrieved 9 January 2023.
  20. ^ "'கமல்' காதல் கடிதம் தீட்டிய குணா குகை விரைவில் திறப்பு". Puthiya Thalaimurai. 13 November 2017. Archived from the original on 11 July 2020. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  21. ^ "Production Controller Sathy speaks about his experience working in the production field". Behindwoods. 10 December 2013. Archived from the original on 14 September 2019. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  22. ^ "சுட்ட படம்!" [Stolen film!]. Ananda Vikatan (in Tamil). 19 August 2016. Archived from the original on 11 July 2020. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  23. ^ a b Krishnaswamy, N. (8 November 1991). "Gunaa". The Indian Express. p. 7. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  24. ^ "Kamal discovers Kuchipudi". The Hindu. 19 September 2014. Archived from the original on 5 September 2020. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  25. ^ Jha, Subhash K. (11 December 2012). "Kamal Haasan pays tribute to Dilip Kumar". Archived from the original on 19 July 2018. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  26. ^ Narayan, Hari (17 February 2014). "La Belle Dame sans Merci". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 15 December 2014. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  27. ^ a b c Srivatsan (5 November 2016). "25 Years of Gunaa: Why Kamal Haasan's classic didn't make the cut". India Today. Archived from the original on 14 January 2019. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  28. ^ "Guna". Gaana. Archived from the original on 5 September 2020. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  29. ^ Subramanian, Karthik; Lakshmi, K. (24 October 2014). "Jigarthanda follows Kamal's path". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 5 December 2014. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  30. ^ ராமானுஜன், டாக்டர் ஆர். (7 September 2018). "ராகயாத்திரை 21: ஆனந்த ராகம் கேட்கும் காலம்". Hindu Tamil Thisai (in Tamil). Archived from the original on 5 September 2020. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  31. ^ "Why I like... Guna". The Hindu. 13 March 2009. Archived from the original on 11 July 2020. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  32. ^ "அபிராமி... அபிராமி... அபிராமி...! லவ் யூ குணா #25YearsOfGuna". Ananda Vikatan (in Tamil). 5 November 2016. Archived from the original on 14 January 2019. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  33. ^ "குணா". Ananda Vikatan (in Tamil). 24 November 1991.
  34. ^ சுந்தர்ஜி (24 November 1991). "குணா". Kalki (in Tamil). p. 64. Archived from the original on 13 August 2022. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  35. ^ "Chinnathambi bags six awards". The Indian Express. 30 October 1992. p. 3. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  36. ^ Dave, Kajol (20 July 2013). "Filmfare trivia: Kamal Haasan". Filmfare. Archived from the original on 14 January 2019. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  37. ^ "'Chinnathambhi' bags Cinema Express award". The Indian Express. 25 February 1992. p. 3. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  38. ^ "Actors and their most shocking roles". The Times of India. 7 September 2015. Archived from the original on 16 April 2019. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  39. ^ Rangarajan, Malathi (11 July 2003). "Kadhal Kondain". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 2 September 2003. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  40. ^ "Chinna". Sify. 17 July 2005. Archived from the original on 11 July 2020. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  41. ^ Ashok Kumar, S.R. (16 November 2006). "This character artist's first love is direction". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 28 March 2016. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  42. ^ Brahma, Sonali (23 April 2018). "Everything You Need To Know About Guna Caves in Kodaikanal". Sterling Holidays. Archived from the original on 14 January 2019. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  43. ^ Ullam Kollai Poguthae (motion picture) (in Tamil). Lakshmi Movie Makers. 2001.
  44. ^ Arul (motion picture) (in Tamil). Lakshmi Productions. 2004.
  45. ^ Adi Thadi (motion picture) (in Tamil). Sundari Films. 2004.
  46. ^ Nagarajan, Saraswathy (6 May 2010). "Hero of the common man". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 5 September 2020. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  47. ^ Thaamirabharani (motion picture) (in Tamil). Vijaya Productions. 2007.
  48. ^ Maithutty, Fahir (29 May 2020). "5 years of 'Premam': How Alphonse Puthren's clever filmmaking made the film stand out". The News Minute. Archived from the original on 10 June 2020. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  49. ^ Sangili Bungili Kadhava Thorae (motion picture) (in Tamil). A for Apple Production and Fox Star Studios. 2017.


External links[edit]