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Guna poster.jpg
Official poster
Directed by Santhana Bharathi
Produced by Alamelu Subramaniam[1]
Written by Sab John
Balakumaran (dialogues)
Story by Sab John
Starring Kamal Haasan
S. Varalakshmi
S.P. Balasubramaniam
Girish Karnad
Ajay Rathnam
Sharat Saxena
Music by Ilaiyaraaja
Cinematography Venu
Edited by B. Lenin
V. T. Vijayan
Swathi Chithra International
Distributed by Raaj Kamal Films International
Release date
5 November 1991
Running time
180 minutes
Country India
Language Tamil

Gunaa is a 1991 Tamil romantic drama film directed by Santhana Bharathi and written by Sab John. The film stars Kamal Haasan, newcomer Roshini in lead roles with Rekha, S. P. Balasubramaniam, Girish Karnad, Ajay Rathnam, Janagaraj, and Sharat Saxena playing supporting roles. The story is about a mentally challenged man who assumes a fictitious character Abhirami to be an angel who is going to marry him which leads him to kidnap a rich girl assuming her to be his angel. The girl initially hates him but later finds herself falling in love with him after understanding his situation

The film was mostly shot around Kodaikanal. The film's original soundtrack was composed by Ilaiyaraaja. The song "Kanmani Anbodu" from this film remains one of the evergreen songs.

The film was released on 5 November 1991. The film's release prints were 5,203 m. It was critically acclaimed for its unique theme and performances. The film failed at the box office but it later acquired cult status in Tamil cinema and inspired similar themes. The film was dubbed and released in Telugu with same name.


Guna (Kamal Haasan) is a mentally affected person and receives treatment in a mental hospital in Hyderabad. He does not like his father and his mother (S. Varalakshmi) is a moll in the house that they live. He assumes a fictitious character named Abirami (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 (Janakaraj) trick the mentally unstable Guna into robbing a temple of Abirami, an Indian goddess. He happens to see a rich girl (Roshini) in there, right after Janakaraj tells him that "Abirami will come". He decides 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 investigation regarding the robbery and missing of Roshini. Initially, Roshini 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. At one point, she breaks the chains Guna ties her up with and sets out to escape. Here, guardian of Roshini, SK (Sharat Saxena) 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.

There after 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 a doctor, who recognizes him and calls the police.

Meanwhile, the CBI officer investigating Roshini's kidnapping also reaches the scene with Guna's family. In the end Roshini is shot by SK to hide his crimes, and is killed by Guna in revenge. Roshini passes away 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 famous dialogue "This is not human love, to be understood by humans. It is something far more pristine". Movie ends with a shot of the full-moon conveying that they were killed on a "full-moon day".



Newcomer Roshini was selected as lead actress, it became her debut and only appearance in films and she was not seen in any films after that.[2][3] Santhana Bharathi said that Kamal was on diet and lost weight for the character and also said that he insisted to have a dummy used for climax portions similar to his face and physique.[4]

The caves which was shot in this film was earlier called as Devil's kitchen. The location became a tourist spot after the film's release and it was named as "Guna Caves".[2] The filming was held for 100 days at Hyderabad, Chennai and Kodaikanal. Crew had a tough time shooting in Kodaikanal forests as it was very cold during that time and shooting was possible only for a few hours in every day hence the film took longer than expected to be completed.[2] 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".[5] The film was originally titled Mathikettan Solai, but was later retitled Gunaa.[6]


The music composed by Ilaiyaraaja while written by Vaali. While releasing the audio cassette of Guna in 1991, Kamal included some audio recording sessions with music director Ilayaraja.[7] The song "Kanmani Anbodu" remains one of the famous songs from the film. Indiaglitz wrote that the song "needs no introduction which is ofcourse [sic] a biggest hit of all songs [..] The emotions, the lyrics, the tune - the composition overall stands as an attribute for the movie itself, even today".[8][9] Dhananjayan in his book The Best of Tamil Cinema 1931 to 2010 wrote that the film "stood out for its background score from Ilayaraja, one of his best".[2]

Tamil version
Telugu version[10]
  • Unna Nekorake - SPB, S Janaki
  • Kammani - SPB, S Janaki
  • Koilalo - Swarnalatha
  • Puchi Brahma - Madhavapeddi Ramesh
  • Sambhavi - SPB


Kamal had distributed the film through his production company Raajkamal Films International.[2] The film was released alongside Mani Ratnam's Thalapathi.[11] The film's release prints were 5,203 m.[11]

Critical reception[edit]

Balaji wrote that:"Gunaa, represents probably his boldest risk yet. Its theme is quite unique and well handled with good performances, breath-taking photography and a perfect soundtrack".[12] On 24 November 1991, Ananda Vikatan appreciated the film and mentioned that: "Kamal has expanded the boundaries of his acting and has achieved a landmark success in this film [..] only Kamal can play this role effortlessly".[13]

Box office[edit]

Though the film earned critical acclaim, it did not fare well at the box office as at the time of release audience could not accept Kamal as a lunatic.[13] However the film's producer who was an associate of Kamal Haasan made a statement that the film was indeed a profitable venture dismissing the reports about poor box office collections.[2]


Themes and influences[edit]

The film was inspired from Spanish Dark romantic film Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990).[2] Lead character Guna (Kamal Haasan) of this film is mentally affected who assumes fictional character which would marry him. Behindwoods written 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."[14]

Kamal said that tracking shots in the early portions of the film was inspired from films directed by Max Ophuls, a German filmmaker.[15] 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 starrer Ganga Jumna.[16]

According to Hari Narayan of The Hindu, in both Guna and Moondram Pirai (1982), the protagonist’s image of an ideal dreamgirl animate his antics.[17]


The film inspired similar themes about mentally obsessed lovers - Kaadhal Kondein (2003)[13][18] Chinna (2005),[19] Kadhalil Vizhundhen (2008).[13][20] Actor Karthik Kumar revealed that he had watched Kamal’s Guna several times.[21] Santhanabharathi who is the director of the film listed as one of the favourite films he has directed.[22] Malayalam director Sathyan Anthikkad said that female character Kanmani from his directorial Rasathanthram (2006) was inspired from the song "Kanmani Anbodu".[23] Siddharth's de-glamorised look from Enakkul Oruvan (2015) is said to be inspired from Kamal's look from Guna.[24] Singer Sikkal Gurucharan called Guna as his favourite film and described that "it is nothing short of a classic".[25] Malathi Rangarajan in her review of Deiva Thirumagal (2011) says that the "film remind you of Kamal's Guna.".[26]

The Devil's Kitchen caves featured prominently in the song "Kanmani Anbodu" have become a very popular tourist attraction and are now commonly called the "Gunaa Caves" by the local populace.

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".[27] In Arul (2004), Vaiyapuri sings "Kanmani Anbodu" which resulting in him getting whacked by Kanmani (Jyothika).[28] In Thaamirabharani (2007), Aarthi mistakes Vishal as Kamal's character from the film.[29] In the 2015 release malayalam movie Premam, Shabareesh Varma sings 'Kanmani anbodu..' song as his friend George, played by Nivin Pauly express his silent love interest for Malar, which was played by Sai Pallavi.


  1. ^ Film details from Cinesouth
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Dhananjayan 2011, p. 145.
  3. ^ "One Film Wonders". Retrieved 6 December 2014. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Production Controller Sathy speaks about his experience working in the production field". Retrieved 6 December 2014. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b Dhananjayan 2011, p. 144.
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b c d Dhananjayan 2011, p. 146.
  14. ^ "From Kollywood, with love". Retrieved 6 December 2014. 
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Kamal predicts 100 days". Retrieved 6 December 2014. 
  22. ^ "This character artist's first love is direction". The Hindu. Retrieved 6 December 2014. 
  23. ^ Saraswathy Nagarajan. "Hero of the common man". The Hindu. Retrieved 6 December 2014. 
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ Arul (DVD)
  29. ^ Thaamirabharani DVD

External links[edit]