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Gunaa poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySanthana Bharathi
Produced byAlamelu Subramaniam[1]
Written byBalakumaran (dialogues)
Story bySab John
StarringKamal Haasan
S. Varalakshmi
S.P. Balasubrahmanyam
Girish Karnad
Ajay Rathnam
Sharat Saxena
Music byIlaiyaraaja
Edited byB. Lenin
V. T. Vijayan
Swathi Chithra International
Distributed byRaaj Kamal Films International
Release date
5 November 1991
Running time
159 minutes

Gunaa is a 1991 Tamil-language Indian psychological-romance film directed by Santhana Bharathi and written by Sab John. The plot follows a recently released psychiatric patient(Kamal Haasan) who kidnaps a rich woman (Roshini) in order to make her fall in love with him. He believes she is 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. The song "Kanmani Anbodu" from this film remains one of the evergreen songs.

The film was released on 5 November 1991, Diwali day. 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 films about mentally obsessed lovers.


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 Manonmani (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 (Janagaraj) trick Guna into robbing a temple of Abirami, an Indian goddess. He happens to see a rich girl (Roshini) in there, right after his uncle 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 Suresh Kumar aka SK (Sharat Saxena). 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 predicts 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 (Girish Karnad), who recognizes him and calls the police.

Meanwhile, Ramaiah (S. P. Balasubrahmanyam), 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 SK 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".

The movie ends with a shot of the full moon conveying that they were killed on a "full moon day".



Newcomer Roshini was selected as the female lead Abhirami, and Gunaa was the only film she ever acted in.[2] Her voice was dubbed by actress Saritha.[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] John Edathattil, better known as Sab John, began writing this film after an earlier film about the Sri Lankan Civil War he was involved in was dropped.[5] The dialogues were written by Balakumaran,[6] and cinematography was handled by Venu.[7]

The caves which the film was shot in were earlier called Devil's Kitchen, Kodaikanal.[3] The location became a tourist spot after the film's release and it later became known as "Guna Caves".[8] It was here that the song "Kanmani Anbodu" was shot.[9] 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".[10] The film was originally titled Mathikettan Solai, but was later retitled Gunaa due to commercial reasons and the title Mathikettan Solai will give negative impact to the movie[11]


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.[12] The song "Kanmani Anbodu" remains one of the famous songs from the film.[12] The song "Paartha Vizhi" is set in Bhaavani raga.[13]

Film score by
External audio
Audio Jukebox (Tamil) on YouTube
Audio Jukebox (Telugu) on YouTube


All lyrics written by Vaali.

1."Appan Endrum"Ilaiyaraaja4:39
2."Kanmani Anbodu"Kamal Haasan, S. Janaki5:27
3."Paartha Vizhi"K. J. Yesudas2:33
4."Unnai Naan"S. Janaki, Kamal Haasan7:05
5."Unnai Naan (Bit)"S. Varalakshmi0:38
Total length:22:19


All lyrics written by Vennelakanti.

1."Pichi Brahma"Madhavapeddi Ramesh4:39
2."Kammani Ee Premalekhani"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, S. P. Sailaja5:27
3."Sambhavi"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam & Chorus4:43
4."Unna Nekorake"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, S. P. Sailaja4:08
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,[14] and faced competition from another Diwali release, Thalapathi.[15] 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.[16] 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."[17] Despite receiving critical acclaim, it did not fare well at the box office due to its experimental nature.[15]


Tamil Nadu State Film Awards

This Movie win the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Film - Third prize[18]

Filmfare Awards South

Kamal won the Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil[19]

Themes and influences[edit]

Gunaa was inspired from the Spanish film Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990).[20] 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".[21]

Kamal said that tracking shots in the early portions of the film was inspired from films directed by Max Ophüls, a German filmmaker.[22] 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.[23]

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.[24]


Gunaa acquired cult status in Tamil cinema,[2][25] and inspired similar films about mentally obsessed lovers such as Kaadhal Kondein (2003),[26] Chinna (2005),[27] Kadhalil Vizhundhen (2008).[28] Actor Karthik Kumar revealed that he had watched Kamal's Gunaa several times.[29] Santhanabharathi who is the director of the film listed as one of the favourite films he has directed.[30] Malayalam director Sathyan Anthikkad said that female character Kanmani from his directorial Rasathanthram (2006) was inspired from the song "Kanmani Anbodu".[31] Siddharth's de-glamorised look from Enakkul Oruvan (2015) is said to be inspired from Kamal's look from Guna.[32] Singer Sikkal Gurucharan called Guna as his favourite film and described that "it is nothing short of a classic".[33] Malathi Rangarajan in her review of Deiva Thirumagal (2011) says that the "film remind you of Kamal's Guna.".[34]

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".[35] In Arul (2004), Vaiyapuri sings "Kanmani Anbodu" which resulting in him getting whacked by Kanmani (Jyothika).[36] In Thaamirabharani (2007), Aarthi mistakes Vishal as Kamal's character from the film.[37] 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 குமார், ந வினோத் (4 November 2016). "குணா 25 ஆண்டுகள்: அதீத அன்பில் பிறழ்ந்த வாழ்க்கை!". The Hindu Tamil. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b Ramji, V. (6 June 2018). "குணா - அப்பவே அப்படி கதை - gunaa - appave appadi kathai". Kamadenu. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  4. ^ "An interview with director Santhana Bharathi". Chennai Best. Archived from the original on 12 November 2013. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  5. ^ Rangan, Baradwaj (7 November 2017). "Sab John Interview | One Film, One Facet | Guna". Film Companion. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Rajendar, Gopinath (14 June 2018). "Santhana Bharathi talks about going in circles for 'Guna'". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  8. ^ Brahma, Sonali (23 April 2018). "Everything You Need To Know About Guna Caves in Kodaikanal". Sterling Holidays. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Production Controller Sathy speaks about his experience working in the production field". Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  11. ^ "கமல் நடிப்பில் உருவான துரோகி, டாப் டக்கர் படங்கள் என்ன ஆனது என தெரியுமா? - Tamil Movies That Changed Their Titles When They Were Released". 19 September 2016.
  12. ^ a b Subramanian, Karthik; Lakshmi, K. (24 October 2014). "Jigarthanda follows Kamal's path". The Hindu. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  13. ^
  14. ^ "அபிராமி... அபிராமி... அபிராமி...! லவ் யூ குணா #25YearsOfGuna | 25th year celebration of guna movie". Ananda Vikatan (in Tamil). 5 November 2016. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  15. ^ a b Srivatsan; November 8 (5 November 2016). "25 Years of Gunaa: Why Kamal Haasan's classic didn't make the cut". India Today. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  16. ^ "குணா". Ananda Vikatan (in Tamil). 24 November 1991.
  17. ^
  18. ^ Anandan, Film News (2004). Sadhanaigal Padaitha Thamizh Thiraipada Varalaru (Tamil film history and its achievements) (in Tamil). Sivagami Publications. p. 7−19.
  19. ^ Dave, Kajol (20 July 2013). "Filmfare trivia: Kamal Haasan". Filmfare. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  20. ^ "சுட்ட படம்!" [Stolen film!]. Ananda Vikatan (in Tamil). 19 August 2016. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  21. ^ "From Kollywood, with love". Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  22. ^ "Kamal discovers Kuchipudi". The Hindu. 19 September 2014. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  23. ^ "Kamal Haasan pays tribute to Dilip Kumar". Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  24. ^ Narayan, Hari; Narayan, Hari (17 February 2014). "La Belle Dame sans Merci". The Hindu.
  25. ^
  26. ^ thmrn. "The Hindu : "Kadhal Kondain"".
  27. ^ "Chinna". Sify. 17 July 2005. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  28. ^ Webdunia. "காதலில் விழுந்தேன் - ‌விம‌ர்சன‌ம்!". Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  29. ^ "Kamal predicts 100 days". Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  30. ^ "This character artist's first love is direction". The Hindu. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  31. ^ Saraswathy Nagarajan. "Hero of the common man". The Hindu. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  32. ^ "Siddharth's de-glam look surprises many - Times of India".
  33. ^ "Why I like... Guna". 13 March 2009 – via
  34. ^ Rangarajan, Malathi (16 July 2011). "Deiva Thirumagal: a sensitive poem on celluloid" – via
  35. ^ CinemaJunction (5 May 2013). "ULLAM KOLLAI POGUTHAE Tamil) comedy scene 11" – via YouTube.
  36. ^ Arul (DVD)
  37. ^ Thaamirabharani DVD

External links[edit]