Kadhal Desam

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Kadhal Desam
Kadhal Desam.jpg
Directed byKathir
Written byKathir
Produced byK. T. Kunjumon
CinematographyK. V. Anand
Edited byB. Lenin
V. T. Vijayan
Music byA. R. Rahman
Gentleman Film International
Release date
  • 23 August 1996 (1996-08-23)
Running time
158 minutes

Kadhal Desam (transl. Country of love) is a 1996 Indian Tamil-language action romance film written and directed by Kathir and produced by K. T. Kunjumon. The film starred Vineeth, Abbas, and Tabu, while S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Vadivelu, Chinni Jayanth and Srividya played other pivotal characters. K. V. Anand was the cinematographer for the project and A. R. Rahman composed the film's soundtrack and score. The film opened on 23 August 1996 to positive reviews from critics and became a box office success. It was also remade in Bangladesh as Narir Mon, starring Riaz, Shakil Khan and Shabnur, respectively.


In Chennai, a traditional rivalry has always existed between the students of Pachaiyappa's and Loyola colleges. Karthik (Vineeth) is a poor orphan who studies in Pachaiyappa's College, a hobo in a rented room, travels by the bus, hangs out with a number of friends, and is the captain of his football team. He is also a good poet and daydreams about his dream girl. Arun (Abbas), on the other hand, comes from a rich and wealthy family, studies in Loyola College, drives his own car, hangs out with numerous friends, and is also the captain of his football team. In a nasty intercollege riot, Arun saves Karthik's life. So in return, Karthik lets Arun win in a soccer game because he thinks Arun can't take losses easily. Arun realizes that the victory is because of Karthik's sacrifice.

They become good friends, setting a good example of friendship to others in their college. Things go smooth until a new girl Divya (Tabu), joins the college. Both Arun and Karthik fall in love with her, but neither of them realizes that both are in love with the same girl. Following a sequence of events, when they realize that both are loving the same girl, their friendship is strained, and they fight with each other. The end of the movie shows whether Divya will fall in love with one of them and whether their friendship will be affected forever. At the end, Divya says that she likes them both but does not want to choose one, thereby losing the other and disrupting their friendship. Hence the film ends with Arun and Karthik regaining their friendship and staying friends with Divya.


  • Vineeth as Karthik
  • Abbas as Arun
  • Tabu as Divya
  • SPB as Divya's father
  • Srividya as Divya's mother
  • Vadivelu as Wilson
  • Chinni Jayanth as Shiva
  • Kevin Erik Gray as Kevin
  • Joseph as Kevin's friend
  • Adithya as Kevin's friend
  • Yasin as Kevin's friend
  • Dinesh as Kevin's friend
  • Jyothi as Divya's lecturer
  • Priyanka as Mary (uncredited role)
  • Chaplin Balu as Wilson's friend (uncredited role)
  • K. T. Kunjumon as Director general of police (cameo appearance)
  • Vasudevan Baskaran as Himself (cameo appearance)



Kathir, while writing the script, "wanted some drama rather than plain love and so wrote a story of warring colleges and two boys in them". He narrated a five-minute plot summary to Kunjumon, who was impressed with it and insisted Kathir to change the film's title to Kadhal Desam instead of its original title Kalloori Saalai.[1]


Mumbai model Abbas was enjoying in Bangalore during his holidays and hanging out at a cybercafe near Brigade Road, when he bumped into director Kathir, who asked him to act in his Tamil film.[2] Initially reluctant due to his limited knowledge of Tamil, he opted out and left for his college in Mumbai. A year later, Abbas received a call from producer K. T. Kunjumon asking him to come over for a screen test as a result of Kathir's insistence.[3] Vineeth was signed on to play another lead role in the film due to his association with Kunjumon, having previously worked in the 1993 Shankar-directed film, Gentleman.[4] Tabu was signed on to make her debut in Tamil films and worked on the film alongside Mani Ratnam's Iruvar. Then struggling actor Vikram had dubbed his voice for Abbas, while dubbing artist Sekar dubbed the voice for Vineeth and actress Saritha for Tabu. A. Karunakaran, who became a successful director in Telugu cinema, started his career as a clap assistant with this film.[5]


Kathir mentioned that he dreamt of a "beautiful place full of young people" and was inspired by College Road in Chennai, with a setting by the beach which formed as "opening visual idea" for the film.[1][6] Since it did not exist, he ordered it to be created for the film, costing Rs. one crore (ten million rupees).[6][7] The film also managed to convince Pachaiyappa's College and Loyola College to give them rights to use their college names in the films, focussing on the rivalry between the institutions.[8] Filming mainly took place in and around the cities of Chennai, Ooty, Mudumalai, Bandipur, Mumbai and Vishakhapatnam.


The film went on to become a large commercial success.[9] The climax of the film broke a taboo in the Tamil film industry, where a love triangle would be decided with a happy ending.[10] Post-success, Abbas revealed that he felt that "Mustafa Mustafa" song catapulted him to stardom and enjoyed a strong female base after Kadhal Desam.[11] However, a critic from Indolink.com suggested that "Katheer's direction lacks the punch and innovation. The narration is slow, incoherent, and shaky", though mentioned there is "reasonably good acting by Vineeth, Abbas is OK for a newcomer and Tabu looks ravishing".[12] A reviewer from The Hindu wrote "Grandiose trappings in the form of giant sets, never before erected on such a scale in an Indian movie, offer a fitting backdrop for a love story.[13]

The film won A. R. Rahman his fifth consecutive Filmfare Award for Best Music Director in Tamil.[14][15] K. V. Anand also received the Screen Award South for Best Cinematography for his work in the film.[16] The film was dubbed and released in Telugu as Prema Desam and became an equally big success.[1][17] The Hindi dubbed version, Duniya Dilwalon Ki, however, released to negative reviews and did not perform as well.[18][19]

The success of the film prompted Rahman to collaborate with Kathir again in Kadhalar Dhinam (1999) and Kadhal Virus (2002). As a result of respect for his first director, Abbas made a guest appearance in the latter film. The film triggered off a string of youth-based stories in films with Minsara Kanavu and Ullaasam featuring similar story lines.[20]


Kadhal Desam
Soundtrack album by
RecordedPanchathan Record Inn
GenreFeature film soundtrack
LabelBig B
Gentleman Audios
Lahari Music
Star Music
Hit Musics
ProducerA. R. Rahman
A. R. Rahman chronology
Kadhal Desam

The soundtrack for the film was composed by A. R. Rahman, with lyrics by Vaali. The soundtrack was also released in Telugu as Prema Desam and in Hindi with the title Duniya Dilwalon Ki, with lyrics written by P. K. Mishra and Mehboob Kotwal.

Kathir revealed that the first song to be recorded was "Kalloori Saalai", he wanted it to be a fast number, but wanted it to start the song "with a melodious line". Rahman asked for a dummy lyric for it which started with "Inbathai karuvakkinal penn", which Vaali liked and retained it for the final cut as well.[1]

For the song "Musthafa Musthafa", Kathir wanted a song on the lines of an old song "Paravaigal Meethu", which was about friendship. Rahman gave him the tune during a flight journey which Kathir liked it.[1]

Tamil version[edit]

# Song Singer(s) Length
1 "Ennai Kaanavillaiye" S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, O. S. Arun, Rafee 5:40
5 "Hello Doctor" A. R. Rahman, Storms, Noel James, Anupama 6:14
3 "Kalluri Salai" A. R. Rahman, Hariharan, Aslam Mustafa 5:25
2 "Mustafa Mustafa" A. R. Rahman 6:05
4 "Thendrale" Mano, Unni Krishnan, Dominique Cerejo 6:33
6 "O Vennila" Unni Krishnan 4:54

Telugu version[edit]

# Song Singer(s) Length
1 "Prema Prema" S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, O. S. Arun 5:40
5 "Hello Doctor" KK, Srinivas, Anupama, Noel James 6:14
3 "College Style" KK, Hariharan 5:25
2 "Mustafa" A. R. Rahman 6:05
4 "Vennela" Unni Krishnan, Mano 6:33
6 "O Vennela" Unni Krishnan 4:54

Hindi version[edit]

# Song Singer(s) Length
1 "Jaana Jaana" S. P. Balasubrahmanyam 5:40
5 "Hello Doctor" KK, Storms, Noel James 6:14
3 "College Ke Saathi" Hariharan, KK, Aslam Mustafa 5:25
2 "Mustafa" A. R. Rahman 6:05
4 "Jaari Jaa E Hawa" S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Sonu Nigam, Dominique Cerejo 6:33
6 "O Meri Jaan" Sonu Nigam 4:54

In popular culture[edit]

"Kalluri Saalai" and the instrumental theme of the song and flowers falling on the road was parodied in Thamizh Padam 2 (2018).[21]


  1. ^ a b c d e Ramanujam, Srinivasa (13 February 2019). "How 'kothavaranga' evolved into 'Mustafa Mustafa' – Kathir on directing some of A. R. Rahman's best love songs". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 22 September 2019. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  2. ^ "Rediff On The Net, Movies: Love on the Net". ia.rediff.com. 9 May 1998. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  3. ^ The Hindu : Cinema Plus / Columns : My first break
  4. ^ Rediff On The Net, Movies: Winning, vulnerable Vineeth
  5. ^ Manigandan, K. r (28 April 2012). "Tale of triumph". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Frames full of dreams". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 28 August 2017. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  7. ^ "Rediff On The Net, Movies: Will Rakshakan resurrect Sushmita's career?". www.rediff.com. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  8. ^ "GANGS of Chennai!". The Hindu. Retrieved 14 May 2019.[dead link]
  9. ^ Rediff On The Net, Movies:K V Anand
  10. ^ http://www.cscsarchive.org:8081/MediaArchive/art.nsf/(docid)/E5541976431445E0652569400062014E
  11. ^ The Hindu : Metro Plus Chennai : `I sold my car to buy a bike'
  12. ^ "INDOlink Film Review: Kaadhal Desam". Indolink Tamil. 4 June 1997. Archived from the original on 7 June 1997.
  13. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20010411050458/http://www.webpage.com/hindu/960831/03/3026b.html
  14. ^ International Who's Who in Popular Music 2002 – Google Books
  15. ^ "Kamal wins 17th Film fare award for role in Indian". Economic Times. 9 July 1997. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011.
  16. ^ Chasing new goals – The Hindu
  17. ^ Rediff On The NeT, Movies: Gossip from the south
  18. ^ "Film Review — Sapnay: A tangled love triangle". 4 May 1997.
  19. ^ Rediff On The NeT, Movies: Gossip from the southern film industry
  20. ^ Rediff On The Net, Movies:
  21. ^ "Kadhal Desam | List of movies spoofed in Tamizh Padam 2 movie – Part 1". Behindwoods. 12 July 2018. Retrieved 14 May 2019.

External links[edit]