Keladi Kannmanii

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Keladi Kannmanii
Keladi Kannmanii.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byVasanth
Screenplay byVasanth
Story byAnanthu
Produced byA. Sundaram
StarringS. P. Balasubrahmanyam
Ramesh Aravind
CinematographyR. Raghunatha Reddy
Edited byGanesh–Kumar
Music byIlaiyaraaja
Vivek Chithra Productions
Release date
  • 27 July 1990 (1990-07-27)
Running time
140 minutes[1]

Keladi Kannmanii (transl. Listen, sweetheart; also spelt Keladi Kanmani) is a 1990 Indian Tamil-language romantic drama film directed by Vasanth in his debut. The film stars S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Raadhika, Ramesh Aravind and Anju. It revolves around a terminally ill woman who seeks to make amends for a past mistake before she dies.

Producer A. Sundaram approached Vasanth to make a film for his banner Vivek Chithra Productions, although Vasanth did not have a story. Ananthu created the story of Keladi Kannmani, which Vasanth developed into a screenplay. Cinematography was handled by R. Raghunatha Reddy, editing by the duo Ganesh–Kumar, and Maghi made his debut as art director.

Keladi Kannmani was released on 27 July 1990 and became a commercial success, running for over 285 days at theatres. It won three Tamil Nadu State Film Awards (including Second Best Film) and Raadhika won the Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Tamil.


Anu is a college student; her fellow student Sasi desperately tries to win her affection. Sasi and Anu play various pranks on each other. Anu eventually admits her affection for Sasi and they begin a courtship. All seems to proceed well, except that Anu is strangely melancholic from time to time; she repeats to Sasi that she senses an imminent danger to their relationship, although she is unable to pinpoint what the threat or describe why it may materialise soon.

Some things are revealed when Anju begins to get sharp headaches frequently. Her father, A. R. Rangaraj (ARR), a widower, tries to help her, but is not able to get to the bottom of the matter. ARR is a gentle old man who has devoted most of his life to his daughter. On her 18th birthday, Anu visits her doctor who confirms she has bilateral renal artery stenosis and is almost certain to succumb within a year. She may require an operation within that time, but the likelihood of her coming through it alive is minimal.

Anu requests the doctor to keep her illness a secret between them. Unknown to Anu, her father accidentally discovers it when the local pharmacist sends some prescription drugs through him. When Anu discusses the matter with Sasi, he expresses his support despite his grave sadness (in proportion to his love for her). Anu reveals a thread from her past that may explain her melancholic mood.

The film flashes back to several years before, when ARR had a happy family. Anu, then five or six, attended school; ARR handled his job and his wife managed the home. When ARR lost his wife to an illness, Anu took this particularly hard. Yet, ARR tried to help cope with it somehow and move on. Sometime thereafter, ARR met Sarada at a wedding. When ARR sought a tutor for young Anu, Sarada took the position. The friendship evolved into a courtship, to the point where ARR was about to propose marriage.

As time went on, Sarada realised her own bindings. Both her parents were deaf-mute, and she was the only way they could communicate with the rest of the world; this left her torn between her filial duty and her personal aspirations. Things worsened when Anu experienced feelings of motherly yearning and was simply unable to accept Sarada (or anyone else for that matter) in the role of a mother. Sarada was bewildered and ultimately frustrated by all this. Despite ARR's assurances that they could work it out, she refused his proposal and decided to move to another city; her parents committed suicide as they were a hindrance to their daughter. Since then Anu has been plagued by guilt for her part in the break-up.

The doctors pronounce a date and time for the unavoidable surgery. Anu takes this with stoic grief, and asks Sasi for one last thing: to find Sarada and attempt to reunite her with ARR. They find an old picture of Sarada, and Sasi recognises her as the woman he had met in Bangalore a few weeks ago. He sets off on a frantic hunt for Sarada. On the day of the operation, Sarada happens to be in Chennai en route to a training event in the US. After a tricky set of near-misses, Sasi is able to locate her in the nick of time, and bring her to Anu and ARR moments before Anu gets anaesthetised. Anu later goes for one last ride with Sasi on his motorbike and right before they leave, she mentions that she has gained faith in surviving the surgery.




When film producer A. Sundaram approached Vasanth, an erstwhile assistant of K. Balachander, to make a film for his banner Vivek Chithra Productions, Vasanth was sceptical; he recalled, "Maybe he thought that just like how he was making [Pudhea Paadhai] with Bhagyaraj's assistant Parthiban at that time, he should make one with KB sir's assistant. I said I'd get back to him." Vasanth's family scolded him for he "should be thankful that I’m getting a producer without me getting a story ready and approaching many producers to produce it".[5] Sundaram told him to return once he had a story ready.[6]

Vasanth wanted to make films like his mentor Balachander, Mahendran and Balu Mahendra so he decided to make one "that was mature for my age. So, a romance between two mature people was the starting point".[5] The story was created by Ananthu, another assistant of Balachander, which Vasanth developed into a screenplay.[3] The film, titled Keladi Kannmanii, was Vasanth's directorial debut,[7] and was named after the song of the same name from Balachander's Pudhu Pudhu Arthangal (1989).[8] Cinematography was handled by R. Raghunatha Reddy, editing by the duo Ganesh–Kumar, and Maghi made his debut as art director.[9]


Vasanth approached S. P. Balasubrahmanyam to portray A. R. Rangaraj (ARR).[3] The pair had earlier worked in Manathil Urudhi Vendum (1987) where Vasanth worked as an assistant director. Vasanth was impressed with his realistic acting style and felt a "strong impression of him as a good actor, so we roped him in as an acting coup". Balasubrahmanyam was initially hesitant to accept the offer as he did not want Vasanth to take a risk of making a film with him as the lead actor. Vasanth remained firm with his selection because he wanted ARR "to be a character, which would not be possible with a popular face".[5]

Suhasini was Vasanth's first choice for the role of Sarada, but she could not accept the offer due to her busy schedule; Raadhika was chosen instead. Ramesh Aravind was cast as Sasi because Vasanth worked with him in the Kannada film Sundara Swapnagalu (1986).[5] According to Aravind, Vasanth approached him because the actor who was his original choice for the role could not accept.[10] Sukanya and Ramya Krishnan were initial choices for the role of Anu, but could not accept due to other commitments; Anju was finalised by Vasanth, despite the scepticism of the crew since she was a relative newcomer. Neena played the character as a child after Vasanth saw her in Idhayathai Thirudathe, the Tamil-dubbed version of the Telugu film Geethanjali (1989).[5]


While scouting for filming locations, Vasanth came across an old house which was available for filming only for two days; he decided this would be the original house of Sarada.[11] The first shot Vasanth directed was the scene where Sarada cries over the death of her parents.[12][13] Before filming the scene, Raadhika asked for some time to prepare; she came much later and finished filming the scene in one take.[11] Arvind's first scenes to be filmed were those with Raadhika; he had only three days to film those scenes as Raadhika was due to leave for London soon after. His other scenes, including those with Anju, were filmed after he worked on his call-sheet dates.[10]

Due to Balasubrahmanyam's various playback singing commitments, he was available to shoot only for two hours everyday.[9] The scooter that Balasubrahmanyam drove as ARR was a Bajaj Chetak.[14] The song "Mannil Indha Kaadhal" was filmed at a beach in East Coast Road, Mahabalipuram.[15][16]


The music was composed by Ilaiyaraaja, and the soundtrack album was released under the label Echo Records.[17] Ilaiyaraaja was Vasanth's only choice for composing the music; despite his busy schedule, he accepted the offer.[18] The song "Nee Pathi Naan Pathi" is set in Chakravakam, a Carnatic raga,[19][20] and "Mannil Indha Kaadhal" is set in Keeravani.[21] The song "Varanam Aayiram" is a ragamalika, i. e. a song set in multiple ragas; one stanza is set in Nayaki.[22][23]

"Mannil Indha Kaadhal" was not originally planned to appear in the film; Vasanth wanted to showcase Balasubrahmanyam's singing prowess in a scene, but did not know how to. The idea of "breathless singing" eventually struck Vasanth, and after he shared this idea, Balasubrahmanyam agreed.[5] The song has Balasubrahmanyam singing two stanzas seemingly without taking a single breath in between the lines.[24] Vasanth initially proposed that the entire song be sung in one breath, until Ilaiyaraaja told to restrict that to specific stanzas. Balasubrahmanyam took 40 seconds to sing the second breathless stanza; he sang breathlessly for the first 25 seconds, and the last 15 seconds after briefly inhaling. It was therefore edited to look like he sang the entire stanza without taking breath.[3]

When Ilaiyaraaja asked if the song "Karpoora Bommai Ondru" could be used in bits throughout the film, rather than as a whole at once, Vasanth agreed because "it would be like something that haunts the characters, and make audiences expect for the moment when we would play it in its entirety".[5] The entire soundtrack (except for "Mannil Indha Kaadhal") was completed within 45 minutes.[5][13] Ilaiyaraaja took three days to compose the background music for the two reels forming the climax.[5] For the Telugu-dubbed version O Papa Lali, all lyrics were written by Rajashri.[25]

1."Enna Paduvathu"Gangai AmaranIlaiyaraaja, Arun Mozhi, Saibaba4:43
2."Karpoora Bommai"Mu. MethaP. Susheela4:45
3."Mannil Indha Kaadhal"Pavalar VaradharasanS. P. Balasubrahmanyam4:13
4."Nee Pathi Naan Pathi"VaaliK. J. Yesudas, Uma Ramanan4:40
5."Thanniyile Nenanja"VaaliUma Ramanan4:41
6."Thenral Thaan"PiraisoodanK. J. Yesudas, K. S. Chithra4:41
7."Varanam Aayiram"AandalS. Janaki2:45
Total length:30:28
1."Yemi Paadedi"Mano4:52
2."Karpoora Bomma"P. Susheela4:55
3."Maate Raani"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam4:20
4."Neevega Na Pranam"K. J. Yesudas, K. S. Chithra4:54
5."Segali Sandela"K. J. Yesudas, K. S. Chithra4:41
6."Jeevana Mangala"K. S. Chithra2:50
Total length:26:44


Keladi Kannmanii was released on 27 July 1990.[26] The film was a commercial success, running for over 285 days in theatres,[13] thereby becoming a silver jubilee film.[27] The success of the film enabled Ramesh Aravind to obtain acting chances in other Tamil films.[10]

Critical reception[edit]

N. Krishnaswamy of The Indian Express wrote, "Class photography by Raghunatha Reddy, brilliant decors created by debutant art director Maghi along with choice of new-look locales, rich music by [Ilaiyaraaja] and excellent staging of action by director Vasanth – even in his first film, this protégé of K. Balachander shows a great deal of competence – put Vivek Chitra's [Keladi Kannmanii] in the top bracket."[28] Ananda Vikatan, in a review dated 5 August 1990, said Vasanth had taken a weighty script in his very first attempt and told it very clearly without any confusion for the audience, that he demonstrated his self-confidence by choosing Balasubrahmanyam for the male lead and Anju for the role of his daughter, and that he made his guru (Balachander) proud with this film, rating it 55 out of 100.[29]


Event Category Awardee Ref.
Filmfare Awards South Best Actress – Tamil Raadhika [8]
Tamil Nadu State Film Awards Second Best Film Keladi Kannmanii [30]
Best Lyricist Vaali
Best Male Playback S. P. Balasubrahmanyam


  1. ^ Dhananjayan 2011, p. 132.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Rajendran, Sowmya (30 September 2020). "'Keladi Kanmani': When SPB and Radikaa brought to life an unforgettable romance". The News Minute. Archived from the original on 2 October 2020. Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Vinoth Kumar, N (22 August 2020). "30 years of Keladi Kanmani, a film that established SPB as an actor". The Federal. Archived from the original on 4 October 2020. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  4. ^ "Vivekh recalls fond memories of working in Keladi Kanmani". The Times of India. 28 July 2020. Archived from the original on 31 July 2020. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Suganth, M; CR, Sharanya (27 July 2020). "30 Years of Keladi Kanmani: Raaja sir's music gave life to the climax: Vasanth". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 17 August 2020. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  6. ^ Ramakrishnan, M. (28 January 2017). "Young guns". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 12 April 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  7. ^ Gerald, Olympia Shilpa (21 September 2010). "A fine balance". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 17 August 2020. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  8. ^ a b கணேஷ், எஸ். (19 March 2016). "பாடகர் எஸ்.பி.பி. கதையின் நாயகனாக நடித்த முதல் படம்!" [The first film where singer SPB played the protagonist!]. Dinamalar (in Tamil). Nellai. Archived from the original on 3 October 2020. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  9. ^ a b ராம்ஜி, வி. (26 July 2019). "சுந்தரம் சார் தந்த இன்ப அதிர்ச்சி, எஸ்.பி.பி. சாரின் ரெண்டுமணி நேரம், ராதிகா ராட்சஷி, ஜனகராஜ் கலகல.. எல்லாத்துக்கும் மேல இளையராஜா சார் – 'கேளடி கண்மணி' அனுபவங்கள்... இயக்குநர் வஸந்த் எஸ்.சாய் பேட்டி". Hindu Tamil Thisai (in Tamil). Archived from the original on 2 July 2021. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  10. ^ a b c CR, Sharanya (27 July 2020). "Ramesh Arvind: I signed 12 Tamil films because of Keladi Kanmani". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 3 October 2020. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  11. ^ a b "'கேளடி கண்மணி' முதல் நாள் படப்பிடிப்பில் நடந்த சுவாரசியம்: இயக்குநர் வஸந்த் பகிர்வு". Hindu Tamil Thisai (in Tamil). 14 May 2020. Archived from the original on 10 June 2020. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  12. ^ Vasanth (13 July 2011). "'I'm 100% religious'". The New Indian Express. Archived from the original on 9 August 2016. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  13. ^ a b c Rao, Subha J (22 August 2015). "Keladi Kanmani turns 25". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 22 March 2020. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  14. ^ Balasubrahmanyam, S. P.; Shrikumar, A (5 February 2019). "Love bloomed on the Lambretta, recalls S.P. Balasubrahmanyam". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 3 November 2020. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  15. ^ Poorvaja, S. (25 September 2020). "SPB was an enthusiastic actor, full of warmth". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 2 February 2021. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  16. ^ CR, Sharanya (25 September 2020). "Radikaa Sarathkumar: I told SPB his songs kept me sane in the lockdown". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 28 May 2021. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  17. ^ "Keladi Kanmani Tamil Film LP Vinyl Record by Ilayaraaja". Mossymart. Archived from the original on 16 August 2021. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  18. ^ "Vasanth and Ilaiyaraaja reunite 30 years after Keladi Kanmani". The Times of India. 2 January 2021. Archived from the original on 5 March 2021. Retrieved 2 November 2021.
  19. ^ Sundararaman 2007, p. 147.
  20. ^ Mani, Charulatha (26 May 2012). "Charming Chakravaham". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 19 May 2017. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  21. ^ Sundararaman 2007, p. 143.
  22. ^ Mani, Charulatha (27 September 2013). "The royal Durbar". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 7 August 2021. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  23. ^ Sundararaman 2007, p. 166.
  24. ^ Saraswathi, S. (9 June 2014). "The Top 10 songs of S P Balasubrahmanyam". slide 4. Archived from the original on 16 October 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  25. ^ "O Papa Lali (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – EP". Apple Music. Archived from the original on 17 August 2020. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  26. ^ "Keladi Kannmanii". The Indian Express. 27 July 1990. p. 16.
  27. ^ Selvaraj, N. (20 March 2017). "வெள்ளி விழா கண்ட தமிழ் திரைப்படங்கள்". Thinnai. Archived from the original on 29 March 2017. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  28. ^ Krishnaswamy, N. (10 August 1990). "Keladi Kanmani". The Indian Express. p. 7.
  29. ^ "சினிமா விமர்சனம் : கேளடி கண்மணி" [Movie Review: Keladi Kannmanii]. Ananda Vikatan (in Tamil). 5 August 1990. Archived from the original on 22 March 2020. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  30. ^ Dhananjayan 2011, p. 133.
  31. ^ "Chinnathambi bags six awards". The Indian Express. 30 October 1992. p. 3.


  • Dhananjayan, G. (2011). The Best of Tamil Cinema, 1931 to 2010: 1977–2010. Galatta Media. OCLC 733724281.
  • Sundararaman (2007) [2005]. Raga Chintamani: A Guide to Carnatic Ragas Through Tamil Film Music (2nd ed.). Chennai: Pichhamal Chintamani. OCLC 295034757.

External links[edit]