|Directed by||K. S. Ravikumar|
|Produced by||P. L. Thenappan|
|Written by||Kamal Haasan
|Cinematography||Arthur A. Wilson|
Lionheart Production House
|28 June 2002|
Panchathantiram (English: Five Ruses) is a 2002 Tamil comedy film directed by K. S. Ravikumar and written by Crazy Mohan. The film features Kamal Haasan, Simran and Ramya Krishnan in the lead roles, with a large supporting cast including Jayaram, Ramesh Aravind and Nagesh.
Ramachandramoorthy alias Ram (Kamal Haasan) is a pilot based in Canada and an irredeemable womaniser. In the course of a mid-air hijacking, he meets Mythili (Simran). Mythili and Ram stop the hijacking and save the plane. They fall in love and get married.
After marriage Ram quits his playboy character and remains faithful to his wife. Ram's four closest buddies, Nair (Jayaram), Iyer (Yugi Sethu), Hegde (Ramesh Aravind) and Reddy (Sriman) are present at the wedding . One day, when Ram prevents Hedge's ex-girlfriend, Nirmala (Devayani), from committing suicide, Mythili misinterprets the situation. She presumes that he is having an affair with her and leaves him to be with her parents. Further misunderstanding occurs when he sets out to meet Mythili, drunk, in the middle of the night and enters the wrong house.
To take his mind off Mythili for a while, his four friends drive him down to Bangalore and rent a room to hire a call girl called Maggi (Ramya Krishnan). Ram won't have any of it. He gets into a fight with Maggi and they leave the premise. To salvage the situation, Iyer hurries back to Maggie's room, only to find Maggi dead. Panicking, Nair, Iyer, Hegde and Reddy decide to get rid of the body in spite of Ram’s pleas to call the police. They manage to roll the dead body in a blanket and dispose it in a dry river and drive back to Chennai to return to their normal lives.
Ram discovers a cache of diamonds inside the dead girl's cell phone. A few days after, the friends get very nervous when they learn of a news article regarding the discovery of a dead body in the same area that they disposed their dead body. A traditional festival (Ugadi) has the wives of the four friends planning a party. While planning, Mythili gets invited to the party to be rejoined with Ram.
At the party, a "twist" is revealed when the supposedly-dead Maggi appears, demanding her diamonds back. She then reveals the truth, that the diamonds belong to her diamond-smuggling boss (Manivannan), and that she had stolen it from him. She had seen an opportunity to fake her death in order for her diamonds to be temporarily safe with Ram. Ram, with the help of his friends and the police force, arrest Maggi and her boss. Mythili promises to reform her suspicious ways and the two get back together.
- Kamal Haasan as Ramachandramurthy (Ram)
- Simran as Mythili
- Ramya Krishnan as Maragathavalli (Maggie)
- Jayaram as Iyappan Nair
- Ramesh Aravind as Ganesh Hegde
- Sriman as Hanumanth Reddy
- Yugi Sethu as Vedhantham or Vedham
- Urvashi as Ammini
- Sanghavi as Chamundi
- Aishwarya as Mrs. Vedhantham
- Vidhya Venkatesh as Mrs. Reddy
- Kaikala Satyanarayana as Reddy
- Manivannan as Smuggling boss
- Nagesh as Parthasarathy
- Ramesh Khanna as Sardarji, Police
- Vijayakumar as Mythili's Father
- Alphonsa as Smuggling boss' Mistress
- K. S. Ravikumar as Co-Pilot
- Santhana Bharathi as Downstairs tenant
- Kovai Sarala as Downstairs tenant
- Vasu Vikram as Traffic Cop
- Devayani as Nirmala (guest appearance)
The film marked the debut production of director K. S. Ravikumar's manager P. L. Thenappan, and the team initially planned a film starring Kamal Haasan with music composed by A. R. Rahman. Though recordings had taken place, Thenappan became apprehensive of the budget and chose to make a smaller budget film, meaning Deva replaced Rahman. Hence Panchathanthiram, a comedy about five friends, materialised instead. Originally Krishnamachari Srikkanth was supposed to essay the role later played by Yuhi Sethu, but dropped out. Sethu signed on revealing that Kamal Haasan had approached him to be a part of his two previous films, Thenali and Pammal K. Sambandam too, which he did not take up. Simran was signed after appearing alongside Kamal Haasan in Pammal K. Sambandam, with which the latter was impressed.
The film started shoot in February 2002 and shot in Canada for seventeen days. In April 2002, Kamal Haasan was prevented from boarding a Los Angeles-bound flight in Toronto during the making of the film, with the security preventing him from passing due to his Islamic-sounding surname. In June 2002, the five friends in the film along with Deva took part in a promotional tour to publicise the soundtrack in Bangalore. The film faced trouble during censorship and parts of a song featuring Ramya Krishnan were subsequently cut, giving the film a U/A (Parental Guidance) rating.
The film opened to positive reviews from critics, with the critic from The Hindu citing that Crazy Mohan's dialogue was "the mainstay", describing the film as "completely entertaining". The reviewer also praised the film's performances claiming that "with suitable slapstick, apt body language and timing and modulation that tickle, the veteran (Kamal Haasan) makes a mark yet again." Similarly, another critic claimed that "Crazy Mohan steals the scenes most of the time with his rib-tickling comedies, one-liners, and sensible timings", giving the film a positive review. Furthermore, reviewers from The Screen dubbed the film as a "clean comic-entertainer", adding that "director KS Ravikumar deserves a pat for weaving out a good screenplay based on Kamal Haasan’s story idea and creating a laugh riot".
The film was met with an above average response at the box office, making profits for the producers. Kamal Haasan had distributed the film in the Karnataka region. A sequel to the film was planned and Ravikumar had hoped to film scenes on a cruise liner, but the project failed to take off.
- "The Rediff review: Panchathanthiram". Rediff. 2002-07-24. Retrieved 2012-02-12.
- "Funds elude Kamal Hassan's mega flick". The Economic Times. 2003-04-22. Retrieved 2012-02-12.
- "Sheer will to succeed". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2002-07-10. Retrieved 2014-10-13.
- "Return of the native". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2002-02-17. Retrieved 2012-02-12.
- "Kamal Hassan grilled in Toronto airport". The Economic Times. 2002-05-01. Retrieved 2012-02-12.
- "Ready with the punchlines". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2002-06-10. Retrieved 2012-02-12.
- "Kamal Haasan on Panchatantiram". Rediff.com. 2002-07-16. Retrieved 2012-02-12.