Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||K. Balachander|
|Written by||K. Balachander|
|Cinematography||R. Raghunatha Reddy|
|1 November 1986|
Punnagai Mannan (lit. King of Smiles) is a 1986 Indian Tamil language romantic drama film written and directed by K. Balachander. The film stars Kamal Haasan and Revathi in the lead roles. Punnagai Mannan was released on 1 November 1986, during Diwali, and ran for 25 weeks in theatres. It was later dubbed into Telugu as Dance Master, and into Hindi as Chacha Charlie in 1996.
Lovers Sethu and Ranjani arrive at a cliff where they plan to commit suicide due to the pressure put up by Ranjani's parents against their marriage. Sethu, the son of an ordinary drunkard cook, was not accepted as groom for Ranjani by her parents; they threatened Ranjani that either they would kill Sethu or commit suicide. While jumping from the cliff, Sethu accidentally gets trapped in a tree and escapes but Ranjani dies. Despite the attempts made by Ranjani's father to jail Sethu by framing a fake case that Sethu killed Ranjani, no strong evidence is there to prove it. Sethu is arrested for having attempted suicide.
A year later, Sethu is released. His aunt Padmini, who owns a dance school, provides him a job of dance master as he is the former student. Sethu visits the cliff regularly as a remembrance of his love. On his way he sees a girl who attempts suicide for her failure in examination and stops her. He again meets the girl in a gallery. The girl introduces herself to him as Malini but he ignores her. Malini again meets Sethu at a tourist spot where she clicks photos without his knowledge, but Sethu realises this and destroys her camera. Malini chases him to his school as his student. Sethu repeatedly insults her but Malini develops love for him.
Malini coincidentally meets Chellapa, uncle of Sethu who dresses himself like Charlie Chaplin and makes people laugh. She comes to know about Sethu's failed love from him, which increases her affection towards Sethu. Chellapa helps her to win Sethu's heart. Malini is actually a Sinhalese girl because of which she faces trouble from her classmate many times and is every time rescued by Sethu. Though Sethu humiliates her all the time, he develops a soft corner in his mind. Sethu realises that he has started to love her but gets confused what to do as he is a failed one. Sethu's repeated attempts to prevent himself loving Malini fails and he takes a sign of blessing for his new love from Ranjani at the cliff side. He finally confesses his love for her and proposes to her.
Malini continues to spend time with Chellapa as she enjoys his sense of humour. This makes Sethu jealous, so he attempts to mimic Chellapa's mannerisms, but ends up injured. Sethu finds that Chellapa is a failed lover who, to forget his past, has worn a mask of Chaplin. Sethu and Malini unite Chellapa and Padmini who is a spinster. Sethu again faces pressure from Malini's father as Malini is of Sinhalese origin and Sethu is a Tamilian. Both of them struggle hard to win in their love. Malini goes to the extent of escaping from Sri Lanka to Tamil Nadu to join with Sethu. Understanding the tight bond between Malini and Sethu, Malini's father approves their marriage.
Ranjani's father, who hears about Sethu's marriage, wants to take "revenge" for his daughter's death. On the day of Sethu's engagement, he gives a basket full of apples which has a time bomb in it to Sethu's father, pretending to be his gift for his son. Sethu's father, who does not know about the bomb, keeps the basket in Chellapa's car. Sethu and Malini leave to visit Sethu's love cliff in Chellapa's car which has the bomb. Sethu's father and Chellapa come to know about the bomb and try to stop Sethu and Malini, but fail; the bomb explodes at the same place where Sethu-Ranjani attempted suicide and Sethu-Malini die in the explosion, leaving Chellapa and Sethu's father heartbroken. Chellapa later showers flowers in the place where the three of them died.
- Kamal Haasan as Sethu and Chaplin Chellapa
- Revathi as Malini
- Srividya as Padmini
- Rekha as Ranjani
- Delhi Ganesh as Sethu's father
- Sundar Krishna Urs as Malini's father
- R. N. Sudarshan as Ranjani's father
- K. S. Jayalaxmi as Malini's mother
Punnagai Mannan was directed by K. Balachander. The film was titled after a song in one of his earlier films, Iru Kodugal (1969). Balachander described Punnagai Mannan as a contrast to another of his films, Ek Duuje Ke Liye (1981) as "It was in response to people who argued why lovers should commit suicide." Lead actor Kamal Haasan was cast in two roles: Sethu, and his uncle "Chaplin" Chellappa. He also claimed credit for the story idea. Revathi was cast as Malini, a Sinhalese girl, and her voice was dubbed by actress Sulakshana. Rekha's character was named Ranjani, after the carnatic raga of the same name. Shooting for Punnagai Mannan took place in Athirappilly Falls, Kerala. The film featured a kissing scene between Haasan and Rekha, which earned much criticism. Ramesh Aravind was featured as flashback lover for Revathi, but his role was ultimately edited out from the film. Balachander suggested Kala as a choreographer to fill in for the busy Raghuram, her brother-in-law. Suresh Krissna who worked as one of the assistants for the film recalled that regarding the picturisation of the song "Mamavukku", Kamal came up with the novel idea of lip sync being perfect while dance movements being fast. Suresh later used this idea in one of the song sequences in his film Annamalai (1992). Stills Ravi worked as a still photographer for the film.
The soundtrack was composed by Ilaiyaraaja, with lyrics by Vairamuthu. A. R. Rahman (then known as Dileep), who then worked with Ilaiyaraja as a guitarist, played keyboard for this album and because it was the first time a Tamil film used a sequencer, the music became informally known as "computer music" in Tamil Nadu. This was the final film where Ilaiyaraaja and Vairamuthu worked together. Ilaiyaraaja's son Karthik Raja recalled that CX5M system was used around the time of the making of the film. The song "Yedhedho Ennam Valarthen" is set in the carnatic raga known as Pahadi, "Singalathu Chinnakuyile" is set in the Bageshri raga, "Enna Satham" is set in Sindhu Bhairavi, and "Kavithai Kelungal" is set in Savithri.
Vairamuthu praised Balachander for "Enna Satham", stating that he had the guts to insert a song in a sequence where two lovers were going to die. In May 2015, the FM radio station, Radio City, commemorated Ilaiyaraaja's 72nd birthday by broadcasting the composer's songs in a special show titled Raja Rajathan for 91 days. "Enna Satham" was one of the most requested songs on the show. Nandini Ramnath, writing for Scroll.in, described it as a "love song, lullaby and dirge rolled into one."
|1||"Enna Saththam Indha Neram"||S.P. Balasubrahmanyam||Vairamuthu||04:17|
|2||"Kaalakaalamaaga Vaazhum"||S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, K. S. Chithra||04:21|
|3||"Singalathu Chinnakuyile"||S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, K. S. Chithra||04:16|
|4||"Maamaavukku Kudumaa Kudumaa"||Malaysia Vasudevan||04:34|
|5||"Yedhedho Ennam Valarthen"||K. S. Chithra||04:23|
|6||"Vaan Maegam Poo Poovaai"||K. S. Chithra||03:53|
|7||"Kavidhai Kelungal Karuvil"||Vani Jairam, P. Jayachandran||07:00|
|9||"One Two Three"||Francis Lazarus||Vijay Manuel||01:27|
All the lyrics were penned by Veturi Sundararama Murthy.
|1||"Regutunna"||S.P. Balasubrahmanyam||Veturi Sundararama Murthy||04:06|
|2||"Kavitha Chilikindi"||S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, K. S. Chithra||02:29|
|3||"Jagana"||S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, K. S. Chithra||02:12|
|4||"Kaalamaina"||S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, K. S. Chithra||04:08|
|5||"Raanela"||K. S. Chithra||04:08|
|6||"Vaana Megham"||K. S. Chithra||03:46|
|7||"Jingala Jinga"||S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, K. S. Chithra||04:01|
|9||"One Two Three"||Francis Lazarus||Vijay Manuel||01:27|
Punnagai Mannan was released on 1 November 1986, coinciding with Diwali day. Despite facing competition with Maaveeran, released on the same day, it emerged a box office success, running in theatres for 25 weeks. On the film's 25th week celebrations, Kamal was given the title Puratchi Mannan ("Revolutionary King") by Balachander.
On 14 November 1986, The Indian Express wrote, "though the film was captivating, it did not seem to have much value as a thing of the past, as memory. And that is because both the plot and character are one-dimensional." In February 2013, Kaanchan Prashanth wrote for the entertainment magazine Galatta Cinema, "While Kamal and Revathy do a fab job, it's Ilayaraaja's music that plays a key character in bringing their love even closer to us..."
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