Punnagai Mannan

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Punnagai Mannan
Punnagai Mannan poster.jpg
Directed by K. Balachander
Produced by Rajam Balachander
Pushpa Kandaswamy
Written by K. Balachander
Starring Kamal Haasan
Music by Ilaiyaraaja
Cinematography Ragunatha Reddy
Edited by Ganesh-Kumar
Distributed by Kavithalayaa Productions
Release date
1 November 1986
Country India
Language Tamil

Punnagai Mannan (King of Smiles) is a 1986 Indian Tamil-language romantic-drama film written and directed by K. Balachander. Starring Kamal Haasan and Revathi in the lead roles, the film is Haasan's 25th film with Balachander. It was also music director Ilaiyaraaja's last film with lyricist Vairamuthu. The film was dubbed into Telugu as Dance Master.[1] The film was later dubbed into Hindi as Chacha Charlie in 1996.[2]. Punnagai Mannan was released on 1 November 1986, during Diwali, and ran for 25 weeks in theatres.


The film was shot at Athirappily Falls

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, who is the son of an ordinary drunkard cook, is not accepted as groom for Ranjani by her parents. The parents threaten 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 fault case that Sethu killed Ranjani, no strong evidence is there to prove it. Sethu is jailed for the offence of attempted suicide for one year.

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. After understanding the tight bond of Malini with 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.



The title of the film was inspired from a song of same name from the film Iru Kodugal also directed by K. Balachander. According to Balachander, Punnagai Mannan was "a contrast to [Ek Duuje Ke Liye]... It was in response to people who argued why lovers should commit suicide."[3] Lead actor Kamal Haasan was cast in two roles: Sethu, and his uncle "Chaplin" Chellappa.[4] Revathi was cast as the female lead, and her voice was dubbed by actress Sulakshana.[5] Rekha's character was named Ranjani, after the Carnatic raga of the same name.[6] Shooting for Punnagai Mannan took place in Athirappilly Falls, Kerala.[7] The film featured a kissing scene between Kamal and Rekha, which earned much criticism.[8] Ramesh Aravind was featured as flashback lover for Revathi, but his role was ultimately edited out from the film.[9][10] Balachander suggested Kala as a choreographer to fill in for the busy Raghuram, her brother-in-law.[11] 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).[12]


Music is composed by Ilaiyaraaja, with lyrics by Vairamuthu.[13] A. R. Rahman (then known as Dileep), who then worked with Ilayaraja 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.[14] This was the final film where Ilaiyaraaja and Vairamuthu worked together.[15] Ilayaraja's son Karthik Raja recalled that CX5M system was used around the time of the making of the film.[16] Vairamuthu praised Balachander for the song "Enna Satham" stating that he had the guts to insert a song in a sequence where two lovers were going to die.[17] 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.[18]

No. Song Singers Lyrics Duration
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
8 "Theme Music" Instrumental 02:34
9 "One Two Three" Francis Lazarus Vijay Manuel 01:27


Punnagai Mannan was released on 1 November 1986, coinciding with Diwali day.[19] Despite facing competition with Maaveeran, released on the same day,[20] 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.[21]

In February 2013, entertainment magazine Galatta Cinema said, 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..."[22]


  1. ^ "Kamal Haasan to return to work in November". Deccan Chronicle. 14 September 2016. Retrieved 21 October 2017. 
  2. ^ Balachander, K. (1996). Chacha Charlie (motion picture) (in Hindi). RKD Digital. 
  3. ^ "At 100, going strong". The Hindu. 10 February 2006. Retrieved 16 October 2017. 
  4. ^ "கமலும், கதாபாத்திரங்களும் - பிறந்தநாள் ஸ்பெஷல்!" [Kamal and his characters - Birthday Special!]. Dinamalar. 7 November 2015. Retrieved 10 October 2017. 
  5. ^ "Did You Know?". The Times of India Chennai. 30 April 2011. p. 38. 
  6. ^ "Did You Know?". The Times of India. 13 February 2011. p. 38. 
  7. ^ Menon, Hari (11 July 2014). "Kerala's Rainforest". Outlook Traveller. Retrieved 10 October 2017. 
  8. ^ "Should they kiss and tell?". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  9. ^ "Ramesh Aravind played the role of Revathi's ex-lover in Punnagai Mannan". The Times of India. 26 February 2015. Retrieved 16 October 2017. 
  10. ^ "Sunny Side Up: The Ramesh Aravind Interview". Silverscreen.in. 9 September 2014. Retrieved 16 October 2017. 
  11. ^ Umashanker, Sudha (6 October 2003). "In her footsteps". The Hindu. Retrieved 16 October 2017. 
  12. ^ Krissna & Rangarajan 2012, p. 30.
  13. ^ "Punnagai Mannan Songs". Raaga.com. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  14. ^ Kamini Mathai (2009). A.R. Rahman: The Musical Storm. pp. 54–55. ISBN 9780670083718. 
  15. ^ "Did You Know?". The Times of India. 26 September 2011. Archived from the original on 10 October 2017. Retrieved 10 October 2017. 
  16. ^ Naig, Udhav; Naig, Udhav (1 November 2013). "The reign of Raja". Retrieved 16 October 2017 – via www.thehindu.com. 
  17. ^ "Encomiums well deserved". 9 May 2008. Retrieved 16 October 2017 – via www.thehindu.com. 
  18. ^ Srinivasan, Sudhir (9 May 2015). "Salute to Ilaiyaraaja, the king". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 20 September 2015. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  19. ^ "Punnagai Mannan" [King of Smiles]. The Indian Express. 1 November 1986. p. 7. 
  20. ^ Ramachandran, Naman (2012). Rajinikanth: The Definitive Biography. Penguin Books. pp. 111–112. 
  21. ^ "Did You Know?". The Times of India. Chennai. 7 July 2013. p. 42. 
  22. ^ Love's Labour Lost. Galatta Cinema. February 2013. pp. 98–99. 

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