Punnagai Mannan

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Punnagai Mannan
Punnagai Mannan.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byK. Balachander
Written byK. Balachander
Produced by
  • Rajam Balachander
  • Pushpa Kandaswamy
CinematographyR. Raghunatha Reddy
Edited byGanesh–Kumar
Music byIlaiyaraaja
Release date
  • 1 November 1986 (1986-11-01)

Punnagai Mannan (transl. King of smiles) is a 1986 Indian Tamil-language musical romantic drama film written and directed by K. Balachander. The film stars Kamal Haasan and Revathi, with Srividya, Rekha, Delhi Ganesh, Sudarshan and Sundar Krishna Urs in supporting roles. It revolves around a dance instructor whose student falls in love with him.

Punnagai Mannan was released on 1 November 1986, Diwali day. The film ran for over 25 weeks in theatres, becoming a silver jubilee hit. It was later dubbed into Telugu as Dance Master and into Hindi as Chacha Charlie.[1][2]


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. Both jump from the cliff; Sethu gets trapped in a tree and survives while 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 a 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 photographs of him 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 Sethu's uncle Chellapa, who dresses like Charlie Chaplin and makes people laugh. She learns of Sethu's failed love from him, which increases her affection towards Sethu. Chellapa helps her to win Sethu's heart. Malini is 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 Sinhalese 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 learn about the bomb and try to stop Sethu and Malini, to no avail; the ensuing detonation kills Sethu and Malini. Chellapa later showers flowers in the place of their death.



Athirappily Falls, where many scenes were shot

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."[6] Lead actor Kamal Haasan was cast in two roles: Sethu, and his uncle "Chaplin" Chellappa.[7] He also claimed credit for the story idea.[8] Revathi was cast as Malini, a Sinhalese girl,[9] and her voice was dubbed by actress Sulakshana.[10] Rekha's character was named Ranjani, after the Carnatic raga of the same name.[11] Many scenes of Punnagai Mannan were shot at Athirappilly Falls, Kerala.[12]

The film featured a kissing scene between Haasan and Rekha, who was 16 years old at the time.[13][14] In a 2019 interview, Rekha stated that before the shooting of the scene, she was not told of the kiss. During the shooting, Haasan suddenly grabbed and kissed on her lips. After the shoot, Rekha protested and asked to remove the scene, but the crew did not comply.[15] Ramesh Aravind was featured as Malini's lover in flashbacks, but his scenes did not make the final cut.[16][17] Balachander suggested Kala as a choreographer to fill in for the busy Raghuram, her brother-in-law.[18] Suresh Krissna, who worked as an assistant director, said that regarding the picturisation of the song "Mamavukku", Haasan came up with the novel idea of lip sync being perfect while dance movements are fast. Krissna later used this idea in one of the song sequences in his film Annaamalai (1992).[19] Stills Ravi worked as a still photographer for the film.[20]


Punnagai Mannan
Soundtrack album by
GenreFeature film soundtrack

The soundtrack was composed by Ilaiyaraaja, with lyrics by Vairamuthu.[21][22] A. R. Rahman (then known as Dileep), who then worked in Ilaiyaraaja's troupe, handled synthesizer for this album. Because it was the first time a Tamil film used a sequencer, the music became informally known as "computer music" in Tamil Nadu.[23] This was the final film where Ilaiyaraaja and Vairamuthu worked together.[24] Ilaiyaraaja's son Karthik Raja recalled that CX5M system was used around the time of the making of the film.[25] The song "Yedhedho Ennam Valarthen" is set in the Carnatic raga known as Pahadi,[26] "Singalathu Chinnakuyile" is set in Bageshri,[27] "Enna Satham" is in Sindhu Bhairavi,[28] and "Kavithai Kelungal" is in Savithri.[29][30]

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.[31] 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.[32] Nandini Ramnath, writing for Scroll.in, described it as a "love song, lullaby and dirge rolled into one."[33]

1."Yedhedho Ennam Valarthen"VairamuthuK. S. Chithra4:23
2."Enna Saththam Indha Neram"VairamuthuS. P. Balasubrahmanyam4:17
3."Vaan Megam Poo Poovaai"VairamuthuK. S. Chithra3:53
4."Kavithai Kelungal Karuvil"VairamuthuVani Jairam, P. Jayachandran7:00
5."Kaala kaalamaaga Vaazhum"VairamuthuS. P. Balasubrahmanyam, K. S. Chithra4:21
6."Singalathu Chinnakuyile"VairamuthuS. P. Balasubramanyam, K. S. Chithra4:16
7."Maamaavukku Kudumaa Kudumaa"VairamuthuMalaysia Vasudevan4:34
8."Theme Music"2:34
9."One Two Three"Viji ManuelFrancis Lazarus1:27
Total length:36:45

All the lyrics were written by Veturi.

Telugu Track list
1."Raanela Vasanthale"VeturiK. S. Chithra4:08
2."Regutunna Dhoka"VeturiS. P. Balasubrahmanyam4:06
3."Vaana Megham"VeturiK. S. Chithra3:46
4."Kavitha Chilikindi"VeturiS.P. Balasubrahmanyam, K. S. Chithra2:29
5."Kaalamaina Daivamaina"VeturiS. P. Balasubrahmanyam, K. S. Chithra4:08
6."Gingala Ginga"VeturiS. P. Balasubramanyam, K. S. Chithra4:01
7."Muddula Kudumu"VeturiS. P. Balasubramanyam4:36
8."Theme Music"  2:34
9."One Two Three"Viji ManuelFrancis Lazarus1:27

Release and reception[edit]

Punnagai Mannan was released on 1 November 1986, Diwali day.[34] 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."[35] Despite facing competition from other Diwali releases Maaveeran,[36] Palaivana Rojakkal,[37] Aruvadai Naal[38] and Kannukku Mai Ezhuthu,[39] it emerged a silver jubilee hit, running in theatres for over 25 weeks. On the film's 25th week celebrations, Kamal was given the title Puratchi Mannan ("Revolutionary King") by Balachander.[40]


  1. ^ "Kamal Haasan to return to work in November". Deccan Chronicle. 14 September 2016. Archived from the original on 21 October 2017. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
  2. ^ Sing, Bobby (13 June 2021). "CinemaScope: The lesser known sequel of Ek Duuje Ke Liye". The Free Press Journal. Archived from the original on 13 June 2021. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  3. ^ a b c "Punnagai Mannan | Cast and Crew". Moviefone. Archived from the original on 1 July 2021. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  4. ^ Joseph, Raveena (21 February 2016). "All in the family". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 20 September 2017. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  5. ^ "என் பாடல்கள் அளவுக்கு முகம் தமிழ் ரசிகர்களுக்குப் பரிச்சயமானதில்லை: கல்பனா ராகவேந்தர்!" [My face is not familiar to Tamil fans as my songs are: Kalpana Raghavendar!]. Dinamani (in Tamil). 16 March 2018. Archived from the original on 25 November 2018. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  6. ^ Ashok Kumar, S. R. (10 February 2006). "At 100, going strong". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 27 February 2018. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  7. ^ "கமலும், கதாபாத்திரங்களும் – பிறந்தநாள் ஸ்பெஷல்!" [Kamal and his characters – Birthday Special!]. Dinamalar. 7 November 2015. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
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  12. ^ Menon, Hari (11 July 2014). "Kerala's Rainforest". Outlook Traveller. Archived from the original on 10 October 2017. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
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  15. ^ Touring Talkies (6 August 2019). "வாய்ப்புக்காக கதாநாயகர்கள் வீட்டு வாசலில் நிற்க முடியாது – Rekha Special Interview" [Heroes cannot stand outside houses seeking chances]. YouTube (in Tamil). at 12:14. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  16. ^ "Ramesh Aravind played the role of Revathi's ex-lover in Punnagai Mannan". The Times of India. 12 March 2015. Archived from the original on 27 February 2018. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  17. ^ Menon, Neelima (9 September 2014). "Sunny Side Up: The Ramesh Aravind Interview". Silverscreen.in. Archived from the original on 6 July 2017. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  18. ^ Umashanker, Sudha (6 October 2003). "In her footsteps". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 17 January 2004. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  19. ^ Krissna & Rangarajan 2012, pp. 35–36.
  20. ^ Ravi, Stills (19 July 2017). "A photographer's delight". The New Indian Express. Archived from the original on 27 February 2018. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  21. ^ "Punnagai Mannan (1986)". Raaga.com. Archived from the original on 4 March 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  22. ^ "Punnagai Mannan Tamil Film LP Vinyl Record by Ilayaraja". Mossymart. Archived from the original on 2 July 2021. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  23. ^ Kamini, Mathai (2009). A.R. Rahman: The Musical Storm. India: Penguin Books. pp. 53–54. ISBN 978-0-670-08371-8. Archived from the original on 27 February 2018.
  24. ^ "Did You Know?". Chennai Times. The Times of India. 26 September 2011. Archived from the original on 10 October 2017. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  25. ^ Naig, Udhav (1 November 2013). "The reign of Raja". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 30 August 2014. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  26. ^ Sundararaman 2007, p. 168.
  27. ^ Sundararaman 2007, p. 158.
  28. ^ Sundararaman 2007, p. 129.
  29. ^ Sundararaman 2007, p. 138.
  30. ^ "100 இசை துளி – Padma Vibhushan". Dinamalar. Archived from the original on 1 August 2018. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  31. ^ Ashok Kumar, S.R. (9 May 2008). "Encomiums well deserved". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 27 February 2018. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  32. ^ Srinivasan, Sudhir (9 May 2015). "Salute to Ilaiyaraaja, the king". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 20 September 2015. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  33. ^ Ramnath, Nandini (20 March 2017). "Picture the song: 'Yenna Satham' from 'Punnagai Mannan' is a superb Ilaiyaraaja-SPB collaboration". Scroll.in. Archived from the original on 11 March 2018. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  34. ^ "Punnagai Mannan". The Indian Express. 1 November 1986. p. 7.
  35. ^ "Glossy, classy, jazzy". The Indian Express. 14 November 1986. p. 14.
  36. ^ Ramachandran, Naman (2014) [2012]. Rajinikanth: The Definitive Biography. Penguin Books. pp. 111–112. ISBN 978-81-8475-796-5.
  37. ^ "Rajinikanth turns 67: More than moondru mugam". The New Indian Express. 11 December 2017. Archived from the original on 20 April 2018. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  38. ^ "Aruvadai Nall". The Indian Express. 1 November 1986. p. 7.
  39. ^ "Kannukku Mai Ezhuthu". The Indian Express. 1 November 1986. p. 7.
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  • Krissna, Suresh; Rangarajan, Malathi (2012). My Days with Baasha. Westland Ltd. ISBN 978-93-8162-629-0.
  • Sundararaman (2007) [2005]. Raga Chintamani: A Guide to Carnatic Ragas Through Tamil Film Music (2nd ed.). Pichhamal Chintamani. OCLC 295034757.

External links[edit]