Vaaranam Aayiram

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Vaaranam Aayiram
Vaaranam Aayiram poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed byGautham Vasudev Menon
Written byGautham Vasudev Menon
Produced byV. Ravichandran
Divya Spandana
Sameera Reddy
Narrated bySuriya
CinematographyR. Rathnavelu
Edited byAnthony Gonsalvez
Music byHarris Jayaraj
Distributed byCloud Nine Movies (worldwide)
Bharat Creations (United States)
Release date
  • 14 November 2008 (2008-11-14)
Running time
169 minutes

Vaaranam Aayiram (transl. Thousand Elephants) is a 2008 Indian Tamil-language romantic drama film written and directed by Gautham Vasudev Menon and produced by Venu Ravichandran of Aascar Films. The film stars Suriya in dual lead roles as father and son, with Simran, Divya Spandana, and Sameera Reddy in lead roles, the latter in her Tamil debut. The film features music composed by Harris Jayaraj, making Vaaranam Aayiram his final project with Menon before the formal break-up of their partnership, until they worked together again in Yennai Arindhaal (2015). Cinematography for the film has been handled by R. Rathnavelu and editing done by Anthony Gonsalvez.

The film illustrates Surya, an Indian Army Major learns about his father's death when he is on a rescue mission. He then starts reminiscing about the bond he shared with his father and the stories related to him. The storyline is inspired from Menon's life, when he heard the news about his fathers death back in 2007, also serving it as a tribute to him. Filmed across India and United States, Vaaranam Aayiram had been under production since November 2006 and was completed on August 2008. The film was theatrically released on 14 November 2008, after multiple postponments and opened to critical acclaim praising Suriya's performance. Further, the film also became a commercial success, eventually becoming the biggest hit in Suriya's career at that time. It won a number of awards, including the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil.[1]


An elderly Krishnan vomits blood and passes away at his house. His son Suriya, an Indian Army Major on his way to Kashmir on a rescue mission to rescue a journalist who had been kidnapped by terrorists , learns of this and tearfully reminisces memories of his past with his father.

Krishnan and Malini both study at Madras Christian College in the 1970s. They fall in love and get married later, Suriya and his sister Shriya are born. Krishnan and Suriya grow as friends as well as father-son. Years later, after completing Mechanical engineering in Trichy, he meets Meghna on the train back home and falls head over heels for her, but Meghna doesn't believe in love at first sight. Suriya soon learns that she is soon leaving for California to get her master's degree.

Meanwhile, Krishnan suffers his first heart attack due to chain smoking. Reality strikes Suriya and he decides to take care of his family. He starts a design firm with his friends and also does some concerts to earn money. Suriya and his sister earn enough to complete their father's dream home. Later, on his father's advice, Suriya tracks down Meghna in San Francisco. Though surprised by his daring move, Meghna makes him stay with her and they start to understand each other. Convinced that Suriya is the right guy, and also because her father would accept a person like him, Meghna proposes to Suriya, much to his and his family's delight. She then leaves for Oklahoma City on a project. However, the Oklahoma City bombing takes place, in which Meghna is killed, leaving Suriya hysterical and heartbroken.

A depressed Suriya decides to return to India, and meets a businessman Shankar Menon on the way, who consoles and encourages him. Weeks pass by; Suriya tries hanging out with friends, and meets Priya, Shriya's friend who proposes to Suriya and confesses that she was in love right from their childhood, but Suriya does not reciprocate right then and ther; in fact, her proposal just causes Suriya to have a painful relapse of Meghna's memories to the point that he starts drugs and alcoholism to ease his pain. Malini and Krishnan lock him in his room to rehabilitate him. Once he starts withdrawing, Malini encourages Suriya to go on a rejuvenating trip, on condition that he returns fine. Suriya travels to Kashmir, where he learns that Aditya, Shankar Menon's son, has been kidnapped in Delhi. He decides to find Aditya and after days of roaming the city and investigating, he finds Dabbu Malik who directs him to the kidnapper, Asad. With no preparation and falling into all mess alone, he overpowers them intelligently and rescues Aditya. He receives critical praise from around the country and from his family upon his return home.

Suriya realizes that the only way to forget the pain of Meghna's memories is to train his body and prepare for bigger things. He goes on a strict workout training and joins the army. Now as Major K. Suriya, after six years, he meets Priya in Dehradun. She proposes again and this time he reciprocates; they marry and have a son. Suddenly, Krishnan is diagnosed with throat cancer and given a year to live. After some days, Suriya is called upon to go on a mission to rescue a journalist, which brings the scene back to the present day.

The military mission is completed successfully and Suriya returns home and tearfully honours Krishnan and performs his last rites. Suriya, Shriya, Malini, and Priya immerse Krishnan's ashes in the sea, and Malini encourages Suriya to move on in life with his family by telling him that he is "the conqueror of a thousand elephants" just like his father, who conquered Malini and made her his life. Suriya turns back at the sea and says that his father is still with them. The film ends with the ghost of an old Krishnan smiling at them and walking gleefully on the shores.


  • Suriya as Krishnan (Suriya and Shriya's father) and Major K.Suriya (dual role)
    • Varun as three-year-old Suriya
    • Hiren as six-year-old Suriya
    • Sachin as eleven-year-old Suriya
  • Simran as Malini Krishnan (Suriya and Shriya's mother)
  • Divya Spandana as Priya (Suriya's wife)
  • Sameera Reddy as Meghna (Suriya's ex lover)
  • Privithiraj as Asad
  • Deepa Narendran as Shriya Krishnan
    • Laasya as five-year-old Shriya
  • Karthik as Mahesh
  • Ajay as Ajay
  • Akanksha Midha as Namradha Dutt
  • Jayshree as Aarthi
  • Dany as Priya's father
  • Ganesh as Shriya's husband
  • Deenadalayan as Shankar Dayal Sharma
  • Gautham Menon as Commando Informer
  • Indra as Priya's mother
  • Neelakandan Ganesh as Librarian
  • Ravi as Daboo Mauik
  • Rajeevan as Meghna's father
  • Shanker Kolandi as Shankar Menon
  • Swetha as Swetha
  • Sathish as Sathish
  • Veera Bahu as Commando
  • Aditya as Aditya
  • Shreya as Shriya
  • Amitash as Krishnan's friend



Director Gautham Menon expressed his interest to work with Suriya again after the success of Kaakha Kaakha (2003). In early 2005, the pair got together for a film tentatively titled Chennaiyil Oru Mazhaikaalam which featured Asin Thottumkal in the lead role and Daniel Balaji in a supporting role. However, after a photo shoot, the film was delayed and then subsequently called off,[2] with Menon later went on to direct the Kamal Haasan-starrer Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu and Sarathkumar's Pachaikili Muthucharam. In mid-2006, Menon planned a script for Suriya, which will be produced under his newly launched Photon Film Factory,[3] and he expressed that the film will not be a sequel to Kaakha Kaakha, but a romantic thriller film with titles such as Naan Thaan and Udal Porul Aavi were considered.[4] The film was speculated to be made on a budget of 11.5 crore (US$1.6 million), becoming the expensive film of Suriya in that period, and Venu Ravichandran of Aascar Films acquired the rights of distribution on a first copy basis.[4] In a turn of events, Gautham Menon dropped the idea of producing the film due to budget escalations, and this prompted Ravichandran to acquire the production rights.[5][6]

In late November 2006, Menon announced the title of the film as Vaaranam Aayiram, title derived from "Nachiyar Thirumozhi" with the literal meaning of "the strength of a thousand elephants".[5] According to Menon, he received the news of his father's death while he was travelling in an aeroplane in 2007; this incident inspired him to direct the film which begins in a similar manner.[7] Vaaranam Aayiram was believed to be based on the Dutch film Character by Mike van Diem; while others have claimed that it is inspired by the 1994 Hollywood film, Forrest Gump, starring Tom Hanks. Menon too admitted the film will draw inspirations from Forrest Gump but would be fixed to suit the Indian audience.[8] Furthermore, Menon stated that Surya Sivakumar will be seen playing the dual roles of a 21-year-old and his father and that the film will be society themed. Menon has described the film as "autobiographical and a very personal story and if people didn’t know, that 70% of this [the film] is from my life".[9][10]


Menon stated that Surya Sivakumar will be seen playing the dual roles of a 21-year-old Suriya and his father Krishnan. Suriya lost weight without using capsules and prepared a six-pack for the film through an eight-month fitness regime.[11][12] For Surya's father Krishnan's role, Menon initially approached both Mohanlal and Nana Patekar, but it did not work out as there was an issue about how they would portray the character's younger age (his twenties) in the flashback scenes, thus Suriya expressed interest in portraying the character himself.[13][14] Deepika Padukone was first approached for the role, but she backed out to be part of the Bollywood film Om Shanti Om.[15] Soon after, Andrea Jeremiah was confirmed as the heroine after working with the director in Pachaikili Muthucharam, but was dropped from the film for unknown reasons.[16] Asin Thottumkal, who earlier been a part of Menon's shelved film Chennaiyil Oru Mazhaikkalam, expressed her desire to be a part of the project, but Surya refuted her offer citing that she had walked out of his previous film, Sillunu Oru Kadhal and refused to act opposite him.[17]

The producers then announced the film with Divya Spandana, who was making her comeback to Tamil films and Genelia D'Souza in the lead roles.[18] Soon after the start of the shoot, Genelia decided to walk out, after Menon refused to pay the hefty salary that she was demanding and receiving in Telugu films, allowing Sameera Reddy to act in her first Tamil film. Simran signed and completed her shoots swiftly after she was selected to portray the mother of Surya,[19][20] after Tabu had rejected the role.[21] Menon's norm technicians: cinematographer R. Rathnavelu, editor Anthony Gonsalvez, art director Rajeevan and music composer Harris Jayaraj, were part of this film.


University of California, Berkeley served as shooting spot in "Adiye Kolluthe" song

The shooting of the film commenced without a leading lady on 24 November 2006 at a nightclub in Chennai. In April 2007, it was announced that a 10-day shoot in Afghanistan would be followed by shooting in Malaysia, Russia and the United States, thus Vaaranam Aayiram was the first Tamil film being shot in Afghanistan.[22] However, the film only completed a shoot at the University of California in Berkeley and shooting was not held in Afghanistan.[23][24] Sameera Reddy, who announced as the leading lady, joined the schedule in United States, where major sequences of the film being shot.[25] In November 2007, Gautham Menon decided to send the reels back to Chennai from San Francisco. Two of the production managers were assigned the task of bringing the reels to the producer's office. But they stayed in Singapore for a couple of days before returning to Chennai. Following their arrival, it was understood the reels went missing in the hotel they stayed in at Singapore, but a search by the police proved unsuccessful. The whole crew was in a fix as the reels held fight scenes, songs and other scenes worth $500,000 (₹1.5 crore). Soon after, the reels were found with the Singapore airport authorities.[26]

The team later shot few schedules in Chennai during January 2008 and was completed within a month.[27] In April 2008, a song was filmed by an assistant cameraman with a high-tech camera, costing about Rs. 1.5 crore, fastened to his hip. While the assistant was moving behind the actors canning the shots, he tripped unexpectedly and the camera broke to pieces. The shot resumed a day later with a similar camera.[28] The team further shot sequences in Kashmir and Delhi, and continued intermittently so that Suriya could work on his commitments for Ayan.[29] The film finished its shoot in August 2008, after one year of production.[30]


Vaaranam Aayiram
Soundtrack album by
Released24 September 2008
GenreFeature film soundtrack
LabelSony Music India
ProducerHarris Jayaraj
Harris Jayaraj chronology
Dhaam Dhoom
Vaaranam Aayiram
External audio
audio icon Official Tamil Jukebox on YouTube

The film has seven songs composed by Harris Jayaraj. All lyrics except one track are penned by Thamarai. The songs from the albums were released to four leading radio stations in Chennai, with one song per station, in attempt to popularise it five days before the official launch. The move by Sony BMG was the first of its kind in Indian cinema.[31]

1."Adiye Kolluthe"ThamaraiBenny Dayal, Krish, Shruti Haasan5:14
2."Nenjukkul Peidhidum"ThamaraiHariharan, Devan, V. V. Prasanna6:09
3."Yethi Yethi Yeththi"Na. MuthukumarBenny Dayal, Naresh Iyer, Solar Sai4:53
4."Annal Mele Panithuli"ThamaraiSudha Ragunathan5:41
5."Oh Shanthi Shanthi"ThamaraiClinton Cerejo, S. P. B. Charan3:03
6."Ava Enna"ThamaraiKarthik, V. V. Prasanna5:17
7."Mundhinam Parthene"ThamaraiNaresh Iyer, Prashanthini5:22
8."Ragasiyam" (Instrumental)  1:20
Total length:36:59
Surya S/o Krishnan
Soundtrack album by
Released30 October 2008
GenreFeature film soundtrack
LabelSony Music India
ProducerHarris Jayaraj
External audio
audio icon Official Telugu Jukebox on YouTube

All tracks are written by Veturi Sundararama Murthy.

Telugu Track-List
1."Yedhane Koiyyake"Benny Dayal, Krish , Bhargavi Pillai5:14
2."Naalona Pongenu"Harish Raghavendra, Devan, V.V. Prassanna6:09
3."Yegasi Yegasi"Benny Dayal, Naresh Iyer, Chandran4:53
4."Nidhare Kala"Sudha Ragunathan5:41
5."Oh Shanthi Shanthi"Krish , S. P. B. Charan3:03
6."Adhey Nanne"Karthik, V.V. Prasanna5:17
7."Monna Kanipinchavu"Naresh Iyer, Prashanthini5:22
Total length:35:39
Professional ratings
Review scores
Behindwoods*4/5 stars[32]
Rediff*3.5/5 stars[33]

Critical response[edit]

The album received positive reviews from music critics. Indiaglitz stated "'Varanam Aayiram' is no doubt one of the best from Harris Jeyaraj and Gautham duo. It is energetic and entertaining. A must listen musical score that is serene even while repeated."[34] Malathy Sundaram from Behindwoods gave a 4/5 rating and praised the album calling it a "blockbuster" further citing "The guitar simply enthralls you. So do the native drums. There is a slight monotony in the instrumentation, but it doesn’t seem to affect the overall effect. Thaamarai needs to be complimented for the soft lyrics."[32] Pavithra Srinivasan from Rediff gave a 3.5/5 rating and said "Put together, you definitely feel that Harris Jayaraj has set out to provide quality music with a difference."[33]


Varanam Aayiram was initially scheduled for late 2007 release, but was delayed multiple times due to production troubles.[19] On the occasion of Pongal (14 January 2008), a song trailer of 50-seconds was unveiled and opened to widespread response from fans. As a result, various distributors planned to buy the film for huge bids, with Gemini Film Circuit acquiring the Tamil Nadu theatrical distribution rights. Since, Venu Ravichandran prioritised on the release plans for Dasavathaaram scheduled for 14 April 2008 (Tamil New Year's Day), the team planned to release the film on 15 May 2008 and later shifted the release date to 30 May and 6 June.[19] But the producer felt that the business of both the films will be affected due to the inaugural Indian Premier League season happening underway, thus resulting in holding both the releases till 1 June, the date when the tournament ends.[35][36]

Despite the release of Dasavathaaram on 13 June 2008, Ravichandran and Menon did not comment anything about its release, as trade analysts believed that the collections will be affected if the film being released on June and July, due to lack of festival dates in that month;[36] also adding to the factors of postponement, were the beginning of new academic sessions in mid-June, with the delay in the film's production as the team were able to complete the shooting only in August 2008.[36] The makers preferred for a release on 15 August (Independence Day) and 3 September (Vinayagar Chathurthi), to cash in the holiday season, which did not happen.[36] During October 2008, the members of Hindu Makkal Katchi demanded a ban on the film citing that its lead actress Divya Spandana's comments during the Hogenakkal falls water dispute, as she attended the similar protest in Karnataka and condemned Tamils in the same issue.[37]

The film was postponed further from 25 October 2008 (Diwali weekend)[38] as Gautham Menon later sold the distribution rights from Gemini Film Circuit to Adlabs in order to ensure a wide release.[39] The film released theatrically on 14 November 2008 along with its Telugu dubbed version titled Surya s/o Krishnan was released simultaneously.[40] Kalaignar TV acquired the film's satellite rights.


Box office[edit]

Varanam Aayiram emerged as the biggest blockbuster for Suriya after Ghajini, grossing 5.66 crore in Chennai alone.[41] In overseas market, the film grossed $796,297 from Malaysia and $124,710 from the United Kingdom.[42][43][44]

Critical reception[edit]

Sify stated that it is a "film straight from the heart".[45] Indiaglitz reviewed that it "proves to be a tame affair" but stated that "Suriya the actor rocks throughout".[46] Behindwoods rated it 2.5/5 stating that "what could have been a subtly told story turns into a sloppy fare" and "there are touching and heart-warming moments in the movie but, they are few and far between".[47] Rediff gave the film 3/5 and called it a "moving story", further mentioning that "It might be just a feather in Gautam's hat. As for Surya, it's an ostrich plume, a justified triumph."[48] The Hindu said, "The same combo came together for Kaakha Kaakha and signed off with a flourish not so long ago! Of course Vaaranam ... does have some great moments, but it’s a lengthy film, and you feel it!"[49]


In addition to the following list of awards and nominations, prominent Indian film websites (including Rediff, Sify and Behindwoods) named Vaaranam Aayiram one of the 10 best Tamil films of 2008. Before its release, the film's title had appeared on film websites' "most awaited" lists.

Award[a] Date of ceremony[b] Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Filmfare Awards South 31 July 2009 Best Film – Tamil Vaaranam AayiramAascar Film Pvt. Ltd Nominated [50]
Best Popular Movie – Tamil Won
Best Director – Tamil Gautham Menon Nominated
Best Actor – Tamil Suriya Won
Best Supporting Actress – Tamil Simran Won
Best Music Director – Tamil Harris Jayaraj Won
Best Lyricist – Tamil Thamarai – (for "Nenjukkul Peithidum") Won
Best Male Playback Singer – Tamil Naresh Iyer – (for "Mundhinam Paarthene") Won
Hariharan – (for "Nenjukkul Peithidum") Nominated
Meera Isaiaruvi Tamil Music Awards 11 July 2009 Best Art Director Rajeevan Won [53]
Best Picturisation R. Rathnavelu Won
Best Music Director Harris Jayaraj Won
Best Album of the Year Won
Best Lyricist Thamarai – (for "Nenjukkul Peithidum") Won
Best Male Playback Singer Hariharan – (for "Nenjukkul Peithidum") Won
Voice of the Year Karthik – (for "Ava Enna") Won
Rising Star Singer – Female Shruti Haasan – (for "Adiye Kolluthe") Won
National Film Awards 20 March 2010 Best Feature Film in Tamil Producer: V. Ravichandran
Director: Gautham Menon
Won [55]
South Scope Style Awards 25 October 2009 Most Stylish Actor – Tamil Suriya Won
Style Youth Icon of the Year Won
Most Stylish Music Director – Tamil Harris Jayaraj Won
Tamil Nadu State Film Awards 28 September 2009 Special Award for Best Actor Suriya Won [57]
Best Art Director Rajeevan Won
Best Audiographer Ravi Won
Vijay Awards 13 June 2009 Best Film Vaaranam AayiramAascar Film Pvt. Ltd Nominated [59]
Favourite Film Won
Best Director Gautham Menon Nominated
Favourite Director Won
Best Art Director Rajeevan Nominated
Best Cinematographer R. Rathnavelu Nominated
Best Editor Anthony Nominated
Best Actor Suriya Won
Favourite Hero Nominated
Entertainer of the Year Nominated
Best Debut Actress Sameera Reddy Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Simran Won
Best Music Director Harris Jayaraj Won
Favourite Song Harris Jayaraj – (for "Ava Enna") Won
Best Lyricist Thamarai – (for "Nenjukkul Peithidum") Won
Best Male Playback Singer Hariharan – (for "Nenjukkul Peithidum") Won
Best Female Playback Singer Sudha Ragunathan – (for "Annal Mele Panithuli") Nominated
Best Choreographer Brinda – (for "Ava Enna") Nominated
Best Make Up Artistes Yogesh & Banu Won


The song "Mundhinam Paarthene" inspired a romantic film of the same name.[60] In the film Idharkuthane Aasaipattai Balakumara (2013), Baby (Jangiri Madhumitha) has the song "Mundhinam Paarthene" as her ringtone.[61] In Tamizh Padam 2, Shiva (Shiva) tries to go to America to win his girlfriend Ramya (Iswarya Menon) back, similar to how Suriya went to America to impress Meghna. In Malayalam Movie Vijay Superum Pournamiyum, a part of a song's composing is copied from Nenjukkul Peidhidum. In Master (2021), the character JD (Vijay) references dialogues from Vaaranam Aayiram as he tries to fool someone into believing that he once travelled to America to proclaim his love for a girl.[62]


  1. ^ Awards, festivals and organizations are in alphabetical order.
  2. ^ Date is linked to the article about the awards held that year, wherever possible.


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