Vaaranam Aayiram

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

Vaaranam Aayiram (lit. Thousand Elephants) is a 2008 Indian Tamil-language musical romantic drama film written and directed by Gautham Vasudev Menon. Suriya plays dual lead roles as father and son, with Sameera Reddy (in her Tamil debut), Divya Spandana, and Simran. The film had been under production since late 2006, and was released worldwide on 14 November 2008.

The film illustrates the story of a son recollecting different parts of his life with his father upon hearing about his death. As a tribute to the father of the director, the film opened to critical acclaim. Produced by Venu Ravichandran, the score was composed by Harris Jayaraj, making Vaaranam Aayiram his final project with Gautham Menon before the formal break-up of their partnership, until they worked together again in Yennai Arindhaal (2015). It won a number of awards, including the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil. The film was also a commercial success, eventually becoming the biggest hit in Suriya's career at that time.[2]


An elderly Krishnan (Suriya) returns home after a haircut, vomits blood, and is kept to rest. After the doctor checks him, he is reported dead. His son Surya (Suriya), on his way to Kashmir on a rescue mission, travelling in a helicopter, is informed about this. Even though Surya proceeds with the rescue, he starts to think about all the memories of him, his parents and the incidents.

Krishnan and Malini (Simran) both attend Madras Christian College. They fall in love, get married, and have a son, Surya. Krishnan and Surya grow as friends rather than a father-son. Years later, after finishing college in Trichy, he meets Meghna (Sameera Reddy) and falls for her. Meghna tells Surya that she has seen him at a few cultural events. Taking his chance, he proposes to her, but Meghna doesn't accept, because she doesn't believe in love at first sight. Unable to give up, Surya ends up at her home only to learn that she is leaving for Berkeley to get her master's degree.

Meanwhile, Krishnan suffers his First Attack.[clarification needed] Reality strikes Surya and he decides to take care of his family and starts working with his friends and also does some concerts.[clarification needed] A few months later, on his father's advice, Surya tracks down Meghna in the United States. Though surprised by his move, Meghna makes him stay with her and they start to understand each other more. Convinced Surya is the right guy, and also because her father would accept a person like him, Meghna proposes much to Surya and his family's delight. She then leaves to Oklahoma city on a project. After travelling on a bus to visit Meghna, Suriya witnesses the Oklahoma City bombing, in which Meghna is killed.

Even though he doesn't want to, he decides to go back to India, and meets Shankar Menon who consoles and offers him immense encouragement. Days pass by, yet, Surya tries hanging out with friends, and meets Priya (Divya Spandana), his sister's friend but is unable to cope with thoughts of him and Meghna. He starts drugs in secret and his father gets to know about it. Malini and Krishnan support him all over even though they lock him in his room to break his habit. Once he starts withdrawing, they ask him to go on a trip or take a long break to rejuvenate. He takes a leisure trip to Kashmir. There he learns, Aditya, Shankar Menon's son, has been kidnapped. He visits them in Delhi. Knowing that the police department's lethargic attitude won't help, he decides to handle it and goes in search of the kidnappers. After days of roaming and acting so low to even sell girls, he finds Dabbu Malik who directs him to the kidnapper, Asad (Babloo Prithiveeraj). With no preparation and falling into all mess alone, he overpowers them intelligently and rescues Adithya.

Back home, Surya starts to go out with Priya who ends up proposing him and also confesses that she was in love right from their childhood but Surya is stunned and does not respond. Surya understands that the only way to forget the pain is to train his body and prepare for bigger things. He goes on a strict workout training and joins the army. Now Major K Surya, After six years, thinks of Priya and to his surprise, meets Priya who came all over to Dehradun for Surya. She does propose again and this time they end up marrying and have a son. Suddenly, Krishnan is diagnosed with throat cancer and given a year to live. He suffers badly with pain and he loses his voice after an operation. All these affects Surya deeply and he stays a bit away from him which he regrets now. After some days, Surya is called upon to go on a mission to rescue a journalist, which brings the scene back to the present day.

After completing the military mission with the help of a masked man (Gautham Menon) who tells them where the culprits were, Surya returns home to see his father. Surya, Shreya, Malini, and Priya let go his father's ashes in the sea, and Malini relates her husband's life to Surya by uttering a verse from a verse, "Vaaranam aayiram soozha valam sethu", The film ends as the four walk away smiling, conveying one thing, "Whatever happens, life has to go on."




Following Kaakha Kaakha in 2003, the director Gautham Menon and Suriya expressed their desire to work together on a film. 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 one. However, after a photo shoot, the film was delayed and then subsequently called off.[3] Nevertheless, in 2006, producer Venu Ravichandran signed up the pair for a new film, which they confirmed was not going to be a sequel of their previous venture; it was going to be a romantic thriller. Initially titles such as Naan Thaan[4] and Udal Porul Aavi[5] were considered for the project, but Menon announced the title was Vaaranam Aayiram, title derived from "Nachiyar Thirumozhi" with the literal meaning of "the strength of a thousand elephants".[6] 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 Vaaranam Aayiram which begins in a similar manner.[7]

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

Before the start of shooting, technical crew members were signed up, and the shoot commenced without a leading lady on 24 November 2006 at a nightclub in Chennai. In 2007, it was announced that a 10-day shoot in Afghanistan would be followed by shooting in Malaysia, Russia and the United States. However, the film only completed a shoot at the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, US, and shooting was not held in Afghanistan.[8]

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 of Vaaranam Aayiram was in a fix as the reels held fight scenes, songs and other scenes worth $500,000. Soon after, the reels were found with the Singapore airport authorities.[9] The film finished its shoot in August 2008.[10]

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.[11]

Vaaranam Aayiram was believed to be based on the Dutch film by Mike van Diem, Character; 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.[12] 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. It was set to release in 2007 and was delayed for a 14 November 2008 release.[13] The audio of Vaaranam Aayiram was released on 24 September 2008. 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".[14][15] Suriya lost weight without using capsules and prepared a six-pack for the film through an eight-month fitness regime.[16][17]


For Surya's father Krishnan's role, Menon initially approached both Mohanlal and Nana Patekar, but it did not worked out as there was an issue about how they would portray the character's younger age (his twenties) in the flashback scenes and that is when Suriya expressed interest in portraying the character himself.[18][19] After the cancellation of Chennaiyil Oru Mazhaikaalam, originally starring Surya Sivakumar, Asin Thottumkal and Daniel Balaji, keeping the male leads the same, Gautham Menon wanted to opt for a new heroine to begin Vaaranam Aayiram. Deepika Padukone was first approached for the role, but she backed out to be part of Bollywood film Om Shanti Om.[20] Soon after, another confirmed heroine, Andrea Jeremiah, was dropped from the film for unknown reasons.[21] Asin expressed her desire to be a part of the project, but the male lead, Surya, refuted her offer citing that she had walked out of his previous film, Sillunu Oru Kadhal and refused to act opposite him.[22]

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.[23] 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 was receiving in Telugu films allowing Sameera Reddy to act in her first Tamil film. Simran Bagga signed and completed her shoots swiftly after she was selected to portray the mother of Surya,[13][24] after Tabu had rejected the role.[25]


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
Official Tamil Jukebox on YouTube

The film has seven songs composed by Harris Jayaraj. All Lyrics 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.[26]

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 Moorthy
Soundtrack album by
Released30 October 2008
GenreFeature film soundtrack
LabelSony Music India
ProducerHarris Jayaraj
External audio
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."Monna Kanipinchavu"Naresh Iyer, Prashanthini5:41
5."Oh Shanthi Shanthi"Krish , S. P. B. Charan3:03
6."Adhey Nanne"Karthik, V.V. Prasanna5:17
7."Nidhare Kala"Sudha Ragunathan5:22
Total length:35:39
Professional ratings
Review scores
Behindwoods*4/5 stars[27]
Rediff*3.5/5 stars[28]

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."[29] 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."[27] 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."[28]


Box office[edit]

Varanam Aayiram emerged as the biggest blockbuster for Suriya since Ghajini, grossing 5.66 crore in Chennai alone.[30] In overseas market, the film grossed $921,007 from both United Kingdom and Malaysia.[31][32][33]

Critical reception[edit]

Sify stated that it is a "film straight from the heart".[34] Indiaglitz reviewed that it "proves to be a tame affair" but stated that "Suriya the actor rocks throughout".[35] 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".[36] 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."[37] 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!"[38]


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 Category Nominee Result
2008 National Film Awards Best Feature Film in Tamil Venu Ravichandran
Gautham Menon
2008 Filmfare Awards South Best Actor Surya Sivakumar
Best Supporting Actress Simran
Best Director Gautham Menon Nominated
Best Film Venu Ravichandran
Best Lyricist Thamarai
(Nenjukkul Peithidum)
Best Male Playback Naresh Iyer
(Mundhinam Partheney)
Best Male Playback Hariharan
(Nenjukkul Peithidum)
Best Music Director Harris Jayaraj Won
2008 Tamil Nadu State Film Awards Special Award for Best Actor Surya Sivakumar
Best Art Director Rajeevan
Best Audiographer Ravi
2008 International Tamil Film Awards Best Music Director Harris Jayaraj
2008 Vijay Awards Best Actor Surya Sivakumar
Best Supporting Actress Simran
Best Art Director Rajeevan Nominated
Best Cinematographer R. Rathnavelu
Best Choreographer Brindha
Ava Enna
Best Debut Actress Sameera Reddy
Best Director Gautham Menon
Favourite Director Gautham Menon Won
Best Editor Anthony Nominated
Best Entertainer Surya Sivakumar
Favourite Hero Surya Sivakumar
Best Female Playback Singer Sudha Raghunathan
(Anal Mele)
Best Film Venu Ravichandran
Favourite Film Venu Ravichandran Won
Best Lyricist Thamarai
(Nenjukkul Peithidum)
Best Make-Up Yogesh & Banu
Best Male Playback Hariharan
(Nenjukkul Peithidum)
Best Music Director Harris Jayaraj
Favourite Song Harris Jayaraj
(Ava Enna)
2008 Meera Isaiaruvi Tamil Music Awards Rising Star Singer – Female Shruti Haasan
Best Picturisation Award R. Rathnavelu
Best Art Direction Rajeevan
Best Lyricist Award Thamarai
Nenjukkul Peithidum
Best Album of the Year Harris Jayaraj
Best Playback Singer – Male Hariharan
Nenjukkul Peithidum
Best Music Director Harris Jayaraj
Voice of the Year Karthik
Ava Enna
2009 South Scope Awards Most Stylish Actor – Tamil Surya Sivakumar Nominated
Most Stylish Music Director – Tamil Harris Jayaraj Won
Style Youth Icon of the Year Surya Sivakumar


  1. ^ "Gautham buys back VA from Gemini!". 15 October 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  2. ^ "It's Suriya all the way!!".
  3. ^ "Asin: What a Comeback!". 2005. Retrieved 21 January 2008.
  4. ^ "Deepika Padukone's Biography". 2006.
  5. ^ "Surya + Gautham = 11.5 crores!". 2006. Retrieved 21 January 2008.
  6. ^ "Surya is back with Vaaranam Aayiram". 2007. Retrieved 22 January 2008.
  7. ^ 'Life, Films and Everything in-between' a talk by Gautham Vasudev Menon (lecture). Chennai: Extra Mural Lectures IIT Madras. 28 August 2014.
  8. ^ "'Vaaranam Ayiram' in Afghanistan". 2007. Retrieved 22 January 2008.
  9. ^ "Vaaranam Aayiram reels go missing!". 2007. Retrieved 22 January 2008.
  10. ^ "Vaaranam Aayiram re-recording starts!". Sify. 2008. Retrieved 19 August 2008.
  11. ^ "Varanam Aayiram technician breaks 1.5 crore camera". Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  12. ^ "Vaaranum Aayiram – Character or Gump?". 2007. Retrieved 22 January 2008.
  13. ^ a b "Hottest film in the trade!". 2008. Retrieved 5 February 2008.
  14. ^ "Interview: Gautam "Vasudev" Menon « Baradwaj Rangan". 5 June 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
  15. ^ "Exclusive: Surya on Vaaranam Aayiram, Ghajini – movies". 14 November 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
  16. ^ "Metro Plus Coimbatore / Books : Abs you like it!". The Hindu. 12 May 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
  17. ^ Sreedhar Pillai, 4 May 2008, 12.00am IST (4 May 2008). "Power packed – Times Of India". Retrieved 4 August 2012.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  18. ^ "Vaaranam Aayiram: A tribute to every father". Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  19. ^ "How Suriya became Menon's dad". The New Indian Express. 22 November 2008. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  20. ^ "Sameera is Surya's heroine?". Sify. 1 October 2007. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
  21. ^ "The secret behind Gautham's 'Vaaranam Aayiram'". 2006. Retrieved 21 January 2008.
  22. ^ "Surya finalises lead lady for Udal Porul Aavi". 2006. Retrieved 21 January 2008.
  23. ^ "Cute Genelia is the heroine in Varanam Aayiram". 2007. Archived from the original on 12 August 2007. Retrieved 21 January 2008.
  24. ^ "Surya pairs up with Simran". 2008. Retrieved 27 February 2008.
  25. ^ "Tabu in 'Anal katru'?". 2008. Retrieved 22 March 2008.
  26. ^ "VA- Unique audio marketing!". 2008. Retrieved 20 September 2008.
  27. ^ a b "Vaaranam Aayiram MUSIC REVIEW –". 5 December 2007. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  28. ^ a b "Music review: Vaaranam Aayiram". Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  29. ^ "Varanam Aayiram Music Review songs lyrics". IndiaGlitz. 1 October 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  30. ^ "Vaaranam Aayiram – Top Ten Movies Tamil Box Office Chennai Collections – – Silambattam Thiruvannamalai Abhiyum Naanum Dindigul Sarathy Vaaranam Aayiram Bommalattam Poo Thenavattu Surya Ellam Avan Seyal hot picture gallery images". Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  31. ^ "Vaaranam Aayiram – Chennai Box office collection". 2009. Retrieved 11 January 2009.
  32. ^ "Vaaranam Aayiram – United Kingdom Box office collection". 2008. Retrieved 30 November 2008.
  33. ^ "Vaaranam Aayiram – Malaysia Box office collection". 2008. Retrieved 21 December 2008.
  34. ^ "Movie Review:Vaaranam Aayiram". Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  35. ^ "Varanam Aayiram Tamil Movie Review – cinema preview stills gallery trailer video clips showtimes". IndiaGlitz. 14 November 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  36. ^ "Vaaranam Aayiram Review – – Suriya Simran Sameera Reddy Divya Gautham Menon Harris Jayaraj Aascar Ravichandran images Tamil picture gallery images". 5 December 2007. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  37. ^ "Review: Vaaranam Aayiram". Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  38. ^ "Friday Review Chennai / Film Review : An ode to dad dearest – Vaaranam Aayiram". The Hindu. 21 November 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2012.

External links[edit]