|Directed by||Kamal Haasan|
|Produced by||Kamal Haasan
|Written by||Kamal Haasan|
|Distributed by||Raaj Kamal Films International|
|14 January 2004|
|Box office||₹476.95 million (equivalent to ₹1.2 billion or US$18 million in 2016)|
Virumaandi is a 2004 Indian Tamil language action drama film written, co edited, produced and directed by Kamal Haasan, who also performed in the title role. The film revolves around the interview of two prison inmates, firstly Kothala Thevar (Pasupathy) life sentence inmate and secondly Virumaandi (Kamal Haasan) who is sentenced to hang. The criminals express how they feel about the direction their lives have taken and how they have ended up where they are. The film's narrative is based on the Rashomon effect. The film revolves around the controversy of the death penalty.
The cast also includes Abhirami, Napoleon, Rohini, Shanmugarajan, and Nassar in pivotal roles. The film's score and soundtrack were composed by Ilayaraaja. It was dubbed into Telugu as Pothuraju. The film won critical acclaim and was a commercial success at the box office. This film acquired cult status in Tamil cinema and inspired similar themes.
Angela Kathamuthu (Rohini), a Rights activist and her cameraman in Madras Central Prison interviewing prisoners serving life imprisonment and awaiting the death sentence. She meets Kothala Thevar (Pasupathy) who is serving a life sentence. He tells his version of the story that led to his conviction. According to him the root cause of the problem is Virumaandi (Kamal Haasan), a happy-go-lucky rogue. His support to Kothala Thevar in his clash against Nallama Naicker (Napoleon) brings about a bonding between the two. Annalakshmi (Abhirami), the niece of Thevar falls for Virumaandi. Thevar with an eye on the fertile land owned by Virumaandi does not object to the romance. According to Thevar, Annalakshmi was abducted by Virumaandi and raped. A clash between Virumaandi and Thevar takes places in which 24 innocent people are killed. After much resentment and objection, Virumaandi's agrees to turn to tell his version to Kathamuthu. Virumaandi, a manual labourer was sent back to home from Singapore for taking responsibility for his cousin's fault. His only relation was his grand mother (S. N. Lakshmi), who practises natural farming without artificial fertilisers and deep bore wells. Kothala Thevar had a silent eye on the fertile land owned by Virumaandi, as it had the only underground water availability. He treats Virumaandi as his nephew. Virumaandi falls in love with Annalakshmi at the Jallikattu. That night his grandmother passes away and 2 days later an attempt is made on Virumaandi's life. Annalakshmi finds him and admits him in the hospital to save his life. Gradually she falls in love with him. She teaches him importance of apology and forgiveness, which are virtues. A clash at the Panchayat infuriates Annalakshmi and she asks Virumaandi to apologize to the elders whom he insulted. He goes to apologize at night but Thevar and his men, thinking he has gone to take revenge, come in groups and hack down innocents to death. Thevar uses his clout to get out of the murder charge but Virumaandi who was involved in the bloodbath is disturbed because he had to lie to save Thevar and his kin. As part of the penance he wills his land for the villagers. Annalakshmi asks him to marry her and leave the village. He marries her at the village temple and goes away in the night with the girl and stays with his aunt whose son he helped. Thevar's men come when Virumaandi was away and abduct Annalakshmi and forcibly get her married to Thevar's nephew. This is to ensure that Annalakshmi's property does not go to Virumaandi. Unable to tolerate, Annalakshmi commits suicide. Virumaandi takes revenge by hacking Thevar's 4 men to death, but finds that Thevar himself had escaped. Nallama Naicker shelters Virumaandi and sends him off to Chennai. Thevar and his men ask Nallama Naicker to hand over Virumaandi. A battle ensues in which Nallama Naicker is killed. Virumaandi turns up in court, where he finds all evidence is framed against him. He is convicted of having raped Annalakshmi and killing her and later on killing 26 men of Thevar who inquired into the rape. While leaving the jail, Angela Kathamuthu's cameraman discreetly shoots a conversation between Paykkaman (Shanmugarajan), the deputy jailor and other jail wardens and convicts to bump off the Jayanth (Nassar), Chief Jailor. A revolt among the jail staff leads to a jail break, as Jayanth being stabbed, and Virumaandi saving the vital evidence and Angela from the deputy jailor and his henchmen. Finally, an epilogue denotes a note that the death sentence should be abolished.
- Kamal Haasan as Virumaandi
- Abhirami as Annalakshmi
- Pasupathy as Kothala Thevar
- Napoleon as Nallama Naicker
- Rohini as Angela Kaathamuthu
- Shanmugarajan as Paykkaman
- Nassar as Chief Jailor Jayanth
- Pyramid Natarajan as Advocate Vaidyanathan
- S. N. Lakshmi as Virumaandi's grandma
- Bala Singh as Rasu Kalai
- Thennavan as Kondarasu
- Bagla as Oomayan
- O.A.K. Sundar as Kottaisamy
- Periya Karuppu Thevar as Temple priest
- G. Gnanasambandam as Jallikattu commentator
- Karate Raja as Virumandi's friend
- Kadhal Sukumar as Virumandi's friend
- Kottachi Marimuthu as Virumandi's friend
- Sujatha Sivakumar as Pechi (Kothala Thevar's wife)
When Kamal Haasan commenced the shooting of his latest film 'Virumandi' in Madurai in April, 2003, the crowd swelled to over a lakh of people. The movie generated so much interest that it became the talk of the town and the industry.
Attempts by some vested interests to halt the shooting made Kamal Haasan more determined than ever to complete it. The film was launched on 18 April 2003 under the title "Sandiyar"
Again, it's the first movie where the Jalli Kattu was shot live with real charging bulls and the unarmed bull-controllers.
Although Jalli Kattu is very popular in places like Alanganallur and Tiruchy(in PeriyaSuriyur village) during the Pongal season, it was recorded live on set. Over 50 choicest rugged bulls known for their toughness were specially selected along with trainers and bull controllers.
Not only the trainers, but the villagers who are familiar with the events were transported from the villages to the shooting spot to be part of the epoch-making event.
In all, almost 1,000 persons were brought from Madurai district to give an authentic flavor to the sequences. Two special Kangeyam bulls were carefully trained with for the movie. The bulls were kept at Sivaji Gardens and trained. The lead actress Abirami and hero Kamal Haasan spent time with the bulls as part of the familiarization process.
Two southern villages were recreated on the Campa Cola complex in Chennai. The complex was transformed into bustling Theni and Madurai villages with people speaking the local dialect.
Art Director Prabhakaran had re-created the typical village.
Live sound recording system was used and for the first time, the Neuendo machine was kept at the shooting venue. There were special cameras for fight scenes as well. Vadipatti drummers were specially brought to give the local flavor for the movie. Vadugapatti crackers were used too.
Cinematographer Kesav Prakash who was trained in India and the United States was an assistant to Ravi K. Chandran in Marudanayagam project and Kamal Haasan spotted him. Both Kamal Haasan and Keshav Prakash tried to make the film in high definition mode but had to abandon the project due to some technical snags.
The film has won the following awards since its release:
- Won – International Award for Best Asian Film – Virumaandi – Kamal Haasan
The leader of Pudhiya Tamizhagam, a caste-based political organisation in Tamil Nadu, K. Krishnasamy, had announced that he would not allow the shooting of the film in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu. The reason given out by him was that the movie would encourage casteist tendencies and foster violence and found the title of the film derogatory.
When actor Kamal Hassan sought protection for the shooting of the film from the Superintendent of Police, Theni District, the latter refused to provide protection stating that he could not arrange for protection to the film shooting for three months with the meagre police force available at their disposal.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, going by this version of the Superintendent of Police, was also initially reluctant to spare a large section of the police force for film shooting. Kamal Hassan met the Chief Minister and explained to her that his film was not aimed at generating controversy, caste clashes or violence. His explanation apparently convinced the Chief Minister.
The film was certified "A" by Censor Board.
The film released in 425 screens worldwide and first in Tamil cinema with crossing 400 screens. This film opened with highly positive reviews from critics and it was a super hit performer at the box office. It won the Best Asian Film Award at the International film festival in South Korea.
Tamil track list
- "Onnavida" – Kamal Hassan, Shreya Ghoshal penned by Kamal Hassan himself
- "Andha Kandamani" – Ilayaraja, Kamal Hassan, Karthik Raja, Surendar, Tippu
- "Anna Lakshmi" – Kamal Hassan
- "Chandiyera Chandiyera" – Shreya Ghoshal
- "Karbagraham Vitu Samy Veliyerathu" – Ilayaraja, Kamal Hassan, Karthik Raja, Surendar, Tippu
- "Karumathur Katukulae" – Mary, Periya Karuppu Thevar, Sukumar, Thiruvudiyan
- "Kombulae Poov Suthi" – Kamal Hassan
- "Maada Vilakkae" – Kamal Hassan
- "Magarasiyae Manna Vitu Poniyae" – Theni Kunjaramma
- "Nethiyelae Pottu Vai" – Karunanidhi, Sukumar, Thiruvudiyan
Telugu track list
- Andagada Andagada – Swarnalatha
- Chiti Chepamma – Swarnalatha
- Intiki Deepam – Swarnalatha
- Kommalaku Pulu – SPB
- Nuvvuthappa Nenu – SPB, Sujatha
- Pilisthe Palike Deivam – SPB
- Tharigida Tharigida
- "Virumaandi". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 23 January 2004.
- Review : Virumaandi. Sify.com. Retrieved on 2016-08-25.
- Virumaandi is Kamal all the way!. Rediff.com (2004-01-16). Retrieved on 2016-08-25.
- "Virumandi wins at Puchon Film Fest". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 30 July 2004. Retrieved 2011-01-22.