|Directed 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 2017)|
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.
The film begins with Angela Kathamuthu (Rohini), a civil Rights activist and her cameraman in Madras Central Prison interviewing prisoners serving life imprisonment and awaiting the death sentence, for her PhD thesis in law, against the death penalty. When she enters the prison for the second day, there is a sit-in protest, demanding the reason for the sudden death of Death penalty convict Narayanan, who secretly told Angela, the previous day, about immoral practices of Deputy-Jailor. She meets Kothala Thevar (Pasupathy) who is serving a life sentence, for assisting in the murder of 24 people in District of Theni. He tells his version of the story that led to his conviction.
According to him the root cause of the problem is Virumaandi Thevar (Kamal Haasan), a happy-go-lucky rogue. Virumaandi has a large part of the land in CK Patti, their village, and has very good underground water levels, which is eyed by every other farmer. Virumaandi lost his mother at 4, and was taken to Chennai, and later to Singapore by his dad. But at age of 25 Virumaandi was whipped and exiled back to India. He comes back to live with his only grandmother in CK Patti, and to do agriculture. His support to his Uncle Kothala Thevar in his clash against Nallama Naicker (Napoleon) brings about a bonding between the two. Annalakshmi (Abhirami), the young niece of Thevar falls for Virumaandi. Thevar with an eye on the fertile land owned by Virumaandi does not object to the romance. An assassination attempt on Virumaandi is blamed on Naicker, and in the ensuing peace judgement of villages, Virumaandi gang is humiliated. Virumaandi goes back single to take revenge in the night, and Kothala's gang is forced to save him, where 24 lives are taken. Virumaandi saves all of them by his false testification so that he can marry Annalakshmi. But Kothala refuses to the marriage. According to Thevar, Annalakshmi was abducted by Virumaandi and brutally raped. She later escapes from him, comes home, tells what happened and commits suicide by hanging. A clash between Virumaandi and Thevar takes places in which 6 henchmen are killed. Then Virumaandi escapes and kills Naicker also. But he is later caught by the police. In the old 26 people-murder case, Virumaandi testifies against Kothala's gang getting them all 15-year sentences, while Virumaandi gets 5-years for that, raping Annalakshmi and then death penalty for 6 people murder case. Here Kothalastops and says "God has given justice, but Virumaandi is still angry".
Angela tries to make Virumaandi talk, but Virumaandi verbally assaults her badly. Finally, Angela says that she is doing PhD against the death penalty, as her father, who got her married to James by great hard work, was forced to kill James to save her from marital abuse. Her father was hanged in the same prison, and then she chooses Law as a career.
After much resentment and objection, Virumaandi's agrees to turn to tell his version to Angela Kathamuthu. Virumaandi,25, a manual labourer was sent back to home from Singapore for taking responsibility for his cousin's fault. His only relation was his grandmother (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 after he tames her very stubborn bull at 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 the importance of apology and forgiveness, which are virtues. A clash at the Panchayat insults Kothala's gang and their need for revenge infuriates Annalakshmi and she asks Virumaandi to apologize to the elders whom he insulted. He goes to apologize single-handedly at night to Naicker's village, but Thevar and his men, thinking he has gone to take revenge, come in groups and hack down innocents to death, despite his pleas. 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 in the court to save Thevar and his kin. As part of the penance, he wills all 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. They consummate their marriage that night.
Thevar's men come the next day, when Virumaandi was away and abduct Annalakshmi, taking her home. Kothala and his gang forcibly get her married again, to Thevar's nephew, Kottaichaami. This is to ensure that Annalakshmi's share in property does not go to Virumaandi. Kottaichaami is then asked by Kothala to consummate his marriage immediately by raping Annalakshmi. Unable to tolerate, Annalakshmi commits suicide by hanging. Upon hearing the news, a distraught Virumaandi enters Kothala's house to kill the gang. He takes revenge by hacking Thevar's 4 men, including Kottaichaami, to death, but finds that Kothala Thevar holding his own son upside down on a staircase. Virumaandi places his weapon down and Kothala escapes. Nallama Naicker shelters Virumaandi and sends him off to Chennai. Thevar and his men corner Nallama Naicker to hand over Virumaandi. A melee 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 being the main reason for killing the 4 relatives of Kothala, and also the main accused for the murder of 26 lives in Nallama Naicker's village. He is sentenced to first 6 years in jail, followed by death by hanging.
While leaving the jail, Angela Kathamuthu's cameraman discreetly shoots a conversation between Deputy-Jailer Paykkaman (Shanmugarajan), and other jail wardens and convicts to bump off the Jayanth (Nassar), Chief Jailer. This is because all of them traffic drugs into the prison and this is now under investigation by the Jailor. Paykamman also reveals that Virumaandi never killed anyone, but his chargesheet got him a death sentence. A revolt among the jail staff leads to a jailbreak, as Jayanth being stabbed, and Virumaandi saving the vital evidence and Angela from the deputy jailor and his henchmen. When Virumaandi and Angela are about to leave the jail to outside police, Kothala stabs Virumaandi, proving that Virumaandi was true all the time. Virumaandi then barehandedly kills Kothala and they escape. The riot is stopped and Angela presents the evidence in court. Angela applies for Virumaandi's clemency to the President of India stating that the 6-year prison sentence is enough as he did not commit any other offence, and to release him immediately. Virumaandi, on TV, pleas for a quick judgement, either to reach Annalakshmi by hanging to death (or) to live life as a silent man, seeking retribution. 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
- Periya Karuppu Thevar as Temple Priest
- G. Gnanasambandam as Jallikattu Commentator
- Sujatha Sivakumar as Pechi (Kothala Thevar's wife)
- Karate Raja as Virumandi's friend
- Kadhal Sukumar as Virumandi's friend
- Sai Dheena as Jail Warden
- Kottachi Marimuthu as Virumandi's friend
- Bagla as Oomayan
- O.A.K. Sundar as Kottaisamy
The film was launched on 18 April 2003 under the title "Sandiyar" at Madurai, however the title was later changed. 
For the scenes involving Jallikattu (bull fight), real life bulls were brought in and was recorded live and also Neuendo machine was kept at the shooting venue. Due to political controversy, Kamal had to shift the shoot from Madurai to Chennai. Prabhakar, art director recreated the set of Madurai villages in Chennai.
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
K. Krishnasamy, The leader of Pudhiya Tamizhagam, a caste-based political organisation in Tamil Nadu protested against the film's earlier title Sandiyar citing that the title might create problems. Kamal forced to change the title from Sandiyar to Virumaandi.
- Tamil track list
- "Onnavida" – Kamal Hassan, Shreya Ghoshal penned by Kamal Hassan himself
- "Andha Kandamani" – Ilayaraja, Kamal Hassan, Karthik Raja, S. N. 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 penned by Ilayaraja
- "Maada Vilakkae" – Kamal Hassan
- "Magarasiyae Manna Vitu Poniyae" – Theni Kunjarammal
- "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
The film was certified "A" by Censor Board for excessive violence.
The film received positive reviews from critics who praised the screenplay and performances of the cast however criticized the film for its excessive violence. Sify called it "vital, sardonic and disturbing brave attempt at good cinema with a provocative message. It is an eloquent argument against capital punishment without excusing the killer for his crimes." Rediff wrote "Virumaandi is definitely a Kamal film but this one belongs to Kamal the director, not Kamal the actor." The Hindu wrote "Virumaandi"s case it [..] is backed by a strong story, astute screenplay, stirring dialogue and deft direction". Chennai Online wrote "the film yet again reveals Kamal Haasan’s undying passion for cinema, his desire and boldness to experiment, irrespective of commercial viability."
The film released in 425 screens worldwide and first in Tamil cinema with crossing 400 screens. The film got the best opening among Pongal releases grossing ₹6 crore in first weekend worldwide and it was a super hit performer at the box office.
- "Virumandi wins at Puchon Film Fest". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 30 July 2004. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
- Virumandi was the top opener in Pongal 2004