Vaaranam Aayiram

Vaaranam Aayiram

Film poster
Directed by Gautham Vasudev Menon
Produced by V. Ravichandran
Written by Gautham Vasudev Menon
Starring Suriya
Sameera Reddy
Divya Spandana
Music by Harris Jayaraj
Cinematography R. Rathnavelu
Edited by Anthony Gonsalvez
Distributed by Cloud Nine Movies(worldwide)
Bharat Creations (US)
Release dates
  • 14 November 2008 (2008-11-14)


Running time
169 minutes
Country India
Language Tamil

Vaaranam Aayiram (English: A thousand elephants) is a 2008 Indian Tamil-language drama film written and directed by Gautham Menon. Suriya plays dual lead roles, with Simran, Sameera Reddy and Divya Spandana. The film had been under production since late 2006, and was released worldwide on 14 November 2008. It was dubbed and released in Telugu as Surya s/o Krishnan.

The film illustrates the theme of how a father often came across his son's life as a hero and inspiration, whose death was deeply mourned in the end. As a tribute to the father of the director, the film opened in several countries with critical acclaim. The film was produced by Venu Ravichandran and has musical score by Harris Jayaraj, making Vaaranam Aayiram his final project with Gautham Menon before the formal break-up of their partnership, which was eventually resumed 7 years later, in Yennai Arindhaal (2015). It won many 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 then.[2]


The film begins with elderly Krishnan (Suriya) returning home after a haircut. Once he reaches home he vomits a profuse amounts of blood and is kept to bed rest. After the doctor checks him, he is reported dead after a few moments of grief with his wife Malini (Simran), daughter Shreya, and daughter-in-law Priya (Divya Spandana). This news is informed to his son Surya (Suriya) who is on his way to Kashmir on a military mission traveling in a helicopter, to rescue a kidnapped journalist from terrorists . He begins to shed tears and starts to think about his memorable moments with his father and the story of how his parents loved each other during their college days.

Krishnan is a student in the same college, Madras Christian College where Malini studies. They fall in love and get married. They soon have a son, Surya. He grows up as a friend to his father. He joins an engineering college near Tiruchi and parts from his family. There he takes part in cultural activities and develops his guitar skills. When he is on a train back home after completion of college, he meets Meghna (Sameera Reddy) who is doing Engineering in Regional College of Engineering,Tiruchirapalli. Instantly smitten by her, soon proposes to her. She rejects him, saying that they have known each other for a very short period and it's not possible to fall in love without taking time to understand him. Surya then tells her that wherever she goes, he will find her.

Surya is disturbed constantly by Meghna's thoughts and consequently ends up going to her house. There she reveals him that she is going to University of California, Berkeley in a week to pursue higher education. Then, Surya bids adieu to her. After that, Krishnan, Surya's father, gets his first mild heart attack and is admitted to a hospital.Surya feels that he needs to resolve the financial constraints in his family and so starts an office with his friends and does concerts for money and succeeds.

A few months later, Surya goes to the United States, with the acceptance of his father, and meets Meghna in San Francisco. Though shocked by his presence, Meghna feels relieved to find someone she knows in California.They have the time of their lives there. Meghna is convinced that he is the right person and that he will be accepted by her father. Their happiness does not last long when she goes to Oklahoma City for a project. Surya joins her later traveling by the Greyhound bus. When he reaches there, he witnesses the Oklahoma City bombing and realizes that Meghna is amongst those injured. She dies on her way to the hospital. He meets Shankar Menon at the airport who tries to console him with words and offers him encouragement. A heartbroken Surya returns to India.

Surya still cannot take the situation. He starts hanging out with his friends to get over his loss. He meets Priya, his sister's friend. However, the thoughts of losing Meghna still haunts him, and he resorts to taking drugs. Surya's parents try to get him to break the habit by locking him up in his room and removing him from all external contact. Once they detect his withdrawal symptoms, they ask him to take a long break to rejuvenate himself. Subsequently, he takes a leisure trip to Kashmir. There he learns that Aditya, the son of Shankar Menon, the person who inspired him in the airport was kidnapped. He visits them in Delhi. On seeing the lethargic attitude of the police, he takes matters into his own hands and goes in search of the kidnappers. After days of roaming streets and gathering information, he locates the kidnapper (Babloo Prithveeraj) and the place where Aditya is kept. He battles the kidnappers single-handedly, overpowers them and rescues Aditya.

Back home, Surya starts to go out with Priya. One day Priya proposes to him, but he does not respond. Surya decides that the only way to forget the pain in his body is to prepare it for bigger things. He goes on a strict workout training and joins the army. After six years, Priya comes to the Indian Military Academy where she is posted along him and proposes again; this time he accepts. They marry and have a son. Suddenly Krishnan is diagnosed with throat cancer and is operated on. 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 dead father. Surya, his sister Shriya, 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 prayer. The film ends on a happy note as the four walk away smiling; conveying the message that "Whatever happens, Life has to go on."




Following Kaaka Kaaka 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] While initially Menon wanted to cast Mohanlal alongside Suriya in the film, Suriya convinced Menon that he could play both lead roles.

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 of America. However, the film only completed a shoot at the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, USA, and shooting was not held in Afghanistan.[7]

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.[8] The film finished its shoot in August 2008.[9]

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.[10]

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 will be fixed to suit the Indian audience.[11] 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.[12] 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".[13][14] Suriya lost weight using capsules and prepared a six-pack for the film through an eight-month fitness regime.[15][16]


After the cancellation of Chennaiyil Oru Mazhaikaalam, originally starring Surya Sivakumar, Asin Thottumkal and Daniel Balaji, Gautham Menon, keeping the male leads the same, wanted to opt for a new heroine to begin Vaaranam Aayiram. Deepika Padukone was signed up and set to make her debut in Tamil films; she backed out due to the inactivity and signed the Bollywood film, Om Shanti Om.[17] Soon after, another confirmed heroine, Andrea Jeremiah, was dropped from the film for unknown reasons.[18] 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.[19]

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.[20] 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,[12][21] after Tabu had rejected the role.[22] TV actress Deepa Venkat and playback singer Chinmayi dubbed for actresses Simran Bagga and Sameera Reddy respectively.


Vaaranam Aayiram.
Soundtrack album by Harris Jayaraj
Released 24 September 2008
Recorded Chennai
Genre Feature film soundtrack
Label Sony BMG
Producer Harris Jayaraj
Harris Jayaraj chronology
Dhaam Dhoom
Vaaranam Aayiram
Professional ratings
Review scores

The film has seven songs composed by Harris Jayaraj. All Lyrics are penned by Thamarai, except Yethi Yethi song (Na. Muthukumar). 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.[25]

Tamil (Original)

Song title Singers Length (m:ss) Description
"Adiye Kolluthe" Benny Dayal, Krish and Shruti Haasan 5:17 Filmed at the University of California and locations across the state with Surya and Sameera. Depicts Meghna falling in love with Surya.
"Nenjukkul Peidhidum" Hariharan, Krish, Devan and Prasanna 6:11 Filmed in various locations on Surya and Sameera. Depicts the moment after Surya tells Meghna about his love.
"Yethi Yethi Yeththi" Kunal Ganjawala, Benny Dayal, Naresh Iyer and Solar Sai 4:55 Filmed in locations across South India with Surya and background dancers. Depicts Surya's school days.
"Mundhinam Parthene" Naresh Iyer, Prashanthini and Suriya 5:43 Filmed with Surya and Simran. Depicts when Krishnan loved Malini during their college days.
"Oh Shanthi Shanthi" Clinton Cerejo and S. P. B. Charan 3:05 Depicts Surya searching for Meghna on the university campus.
"Ava Enna" Karthik and Prasanna 5:20 A dappan koothu folk-style song with Surya. Depicts Surya becoming hysterical from memories of Meghna.
"Annal Mele Panithuli" Sudha Raghunathan 5:22 Filmed on Surya and Divya. Depicts the moment when Surya finally falls in love with Priya.
"Ragasiyam" 3:22

Telugu (Dubbed)

All Lyrics are Penned by Veturi Sundararama Murthy.

Song title Singers Length (m:ss) Description
"Yedhane Koiyyake" Benny Dayal, Krish and Bhargavi Pillai 5:17 Filmed at the University of California and locations across the state with Surya and Sameera. Depicts Meghna falling in love with Surya.
"Naalona Pongenu" Harish Raghavendra, Krish, Devan and Prasanna 6:11 Filmed in various locations on Surya and Sameera. Depicts the moment after Surya tells Meghna about his love.
"Yegasi Yegasi" Benny Dayal, Naresh Iyer and Chandran 4:55 Filmed in locations across South India with Surya and background dancers. Depicts Surya's school days.
"Monna Kanipinchavu" Naresh Iyer and Prashanthini 5:43 Filmed with Surya and Simran. Depicts when Krishnan loved Malini during their college days.
"Oh Shanthi Shanthi" Krish and S. P. B. Charan 3:05 Depicts Surya searching for Meghna on the university campus.
"Adhey Nannu" Karthik and V. Prasanna 5:20 A dappan koothu folk-style song with Surya. Depicts Surya becoming hysterical from memories of Meghna.
"Nidhare Kala" Sudha Raghunathan 5:22 Filmed on Surya and Divya. Depicts the moment when Surya finally falls in love with Priya.

Critical response

The album received tremendous response from music critics as well as the public. 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."[26] 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."[23] 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."[24]


The satellite rights of the film were sold to Kalaignar. The film was given a "U" certificate by the Indian Censor Board.

Box office

Varanam Aayiram emerged as the biggest blockbuster for Suriya since Ghajini, grossing 5.66 crore in Chennai alone.[27] In overseas market, the film grossed $921,007 from both United Kingdom and Malaysia.[28][29][30]

Critical reception

Varanam Aayiram received positive reviews. Sify stated that it is a "film straight from the heart".[31] Indiaglitz reviewed that it "proves to be a tame affair" but stated that "Suriya the actor rocks throughout".[32] 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".[33] 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."[34] 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!"[35]


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!". 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
  2. "It's Suriya all the way!!".
  3. "Asin: What a Comeback!". 2005. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
  4. "Deepika Padukone's Biography". 2006.
  5. "Surya + Gautham = 11.5 crores!". 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
  6. "Surya is back with Vaaranam Aayiram". 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  7. "'Vaaranam Ayiram' in Afghanistan". 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  8. "Vaaranam Aayiram reels go missing!". 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  9. "Vaaranam Aayiram re-recording starts!". Sify. 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-19.
  10. "Varanam Aayiram technician breaks 1.5 crore camera". Retrieved 2012-05-07.
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  12. 1 2 "Hottest film in the trade!". 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-05.
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  16. Sreedhar Pillai, 4 May 2008, 12.00am IST (2008-05-04). "Power packed - Times Of India". Retrieved 2012-08-04.
  17. "Deepika Padukone's Biography". 2016. Retrieved 2016-06-13.
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  20. "Cute Genelia is the heroine in Varanam Aayiram". 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-08-12. Retrieved 2008-01-21.
  21. "Surya pairs up with Simran". 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-27.
  22. "Tabu in 'Anal katru'?". 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
  23. 1 2 "Vaaranam Aayiram MUSIC REVIEW -". 2007-12-05. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
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  25. "VA- Unique audio marketing!". 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-20.
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  29. "Vaaranam Aayiram – United Kingdom Box office collection". 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-30.
  30. "Vaaranam Aayiram – Malaysia Box office collection". 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-21.
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  34. "Review: Vaaranam Aayiram". Retrieved 2012-05-07.
  35. "Friday Review Chennai / Film Review : An ode to dad dearest - Vaaranam Aayiram". The Hindu. 2008-11-21. Retrieved 2012-05-07.

External links

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