Avvai Shanmugi

Avvai Shanmugi is a 1996 Indian Tamil-language comedy film directed by K. S. Ravikumar and co-written by Crazy Mohan.[1] The film stars Kamal Haasan and Meena, with Gemini Ganesan, Nagesh, Heera, Manivannan, Nassar, Delhi Ganesh and Ann in supporting roles. Heavily inspired by the American film Mrs Doubtfire (1993), it revolves around a divorcé who disguises as a nanny to be close to his daughter, whose custody is only with his ex-wife.

Avvai Shanmugi
Avvai Shanmugi.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byK. S. Ravikumar
Screenplay byK. S. Ravikumar
Story byCrazy Mohan
Produced by
  • R. Ravindran
  • K. P. Hari
Starring
CinematographyS. Murthy
Edited byK. Thanikachalam
Music byDeva
Production
company
Sree Mahalakshmi Combines
Release date
  • 10 November 1996 (1996-11-10)
Running time
161 minutes[1]
CountryIndia
LanguageTamil

Avvai Shanmughi was released on 10 November 1996 and became a box office success, winning two Tamil Nadu State Film Awards: Best Make-up Artist (K. M. Sarathkumar) and Best Child Artist (Ann). A year later, the film was remade in Hindi as Chachi 420, with Haasan directing and reprising his role.

PlotEdit

Janaki, a married woman who lives separated from her husband Pandian, applies for divorce. She offers various reasons for wanting a divorce. She has married Pandian against the wishes of her rich father Vishwanathan Iyer. But she is not able to come to terms with living in Pandian's small house without amenities. Pandian is an assistant dance choreographer with a modest income and is not able to spend much time with the family. All this accumulates and Janaki decides to apply for divorce, which is granted. She has sole custody of their daughter Bharathi, who Pandian can meet only once a week, his only solace. However, Bharathi loves him a lot and dislikes the arrangement.

Basha, Pandian's Muslim friend, advises him to steal his daughter from Janaki. Pandian assents, but in doing so, he is discovered; now he cannot meet her at all. Pandian later learns that Vishwanathan has advertised for a woman to look after his granddaughter. In conversation with Joseph, a makeup artist, Pandian gets the idea of playing an old woman, so that he can be with Bharathi and Janaki without them knowing. Joseph agrees to this plan and the transformation is done from Pandian to "Avvai Shanmugi", a dignified, elderly Iyer woman.

Shanmugi applies for the job, but is rejected as another woman had been chosen. But when Bharathi is hurt shooting fireworks and catches fire, Shanmugi throws her into the swimming pool against the wishes of the household, who believe that wrapping in woollens is the proper way to put out a fire. When a doctor comes to take a look at Bharathi's wound, he praises Shanmugi for administering the right treatment, which causes Vishwanathan to reject the earlier hired nanny and hire Shanmugi. Soon after that, all the family members start to become closer to Shanmugi, including Janaki and Barathi. When Bharathi gets to properly meet Shanmugi, she recognises her father almost immediately, but agrees not to reveal his secret.

Rathna is a girl who is in love with Pandian, but is constantly rebuffed. Basha takes up the role of a mute Iyer cook and is admitted into Vishwanathan's house on the recommendation of Shanmugi. However, Basha is caught later while doing his namaz, thereby blowing his cover. Hilarious circumstances follow and slowly Shanmugi manages to convince the household of her sincerity. So much so that Vishwanathan begins to develop a liking for Shanmugi and in fact proposes to her too. Around the same time, Mudaliyar, the house-owner of the place where Pandian lives, happens to bump into Shanmugi and sympathises with her for being a widow. Eventually, Mudaliyar too begins to develop a liking for her.

Meanwhile, Pandian slowly begins to realise that Janaki has not totally forgotten him. Shanmugi rebuffs Vishwanathan's proposals by saying that her husband is alive. Adding to the chaos, she tells Vishwanathan that Joseph is her husband; while Pandian tells Sethuramar, Vishwanathan's secretary, that Mudaliyar is Shanmugi's husband. There is much confusion after this, but it is resolved at last. Shanmugi convinces Vishwanathan that Janaki's right place is by her husband. While Viswanathan goes off to talk to his estranged son-in-law, Shanmugi reveals her true self as Pandian to Basha by removing her blouse. This is seen by Janaki, who misunderstands the scene and believes Shanmugi to be a seductress.

Janaki goes to Pandian's house to reclaim him, but upon seeing Rathna waiting there, and Shanmugi's clothes lying around, thinks that her husband, too, is promiscuous. Janaki leaves and attempts suicide by jumping into a river, but Shanmugi stops her. Shanmugi reveals her identity as Pandian. Janaki and Pandian reconcile, while Pandian "kills off" Shanmugi by attributing her "death" to drowning while attempting to save Janaki from committing suicide.

CastEdit

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

Jijo Punnoose wanted to make a film starring Kamal Haasan as a man dressed as a woman, but Haasan refused as the role was an adolescent woman whereas he wanted to play an elderly woman. Haasan later desired to do a film inspired by the American films Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and Tootsie (1982) which became Avvai Shanmughi. He acknowledged the film's resemblance to another American film Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), but "I guess we were both inspired from the same source" since he had the idea for Avvai Shanmughi six years before the release of Mrs. Doubtfire.[3] Haasan dedicated the film to his mentor stage actor 'Avvai' T. K. Shanmugam, who was known for playing female roles in stage plays.[4][5]

CastingEdit

Sivaji Ganesan was Haasan's initial choice for the role of Vishwanatha Iyer, but he was unable to commit due to his ill health; the role went to Gemini Ganesan (no relation).[6] A debutant Sri Durga was initially chosen to play the character Rathna, but was ultimately replaced by Heera.[7] Haasan's daughter Akshara was considered for playing the lead pair's daughter, but declined;[8] the role went to Ann, her feature film debut.[9][10] Stunt master Kanal Kannan appeared in a small role of a street rogue.[11] Maadhu Balaji was offered to act in the film, but declined.[12]

DesignEdit

The make-up artist Michael Westmore provided advice for the film alongside K. M. Sarathkumar.[13] An initial photoshoot had Haasan dressed as a middle-aged woman, but it was later decided that he portray elderly woman.[14] The padding and foundation used gave Haasan an allergic reaction beneath his eyes. The make-up took five hours to put on and lasts for only five more hours.[15] Haasan wore a nine-yard saree in the film for the female character,[16] with Sarika contributing to the costume designing.[17]

SoundtrackEdit

The music of the film was composed by Deva and the lyrics were written by Vaali.[18] The song "Rukku Rukku" is based on the Carnatic raga Sahana.The initial lines of song "Rukku Rukku" is taken from the song "Rukk Rukk Rukk" from Vijaypath.The song "Velai Velai" is inspired from "Workaholic" by 2 Unlimited.[19] The song "Kadhala Kadhala" was reused as "Gham Hai Kyon" in the Hindi film Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai (2000).[20]

No.TitleSinger(s)Length
1."Rukku Rukku"Kamal Haasan, Sujatha5:55
2."Kadhala Kadhala""Hariharan, Sujatha5:46
3."Kalyanam Katcheri"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam5:30
4."Velai Velai"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam5:26
5."Kadhali Kadhali"Hariharan5:44

Release and ReceptionEdit

Avvai Shanmughi was released on 10 November 1996,[1] and performed well at the box office.[21][22] The Hindu praised the film, claiming it "turns out to be entertainer, mouthful from start to finish". The reviewer praised Haasan's portrayal of a woman by claiming that "few peers to Kamal Hassan who can do the female role with such perfection".[23] Ananda Vikatan gave the film a score of 44 out of 100.[24] The film won two Tamil Nadu State Film Awards: Best Make-up Artist (K. M. Sarathkumar) and Best Child Artist (Ann).[25]

LegacyEdit

Avvai Shanmughi became a "textbook example" in Tamil cinema for slapstick humour.[26] A year later, the film was remade in Hindi as Chachi 420, with Haasan directing and reprising his role.[27][28] The scene where Pandiyan looks for a sign board to think of a name for his elderly woman getup is recreated in Remo (2016) where Sivakarthikeyan's character looks at a sign board for his nurse getup.[29]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Dhananjayan 2011, p. 194.
  2. ^ "Actor Kovai Senthil passes away in Coimbatore". The Times of India. 10 September 2018. Archived from the original on 17 March 2022. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  3. ^ Jha, Subhash K (13 August 2014). "Kamal Haasan: Robin Williams brought dignity to male tears". Rediff.com. Archived from the original on 29 June 2020. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  4. ^ Kolappan, B. (29 April 2012). "Avvai Shanmugam's centenary passes off without fanfare". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 3 December 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  5. ^ Hosanagar, Kartik (31 March 2016). "Acting Legend Kamal Haasan Looks to the Future of Indian Movies". Knowledge at Wharton. Archived from the original on 6 June 2022. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  6. ^ Rajpal, Roktim (10 November 2021). "'Avvai Shanmughi' turns 25: 4 reasons why the Kamal Haasan-starrer has a rich legacy". Deccan Herald. Archived from the original on 19 November 2021. Retrieved 7 June 2022.
  7. ^ Sitaraman, Sandya (19 July 1996). "Tamil Movie News(Cont.)". Tamil Movie News--Pudhu Edition 3. Archived from the original on 19 November 2021. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  8. ^ Maathevan (26 July 2017). Vivegam : Akshara Haasan Reveals about her Looks & Character | Ajith Kumar | MY 123. BehindwoodsTV. From 2:58 to 3:26. Archived from the original on 19 November 2021. Retrieved 19 November 2021 – via YouTube.
  9. ^ Kumar, Divya (16 June 2007). "The countdown begins". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 19 November 2021. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  10. ^ Joseph, Raveena; Ramanujam, Srinivasa (13 November 2015). "Child stars on the big screen". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 6 April 2020. Retrieved 1 May 2022.
  11. ^ Ashok Kumar, S. R. (13 February 2009). "Grill mill". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 8 July 2020. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  12. ^ Saravanan, T. (22 February 2017). "When quirk and mirth come to party". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 14 March 2022. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  13. ^ "Behind the Scenes". Screen. 13 February 1997. Archived from the original on 6 June 2008. Retrieved 6 June 2008.
  14. ^ "Trivia About Kamal Haasan's Avvai Shanmugi Aka Chachi 420 Every Fan Must Know". News18. 28 April 2022. Archived from the original on 3 May 2022. Retrieved 7 June 2022.
  15. ^ Verma, Suparn (4 April 1997). "Kamal Hasan returns to Bollywood". Rediff.com. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  16. ^ "Ayyo Rama". The Hindu. 25 June 2013. Archived from the original on 6 March 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  17. ^ "Kamal Haasan to play middle-aged lady in his next film, Avvai Shanmukhi". India Today. 15 November 1996. Archived from the original on 19 November 2021. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  18. ^ "Avvai Shanmugi". JioSaavn. Archived from the original on 26 September 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  19. ^ S, Karthik. "Deva [Tamil]". ItwoFS. Archived from the original on 30 January 2022. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  20. ^ "25 years of Avvai Shanmugi: Interesting facts about the Kamal Haasan-starrer". The Times of India. 6 November 2021. Archived from the original on 6 November 2021. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  21. ^ Ramanujam, D.S. (14 February 1997). "Not a good year". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 22 March 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  22. ^ "Remembering S P Balasubrahmanyam: 4 Telugu-dubbed movies that prove he was a brilliant voice actor". Deccan Herald. 25 September 2020. Archived from the original on 7 June 2022. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
  23. ^ "Avvai Shanmughi". The Hindu. 15 November 1996. Archived from the original on 29 March 2018. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  24. ^ Dhananjayan 2011, p. 195.
  25. ^ "1996 Cinema State Awards". Dinakaran. Archived from the original on 3 February 1999. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  26. ^ Sunder, Gautam; S, Srivatsan (10 June 2019). "Best of 'Crazy' Mohan in Tamil cinema". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 21 December 2019. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  27. ^ "Mudslinging turns Chikni Chachi into Stree 420". The Indian Express. 17 June 1997. Archived from the original on 19 November 2021. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  28. ^ Srinivasan, V S (19 December 1997). "Chachi comes a-visiting". Rediff.com. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  29. ^ Dundoo, Sangeetha Devi (25 November 2016). "Content doesn't match the effort". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 25 June 2020. Retrieved 25 June 2020.

BibliographyEdit

External linksEdit