The Manjummel Boys effect: How Kamal Haasan’s ‘Gunaa’ has stood the test of time


It certainly seems impossible to scroll through Instagram without seeing a reel video featuring the track 'Kanmani Anbodu' from the Tamil film. fold, Unless you have been living under the towering rocks of the Guna Caves, you are likely to know the location of the track in the sensational Malayalam hit sweet boy, – which is about a tragedy that befalls a group of friends visiting the Guna Caves – has brought the 1991 Kamal Haasan starrer back into the spotlight. But ask cinephiles and they'll confirm how foldWhat was criminally underappreciated upon its release has always been a cult classic.

A scene from 'Chanakyan'

from still ,'Chanakyaam' Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

story of how fold The demand for a film on its own came to fruition. When Kamal was 19, he was not satisfied with the monotonous work he was getting in Tamil films, and his mentor Ananthu (remember this name) asked him to give Malayalam cinema a try, an endeavor that gave him a refreshing taste. Apart from this, it also brought great success. His thirst for the craft. Her last film as a lead actress in Malayalam was Chanakyan (1989) was the directorial debut of National Award-winning filmmaker TK Rajeev Kumar. This was writer Sab John's debut film and also his first collaboration with Kamal.

The following year, the two, along with director Sibi Malayil and cinematographer Venu, decided to team up for a film on insurgency in Sri Lanka, an idea that was rejected by veteran Cho Ramaswamy, saying it might spoil. All John got was another story from his childhood, which was about this man who was often seen in his neighborhood and whom everyone called 'Potton' (a derogatory term for a person intellectually slow in learning and following Word). Surprised by this idea, Kamal agreed. Malayalam was not yet available when the film began and Kamal's longtime friend and filmmaker Santhana Bharathi (who had made the film starring Sathyaraj in 1987) Kadamai Kanniyam Kattupadu Which was produced by Kamal) took over the reins of direction. When the team started recce work near Berijam Lake, Kodaikanal, they saw a landmark for the national park called Mathikettan Solai (Forest of Lost Minds) and Sab John recommended it as the title. But due to the negative connotation, the producers chose to name its primary lead; And thus, fold was born!

A scene from 'Guna'

A scene from 'Guna'

foldSummarized in one line, the story is about a newly freed psychiatric patient who kidnaps an heiress, believing it is their destiny to marry her. The story may sound like a Spanish film Tie me up! tie me Down! By the author Pedro Almodovar which came out exactly a year ago,But John already made it clear fold It had nothing to do with it; John, Kamal and Bharti add layers fold Will prove this. For starters, the initial part of fold Are set in Andhra Pradesh and the first shot introduces us to Guna standing on top of a building in Nataraja posture, as the camera pans to show how he is the only man in a brothel managed by his God-fearing mother. As the story progresses, we learn that his uncle, unaware of his mental health issues, tied him up in the Gunaseelan temple, from where he escaped, sought medical care and was diagnosed with obsessional psychoneurosis. walked.

In a spectacular 150-second arc shot that has become synonymous with the film, Guna narrates how he is waiting for his 'Abirami' with whom he wants to escape from this God-forsaken world. His abandoned father turns out to be a villain he never knew about and the consequences that led to his mother engaging in sex work are all “impurities” to him. He wants to settle down with Abirami on the cool “Pentothal hill”, far away from this ugly world, which is so cold that to get him out of the hospital he can lie that his mother has died.

Immediately, we cut to a montage in which the film's composer Ilaiyaraaja has lent his voice to the track 'Appan Endram' and Vaali expresses the need for Guna's purification with these lines. 'Kuppai Aaga Vandha Udambu' And 'Endha Gangai Aatril Endha Azhukku Pogum'. The track 'Unnai Naan' deserves special mention for how, visually, we are shown both Guna's mother and Rosie, the only two souls who care for our titular hero, taking turns to soothe him. Let's see. just like ChanakyanJohn's fold It is also about a love story that does not end on a positive note, and Rosie's unrequited love for Guna is also an underlying motif that is shown throughout the film.

A scene from the song 'Parth Vizhi' from 'Guna'

A scene from the song 'Parth Vizhi' from 'Guna'. Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Guna gets his Abirami when another great track, 'Partha Vizhi' plays; The song is from Abhirami Pattar's 'Abhirami Antadhi', a Tamil collection of poems sung on the goddess Abhirami, and in the context of the film, the lyrics coincide with Guna finding the Almighty in Rohini (Roshini), whom he Abirami agrees. This song is also when Guna goes into a dream sequence in which the lead pair dance together dressed as gods. In fact, fold It is interspersed with several such religious references to both Hinduism and Christianity – the robbery sequence in which Guna unwittingly kills a thief with a trident, the church sequence, and Abirami dressed in white compared to the angel, with a personal example. Some examples are the favorite is the shot where the blood from Guna's injured hand inadvertently gets on Rohini's forehead which looks like smeared vermillion.

Possibly as an extension of Kamal's beliefs, when the film shifts to the third part, featuring intimate moments between Guna and Rohini, where the latter embodies the Abirami personality, nature takes over as the almighty. Is. It's a whole new world where the hills of Kodaikanal transform into their own version of Mount Kailash; For us, this is where a schizophrenic person and Stockholm Syndrome sufferer finds peace and love. Devil's Kitchen – which Subhash and his friends were afraid of sweet boy – Turns into a cozy home for the couple. The writing also ensures that there is a breadcrumb trail to show how Guna has become one with the nature around him. In an earlier sequence, we see him talking to a cow and when his uncle asks the reason, he replies “Manushangalukku En Thukkam Puriyathu” (Humans will not understand my sorrow). There is also a pair of sparrows nesting in the church which serves as a metaphor for the main pair and the death of a sparrow by a gunshot is a prophecy of how Rohini will end.

A scene from the song 'Kanmani Anbodu' from 'Guna'

A scene from the song 'Kanmani Anbodu' from 'Guna'. Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

foldNot surprisingly, a sub-genre of films began that paved the way for titles such as Kadhal Condein (2003) and Kadhalil Vizhunthen (2008). In addition to influencing an era of filmmakers who often cited it as the film that inspired them in filmmaking, fold It's also one of those rare films that made a difference in the real world; Devil's Kitchen turned into a tour site and renamed Guna Caves. fold It was also included in Kamal's list of films that dealt with mental health issues Sigappu Rojakkal, Moondram Pirai And Aalavandhan, Kamal and Bharti will also form a team for this Mahanadiwhich, like foldAlso throws light on the plight of sex workers.

fold It may not have been a surprise financial success when it was released. Nothing had prepared audiences for a film like this; Bharathi's previous films – both as a solo director and as co-director with P Vasu – were mostly romance dramas or police films. An actor who did not adhere to the traditional “hero” norms, fold It was just like they did in the movies before 16 Vayathinile And KalyanaramanAnd the hard-hitting film came sandwiched between comedy capers Michael Madana Kama Rajan And Singaravelan. The fact that the film was released with titles like Bramma, Rudra And yes, Rajinikanth-Mani Ratnam's ThalapathiThis also did not help.

still, fold Over the years it became a cult classic. The wonderful touches, references and treatment of its lovely songs make it one of the best films of the Tamil film industry. Speaking of nifty touches, remember the Ananthu I mentioned earlier? He plays a cameo as Guna's roommate in the hospital who develops the concept of Abirami within Guna, just like Ananthu advised Kamal Haasan.

A scene from 'Manjumel Boys'

A scene from 'Manjummel Boys' Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Malayalam film industry has been cited fold And its like 'Kanmani Anbodu' track in many movies Premam But sweet boy Takes it a step further and turns it into an homage to the film. Even its plot, which involves a group of friends not paying attention to warnings and signs, feels like a reference to the meaning of Mathikettan Solai, which has its own share of urban legends. Basically, both films deal with the affection and attachment between the main characters, although the new film focuses on Guna's love for him and the friendship between the boys. still, sweet boyIt sure sounds like a love letter fold complete with 'Kanmani anbodu kadhalan naan ezhuthum kadithame' Line. This is undoubtedly a wonderful tribute to Guna, a brilliant film made by some of the finest talent in the country whose love for this art of filmmaking knew no bounds. Can we fathom it? We'll probably never get it. That's probably what they meant when they left “Manidhar anarandhu kolla idhu manitha kaadhal ala, adhaayum thandi punidhamanthu!”

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