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Directed by Suresh Krissna
Produced by S. Thanu
Written by Kamal Haasan
Based on Dayam by
Kamal Haasan
Starring Kamal Haasan
Raveena Tandon
Music by Songs:
Background Score:
Mahesh Mahadevan
Cinematography Tirru
Edited by Kasi Viswanathan
K. S. Raghunath(uncredited)
V. Creations
Release dates
14 November 2001
Running time
178 minutes[1]
Country India
Language Tamil
Budget 20 crore (US$3.0 million)[2]

Aalavandhan (English: Born to Rule) is a 2001 Indian Tamil-language psychological thriller film directed by Suresh Krissna, and produced by S. Thanu. The film stars Kamal Haasan in dual roles, with Raveena Tandon, Manisha Koirala, Vallabh Vyas, and Milind Gunaji in supporting roles.

The film features soundtrack composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and background score composed by Mahesh Mahadevan. The film was also shot in Hindi (as Abhay)[1][3] and dubbed in Telugu under that same title. The film is an adaptation of the novel Dayam that was written by Kamal Haasan in 1984.[4][5] Although a critical and commercial failure during its release, Aalavandhan won the National Film Award for Best Special Effects. Over time, the film has become a cult classic.


Vijay Kumar, a Commando in Delhi is due to marry his girlfriend Tejaswini "Teju", a television news presenter. Vijay's twin brother Nandu is a psychopath with schizophrenia. They both were separated as children and Nandu spent most of his life in an asylum for killing his stepmother. Vijay cares about Nandu and looks forward to his release, but a doctor tells him that Nandu is a danger to the society and should not be released.

Vijay and Teju visit Nandu to share the news about their impending marriage, which turns disastrous when Nandu sees in Teju his stepmother Jayanthi, who he hates for ruining his life. Seeking to save Vijay from Teju, who he sees as the "witch", Nandu manages to escape custody after killing two other inmates. Nandu later meets his maternal uncle—responsible for admitting him in the asylum—who dies on seeing him. After their marriage, Vijay and Teju are shocked on learning of Nandu's escape. The doctor believes it was another patient who escaped, but Vijay is convinced that it was Nandu.

Nandu visit's Vijay's home when he is not there and leaves a message to kill Teju. He keeps conversing with his deceased mother in his imagination. While searching for Teju, Nandu meets singer Sharmilee and both develop a liking for each other. Soon, Nandu gets hallucinations where he sees Sharmilee as his stepmother and brutally murders her. Regretting his actions, he burns her corpse before exiting the room, but leaves behind evidence through which Vijay deduces him as the murderer.

Vijay and Teju leave for Vijay's ancestral home in Ooty to stay safe from Nandu, but he secretly follows them. Vijay and Teju find Nandu's old diary in the house through which they read his past: Vijay and Nandu's mother committed suicide due to their father Santosh's affair with Jayanthi, who later became their stepmother. Both brothers hate her and Nandu becomes violent at school. The teacher complains about it and Nandu justifies that he is only reflecting the home environment. An enraged Santosh beats both his sons for abusing his wife. One day, the brothers see Jayanthi having an affair with another person and Nandu tries telling this to his father who pays no heed, and instead beats him. Nandu pleads to his maternal uncle to take him along with him. But as he is suffering from throat cancer, he refuses and suggests a boarding school. Eventually, Vijay leaves with his uncle to a boarding school while Nandu remains home.

The situation gets worse at home with Nandu and Jayanthi turning violent and Santosh gets a heart attack. Nandu overhears a conversation between his stepmother and a lawyer, and realises that she is after his father's wealth. Seeing this, Santosh dies due to another heart attack. Nandu is now shocked to see both his deceased parents in his hallucination. His mother gives him the mission of killing Jayanthi, which Nandu does. Nandu stays with the corpses in the house before being incarcerated at the asylum.

In the present, Vijay learns from his old friend Thenkoshut that Nandu has reached Ooty. Vijay reaches on time to save Teju from Nandu, who entered their hotel room and leaves with her. Nandu chases the car in which they escape. After a long chase, Vijay manages to push Nandu's car into an abyss and assumes he is dead. However, Nandu escapes and continues his trail. Vijay plans to leave the city and notices Nandu coming to the hotel secretly.

Vijay and his commandos try to nab him but he takes on everyone. He even finds and corners Teju who starts whacking him with a belt in self-defence, mirroring Jayanthi's manner of punishing Nandu, convincing him that Teju is indeed Jayanthi's reincarnation. Vijay reaches by then and there is a fight between the brothers, in which Nandu overpowers Vijay. Suddenly, Nandu sees his mother asking him to join her as Jayanthi is torturing her up there. He realises his mistake and apologises to Vijay for chasing Teju. To kill his stepmother, he lights up some cylinders despite Vijay's request not to do so and to return. The cylinders explode and kill Nandu.



Kamal Haasan first wrote the story, then titled Dhaayam for the film in the early 1980s in the journal, Idhayam Pesugiradhu. He had discussed making the story into a film with K. Balachander during the period, but felt that the story was ahead of its time.[6] In 2000, he picked up the story again and agreed to make the film with director Suresh Krissna, a former assistant of Balachander, and producer S. Thanu. When Thanu had agreed to produce a film for Haasan, he had initially rejected the storylines of Pammal K. Sambandam and Nala Damayanthi.[7] This prompted the pair to begin work on Dhaayam instead, and the film was revealed to be called Aalavandhan in Tamil and Abhay in Hindi. The film's Hindi version Abhay was distributed by reputed Shringar Films.[8][9] Shankar Mahadevan was signed on to make his debut as music composer, Tirru was selected to be the cinematographer and Sameer Chanda was picked to be the art director. Actor Jayam Ravi also worked on the film as an assistant director.[10][11]

The film was first announced with Haasan and Simran in lead roles and Bollywood actress Rani Mukerji in a special appearance. Both actresses left the project for its delay in start,[12] being replaced by Raveena Tandon and Manisha Koirala.[10] The film featured Haasan in two distinct roles, for one of which he had his head shaved bald and gained ten kilograms. To play the other in the film, he went to the NDA for a crash course.[13][14] Stunt choreographer Grant Page, who had worked in the American film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, was assigned to compose stunt sequences in Kashmir. Another fight sequence was shot in Delhi for 15 days using 39 cars with 3 cameras with a machine called Airramp brought from abroad for jumping scenes.[15] Several years after release, American director Quentin Tarantino acknowledged that the animation violence shown in this film inspired the Manga scenes in his Kill Bill films.[16]


Studio album by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Released 24 August 2001 (India)
Genre Feature film soundtrack
Label Magnasound
Universal Music
Producer Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy chronology
Mission Kashmir
Dil Chahta Hai

The soundtrack was composed by music trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. Hindi lyrics was penned by Javed Akhtar and Tamil by Vairamuthu. The album created a record by selling over 2,00,000 copies in less than eight hours of its release.[17]

Tamil track list[18]
No. Title Singer(s) Length
1. "Africa Kaattu Puli"   Nandini 4:57
2. "Aalavandhan"   Shankar Mahadevan 3:19
3. "Kadavul Paadhi"   Kamal Haasan, Nandini 3:14
4. "Kadavul Paadhi"   Kamal Haasan 2:41
5. "Siri Siri"   Kamal Haasan, Mahalakshmi Iyer 6:23
6. "Un Azhagukku"   Shankar Mahadevan, Sujatha Mohan 6:46
Hindi track list[19]
No. Title Singer(s) Length
1. "Dekho Abhay"   Shankar Mahadevan 3:22
2. "Zingoria"   Nandini 4:59
3. "Kal Tak Mujhko Gaurav Tha"   Kamal Haasan 3:17
4. "Hey! Who Are you"   Kamal Haasan & Manisha Koirala 2:43
5. "Hasde Hasde"   Shankar Mahadevan, Kamal Haasan & Mahalaxmi Iyer 6:23
6. "Koyal Se Mili"   Shankar Mahadevan & Sujatha 6:48
Telugu track list[20]
No. Title Singer(s) Length
1. "Andamaina Aadapuli"   Swarnalatha 4:59
2. "Kannulalo Merupu"   S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Sujatha 6:46
3. "Nuvvu Evaro ! What are you !"   S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Harini 2:42
4. "Aggipidugai"   S. P. Balasubrahmanyam 3:20
5. "Dhaivam Sagamai"   S. P. Balasubrahmanyam 3:16
6. "Navu Navu"   S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Harini 6:22


Aalavandhan and Abhay both released on the Diwali day.[21] The Hindi version Abhay was bought over in Maharashtra by the reputed Shringar Films, who were very excited about its November release. The number of prints in Tamil Nadu had been increased by almost five times the normal number of prints. Also on the anvil was a rise in the ticket rates especially for Aalavandhan.[22] Both Aalavandhan and Abhay got A certificate from the Indian Censor Board on the account of strong violence. Later, both were recertified to get a UA certificate.[23][24][25]

The film met mixed responses upon its release. It opened very well, though it later on became a commercial failure but continued to top the year’s charts grossing '20' crores at the box office.[26] According to Bollywood Hungama, Abhay collected INR 9,335,190 at the Box Office.[27] Kalaipuli Thanu suffered financial losses of 12 crores.[28][29][30]

Critical Reception[edit]

The film received polarizing reviews upon release. Reviewer Prabhu of the Lollu Express said, "The movie is below average and violent movie, which is good for few "A" center moviegoers and it, gets 40/100 only for "KAMAL's" Good acting in few places".[31] Malathi Rangarajan of The Hindu said, "Too much publicity can sometimes affect a film adversely, because of the great expectations triggered. In the case of 'Aalavandhan,' the hype and hoopla built up for months seems justified — to a certain extent".[32] The film won the National Film Award for Best Special Effects at the 49th National Film Awards in 2002.[33]

Contemporary response to this film has become much more lenient, and very positive in social media. The film was shown in the 2016 Fantastic Fest, where it was acclaimed by the American audiences.[34]


The most notable impact this film has had was that the animated action sequences happening in the middle of the live-action action scenes has been a source of inspiration for the Kill Bill films by Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino.[34][35]


Apart from receiving the National Award for Best Special Effects, Aalavandhan has been included by Behindwoods in the list of Top 20 Cult Movies of the Millennium.[36]


  1. ^ a b c "Abhay (2001) - BBFC". BBFC. Retrieved 14 March 2016. 
  2. ^ Pillai, Sreedhar (8 November 2002). "As star power wanes...". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  3. ^ a b "Abhay". Teleport Communications Group. 10 June 2006. Retrieved 14 March 2016. 
  4. ^ Fernandes, Vivek (25 August 2001). "Abhay sings a fearless tune". Rediff.com. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  5. ^ "Everyone is a ruler-to-be…". chennaionline.com. Archived from the original on 24 June 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2015. [permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Everyone is a ruler". Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  7. ^ "கமலஹாசன் நடித்த 'ஆளவந்தான்' உருவான கதை -- Kamal Hassan starring Aalavandhan film". maalaimalar.com. Archived from the original on 6 February 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015. 
  8. ^ Subhash K Jha (2001). "Fear becomes him! Getting under Kamal's skin". Rediff.com. Retrieved 24 January 2011. 
  9. ^ Vivek Fernandes (2001). "Abhay sings a fearless tune". Retrieved 24 January 2011. 
  10. ^ a b Dhananjayan 2014, p. 405.
  11. ^ "Success begins at home". The Hindu. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  12. ^ "Did you Know?". The Times of India. Retrieved 13 August 2013. 
  13. ^ "The Kamal I know – Panicker". Rediff.com. 2003. Retrieved 21 January 2011. 
  14. ^ "Alavanthaan - on the floors". chennaionline.com. Archived from the original on 28 June 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2015. [permanent dead link]
  15. ^ "ஆளவந்தான் படத்துக்கு சண்டைக்காட்சிகள் அமைக்க வெளிநாட்டு நிபுணர்". maalaimalar.com. Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2015. 
  16. ^ Jha, Subhash K (15 July 2012). "Quentin Tarantino inspired by Abhay". Mid Day. Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  17. ^ Fernandez, Vivek. "Abhay sings a fearless tune". Rediff.com. Retrieved 24 June 2011. 
  18. ^ "Aalavanthan (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) - EP". iTunes. Retrieved 30 September 2015. 
  19. ^ "Abhay (OST)". Saavn. Retrieved 30 September 2015. 
  20. ^ "Abhay (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) - EP". iTunes. Retrieved 30 September 2015. 
  21. ^ http://www.behindwoods.com/tamil-movies-cinema-news-15/will-vedalam-and-thoongavanam-release-on-the-same-date.html
  22. ^ K Jha, Subhash (10 November 2002). "Fear becomes Kamal". www.rediff.com. Retrieved 2011-01-22. 
  23. ^ "Aalavandaan (Celluloid) Censor Details". 
  24. ^ Abhay (Celluloid) Censor Details
  25. ^ Aalavandaan (Video) Censor Details
  26. ^ "Aalavandhan". Retrieved 2011-12-23. 
  27. ^ Abhay Movie Box Office Collections - Bollywood Hungama
  28. ^ http://cinema.maalaimalar.com/2013/10/20223142/Aalavandhan-film-disappointed.html
  29. ^ "As star power wanes". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 8 November 2002. 
  30. ^ "Kollywood's famous Face-Offs - Behindwoods.com - Tamil Movie Slide Shows - Bala Ajith Ilayaraja Mani Ratnam Bharathiraja Vairamuthu Harris Jayaraj Gautham Menon Yuvan Shankar Raja Selvaraghavan Ameer Karthi Kamal Haasan Kalaipuli Thanu Bharathiraja Bhagyaraj Vijayakanth Vadivelu". behindwoods.com. Retrieved 30 September 2015. 
  31. ^ http://www.lolluexpress.com/alavandhan.html
  32. ^ "Aalavandhaan". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 16 November 2001. 
  33. ^ "49th National Film Awards". Directorate of Film Festivals. pp. 62–63. Retrieved 29 November 2014. 
  34. ^ a b "Kamal Haasan's Aalavandhan at Fantastic Fest: After 15 years, the film gets much-needed attention". Indiatoday.in. Retrieved 9 November 2016. 
  35. ^ "Kama Haasan Inspired Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill"". Business of Cinema. Retrieved 9 November 2016. 
  36. ^ Aalavandhan | TOP 20 CULT MOVIES OF THE MILLENNIUM - Behindwoods.com


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