Minsara Kanavu

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Minsara Kanavu
Minsara Kanavu poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRajiv Menon
Screenplay by
  • V. C. Guhanathan
  • Rajiv Menon
Story byRajiv Menon
Produced by
Starring
Cinematography
Edited bySuresh Urs
Music byA. R. Rahman
Production
company
Release date
  • 14 January 1997 (1997-01-14)
Running time
153 minutes[1]
CountryIndia
LanguageTamil

Minsara Kanavu (Tamil pronunciation: [miːnsaːra kanaʋɯ]; transl. The electric dream) is a 1997 Indian Tamil-language musical romantic drama film co-written and directed by Rajiv Menon. Starring Arvind Swamy, Prabhu Deva, and Kajol (in her Tamil debut), it revolves on Priya (Kajol), a convent student with ambition to be nun. Having returned to India from his studies overseas, Thomas (Swamy)—her childhood friends—falls in love with her following their first meeting at her convent. He tries stopping her ambition with seeking the help of the hairstylist Deva (Prabhu Deva), who is known for his ability to change woman's minds, but it leads the two to fall for her.

AVM Productions wanted to make a film to celebrate their golden jubilee anniversary in 1997. The project, which would be titled Minsara Kanavu, was produced by M. Saravanan, M. Balasubramanian, and M. S. Guhan. Menon, then an advertisement director and film cinematographer, made his directorial debut with the film. Venu and Ravi K. Chandran completed the principal photography, and Prabhu Deva provided the choreography. A. R. Rahman composed the soundtrack, and recording took place at his Panchathan Record Inn. It was released on 25 November 1996 with the songs "Mana Madurai", "Strawberry", "Thanga Thamarai", and "Vennilave" being popular.

Minsara Kanavu premiered on 14 January 1997, during the festive occasion of Pongal, and running in theatres for over 175 days. The film was a commercial success in South India though initially opened to tepid box-office earnings; in contrast, it failed to do well in North India. Critical reception to the film was mixed-to-positive, with the plot, the cast's performances (particularly that of the lead actors), the screenplay, the cinematography, and the soundtrack were being praised. The film won several accolades that include two Cinema Express Awards, one Filmfare Awards South, four National Film Awards, one Screen Awards, and three Tamil Nadu State Film Awards.

Plot[edit]

Priya is a young student at a convent who is known for her friendly, bubbly and precocious nature. Her father, Amalraj, is a widower and a clothing industrialist who expects Priya to look after his business, however her main ambition is to become a nun. He tries to stop this by unsuccessfully trying to fix a wedding alliance for her. Thomas is a non-resident Indian who returns to the country after his studies to look after his father James' business. James is a former associate of Amalraj and had set up his clothing business opposite Amalraj's factory. Amalraj dislikes James due to his boorish and clumsy attitude even though Thomas and Priya are childhood friends.

Thomas bumps into Priya after several years at the convent when he goes to see his aunt Mother Superior, the chief nun of the convent. He takes Priya's help in surprising his aunt with a gift on her birthday. In the process, he falls for Priya, but is unable to confess his love. He is shocked when finds out about Priya's ambition to become a nun, and approaches a hairstylist named Deva, who is known for his ability to change women's minds, to stop her ambition. Deva, though initially hesitant, accepts. Deva and his friend, a blind but aspiring musician named Guru, befriend Priya, and convince her to join their music troupe. Priya's singing talent helps the troupe gain recognition and soon they are approached to audition for a film. Deva, Guru, and the rest of the troupe play various tricks to make Priya fall in love with Thomas. But, during this period, Deva realises that he is falling for Priya as well.

Complications arise when Priya also reciprocates Deva's love, and Thomas, with the help of Deva, finally manages to propose his love to Priya. She finds out about Deva's reason for his association with her at this juncture, and feeling betrayed, decide to return to the convent to undergo nun training and fulfil her aspiration. She also quits Deva's and Guru's troupe. Deva tries to convince Priya, but in the process he meets with a serious accident and falls into a coma. Priya, though undergoing the training, cannot forget Deva. Meanwhile, Deva comes out of coma and is visited by Thomas, who though upset and angry, realises that Deva and Priya are meant for each other and sacrifices his love. Thomas rushes to the convent on the day Priya is to become a nun, and with the help of Mother Superior, finally manages to talk her out of becoming a nun and convince her to marry Deva.

Thomas, now a priest, baptises the daughter of Deva and Priya, who are married, with Deva looking after his father-in-law's business and Priya working as a full-time singer. Guru has become a renowned music director, but is facing charges of plagiarism, while James redistributes his wealth to everyone.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

"I'm not a prolific filmmaker, but I try exploring something new each time. I saw Minsara Kanavu more as a musical. The characters in that film came from a dream-like space, and most of it was shot inside the studio or in places that did not look like real places. That's why I called it Minsara Kanavu."

 —Rajiv Menon on the film's title[9]

AVM Productions wanted to make a film commemorating their golden jubilee anniversary in 1997.[10] The banner initially produced films under different names such as Saraswathi Sound Productions, Saraswathi Talkies Producing Company, and Pragati Pictures, before changing it to AVM Productions and producing Naam Iruvar (1947) under the new name.[11][12] Titled Minsara Kanavu and produced by M. Saravanan, M. Balasubramanian, and M. S. Guhan, they wanted the film to revolve on youngsters.[13][14] Before choosing its director, the three had approached Prabhu Deva to play a lead in it and A. R. Rahman to compose the music.[15] Rahman suggested his friend Rajiv Menon, then an advertisement director and film cinematographer, to direct the project.[14]

Menon thought about the offer for two months, revealing in an interview with Rediff.com that he was not "mentally prepared" to direct a film. Having worked as a cinematographer for Bombay (1995), he added: "You should have a story, first of all. I didn't even have a story. I was happy shooting for [the film]. So, I wanted to shoot five more feature films, gain recognition and grow little more and make a movie. But this was a jump start." Initially reluctant and was to decline it,[16] he agreed to do so after being convinced by Rahman and the filmmaker Mani Ratnam, who is a friend of his and had collaborated with him in Bombay, and this became his directorial debut.[14] Menon wrote Minsara Kanavu's story that is based on Robert Wise's 1965 American musical film The Sound of Music, which has nun-related themes;[17] he also co-wrote the screenplay with V. C. Guhanathan in English.[3][18]

Casting[edit]

Arvind Swamy was cast as Thomas, a non-resident Indian who, after returning from his studies abroad, meets his childhood friend Priya and eventually falls for her; he replaced Menon to play the lead role in the 1992 film Roja.[19] The Bollywood actress Kajol was suggested by Menon's wife Latha to play Priya,[20] making Minsara Kanavu one of her only two appearances in Tamil cinema—the other was in Velaiilla Pattadhari 2 (2017).[21][22] He originally wanted Aishwarya Rai for the role, but felt she was "too stylish" and he wanted a woman "who looked Indian".[19] He recommended her to Ratnam, whom he thought was better than him; she starred in the latter filmmaker's Iruvar (1997), which marked her acting debut.[23] Another actress, Madhuri Dixit, was chosen but she opted out due to her busy acting schedule.[19][24] Kajol said working in Minsara Kanavu was an "unforgettable experience", and that she was happy Menon gave her the part immediately after the previous actors rejected it.[24] A non-Tamil speaker,[25] her voice was dubbed by Revathi.[26]

The first actor to be cast in the film, Prabhu Deva played the hairstylist and, subsequently, Priya's husband Deva, while also provided the film's choreographer.[13][27] The producers chose Vikram to dub him; Menon revealed that they "wanted a new voice for Prabhu Deva".[28] Nassar, playing the aspiring musician Guru, found it "fun" and working in the film to be a "delightful experience". He described it as a "bubbly character" and adding that "it was like, going through my youth again. Dancing, for instance—I never thought I could dance, but in this film I did it and loved it too."[29] Janaki Sabesh, later known for portraying mother roles, made her acting debut in the film by playing a nun.[7] S. P. Balasubrahmanyam was chosen to play Thomas' father James. In his obituary published by The Hindu in 2020, Menon recalled that the actor was "so enthusiastic and joyous on [the] set", noting that it was interesting to see him acting opposite Girish Karnad (who featured as Priya's father Amalraj).[5]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography was done by Venu and Ravi K. Chandran,[13][30] with the latter being credited in the film to provide additional cinematography.[1]: 02:28  Asked on his decision to not handle the cinematography, Menon answered working as a director and cinematographer simultaneously could not make him "pay attention to both the departments equally".[19] Saravanan's brother Palu's daughter, Lakshmipriya—who had returned from her costume design studies in Singapore—designed the costumes.[31] Thota Tharani finished the art direction,[13][27] Vikram Dharma was the action director,[1]: 02:07  and Prabhu Deva, Farah Khan, and Saroj Khan did the choreography.[1]: 02:03  The song "Thanga Thamarai" was shot at an artificial waterfall; "Poo Pookkum Osai" was shot at AVM's studios in Madras (now Chennai) and other towns such as Ooty, Kullu, and Manali.[13] Shooting also took place at Lawrence School, Lovedale;[32] in preparation, Menon interacted with several Christian priests.[19] Filming was ended in 70 or 75 days,[24] and it was later edited by Suresh Urs.[33]

Soundtrack[edit]

Minsara Kanavu
Soundtrack album by
Released25 December 1996
StudioPanchathan Record Inn
GenreFeature-film soundtrack
Label
ProducerA. R. Rahman
A. R. Rahman chronology
Mr. Romeo
(1996)
Minsara Kanavu
(1996)
Iruvar
(1997)

A. R. Rahman composed the soundtrack, and the recording took place at his Panchathan Record Inn.[34] For the choir sequences in the film, he used the Sankarabharanam raga.[35] The song "Anbendra Mazhayile" is based on the Anandabhairavi raga.[36] The album was released on 25 November 1996 under the label of T-Series,[34] and its launch event was attended by the then-Mayor of Chennai M. K. Stalin and Rahman himself.[13] T-Series also distributed its Telugu version,[37] and the Hindi version was released by Saregama.[38] "Mana Madurai",[39][40] "Strawberry",[41] "Thanga Thamarai",[42] and "Vennilave" became popular;[43] the first of which was featured in Rahman's international musical Bombay Dreams (2002–2004), and the version was sung by Shankar Mahadevan and K. S. Chithra.[44]

All lyrics are written by Vairamuthu.

Minsara Kanavu (Tamil)[34][45]
No.TitleSinger(s)Length
1."Poo Pookkum Osai"Sujatha Mohan, Malaysia Vasudevan6:44
2."Mana Madurai"Unni Menon, K. S. Chitra, Srinivas5:54
3."Anbendra"Anuradha Sriram3:38
4."Thanga Thamarai"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Malgudi Subha5:02
5."Strawberry"KK, Febi Mani4:25
6."Vennilave"Hariharan, Sadhana Sargam5:51

All lyrics are written by Vennelakanti.

Merupu Kalalu (Telugu)[37]
No.TitleSinger(s)Length
1."Oh Vaana Padithe"Sujatha Mohan, Malaysia Vasudevan6:49
2."Machili Patnam Mamidi"K. S. Chithra, P. Unnikrishnan, Srinivas5:57
3."Aparanji Madanudi"Anuradha Sriram3:41
4."Tallo Taamara"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Malgudi Subha5:05
5."Strawberry Kannae"Mano, Swarnalatha4:28
6."Vennelave Vennelave"Hariharan, Sadhana Sargam5:59

All lyrics are written by Javed Akhtar.

Sapnay (Hindi)[38][46]
No.TitleSinger(s)Length
1."Awaara Bhanwara"Hema Sardesai, Malaysia Vasudevan6:48
2."Roshan Huyi Raat"Anuradha Sriram3:39
3."Door Na Ja Mujh Se"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Malgudi Subha5:05
4."Ek Bagiya Mein"Shankar Mahadevan, Srinivas, K. S. Chithra5:54
5."Strawberry Aankhen"Kavita Paudwal4:29
6."Chanda Re Chanda Re"Hariharan, Sadhana Sargam5:57
7."Teri Meri Baat"Abhijeet Bhattacharya, Hema Sardesai5:18

Release and reception[edit]

Release[edit]

Minsara Kanavu was released on 14 January 1997 (during the festive occasion of Pongal)[a] and competed with Ratnam's Iruvar.[10][48] Initially opened to tepid box-office earnings, its distributors requested to change the film's ending that helped making it a success, running for 216 days in Chennai.[48][49] The actor Rajinikanth expressed his appreciation of the film.[19] On 3 August, an event was held to celebrate its silver jubilee.[50][b] Minsara Kanavu's Telugu-dubbed version, Merupu Kalalu, was also released on 14 January but became a commercial disappointment.[49] Screen suggested the possibility of the film, whose themes are intended for youths, being rejected by youths themselves. The magazine added that this was due to the producers who took "a gamble in acquiring the rights of the films without knowing anything of their story or content".[53] The film was dubbed into Hindi as Sapnay, which premiered on 2 May and was also failed commercially.[3] The result of the Hindi version motivated Menon to not dub his films into the language anymore.[54]

Critical response[edit]

The film received mixed-to-positive response from critics.[19][55] Srilakshmi Sitaraman from Indolink stated, "Minsara Kanavu is again a triangular love story with a little difference. It has good entertainment value, awesome cinematography and excellent songs and choreographed dances."[56] On 26 January 1997, S. R. of Kalki praised its cinematography and music, but was critical towards the plot and found the climax tiring.[57] K. N. Vijiyan, who reviewed the film for the New Straits Times three days later, likened its plot with a Hollywood film's, finding it to be "vaguely similar. But even so, it has been adapted well to suit Indian culture." Calling the film a "good entertainment", he lauded its screenplay and Kajol's performance, adding that the actress was at her best when she is "her naughty self or belting out songs" such as "Manna Madurai".[58] Writing for The Indian Express on 4 May, M. S. M. Desai was ambivalent of the film. He opined that it is filled with many songs and dances that make "the pace of the narrative dull and drab".[59]

Accolades[edit]

Award Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Ref.
Cinema Express Awards Best Lyricist Vairamuthu [60]
Best Cinematography Venu
Dinakaran Cinema Awards Best Music Director A. R. Rahman [61]
Filmfare Awards South Best Music Director – Tamil A. R. Rahman [62]
National Film Awards Best Music Direction A. R. Rahman [63]
[64]
Best Male Playback Singer S. P. Balasubrahmanyam for "Thanga Thamarai"
Best Female Playback Singer K. S. Chithra for "Mana Madurai"
Best Choreography Prabhu Deva for "Strawberry" and "Vennilave"
Screen Awards Best Music Director – Tamil A. R. Rahman [65]
Tamil Nadu State Film Awards Best Music Director A. R. Rahman [66]
Best Male Playback Singer Unni Menon for "Mana Madurai"
Best Female Playback Singer Sujatha Mohan for "Poo Pookkum Oosai"

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Pongal is a three-day Indian harvest festival celebrated in Tamil Nadu on 14 January every year as an equivalent of thanksgiving to the nature.[47]
  2. ^ A silver jubilee film is one that completes a theatrical run of 25 weeks or 175 days.[51][52]

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Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]