Avargal (English: They) is a 1977 Tamil movie made by K. Balachander starring Sujatha, Kamal Hassan and Rajinikanth. The film had a reputation of being one of most sensitive movies on women’s lib. A triangular love story, it revolves around a woman who is caught between the man she fell in love with and her former sadistic husband who is supposedly reformed and wants to rejoin her.
Anu (Sujatha) is a happy-go-lucky girl head-over-heels in love with her boyfriend Bharani (Ravi Kumar). Her life changes when her father gets transferred to Mumbai (then Bombay). Her love life falls apart as Bharani doesn’t respond to any of her letters. In addition, her father becomes seriously ill. Her father’s office colleague, Ramanathan (Rajinikanth), becomes a great source of strength for her in these tough times. Soon, he asks for her hand in marriage. She accepts gratefully, and confesses that she had a boyfriend, who has seemingly forgotten her.
However, Anu soon realizes that Ramanathan is a sadistic and jealous husband, who tortures her no end. She opts for a divorce and, with an infant in her hands, she lands in Chennai (Madras) to take up a new job and start a new life.
Her life takes a turn for the better in Chennai as she has a very supportive friend-group in her office, particularly a widower, Janardhan (Kamal Hassan). Janardhan, or Johnnie as he is popularly called, is a talented ventriloquist who “talks” through his puppet, Junior. He falls in love with Anu, but is unable to muster up the courage to tell her about it.
In an interesting cinematic twist, Ramanathan’s mother Leelavathi discovers that her son had married and tortured Anu and takes up a job as a maid in Anu’s house to make atonement for her son’s sins.
Anu also stumbles upon Bharani in Chennai and discovers that her letters to him never reached as they were intercepted by his mentally-challenged sister. Soon, Anu renews her relationship with Bharani and life seems to be looking up for her. But the ghosts of the past continue to haunt her. Ramanathan comes to Chennai in the role of her boss – a contrite and repentant Ramanathan, who now wants to remarry Anu and redress the wrongs he had done. The situation becomes piquant with 3 men vying for Anu – her ex-love, her ex-husband and a silent lover lurking on the sidelines.
Directed by K. Balachander
Produced by P. R. Govindarajan & J. Duraisamy
Written by K. Balachander
Starring Sujatha, Kamal Hassan, Rajinikanth, Ravi Kumar, Leelavathi
Music by M. S. Viswanathan
Cinematography B. S. Lokanath
Edited by N. R. Kittu
Production Kalakendra Movies
Release dates 25 February 1977
Running time 159 minutes