Kaadhal Kondein (Eng: I fell in love) is a 2003 Indian Tamil-language romantic psychological thriller film inspired from Fear, a 1996 American psychological thriller directed by James Foley, written and directed by Selvaraghavan, starring his brother Dhanush and newcomer Sonia Agarwal in lead roles, whilst newcomers Sudeep Sarangi, Nagesh and Daniel Balaji play supporting roles. Kaadhal Kondein, which has music scored by noted musician Yuvan Shankar Raja and cinematography handled by Arvind Krishna, released on 4 July 2003, winning critical acclaim and becoming a commercial success upon release, and is considered as the breakthrough film of Dhanush that catapulted him into the main foray of lead actors in the Tamil film industry.
The story explores the mind of a youth who is mentally and physically abused in his childhood. The lack of a mother’s love haunts the protagonist throughout the film as the girl of his infatuation is killed. Becoming a psychopath, he desperately tries to woo his newly found lady love and his efforts culminate in a superb nail-biting cliffhanger.
Vinod (Dhanush), who has grown up under the care of a church father Rozario (Nagesh), is an introvert but a genius. He is forcibly sent to college by Rozario but is a complete misfit in class. Though shunned by the rest of his class, Divya (Sonia Agarwal) becomes his friend, and he gradually warms up to her. His feelings soon turn into love, but he realizes that Divya considers him as only a friend and learns that she is in love with another classmate, Aadhi (Sudeep Sarangi).
Divya’s father is enraged on knowing about her love. He locks her up and prevents her from contacting anyone. Vinod comes and requests to meet her on the pretext of getting some old clothes for himself to wear. Pitying Vinod, her father allows him to meet Divya. Vinod escapes with Divya and convinces her that she will meet Aadhi at Ooty. Vinod has set up a secret place in Ooty for executing his plan of wooing Divya. He makes her stay with him, while convincing her by talking about Aadhi’s arrival. On one such day, he reveals his miserable past, when he was made to work for paid labour after being orphaned at an early age. He revolts against the oppression one day. Promptly, he is beaten black and blue for his profanity. Moreover, he also loses his girlfriend to rapists in that place, who also kill her. After some days he kills the woman running the orphanage and also kills the rapist, helped by other children. They manage to break the place, escape from there, and seek refuge in the place of Rozario.
Divya is touched by his past. Incidentally, the police and Aadhi arrive at the place. While Vinod was away to get some food, they try to explain to Divya that Vinod is a psychopath. Divya scoffs at their claims, citing his gentlemanly behaviour over the days that she has been alone with him. Vinod, learning that the police have arrived at the scene, begins to indulge in violence. He opens fire, killing a police constable. Forcing them out of their hideout, he manages to evade the police inspector and Aadhi and successfully brings Divya back to their original place of stay. Divya soon identifies the tiger in the cow’s skin. Vinod pleads with her, telling Divya that all he wanted in his life was her presence, but she called him a friend and stated her inability to accept him as her partner for life.
Meanwhile, Aadhi regains consciousness and comes back to attack Vinod and rescue his girlfriend. A violent fight follows, where Vinod defies his puny self and treats Aadhi with disdain. The fight culminates with Vinod, Aadhi, and Divya teetering at the edge of a slippery cliff. While Divya clutches a tree bark tightly, Vinod and Aadhi slip out and barely manage to hold either of her hands. Divya is forced to choose between her boyfriend and friend. Aadhi’s pleas notwithstanding, Divya does not have the heart to kill Vinod, who smiles wryly at Divya and lets go of her hands himself, falling to his death in the abyss.
Directed by Selvaraghavan
Produced by Dr. K. Vimalageetha
Written by Selvaraghavan
Starring Dhanush, Sonia Agarwal, Nagesh, Sudeep, Daniel Balaji, Sreekanth
Music by Yuvan Shankar Raja
Cinematography Arvind Krishna
Edited by V. T. Vijayan
Production R. K. Productions
Distributed by ITV Bombay
Release date 4 July 2003
Running time 185 minutes