Vaaranam Aayiram (English: A Thousand Elephants) is a 2008 Indian Tamil-language drama film written and directed by Gautham Menon. Suriya plays dual lead roles, with Simran, Divya Spandana, and Sameera Reddy. The film had been under production since late 2006, and was released worldwide on 14 November 2008. It was dubbed and released in Telugu as Surya s/o Krishnan.
The film illustrates the theme of how a father often came across his son’s life as a hero and inspiration, whose death was deeply mourned in the end. As a tribute to the father of the director, the film opened in several countries with critical acclaim. The film was produced by Venu Ravichandran and has musical score by Harris Jayaraj, making Vaaranam Aayiram his final project with Gautham Menon before the formal break-up of their partnership, which was eventually resumed 7 years later, in Yennai Arindhaal (2015). It won many awards including the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil. The film was also a commercial success, eventually becoming the biggest hit in Suriya’s career then.
The film begins with elderly Krishnan (Suriya) returning home after a haircut. Once he reaches home he vomits a profuse amounts of blood and is kept to bed rest. After the doctor checks him, he is reported dead after a few moments of grief with his wife Malini (Simran), daughter Shreya, and daughter-in-law Priya (Divya Spandana). This news is informed to his son Surya (Suriya) who is on his way to Kashmir on a military mission traveling in a helicopter, to rescue a kidnapped journalist from terrorists . He begins to shed tears and starts to think about his memorable moments with his father and the story of how his parents loved each other during their college days.
Krishnan is a student in the same college, Madras Christian College where Malini studies. They fall in love and get married. They soon have a son, Surya. He grows up as a friend to his father. He joins an engineering college near Tiruchi and parts from his family. There he takes part in cultural activities and develops his guitar skills. When he is on a train back home after completion of college, he meets Meghna (Sameera Reddy) who is doing Engineering in Regional College of Engineering,Tiruchirapalli. Instantly smitten by her, soon proposes to her. She rejects him, saying that they have known each other for a very short period and it’s not possible to fall in love without taking time to understand him. Surya then tells her that wherever she goes, he will find her.
Surya is disturbed constantly by Meghna’s thoughts and consequently ends up going to her house. There she reveals him that she is going to University of California, Berkeley in a week to pursue higher education. Then, Surya bids adieu to her. After that, Krishnan, Surya’s father, gets his first mild heart attack and is admitted to a hospital.Surya feels that he needs to resolve the financial constraints in his family and so starts an office with his friends and does concerts for money and succeeds.
A few months later, Surya goes to the United States, with the acceptance of his father, and meets Meghna in San Francisco. Though shocked by his presence, Meghna feels relieved to find someone she knows in California.They have the time of their lives there. Meghna is convinced that he is the right person and that he will be accepted by her father. Their happiness does not last long when she goes to Oklahoma City for a project. Surya joins her later traveling by the Greyhound bus. When he reaches there, he witnesses the Oklahoma City bombing and realizes that Meghna is amongst those injured. She dies on her way to the hospital. He meets Shankar Menon at the airport who tries to console him with words and offers him encouragement. A heartbroken Surya returns to India.
Surya still cannot take the situation. He starts hanging out with his friends to get over his loss. He meets Priya, his sister’s friend. However, the thoughts of losing Meghna still haunts him, and he resorts to taking drugs. Surya’s parents try to get him to break the habit by locking him up in his room and removing him from all external contact. Once they detect his withdrawal symptoms, they ask him to take a long break to rejuvenate himself. Subsequently, he takes a leisure trip to Kashmir. There he learns that Aditya, the son of Shankar Menon, the person who inspired him in the airport was kidnapped. He visits them in Delhi. On seeing the lethargic attitude of the police, he takes matters into his own hands and goes in search of the kidnappers. After days of roaming streets and gathering information, he locates the kidnapper (Babloo Prithveeraj) and the place where Aditya is kept. He battles the kidnappers single-handedly, overpowers them and rescues Aditya.
Back home, Surya starts to go out with Priya. One day Priya proposes to him, but he does not respond. Surya decides that the only way to forget the pain in his body is to prepare it for bigger things. He goes on a strict workout training and joins the army. After six years, Priya comes to the Indian Military Academy where she is posted along him and proposes again; this time he accepts. They marry and have a son. Suddenly Krishnan is diagnosed with throat cancer and is operated on. After some days Surya is called upon to go on a mission to rescue a journalist which brings the scene back to the present day. After completing the military mission with the help of a masked man (Gautham Menon) who tells them where the culprits were, Surya returns home to see his dead father. Surya, his sister Shriya, Malini and Priya let go his father’s ashes in the sea and Malini relates her husband’s life to Surya by uttering a verse from a prayer. The film ends on a happy note as the four walk away smiling; conveying the message that “Whatever happens, Life has to go on.”
Directed by Gautham Vasudev Menon
Produced by V. Ravichandran
Written by Gautham Vasudev Menon
Starring Suriya, Simran, Divya Spandana, Sameera Reddy
Music by Harris Jayaraj
Cinematography R. Rathnavelu
Edited by Anthony Gonsalvez
Production Aascar Film Pvt. Ltd
Distributed by Cloud Nine Movies(worldwide) Bharat Creations (US)
Release dates 14 November 2008
Running time 169 minutes