Santosh Subramaniam is a 2008 Tamil musical and romantic film which was directed and co-written by Raja Mohan while Kalapathi S. Aghoram produced the film. While Jayam Ravi and Genelia D'Souza played the lead roles, Prakash Raj and Geetha, prominent actors from the south Indian film industry, played the significant roles of one of the lead character's parents in the movie. The film is a remake of the successful Telugu language film, Bommarillu, which post-release sparked off a battle in Tamil film industry for the remake rights. Apart from Tamil, efforts to remake this film in Hindi with Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan, popular actors from the Bollywood, were unsuccessful, but Anees Bazmee has recently announced the remake, It's My Life, with Harman Baweja playing the role opposite D'Souza, who plays the character for the third time.
The film primarily revolves around a father and son relationship with the father's dote on his son ironically leaving a bitter taste with the latter. The son's choices and his wants to achieve something in life are always subdued by his father's. The father has a justification in the form of his dream, that is to build a dream house. When it comes to his son's marriage, the son breaks his shackles of respect only to experience the newly found independence. The film concludes with the father's repentance on his foolishness and the happy marriage of the protagonists.
The film opened to the Indian audiences on April 11, 2008 coinciding with Tamil New Year. On its way to winning accolades and rave reviews, the film became a trendsetter in Tamil cinema along with Yaaradi Nee Mohini, starting a trend for family orientated films.
The film begins with a baby taking his initial steps on a beach while the father is supporting him. The narrator in the background (Sathyaraj) states that, it is right for a father to support his child in his infancy, but questions whether the father should continue to hold the child’s hand even after he is 24 years old. As the credits roll, a visibly angry Santhosh (Jayam Ravi) begins uttering abuses at all the fathers in the world. When inquired about his disgust, he says that his father, Subramaniam (Prakash Raj), gives him more than what he asks for. He cites instances where his choices of dressing, hairdo and many others are stashed away by his father’s. However, he vows that the two things that will be of his choice would be, his career and the woman he would marry.
Post-credits, Muthu (Sathyan) the Subramaniam dutiful household’s servant wakes up Santhosh in the morning. In the background, we see Santhosh’s mother, Lakshmi (Geetha) singing a devotional song while cooking. At the dining table, Subramanium, Managing Director of their construction company, inquires if Santhosh will join their office for managing their business. When Santhosh deliberates, his father doesn’t stand any longer and instead plans for his marriage despite Santhosh's silent protest. The next week, he returns home to realize that he is going to get engaged to Rajeswari (Kirat Bhattal) against his wishes. He speaks with her only to realize that she is a daddy’s girl (Vijayakumar being the father) and she not being to his liking. However, with Subramaniam’s final say, they eventually get engaged.
While contemplating on his options in a temple, Santhosh accidentally meets Hasini (Genelia D'Souza), an engineering student. Seeing her chirpy nature and vibrance, Santhosh begins to like her. He makes attempts to know her by meeting her on a regular basis. In the process, he starts liking her cherubic and ever-friendly nature and as someone who does what she loves. As days go by, he realizes about so many small things in her company that gave him happiness. He realizes that he has fallen in love with her.
Alongside this, Santhosh applies for a bank loan to start out on his dream of building his career. When his love for Hasini deepens, he wishes to propose to her. He confesses to her that he is engaged to get married to Rajeswari against his wishes, but what he really wants is her. On knowing of him being engaged, Hasini gets dejected, but comes back a day later and asks him to do what he wishes for and accepts his proposal. At this juncture, the ecstatic Santhosh is seen by a furious Subramanium. Santhosh is admonished back home and he expresses his disinterest in marriage with Rajeswari. When asked for his reason to like Hasini, Santhosh replies saying that if Hasini can stay with their family for a week, then all their questions shall be answered. He convinces Hasini to stay at his house after seeking permission from her father (played by Sayaji Shinde).
When Hasini is introduced to Santhosh’s family, she gets a lukewarm welcome. As she settles down in the house, one after the other begins to like her. Even though getting used to the living habits of the authoritarian Subramaniam's household was difficult, Hasini stayed put for Santhosh's sake. In the meanwhile, Subramaniam reprimands Santhosh when he knows of his bank loan and his plans, only to further enrage Santhosh. One day the entire family along with Hasini attends a marriage ceremony. A cheerful Hasini cheers up the ceremony with her playful nature. Coincidentally, Sayaji who happens to be around, recognizes Santhosh as the drunken young man whom he encountered on an earlier occasion. Hasini realizes her father's presence and quickly exits to avoid his attention. After saving their grace, Santhosh admonishes Hasini for her antics at the marriage. A sad and angry Hasini moves out of the house saying that she does not find Santhosh the same and that she cannot put on an act if she stays in their house. After getting back to her house, she rebuilds the trust her father has in her while Santhosh is left forlorn. Lakshmi confronts Subramaniam on Santhosh’s choices and wants. In the process, Santhosh opens up his heart and leaving Subramaniam to repent on his foolishness. Santhosh requests Rajeswari and her parents to call off the impending marriage. While they relent, Subramaniam manages to convince Sayaji about Santhosh and Hasini's marriage. In return, Sayaji wants to know more about Santhosh by having him live in house for a week. Subramaniam agrees with this and as the story returns to the pre-credits scene, the viewers are left to assume about the happy marriage of the protagonists.
* Jayam Ravi as Santosh. A well-disciplined young man with dreams of achieving something big of his own without the interference of his father. The child in his heart is released when he gets to know Hasini.
* Genelia D'Souza as Hasini. A very vibrant, effervescent and a happy-go-lucky young woman who loves to live life to the fullest. Her infectious vivacity presents Santosh with a whole new world of liveliness and independence.
* Prakash Raj as Subramaniam (Santosh's dad). A father who visions of a happy and dream house after several years of toil. Everything for him should be like a picture that fills the jigsaw. This steals the house members, especially Santosh, of their individual persona and sheen.
* Sayaji Shinde as Govindan (Hasini's dad). A loving father to Hasini with a severe habit of drinking.
* Geetha as Lakshmi (Santosh's mom). A loving mother to Santosh who is instrumental in making her husband realize of his folly.
* Kirat Bhattal as Rajeswari. Plays the fiancé of Santosh until he breaks the engagement after he decides to marry Hasini.
* Santhanam as Srinivasan. A comic character who plays the friend of Santosh, along with Srinath and Premji Amaren.
* Premji Amaren as Shekar. Plays the friend of Santosh.
The key elements:
Despite early indications that the same team that had worked in the original, Bommarillu, involving Bhaskar and Dil Raju would remake the film in Tamil, the pair cited they were not interested. Dil Raju, willing to sell the remake rights held twenty previews in Chennai for potential buyers. Veteran editor, Mohan, under his home compnay - Jayam Combines, outbidded Prakash Raj who wanted to remake the film with Vinay Rai in the lead role. Furthermore others beaten included Vijay under Appachan Films, Vishal Krishna under GV Films, Bhagyaraj for his daughter, Saranya, and Ravi Krishna under the banner of A. M. Rathnam. Mohan handed the director's role to his son, Raja Mohan, whom was a classmate of Bhaskar, and the lead role to his second son, Jayam Ravi. The film would become the trio's fourth consecutive Telugu film remake, following their previous ventures. Soon afterwards, the production house announced an ensemble cast, which included Prakash Raj, Geetha, Sayaji Shinde, Kirat Bhattal and Kausalya in prominent roles. Other actors were added later including Santhanam, Premji Amaren, Srinath, Sathyan, Vijayakumar, M. S. Baskar former cricketer Sadagoppan Ramesh and Sathyaraj as a narrator.
The entire production of the movie took about nine months to be completed. The technical crew for the project, was predominantly the same in comparison to the company's previous venture, Something Something Unnakum Ennakum. The film had its launch on July 16, 2007 with the attendance of all the lead actors in the film, including guests such as Dhanush, Sibiraj and Jeevan. The invitation card for the launch was highly appreciated, with images of prominent fathers and sons from India, ranging from cinema to politics.
Casting, location and music:
The choice of Jayam Ravi was because of the fact that his father owned the production rights and his brother directed the project. The choice of Genelia was due to her performance in the original, for which she was critically praised and gained stardom with. Despite experiencing flops in her previous some of her previous Tamil films like Sachein and Chennai Kadhal - she felt that the film would change her status in the industry. The camaraderie that the lead actors shared during the filming, added on to their good performances. The choice of Prakash Raj was easy as he befitted the character he portrayed while as well as starring the original, Geetha was persuaded to play the role of the lead actor's mother.
The palatial house where the entire family stayed in the film is part of Ramanaidu Studios at Nanakramguda, Hyderabad. Several modifications were done by the art director, Prakash. A couple of the songs were shot in a montage, another couple in Wellington and other places in New Zealand and one song each in this house set and at a temple in Kakinada.
For the film's music and soundtrack, Raja renewed his previous association (Something Something Unnakum Ennakum) with Devi Sri Prasad, who predominantly used his tracks from the original. Savitha Reddy rendered the voice for Genelia's character in the movie. A feature of this film is that the lead actor in the original, Siddharth Narayan, sung one of the tracks from the film.
Santosh Subramaniam was released worldwide with 72 reels of the film's print. Owing to the success of the film, the number of reels grew to about hundred. The film was released with a "U" (Universal: Suitable for all ages) certification by the Central Board of Film Certification of India, with the censors claiming the film to be "family-orientated". After opening at number one, the film has garnered over 2.5 crores in Chennai alone by the end of the seventh week, as well as, over 5 crores nationwide in India, despite the presence of the Indian Premier League's prominent television ratings. The film went on to complete a golden jubilee run at the box-office.
The reception in the United Kingdom was equally successful, entering the United Kingdom Box-office at number 40. Released in four major metropolises, the film collected £10,067 in its first week of opening. The film received a cumulative gross of £24,962 in the United Kingdom playing for three weeks.
The film received rave reviews right from the story to the performances of the actors. Rediff entertainment portal gave the film a rating of 2.5/5 tagging the film's review that it fails to live up to the original, whilst suggesting the movie to the entire family. The three lead actors, Jayam Ravi, Genelia D'Souza and Prakash Raj, garnered praise for their portrayals. With The Hindu signalling that the trio have come up with "nuanced performances". Sify Entertainment describes D'Souza's portrayal as "the soul of the film" and the film's "biggest strength", whilst calling Ravi "mature" and Prakash Raj "outstanding". Rediff, however described D'Souza's character as "appears a little too good to be true", whilst praising Prakash Raj claiming that the role "was a cakewalk" for him.
Sify praises Devi Sri Prasad's music while Rediff singles out editor Mohan's work as "slick and neat, dwelling just the right amount in the right places, and moving away the narrative when necessary". The film was generally well received by critics alike.
Santosh Subramanium Trailer: