The film set in the 18th century is all about a group of people who steals from the wealthy to provide food and shelter for their tribe. Kombodhi (Pasupathy) is one gang's leader and during one of his missions , he always success and keeps his village meagerly fed. One day, the general of their small kingdom comes to the village of komboothi and threatens to kill them all as one of them had single handedly stolen the Queen's diamond necklace. Komboothi refuses this as they go to rob only as a gang and makes a wager with the general. If the general gives their village the thief, their village would do the palace task free for a year. On the other hand, if komboothi gives the general the Queen's necklace, the general must provide them with rice for 2 years.
On the search, he meets the brave Varipuli (Aadhi) and identifies him as the lone thief. He brings Varipuli to his village with the necklace and the village gets enough rice for 2 years. a bond develops between the two. Varipuli joins komboothi's gang and they make lots of heists. komboothi's sister falls in love with Varipuli and when komboothi asks for his identity, Varipuli bluntly refuses for the marriage. Varipuli is housed from the village.
Next day during a bull fight, komboothi is badly injured and varipuli tries to save him by becoming his replacement. When komboothi refuses as he is a wanderer and not having any ancestry, varipuli says that his mother has ancestry from the village of Komboothi and he saves him. Suddenly few guards arrest varipuli and take him. to another village.
Varipuli has a past and his real name is Chinna. He belongs to a village that does the palace and local security. He is very happy and brave. One day a youth Thogaimayan (Bharath) from neighbouring village, is found dead in their village center. A big fight erupts between the villages. The king of their kingdom intervenes and orders China's village to give a young man of same age as offering to god as penalty.
Chinna becomes the accidental choice. 30 days are given as timeline for his execution. He is in love with girl in the same village called Vannapechi(Dhansika). After Chinna is chosen to be the offering to the god Chinna's lover asks her father to permit her to marry Chinna to at least spend his last days together. They marry on the 3rd day. On the 29th day Chinna finds a fellow village man running with a costly silver jewellery. When Chinna asks where he got it from he replies he got it from the dead Thogaimayan's hand. Chinna later finds out from a rich prostitute that it belongs to the king himself, as he had abducted her the next day she became a women and raped her. chinna realises the fact that the killer was the village's King . He secretly confronts the king and the king reveals the story.
The heir less old king abducts and forcefully marries the only princess of the neighbouring kind om , who was about to be married to her love, by killing all family covertly. The king believes that he has expanded his kingdom, as well as got a new attempt to get a son. but the new queen does'nt let him touch her. Months later, the king's second wife is found out to be pregnant . The queen tell she has the baby from the barbarian thondaiman in order to take revenge on him as she was the princess of a neighbouring kingdom and this King had killed everyone from her family. She proudly says that his heir will not be a royalty, but the son of a barbarian. The king finds out it was Thogaimayan who created this chaos and kills him in the village and then kills his second wife. Chinna captures the king and tries taking him back to the village but the king escapes and falls down a waterfall rather that to prevent the villagers from knowing. Chinna jumps too but his leg is broken and comes out only to find the King is dead. Meanwhile in the village as Chinna is not to be found anywhere they sacrifice chinna's married friend, due to pressure form the other village else. But the village head tells everyone that everyone has a right to kill Chinna as he has bought a disgrace to the village. Chinna gets well and meets his family to know that his wife is pregnant. He says he will go to the killing but his wife tells him to wait for the baby see its face then go.But her father tells Chinna to go out of the village and not come back for 10 years as the villagers will forgive anyone after 10 years exile as the villagers will not believe the truth. Chinna leaves.But the neibouring villagers find him in 9 years and 11 months.
At present Kombodhi and his friends save Chinna and take him in the way they come back again and Chinna surrenders as he doesn't want to live a life like this. He sees his son's face for the first and the last time. only to find out a child he knew from the child's young age is going to kill him he gets the knife and kills himself. As per his last wish, komboothi's villagers cease to rob, and become guards of places.Aadhi as Varipuli/Chinna
Pasupathy as Kombodhi
Dhansika as Vannapechi
Archana Jose Kavi as Chimitti
Karikaalan as Mathara
Thirumurugan as Veeranna
Vijayachander as Paalaiya Karar
Special appearances by :Bharath as Thogaimaan
Shweta Menon as Rajaambaal
Anjali as Vanchi
Sruthi Prakash as Kanaganuga
In April 2010, following the success of Angaadi Theru, Vasanthabalan started working on his new project based on Su. Venkatesan's novel Kaaval Kottam, a novel depicting the history of Madurai during 1310-1910, which was released in 2009. Aravaan's story would be based on one chapter from the novel, running to about 10 pages, with Vasanthabalan claiming that he expanded it and took one year for penning the scriptment, further telling that he had tried to "mix action and emotion". The director told that he included more characters and incidents into the script, disclosing that the film's lead character Varipuli was not there in the short story and that he created him and gave a name.
Vasanthabalan selected Aadhi to portray the lead character of Varipuli, after he had seen him performing in Mirugam and Eeram, citing that he chose him because of his height and his nose. Aadhi was further requested to develop six pack abs, which he accomplished in three months. Pasupathy, who earlier was cast in Vasanthabalan's Veyil, was chosen to essay another lead role, since he had the "looks and complexion" of the character he plays, apart from his "powerful eyes and his talent to portray a gamut of emotions". Vasanthabalan offered Dhansika, best known for playing a lead role in Peranmai, the lead female character of Vannapechi, for she had the "sharp features and dusky skin" required for the role. Malayali actress Archana Kavi was roped in for her first Tamil film to play the role of Chimitti, a bold and aggressive woman, who "loves to take control of everything around her", with Archana reporting that the character was "unlike her real self" and that she had difficulties to "get the body language and the Madurai Tamil right". In January 2011, Kabir Bedi, noted Hindi film actor, who had also appeared in several international productions, notably in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy, was signed up for a significant role, making his Tamil film debut, while the following month, actor Bharath, who had collaborated with Vasanthabalan in Veyil as well, accepted to perform a cameo role. In August 2011 reports confirmed that Malayali model-actress Shweta Menon would appear in a cameo role as a dasi.
Since the film was set in the past, the crew needed to find locations that had no trace of "modern life" yet and searched for remote unsettled areas devoid of cell phone towers, overhead power lines and tarred roads. Cinematographer Siddharth commented that it took him four months to find a suitable location.
The film was shot primarily at four locations, a small village Arithapatti in Madurai, where the major portions of the film were shot, Courtallam, Hogenakkal in Tamil Nadu, and forest areas in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. Arithapatti was a place that boasted off many caves, streams and huge valleys. The place further had hundreds of huts made of bamboo straws, palm leaves and stones and a Karuppan Temple. Siddharth stated these locations were chosen as the film had two different tones; the first of half of the film took place in a hot, dry, barren land and the entire portion was shot in Arithapatti, while the flashback scenes would happen in a humid area with greenery, water and huge trees, which was canned in Courtallam and the Kerala forests. The first shots were filmed in the Achankovil forests in Kerala. In Ovvamalai, near Melur, a settlement of 100 houses was created, while another set was erected at Kongaimalai, near Tenkasi. Art director Vijay Murugan needed fifty days to erect the sets. The scene where buffaloes are sacrificed was shot in dense forests in Tamil Nadu-Kerala border. Producer Siva said that he ordered 5,000 panchas and 3,000 cheeras specially made from Erode and Karur to give it a historical feel. Aadhi injured himself while performing a risky stunt sequence, in which the protagonist had to jump over a five feet palm tree.
The soundtrack was composed by playback singer Karthik, debuting as a composer through this film. The soundtrack release function was held on 5 October 2011 at the Anna Centenary Library at Kotturpuram in Chennai, with A. R. Rahman and Mani Ratnam launching the album.
All lyrics written by Na. Muthukumar (except where noted).
Rediff rated 3 out of 5 stars and wrote:"Aravaan is worth a listen". Behindwoods rated 2 1/2 out of 5 and wrote:"Without doubt, the music album of 'Aravan' will satisfy the taste buds of the patrons of true music. Favorites are 'Oruvaan Irruvaan', 'Nila Nila Poguthae' and 'Oore Oore Ennapetha'". Milliblog wrote:"Disappointingly safe and innocuous composing debut by Karthik". Musicaloud wrote:"A debut replete with feel-good songs, but devoid of much innovativeness". Musicperk wrote:"In his very first attempt, singer Karthik has proved himself as a promising music director [sic] his compositions are equally charming, he does justice to this period film"
Following several postponements, the film was released on 2 March 2012. A dubbed Telugu version titled Eka Veera was released simultaneously in Andhra Pradesh. Director N. Linguswamy's Thirupathi Brothers had acquired the distribution rights of the film, before they were sold again to Vendhar Movies, couple of days prior to the release. The film opened at No.1 in Chennai box office accounting for 54% of the takings and 46% in its second weekend.
The satellite rights of the film were secured by Kalaignar instead it went to Sun TV.
Aravaan fetched mixed reviews from critics. Behindwoods.com gave 2.5 out of 5 stars, claiming that it was "high on detailing and effort but low on engaging". Pavithra Srinivasan from Rediff.com gave it four out of five stars, labelling it as "brilliant" and calling it a "must-watch film". The reviewer further commented: "Aravaan is a slice of life from 18th century Tamil Nadu, with its lifestyle, humour, sorrows, loves and losses documented in painstaking fashion. This is an ode to history that deserves every bit of attention it receives. As such, it's one of those movies that deserve to become a legend".