The film opened to Indian audiences, after several delays, on 5 May 2000 gaining positive reviews and box office success. Kandukondain Kandukondain was dubbed and released in Telugu as Priyuraalu Pilichindi, and the producers released subtitled versions worldwide. The film went on to feature in international film festivals and gain notable awards. Additionally, Shankar Mahadevan won the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer for the song "Enna Solla Pogirai" in the film.
Kandukondain Kandukondain opens with military personnel Major Bala (Mammootty) fighting in a war and losing his left leg in a grenade explosion. After the opening credits, Sowmya (Tabu) and Meenakshi "Meenu" (Aishwarya Rai) are shown as the adult daughters of Pathma (Srividya) living in a Chettiar mansion in Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu with their maternal grandfather Chandrasekhar (Unnikrishnan Namboothiri), maidservant Chellatha (S. N. Lakshmi) and younger sister Kamala (Shamili). Sowmya is a school principal while Meenu is passionate about classic Tamil poetry, music and dance. Major Bala, one of the rich men in their village falls in love with Meenu, but Meenu falls in love with Srikanth (Abbas). Manohar (Ajith Kumar) is a director who comes to Meenu's house for a film shoot. Sowmya and Manohar fall for each other but an issue crops up between the two and whether Manohar manages to win her back forms the rest of their part of the story.
Chandrasekhar, on his deathbed, tries to say something about the will which was written by him and kept in a box, a long time ago. No one understands him. After his death, their lawyer breaks open the box and found out that he had bequeathed all his property to his younger son Swaminathan (Nizhagal Ravi), remembering the fact that his elder daughter Pathma had eloped and married without his knowledge. Unable to bear Swaminathan's wife's arrogant behaviour upon inheriting the mansion, Sowmya and her family move to Chennai.
In Chennai, Sowmya finds a respectable job in a software company while Meenu becomes a playback singer with the help of Major Bala. Meanwhile, Srikanth's finance company goes bankrupt and he has to pay back his investors. A minister offers to bail out Srikanth and his company if Srikanth marries his daughter. Srikanth agrees and when Meenu finds this out by chance, she is shocked and overwhelmed at Srikanth's hypocrisy. She falls into an open manhole and gets rescued by Bala. Realising Bala's true love for her, Meenu falls in love with him.
Manohar's first movie project is in disarray and he is thrown out. He plans his own movie, a path-breaking action one with Nandhini Varma (Pooja Batra) as the heroine. Nandhini falls for Manohar's charm although not with any serious intentions. Rumours of an affair spread which hurt Sowmya deeply. The movie becomes a big commercial success. When he visits Sowmya's house in Chennai, he finds out that Sowmya is going to California. Tearful exchanges of resentment are exchanged between them as Manohar tries to convince Sowmya after some tearful drama. The movie ends with Manohar marrying Sowmya and Bala marrying Meenakshi.The film's music director A. R. Rahman appears as himself, as do musician Gangai Amaren and actor Senthil in guest appearances.
After the success of his maiden venture Minsaara Kanavu, Rajiv Menon was signed by Kalaipuli S. Dhanu to direct a film under his production in the final quarter of 1998. Menon subsequently wanted a bigger storyline and scripted a screenplay based on the Jane Austen novel, Sense and Sensibility and the project emerged as Kandukondain Kandukondain. Menon claimed that the story of two sisters reflected in the film were reminiscent of him and his brother through difficult parts of their lives. The film was initially launched as a multilingual project in Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and Malayalam, though it only released in Tamil with a subsequent dubbed version in Telugu titled Priyuraalu Pilichindi. Menon first penned the story in English and then dictated the dialogue in Malayalam which were then translated by Sujatha into Tamil. After most of the production was complete in November 1999, Menon wanted a rough copy of the film to be previewed by the village audience first, to ensure that they could relate to the subject, after his previous film failed to fare well in rural areas. After showing parts of the film, they eventually held a group discussion before thanking the volunteers with gifts, while receiving positive feedback.
The audio release function of the film was held, with Kamal Haasan in attendance. The film was initially scheduled for release in the Diwali season of 1999, before delays postponed the makers to announce that the film would release on 1 January 2000, becoming the first film of the millennium. However, further delays due to the success of other films Padayappa and Vaali ensured that the film missed that date. The release of Mani Ratnam's Alaipayuthey pushed Kandukondain Kandukondain to be released in May 2000.
While Mammootty was cast in the lead role as former army soldier, making a rare appearance in Tamil films. Later Ajith Kumar chosen for a supporting role in January 1999. However, Prabhu Deva was chosen to play another supporting but later Prabhu Deva's role was briefly taken by Prashanth, who then opted out with Abbas being signed on. Soundarya was offered Aishwarya Rai's role. She had to turn it down because of scheduling clashes. Aishwarya Rai was signed on to the project, making her third appearance in Tamil films after critical success in Mani Ratnam's Iruvar and Shankar's Jeans. Despite being crowded with Hindi film offers, Rai claimed that she was a large fan of Menon's work and could strongly identify with the character, hence accepting the offer. Simran was subsequently signed on to play another leading role in the project, But her commitments with other movies led Tabu to land in the project. Aishwarya Rai and Tabu's characters were largely different from one another, with Rai claiming that working with her co-actress was exciting because of the differences. Srividya was signed on to play Tabu and Rai's mother, while Shamili of Anjali fame played their sister. Nizhalgal Ravi and Anita Ratnam were also a part of the family, with Malayalam actor, Unnikrishnan Nambooripad, making his debut as the bed-ridden grandfather. Prominent actors Raghuvaran and Manivannan were selected for supporting roles in the film, while Hindi actors Dino Morea and Pooja Batra appeared in small character roles, with the latter playing an actress. Cameraman Aravind Krishna appeared in a small role as Ajith's friend. Senthil is credited with a guest appearance in the film, while technicians Gangai Amaren, A. R. Rahman and Rajiv Menon all play one-scene cameos.
Rajiv Menon and Dhanu retained several of the technical team from his previous venture, with only Sujatha added to write the dialogues. Menon cited that he often thought of the dialogues in his native language Malayalam before telling writer Sujatha to translate them into Tamil. Furthermore, a cinematographer himself, Menon opted not to be so in the project and appointed Ravi K. Chandran to control the camera. He revealed that directing and being cinematographer at the same time was "strenuous", though revealed he shot almost thirty percent of the film as Chandran had been briefly unavailable. Music of the film was composed by Rahman, while lyrics were written by Vairamuthu, with the pair having a spat during the production. Suresh Urs edited the film, while Vikram Dharma directed stunts, Nagu directed arts and Rekha Prakash, Brindha and Raju Sundaram choreographed the songs. Costumes were designed by Nalini Sriram.
Scenes with Mammootty's army soldier character were shot from February to April 1999, close to the outbreak of the Kargil War. During the shoot in the Chettiar mansion in Karaikudi, Menon cited that the unit bonded with Aishwarya Rai and Tabu becoming good friends, Ajith Kumar learning off Mammootty and the whole unit joining over dinner. In May 1999, the crew along with Aishwarya Rai and Abbas went to Scotland to film the title song on a lake in Dornie with the backdrop of a castle, the Eilean Donan. In the "Konjum Mainakale" song, professional Kathakali artists were used; the video for "Yengay Yenedhu Kavidhai" was shot in the backdrop of Chennai monsoonal rains. The production team planned a four-day shoot trip to Egypt to film a song with the backdrop of the pyramids, however, the stay turned into a week-long schedule. The team of director, Ajith, Tabu, choreographer Raju Sundaram and cinematographer Ravi K. Chandran daily traveled three hours from Cairo and shot in the heat, with one day of shoot being cancelled after Tabu fainted. The film was delayed for six months due to the success of Aishwarya Rai's Taal and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, which prompted the revival of other projects she had signed up to at the period. Furthermore, Menon's insistence that A. R. Rahman reworked some of the music to provide a better fusion of classical and contemporary music, also postponed progress. The film subsequently ended filming six months behind the schedule devised by Menon, but he cited that everything had fallen in place as planned.
During post-production, the film ran into problems with dubbing with Mammooty initially showing hesitance for dubbing for his character, before eventually giving in to the producer's demands. Actor Vikram dubbed for Abbas's character while actress Revathi dubbed for Tabu's character.
Made on a high budget of ₹4 crore, the film opened to positive reviews from film critics. The Indian Express stated "A progressive film encouraging female independence, yet staying a warm family tale in essence, Kandukondain Kandukondain is the kind of film every intelligent movie-goer ought not to miss. Almost every supporting character pitches in an impressive performance, thus making Kandukondain Kandukondain a wonderful watch". In the review for Rediff, Shobha Warrier stated that although the film had "too many songs, too little emotion" it "had a powerful story with intense and well-developed characters. One of the most poignant scenes in the film is Mammootty's outburst against the system, which forgets war heroes who lay down their lives for a cause". The film successfully completed 150 days at the box office in Tamil Nadu. It was also successful in Kerala. Menon chose to bring the film to North Indian audiences too, but opted against dubbing the film and submitted a final copy with English subtitles. He felt that the strong elements of Carnatic music, Subramanya Bharathi's poetry and the ambience of Karaikudi, were exclusively made for a Tamil backdrop. It was later released by Shyam Shroff of Shringar Films in limited cinemas in Mumbai and New Delhi, earning rave reviews from critics and doing reasonable business at the box-office. Shroff revealed "although the film didn't make pots of money - high theatre rentals and escalating costs of publicity kept profits to a minimal amount -- it created tremendous brand equity". Critic Shobhaa De noted that the "word of mouth was spectacular" and the "reports were consistently good" about the film.
The film was showcased at the Regus London Film Festival in November 2011, and critics from the UK newspaper The Guardian rated it as amongst the top 12 films out of 270. Critic Peter Bradshaw noted it "is an entertaining reinvention of the novel" and adds that "the richly complicated plot allows it to be exuberantly transposed to modern-day India", ranking it alongside Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous. Menon continued to show the film across the world, including having screenings at the Washington Film Festival in April 2001, Locarno Film Festival in August 2002 and the Tiburon International Film Festival in March 2004.2001 National Film Awards
Won — National Award for Male Playback Singer – Shankar Mahadevan
2001 Filmfare Awards South
Won — Filmfare Award for Best Tamil Film — Kandukondain Kandukondain
Won — Filmfare Award for Best Tamil Director — Rajiv Menon
2001 Cinema Express Awards
Won — Cinema Express Award for Best Film — Kandukondain Kandukondain
A. R. Rahman composed the original score and the songs with lyrics by Vairamuthu. The album rights were bought by Sa Re Ga Ma for a then-record sum of ₹2.2 crore.
The soundtrack features eight songs, including a poem by Bharathiyar, tuned by Rahman. The song "Kannamoochi" is based on Carnatic raga ragamalika, it was composed in Nattakurinji Raga. Regarding the song, Rajiv Menon who is a fan of this raga took old recordings of the raga rendered by several musicians to A.R.Rahman, requesting him to compose at least one piece on the raga. "Kandukondain Kandukondain" is based on Nalinakanthi raga, "Smayiyai" is based on jazz music, and "Enna Solla Pogirai" is a folksy and romantic number.
All lyrics written by Vairamuthu.
All lyrics written by Veturi Sundararama Murthy.