November 14, 2001 (India)
G. Krishna, Vinayan
14 November 2001
Filmfare Award for Best Actor â€“ Tamil
Ilayaraja composed the music for Kasi and Naan Kadavul
Kasi is a 2001 Indian Tamil-language drama film, written and directed by Vinayan. The film has Vikram playing the eponymous character of a blind village singer. A remake of the director's own 1999 Malayalam film Vasanthiyum Lakshmiyum Pinne Njaanum, the film has Kaveri, reprising her role from the original and Kavya Madhavan making her Tamil debut in supporting roles. The film was produced by Aroma Mani for Sunitha Productions. The film score and soundtrack was composed by maestro Ilaiyaraaja.
The film was released on 25 December 2001 and won positive reviews from critics upon release. Vikram won the Filmfare Best Actor Award.
Kasi is a tale about the deception of appearances. Kasi(Vikram) is a blind poet and singer who supports his family by his songs. He has an older brother Sevalai(Thalaivasal Vijay) who spends what money he has drinking, an abusive, crippled father and a younger sister Lakshmi(Kavya Madhavan). When the local landlord, Raghupathi(Rajeev) returns to the district, he brings along with him Mr Dinesh, the CM's son and his wife Radhika(Aishwarya). Raghupathi has a reputation as a God in the area because of his charitable works and when a specialist eye doctor arrives he promises to pay the fees for an operation to give back Kasi's vision. Elated by this news, Kasi learns that he has to find an eye-donor and his girlfriend Kaveri(Kaveri), who cannot speak, offers one of her eyes. Unfortunately, something happens that shows that the 'God-like' Raghupathi and Mr Dinesh are not what they seem. Blissfully unaware of the sadness of those around him, Kasi looks forward to his operation.
Simran was offered the role of Lakshmi, Vikram's sister but she refused the offer because she didn't want to act in a supporting role. Then Malayalam actress Kavya Madhavan accepted the character after being impressed by its original Malayalam version. The shooting was completed in just 45 days. Vikram had rolled up his eyes to look convincingly blind in the film for this role of an innocent, rural, struggling blind lead character. For the movie, he sunbathed on the terrace of his beachside home in Chennai for a sunburnt look and got dizzying headaches while practising to look blind.
Malathi Rangarajan of The Hindu said, "The magic touch, in the music of the maestro (Ilaiyaraja) is missing in Kasi".
The film received mostly positive reviews from critics. The Hindu applauded the off-beat attempt stating, "A film without predictable ingredients is a rarity. The Kasi team has to be appreciated for its boldness, in telling a story, in a simple, straight forward manner without the evitable distractions". While Vikram's portrayal was appreciated, "As a blind man, with his eyeballs completely in and with facial twitches so typical of the visually impaired, his portrait is realistic", the two lead actress too received acclaim, "Kavya Madhavan and Kaveri, have excellently expressive eyes, which have been put to good use". S. R. Ashok Kumar said, "As the blind Kasi, he touched a chord". Sify noted, "Vikram, it goes without saying that he is the life and soul of Kasi. As the blind singer, he brings laughter, tears and a lump in one’s throat. Vikram has given an extraordinarily detailed performance, which only a Kamalhassan can do!" and summed up saying it's an emotionally powerful movie. Balaji Balasubramaniam wrote, "The movie is populated with characters that have a big effect, both positive and negative, on us".
Kasi was commercially successful as well.
A remake of the Malayalam film Vasanthiyum Lakshmiyum Pinne Njaanum, Kasi was further remade in Kannada, Telugu and Sinhala. Namma Preethiya Ramu, the Kannada version, starred Darshan in the lead and was released on November 2003. Seenu Vasanthi Lakshmi, the Telugu version, starring R. P. Patnaik in the lead released on 24 March 2004. The Sinhalese Tamil version Sooriyaa is directed by Dr. Niranjan starring himself in the title role.
The film was also dubbed and released in Telugu as Kashinath in 2012. It was produced by Gajula Nageswara Rao and distributed by Kumari G. Kirthana of Sri Siva Parvathi Productions. The lyrics were written by Vanamali.
ReferencesKasi (film) Wikipedia
Kasi (film) IMDb Kasi (film) themoviedb.org