Ramachandran (Sachin Khedekar) is a genetic scientist who does not get due credit and funds for his research. He tries creating a human with several talents through baby designing, which leads to the birth of his sons, who are conjoined together above the waist. Since they share a common heart, doctors suggest a sacrificial surgery, to which their mother Sudha (Tara) objects. They begin raising their children, Vimalan and Akhilan (both played by Suriya). In the following years, Ramachandran makes it big with the help of Sudha. His company, Locus Lacto Products, makes huge profit through their product 'Energion', the top-selling children’s powdered milk energy drink in the market.
Vimalan and Akhilan are poles apart in character, the former being decent, intellectual and good at studies while the latter is happy-go-lucky, socialising and poor at studies. Anjali (Kajal Aggarwal) joins their company as a translator. Both Vimalan and Akhilan are smitten by her. She, along with her Russian friend Volga, a journalist, spend their time with the brothers. Meanwhile, Anjali falls for Vimalan and Akhilan is jealous, yet feels happy for them. Volga is then revealed to be a spy who seemingly tries to steal the trade secrets of Energion. She is exposed and sent out by Ramachandran. She then takes the brothers to their cattle farm under the pretext of an interview where she takes pictures and even collects a milk sample from their farm. When Vimalan questions her, she warns him that Energion is an adulterated product and can lead to the death of thousands of children. She also exposes their father of killing the head of their R & D department and setting the lab on fire, thereby destroying evidence. Consequently, she is murdered, but, she swallows a pen-drive containing evidences of the foul-play before dying. Anjali acquires it from the person who performs Volga’s autopsy. She hands the pen-drive over to Vimalan. Following this, Vimalan and Akhilan are confronted by goons who try to get the pen-drive from him. Akhilan is convinced that the attack was only meant for robbing them. During this fight, Vimalan suffers a huge blow on the head.
Vimalan is declared brain-dead and his heart is transplanted into Akhilan. After the twins are separated through a surgery that results in Vimalan’s death, let Akhilan and Anjali depressed. But, Anjali moved on and falls for Akhilan. Sudha is warned that Energion is adulterated and she confronts her husband who asks the food safety department to raid their company. But to her surprise, Energion is declared safe and hygienic. Meanwhile, Akhilan discovers that his father is behind Vimalan’s death by tracking his assistant, Dinesh (Ravi Prakash). He gets hold of the pen-drive that contains several photos, where ingredients used as cattle feed at their farm are declared as no feed (very unsafe to eat). The beginning of the scheme is traced back to the European republic of Ukvania.
Accompanied by Anjali, Akhilan sets out to solve the mystery. They get her friend Ashok’s help, but he is subsequently killed. The photos are revealed to be athletes who were competing as Unified team under the Olympic flag in the 1992 Summer Olympics. The athletes were declared dead in a plane crash. The investigation leads them to the army medical research centre. The truth is then revealed that Energion was originally an undetectable steroid invented by Ramachandran to improve the performance of the athletes at the world games. Though the country performed well, some athletes began suffering from similar health problems leading to their deaths and that their death from a plane crash was faked to avoid national shame. They also learn that the adulterant in Energion could be detected only with the addition of ionisation enhancer. After being assaulted by a local mafia led by Dinesh, Akhilan manages to kill him and takes the remedial ingredients back to India.
Once they are in India, Ramachandran is exposed and is about to be arrested. Akhilan requests his father to surrender, but he discovers his father’s ugly side and finds out that he and his brother are just a result of their father’s failed experiment. Ramachandran also states that he used the whole society as his research lab, through Energion. His leg is then crushed by a rock after being unsuccessful in killing his son. Heartbroken and angry, Akhilan then leaves his father to die at the hands of rats which chew on his flesh.
Akhilan gets national recognition for bravery. He later marries Anjali, and the couple subsequently become parents to conjoined twins.Surya as Akhilan and Vimalan
Kajal Aggarwal as Anjali
Sachin Khedekar as Ramachandran
Tara as Sudha
Ravi Prakash as Dinesh
Shankar Krishnamurthy as Varadharajan
Julia Bliss as Nadia
Ajay Rathnam as Ajay Ratnam
Irina Maleeva as Volga
Isha Sharvani in a Special appearance
During the post-production stage of Ko, K V Anand announced that he would direct Suriya again after the success of Ayan, further noting that it would be produced by AGS Entertainment and would begin once Suriya finished shooting for A R Murugadoss's sci-fi thriller 7aum Arivu. Anand had supposedly narrated the script of Maatraan to Suriya in 2009, but the project failed to launch then, due to the lack of technology. In an interview he stated that the film was an inspired from the true story of Thailand-based Siamese twins Ying and Sang. "I read an article about them, which inspired me to come up with a similar story. I imagined how would it be if two people, who are physically conjoined, completely differ in their ideologies", expressed KV Anand.
Several actresses were considered for the lead female role including Taapsee Pannu, Samantha Ruth Prabhu, Sonakshi Sinha and Anushka Sharma, with Kajal Aggarwal eventually grabbing the role. Kannada actress Tara was signed on to play the mother to Suriya's character. Prakash Raj was dropped from the film and was replaced by Sachin Khedekar who had played notable roles in Yaavarum Nalam and Deiva Thirumagal. Daniel Balaji was said to be a part of the cast but he denied that he was a part of the crew. Hindi actor Milind Soman was also wrongly reported to be working for the film.
Maattrraan was officially launched on 22 July 2011 in Chennai. The first schedule was held near the Pakistan border. In November 2011, the crew filmed a song in Latvia. A major portion of the film was shot in the Balkan region in countries like Croatia, Serbia, Albania, Macedonia and especially a large chunk in Latvia. Another large portion was filmed in sets erected at Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad. In February 2012, the team left for the United States to do special facial scanning led by VFX Supervisor V Srinivas Mohan. Maattrraan thus became the first Indian film to use performance capture technology. Isha Sharvani performed an item number for a song titled 'Theeyae Theeyae' which was shot at AVM Studios. Furthermore, a duet song featuring Kajal and Suriya was shot at Wai, a village near Pune in Maharashtra. Moreover, many CG scenes were shot at Balu Mahendra studios. A song featuring over 500 junior artists and Suriya was shot in Jodhpur, touted to be the last phase of canning songs. Next, filming for an important talkie portion was held at Bhuj in Gujarat near the safe zone along the Indo-Pakistani border that lasted for five days. K V Anand and cinematographer Soundararajan subsequently were in Madagascar, hunting for a forest location to shoot a song for the film. However, since Suriya could not afford filming there due to his other commitments, Anand decided to erect a similar set in India to create the same look as in Madagascar. The shooting which was to be held in the US, was cancelled in June 2012. The entire filming was wrapped up in Norway by completing the 'Naani Koni' song in outdoor scenes shot at Trollstigen, Geiranger, Atlanterhavsveien, Måløy and Aurlandsfjorden.
Harris Jayaraj composed the music; the soundtrack features five tracks that belong to varied genres. As per K V Anand's idea, he and Jayaraj sailed on a ship in the Mediterranean Sea where most of the songs were roughly composed.
The audio rights of the film were acquired by Sony Music for ₹ 2.25 crore. The album was launched in a grand manner on 9 August 2012 at Singapore Expo in Singapore. The event was attended by several noted personalities from the film industry along with the technical crew and cast of the film. A live performance was given by Harris Jayaraj and singers Karthik, MK Balaji, Vijay Prakash Krish and Charulatha Mani. The event's satellite rights were secured by Jaya TV for an undisclosed price.
The soundtrack received generally positive reviews from critics. IndiaGlitz wrote: "Harris Jayaraj has not disappointed, the music composer has equipped 'Maattrraan' with songs that make an instant impact", and called the album "an interesting treat to the fans". In contrast, BehindWoods said "On screen, KV Anand's magic might do the trick but the songs as such aren't special. Most of them fall under the heard before category...", and gave it 2 out of 5 stars.
Maattrraan was touted to become Suriya's biggest release till date. The film's worldwide distribution rights were sold to Eros International for ₹60 crore (US$9.4 million). Rights of the Telugu version were secured by Bellamkonda Suresh's Multi-Dimensional Films for ₹17 crore (US$2.7 million). The rights of Karnataka and Kerala regions were acquired by Mandya Srikanth for ₹4 crore (US$620,000) and ₹3 crore (US$470,000) respectively. The movie's overseas rights were sold for ₹12 crore (US$1.9 million) to Gemini Film Circuit. In France, the film was released by Aanaa Films in 14 different screens across the country. In the US ATMUS distributed the film in 63 centers, making it the widest release of a Tamil film in the country. The film opened in over 1,200 screens across the globe with 32 screens in Chennai city alone on 12 October 2012. The satellite rights of the film were sold to Jaya TV.
Maattrraan's official teaser was released in Chennai and simultaneously uploaded to YouTube on 12 July 2012. The second official teaser trailer was released on 9 August 2012. During the late production stage the title was slightly changed from Maatraan to Maattrraan. The film was censored on 3 October 2012 and it was given a clean "U" certificate by the Indian Censor Board without cuts.
The Times of India gave the film 3.5 out of 5 stars, commenting that it had a "running time of close to three hours, and editor Anthony should have persevered with the director to reduce it as a lot of time is expended on scenes that could have been easily sacrificed to make it a much more compact package. Or maybe Anand also needed a Maattrraan (alternate) to step in when he lost his way". IndiaGlitz rated it 3.5 out of 5 stars, saying that it was "worth a watch for Suriya's acting and some great groundwork done by K. V. Anand", further adding that "the second half does a shabby job of wrapping things up, but it still gives you an unique experience overall". Sify's critic commented: "If you are looking at a time pass entertainer, walk into K. V. Anand’s Maattrraan. It is a fun ride till interval and in the second half there is a neat message told with lot of cinematic liberties. Suriya holds the film together as the script tends to waver towards the climax". BehindWoods.com gave it 3 out of 5 stars, while stating: "There is a pattern in K. V. Anand’s films. There is a definite social message which he masquerades with commercial components and packages it interestingly. Maattrraan also follows the route and it delivers what it promises- a rich and stylish entertainer with an interesting story". Oneindia rated the film 3 out of 5 stars, stating that it had "rare characters of conjoined twins but has a predictable story and appears like a second part of Suriya's last movie 7aum Arivu directed by A. R. Murugadoss" and that it was "good, not brilliant".
Pavithra Srinivasan of Rediff gave the film 2.5 out of 5 stars, concluding that it had a "great premise, great characters and actors who could have pulled off a complicated story. Sadly, the movie never capitalises on its strengths". S Viswanath from Deccan Herald cited that "despite its interesting theme, the film is, however, done in by its rather long running time as also painfully sluggish first half seeking to establish the plot but brimming with comic capers", summing up that it was "an ensemble entertainer but could have been much better". Haricharan Pudipeddi of NowRunning gave the film 2.5/5 stars, stating that it "only promises the potential of Suriya, but fails to arouse interest due to its stretched second half and lacklustre narration". The New Indian Express' critic Malini Mannath claimed that the film "with its whimsical screenplay and lackadaisical narration, turns out to be a huge disappointment", going on to add that it "smacks of overconfidence, and an utter disregard for the sense and sensibility of a viewer". J Hurtado of Twitch Film said, "Maatraan is two decent films split down the middle with little connective tissue to bind them, not unlike its protagonists" and concluded, "See it at your own risk".
In response to most of the reviews which mainly criticised the "film being very long and dragging towards the climax", Maattrraan was re-edited to make itself "more slick and racy, to appeal to a larger section of the audience". 1 minute and 23 seconds of the first half and 19 minutes and 30 seconds of the second half were trimmed from the film. The trimmed version earned favourable response from fans, who called it "more racy and entertaining".
Maattrraan had a good opening at the domestic box office, collecting ₹19.15 crore (US$3.0 million) nett in Tamil Nadu, with ₹2.27 crore (US$350,000) in Chennai alone in its opening weekend. The film also collected ₹2.86 crore (US$450,000) in Kerala in the opening weekend. The film stayed in the first position for three consecutive weeks in Chennai but was later overtaken by horror film Pizza at the box office. The film was declared as an 'Above average' by Behindwoods. The film is reported to have completed a 50-day run in a few theatres across Tamil Nadu.
Maattrraan had a good opening at the Overseas box office, collecting ₹69.20 lakh (US$110,000) in the UK and ₹92.52 lakh (US$140,000) in the USA in the opening weekend. The film overall collected ₹1.08 crore (US$170,000), and ₹1 crore (US$160,000) in UK and the USA, respectively.
Maattrraan won the EME (Excellence in Media & Entertainment) award for the Best VFX in an Indian feature film category for 2012, recognised as the highest honour for Visual Effect works.
When Maattrraan was touted to be the first Indian film based on conjoined twins, it created a stir after two other films with the same concept - Chaarulatha and Iruvan, were launched later. It was reported to have shared the same storyline as Charulatha, but director K V Anand however denied the reports and said, "After reading such reports, I watched the original version (Charulatha was based on 2007 Thai movie Alone). There isn’t any connection between the two movies, except for the fact that the protagonists are conjoined twins."
Later reports claimed that the film was inspired by another conjoined twins-themed American film Stuck on You, with the posters of both films also being described as similar to each other. Lead actor Suriya however denied this and said, "I have been seeing comments and links on social networking sites saying that Maattrraan is based on some world movie. Only after seeing those links, I came to know that such a film even exists!"
The film was banned in the state of Karnataka due to tension between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over the Kaveri River water dispute. However, its Telugu dubbed version Brothers was allowed to be released in the state.