After significant pre-production which included rehearsals of the entire script before filming, the film was extensively shot across Europe and on a cruise ship, whilst scenes were also canned across Chennai and Kodaikanal. It was produced by Udhayanidhi Stalin, Manmadan Ambu released worldwide on 23 December 2010. It was dubbed into Telugu as Manmadha Banam and distributed by Gemini Film Circuit. Upon release, the film opened to mixed reviews and had an average run at the box office.
Ambujakshi alias "Ambu" (Trisha), a film actress, arrives in Europe to spend the vacations with her friend Deepa (Sangeetha), a divorcee and her two children. While going in a taxi, Ambu recalls an early incident regarding her ex-boyfriend Madhanagopal alias Madhan (Madhavan), a wealthy entrepreneur: Three years ago, she was shooting for a film with actor Suriya in a bright park and Madhan was suspicious of her relationship with the actor. While returning, he lets Ambu drive his new car. Madhan advised Ambu to stop acting, but Ambu claimed it as her profession which she cannot give up, leading to an argument that caused their car to crash near a rock. At the same time they blamed a small white car that just passed by, to be the reason for the crash. Unable to bear any more arguments, Ambu broke her relationship with Madhan and walked away.
Madhan now suspects that Ambu may be having a relationship with her colleagues in the film industry. To end that, he hires detective Major Raja Mannar (Kamal Haasan) to follow her when she goes on a cruise for vacation in Barcelona. Mannar accepts, as he needs money to pay the hospital bills of his friend Rajan (Ramesh Arvind), who is diagnosed with cancer, and his wife Mallika (Urvashi) takes care of him . Contrary to Madhan's suspicions, Ambu is loyal and virtuous; when Mannar reports this, Madhan refuses to pay him as his suspicions were unfounded.
Disappointed, Mannar to save his dying friend Rajan fabricates a story and tells Madhan that she is having a secret affair during her trip. In the process, he introduces himself as a manager of a security company to Ambu, Deepa and Deepa's children, and becomes close to the group. While getting closer to Ambu, Mannar says to Madhan that Ambu is good but the other guy is bad, but Madhan does not want to hear that and eventually breaks up with Ambu. In the background, Madhan's mother (Usha Uthup) who never liked Ambu calls her brother to inform that Madhan has broken up with Ambu and that they should get his daughter (Oviya) married to Madhan as agreed in the past. While recollecting his past as an Army officer to Ambu, Mannar reveals that he lost his wife three years ago in a car accident. Ambu realizes to her horror that the accident was caused by her during the argument with Madhan. Both of them decide to confront each other with the truth, but Ambu misunderstands Kurup (Kunchan) as Madhan's detective and slaps him and tells that she loves Mannar. Meanwhile, Rajan should undergo an operation immediately after the chemotherapy to keep him alive. To make things worse Madhan announces that he will visit them in person at Venice. Ultimately, Mannar and Deepa (who now knows that Mannar was the actual spy that Madhan sent) stage a plan with the help of Kurup to deceive Madhan for the final break-up with Ambu.
Madhan arrives at the place and various mix-ups and misunderstandings take place among the characters. Finally, Madhan realises that Ambu has fallen in love with Mannar and accepts it with a heavy heart. At the same time, Rajan recovers from cancer. The film ends as everyone returns to India on the cruise, with Madhan and Deepa starting a relationship.
After Unnaipol Oruvan, Kamal Haasan opted against reviving his home production Marmayogi, and signed on for a film produced by Udhayanidhi Stalin. While the film went through months of pre-production, Trisha Krishnan, in December 2009, and then R. Madhavan, in February 2010, were added to the project, with K. S. Ravikumar being chosen as the director. Though early indications suggested the film would be titled Yaavarum Kaelir or Karunyam, for which Poetess Vishali Kannadasan, daughter of lyricist Kannadasan was even approached to play a pivotal role. The launch ceremony of the film, held on 3 June 2010, confirmed the title as Manmadan Ambu. During the launch, Kamal Haasan said that prior to the shoot rehearsals were performed. Haasan, along with Crazy Mohan, wrote the film's screenplay and dialogues.
Shoots were subsequently held aboard on a cruise liner from Dubai, and the film was shot across various regions of Europe including Paris and Marseille in France, Barcelona in Spain and Rome and Venice in Italy. Parts of the film were also shot in Kodaikanal in South India; remaining portions were completed in Chennai.
Kalaignar TV bought the satellite rights.
Manmadhan Ambu received mixed reviews from critics. Behindwoods gave 2.5 out of 5 and stated "Overall, Manmadhan Ambu is an entertainer but in parts", while Sify wrote "Manmadhan Ambu does impress but it lacks the punch to captivate the audiences". Rediff gave 3 out of 5, claiming that "Manmadhan Ambu defies characterization as either a romantic film or a comedy, largely because the two don't mix." Indiaglitz said, "Manmadhan Ambu may not be a Panchathanthiram or Dasavatharam, but a perfect holiday entertainer with Kamal stamp all over it." Malathi Rangarajan of The Hindu stated that, "Sprinkled with humour, joy, love, sadness and sentiment with an undercurrent of jealousy running through it, MMA [Manmadhan Ambu] is a cocktail of emotions – tasty, but at times queer!" NDTV resident editor T.S. Sudhir wrote, "Don't go expecting a Panchatantiram from the Kamal-KS Ravikumar combo, for you will be disappointed. MMA has starting trouble and one hour into the film, you are desperately waiting for the comic fireworks to start, given that the film has been marketed as a laugh riot. The riot, when it happens post the interval, leaves you with a feeling of being shortchanged." He further mentioned, "The problem with MMA is as much with Kamal as with the audience for you expect nothing short of brilliance from this Master of all trades. In MMA, Kamal has shot the Cupid's arrow (which is what Manmadhan Ambu means) rather lazily. Go without expecting a world record in archery!"
The Telugu dub version of the film, Manmadha Baanam also opened to mixed reviews from critics. Jeevi from Idlebrain gave the film 3 out of 5 rating and stated "The comedy in this film is predictable at times and fresh in certain scenes. The plus points of the movie are main leads and comedy quotient. On the flipside, the characters and narration becomes confusing towards end and the editing should have been smoother. On a whole, Manmadha Banam is a decent comedy." Reviewer from 123 Telugu also gave the film 3 out of 5 and said "Manmadha Banam is an interesting movie. It has flaws, but its good parts outweigh them by far." Deepa Garimella from Full Hyderabad gave the film 7 out of 10 rating and stated that "While the movie is immensely enjoyable, thanks to the well-conceptualized scenes and the stellar performances all round, it is slow. So slow, in fact, that it feels like 2 movies – pre-interval being a drama and post-interval a comedy." and she also praised the performances of the actors. Y. Sunita Chowdary from Cinegoer said "Manmadha Banam does have a plot but the character development, narration and the pace makes it a very restless and a tedious watch." and was critical about the dubbing. She finally concluded by stating that "The film could have drawn a little wider audience than the filmmakers intended, if the length would have been a half an hour shorter."
Manmadhan Ambu grossed ₹46.2 million (US$720,000) in Chennai alone over a period of 4 weeks. In UK, it grossed $77,360 and in Malaysia $653,942. Sify declared the film as "average".
The film's music was scored by Devi Sri Prasad, after initially Shruti Hassan and later Thaman were reported to be the music composer. The controversial song Kamal Kavidhai, had come under criticism due to lines about a woman's desire and for references to Hindu deities like Aranganathar and Sri Varalakshmi. Therefore, producer Udhayanidhi Stalin opted to remove it from the film.
All lyrics written by Kamal Haasan, except where noted.
The album received positive reviews from music critics. C. Karthik from Behindwoods rated the album 3/5 and quoted "Overall, DSP can be very proud of this album as he has deviated from his normal offerings. A westernised folk song, jazz, melodies, a poem and a kuthu...an album could not ask for more variety and DSP has delivered. Though the music gets a little heavy at times, he has Kamal, with his voice and lyrics, to save him. The new experiments shows his maturity and his intention for being innovative. With the movie's release soon, the songs must be playing non-stop on air." Pavithra Srinivasan of Rediff also gave the album 3/5 saying that "DSP has a reputation for sticking with his regulation format of tunes and here too, you can see it pop up at certain places but there's also a departure from the usual, mostly an influence of Haasan in both lyrics and music. Whatever the reason, the end result is an album that provides you a treat. Go for it." Indiaglitz said "Overall, this film must have been a different experience for DSP who all along dwelled in fast rhythmic world. The whole album has an up market western jazz feel except for that one song. For a story that happens in Europe, DSP has done it right, we guess."
Though the Censor Board of India cleared the song Kamal Kavidhai penned by Kamal himself, it courted controversy after right wing groups protested against the lyrics of song as obscene. However the song made in to the movie but a short version with modified lyrics played in the background with the end credits. There have also been several discussions as to how the picturisation of Neela Vaanam (sung by Kamal Haasan himself) has been slightly inspired from official video of Coldplay's The Scientist. The whole song has been depicted in such a way so as to highlight the events that led to the death of Mannar's (Kamal's character) French wife Juliet, in reverse.