Avvai Shanmughi poster

Avvai Shanmughi

  • 10 Nov 1996
  • 2h 41m
  • Comedy, Drama
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Avvai Shanmugi is a 1996 Tamil comedy film inspired by the English-language film Mrs Doubtfire starring Robin Williams. It was directed by K. S. Ravikumar and written by Crazy Mohan. The film features Kamal Haasan in the lead role role with Meena, Gemini Ganesan, Nagesh, Heera, Manivannan and Nassar. The film's score and soundtrack were composed by Deva, while the film was produced by Ravindran and Hari. Avvai Shanmughi received positive reviews and performed well at the box office.

This film was remade in Hindi as Chachi 420, released the following year and met with the same success as latter.




  • Status Released
  • Release date 10 Nov 1996
  • Running time 2h 41m
  • Genres Comedy, Drama


Janaki, a married woman who lives separated from her husband Pandian, applies for divorce. She offers various reasons for wanting a divorce. She has married Pandian against the wishes of her rich father Vishwanathan Iyer. But she is not able to come to terms with living in Pandian's small house without amenities. Pandian is an assistant dance choreographer with a modest income and is not able to spend much time with the family. All this accumulates and Janaki decides to apply for divorce, which is granted. She has sole custody of their daughter Bharathi, who Pandian can meet only once a week, his only solace. However, Bharathi loves him a lot and dislikes the arrangement.

Basha, Pandian's Muslim friend, advises him to steal his daughter from Janaki. Pandian assents, but in doing so, he is discovered; now he cannot meet her at all. Pandian later learns that Vishwanathan has advertised for a woman to look after his granddaughter. In conversation with Joseph, a makeup artist, Pandian gets the idea of playing an old woman, so that he can be with Bharathi and Janaki without them knowing. Joseph agrees to this plan and the transformation is done from Pandian to "Avvai Shanmugi", a dignified, elderly Iyer woman.

Shanmugi applies for the job, but is rejected as another woman had been chosen. But when Bharathi is hurt shooting fireworks and catches fire, Shanmugi throws her into the swimming pool against the wishes of the household, who believe that wrapping in woollens is the proper way to put out a fire. When a doctor comes to take a look at Bharathi's wound, he praises Shanmugi for administering the right treatment, which causes Vishwanathan to reject the earlier hired nanny and hire Shanmugi. Soon after that, all the family members start to become closer to Shanmugi, including Janaki and Barathi. When Bharathi gets to properly meet Shanmugi, she recognises her father almost immediately, but agrees not to reveal his secret.

Rathna is a girl who is in love with Pandian, but is constantly rebuffed. Basha takes up the role of a mute Iyer cook and is admitted into Vishwanathan's house on the recommendation of Shanmugi. However, Basha is caught later while doing his namaz, thereby blowing his cover. Hilarious circumstances follow and slowly Shanmugi manages to convince the household of her sincerity. So much so that Vishwanathan begins to develop a liking for Shanmugi and in fact proposes to her too. Around the same time, Mudaliyar, the house-owner of the place where Pandian lives, happens to bump into Shanmugi and sympathises with her for being a widow. Eventually, Mudaliyar too begins to develop a liking for her.

Meanwhile, Pandian slowly begins to realise that Janaki has not totally forgotten him. Shanmugi rebuffs Vishwanathan's proposals by saying that her husband is alive. Adding to the chaos, she tells Vishwanathan that Joseph is her husband; while Pandian tells Sethuramar, Vishwanathan's secretary, that Mudaliyar is Shanmugi's husband. There is much confusion after this, but it is resolved at last. Shanmugi convinces Vishwanathan that Janaki's right place is by her husband. While Viswanathan goes off to talk to his estranged son-in-law, Shanmugi reveals her true self as Pandian to Basha by removing her blouse. This is seen by Janaki, who misunderstands the scene and believes Shanmugi to be a seductress.

Janaki goes to Pandian's house to reclaim him, but upon seeing Rathna waiting there, and Shanmugi's clothes lying around, thinks that her husband, too, is promiscuous. Janaki leaves and attempts suicide by jumping into a river, but Shanmugi stops her. Shanmugi reveals her identity as Pandian. Janaki and Pandian reconcile, while Pandian "kills off" Shanmugi by attributing her "death" to drowning while attempting to save Janaki from committing suicide.

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