Gemini is a 2002 Indian Tamil-language action film written and directed by Saran and produced by AVM Productions. The film features Vikram in the title role of a small-time criminal and aspiring don who, after falling in love, decides to refrain from crime; Kiran Rathod plays his love interest. Murali stars as Singaperumal, a police officer who inspires and guides Gemini in his attempts to reform. The cast includes Kalabhavan Mani as the principal antagonist while Vinu Chakravarthy, Manorama and Thennavan portray significant roles. Based on gang wars in Chennai, the film delves into the lives of outlaws and the roles the police and society play in their rehabilitation and acceptance.
In early 2001, rival gangsters "Vellai" Ravi and Chera reformed themselves with the patronage of a police officer. Saran was inspired by this incident and scripted a story based on it. The film was initially entitled Erumugam with Ajith Kumar intended to play the lead role, but the project was shelved after a week's shoot when Ajith lost interest and left. Saran reworked the script, retitled the production Gemini and cast the new leads. The revived project was announced in August 2001. Production began shortly afterwards in December the same year and was completed by March 2002. The film was shot mainly at the AVM Studios in Chennai, while two song sequences were filmed in Switzerland. The film had cinematography by A. Venkatesh and editing by Suresh Urs while the soundtrack was scored by Bharathwaj.
The film's soundtrack was well received, with the song "O Podu" becoming a sensation in Tamil Nadu. Gemini was released two days ahead of the Tamil New Year on 12 April 2002 and received mixed reviews from critics, with praise directed towards the performances of Vikram and Mani but criticism towards Saran's script. Made at an estimated cost of ₹40 million (US$590,000), the film earned ₹210 million (US$3.1 million) at the box office and became the highest-grossing Tamil film of the year. The film's success, largely attributed to the popularity of "O Podu", resurrected the Tamil film industry, which was experiencing difficulties after a series of box office failures. The film won three Filmfare Awards, three ITFA Awards and four Cinema Express Awards. Later that same year, Saran remade the film in Telugu as Gemeni.Teja (Kalabhavan Mani) is a high-profile gangster in North Madras, who often imitates the behaviour characteristic of different animals for sarcastic effect. Accompanied by his gang, he arrives at a magistrate's court for a hearing. His animal antics are mocked at by "Chintai" Jeeva, another accused. Teja and his gang retaliate and kill Jeeva within the court premises. Jeeva was a member of a rival gang headed by Gemini (Vikram), an aspiring goon from Chintadripet who aspires to dethrone Teja and take his place. To avenge Jeeva's death, Gemini hunts down the murderer Pandian while Isaac, one of Gemini's men, kills him. This incident leads to a feud between Gemini and Teja, and a fight for supremacy ensues. Pandian's mother Annamma (Manorama), a destitute woman, locates the whereabouts of her son's murderers. She approaches Gemini, becomes the gang's cook and awaits a chance to poison them.
Gemini meets and falls in love with Manisha (Kiran Rathod), a free-spirited college girl. To pursue her, he joins an evening class at her college and she falls in love with him, unaware of his true identity. Two businessmen approach Gemini to evict traders from a market so that a shopping complex can be built in its place. As the market is in his control, Gemini refuses the offer and the businessmen hire Teja to execute the job. Feigning an altercation with Gemini, his sidekick Kai (Thennavan) joins Teja's gang, acts as the inside man and foils the plan. Teja becomes enraged at being outsmarted by Gemini.
Singaperumal (Murali), an astute police officer, is promoted to the position of Director General of Police (DGP). Keen on eradicating crime, he arrests both Gemini and Teja and the arrests are made "off the record" owing to their political influence. Aware of the rivalry between them, Singaperumal puts them in a private cell so they can beat each other to death. While Teja tries to exact revenge for the market issue, Gemini does not fight back but persuades Teja to trick Singaperumal by pleading guilty and requesting a chance to reform. Gemini's trick works and they are released.
Since Gemini was arrested at the college, Manisha discovers his identity and resents him. To regain her attention, Gemini reforms his ways. Though his gang initially disapprove of it, they relent. As Gemini and his gang regret their actions, Annamma reveals her true identity and forgives them. Singaperumal helps Gemini to get back into college and reunite with Manisha. Teja returns to his gang and continues his illegal activities. He pesters Gemini to help him in his business. Gemini informs Singaperumal of Teja's activities; Teja is caught smuggling narcotics, is prosecuted and serves a term in prison.
A few months later, Singaperumal is transferred and a corrupt officer (Vinu Chakravarthy) takes his place. The current DGP releases Teja and together, they urge Gemini to work for them and repay for the losses they incurred but Gemini refuses. To force him to return to his old ways, Teja persuades Isaac to conspire against Gemini. With Isaac's help, Teja plots and kills Kai. Gemini is infuriated and confronts Teja to settle the issue. During the fight, Gemini beats up Teja and swaps their clothes, leaving Teja bound and gagged. The new DGP arrives and shoots Gemini dead; he later realises that he had actually shot Teja who was in Gemini's clothes. While the DGP grieves over Teja's death, he receives news that he has been transferred to the Sewage Control Board.In February 2001, underworld dons "Vellai" Ravi and Chera, who terrorised the city of Madras (now Chennai) in the 1990s, abandoned a life of crime and took up social work. The then-DCP of Flower Bazaar Shakeel Akhter presided over the oath-taking ceremony and welcomed the rehabilitation programme. During the making of his film Alli Arjuna (2002), director Saran came across a newspaper article carrying this piece of news and was fascinated. Shortly afterwards in March 2001, Saran announced his next directorial venture would be inspired by the incident. Titled Erumugam (meaning "upward mobility"), the project was scheduled to enter production after the completion of Alli Arjuna.
The director disclosed that it was "a modern day rags to riches story" where the protagonist rises from humble origins to an enviable position. The venture was to be funded by A. Purnachandra Rao of Lakshmi Productions. The film would mark the director's third collaboration with Ajith Kumar in the lead after the success of Kaadhal Mannan (1998) and Amarkalam (1999). Laila Mehdin and Richa Pallod, who played the heroine in Saran's Parthen Rasithen (2000) and Alli Arjuna respectively, were to play the female lead roles. While the recording for the film's audio reportedly began on 16 March 2001, the filming was to start in mid-June and continue until August that year, followed by post-production work in September. It was planned to release the film on 14 November 2001 coinciding with Diwali. However, after finding a more engaging script in Red (2002), Ajith lost interest; he left the project after a week's shoot and the production was shelved. Following this incident, Saran stated that he would never do another film with Ajith. The pair would, however, reconcile their differences later, and collaborate on Attahasam (2004) and Aasal (2010).
Saran rewrote the script based on gang wars in Chennai and began the project again. The film, then untitled, was announced in August 2001 with Vikram to star in the lead role. The production was taken over by M. Saravanan, M. Balasubramaniam, M. S. Guhan and B. Gurunath of AVM Productions. The film was AVM's 162nd production and their first film after a five-year hiatus, their last production being Minsara Kanavu (1997), the release of which marked fifty years since their debut Naam Iruvar (1947).[a] By producing Gemini, AVM became one of the four film studios that had been producing films for over fifty years. While titling the film, producer M. Saravanan chose Gemini among the many titles suggested to him, but because Gemini Studios was the name of a major production house, Saravanan wrote to S. Balasubramanian, editor of Ananda Vikatan and son of Gemini Studios founder S. S. Vasan, requesting permission to use the title. In response, Balasubramanian gave his consent.With Vikram cast in the title role, Saran was searching for a newcomer to play the female lead role of a Marwari woman. Kiran Rathod is a native of Rajasthan, the place where the Marwaris originate from. She is a relative of actress Raveena Tandon, whose manager brought Rathod the offer to act in Gemini. Saran was convinced after seeing a photograph of Rathod and cast her; Gemini thus became her debut Tamil film. Malayalam actors Kalabhavan Mani and Murali were approached to play significant roles.
Gemini is widely believed to be Mani's first Tamil film, though he had already starred in Vaanchinathan (2001). There have been varying accounts on how he was cast: while Vikram claims to have suggested Mani for the role of Teja, Saran said in one interview that casting Mani was his idea, and contradicted this in another interview, saying that Mani was chosen on his wife's recommendation. While searching for an unfamiliar actor for the DGP's role, Saran saw Murali in Dumm Dumm Dumm (2001) and found him "very dignified". He chose Murali as he wanted that dignity for the role. Though he had planned to make Murali a villain at the end of the film, Saran decided against it because he was "amazed to see awe in everyone's eyes when Murali entered the sets and performed".
Thennavan, Vinu Chakravarthy, Ilavarasu, Charle, Dhamu, Ramesh Khanna, Vaiyapuri, Madhan Bob, Thyagu and Manorama form the supporting cast. A cameo appearance by Gemini Ganesan was his last film appearance before his death in March 2005. The technical departments were handled by Saran's regular crew, which consisted of cinematographer A. Venkatesh, editor Suresh Urs, production designer Thota Tharani and costume designers Sai and Nalini Sriram. The choreography was by Super Subbarayan (action) and Suchitra, Brinda and Ashok Raja (dance). The music was composed by Bharathwaj and the lyrics were written by Vairamuthu. Kanmani who went on to direct films like Aahaa Ethanai Azhagu (2003) and Chinnodu (2006) worked as an assistant director.