Thevar Magan

Thevar Magan (transl. Son of Thevar)[2][a] is a 1992 Indian Tamil-language drama film written and produced by Kamal Haasan, and directed by Bharathan. The film stars Sivaji Ganesan, Haasan, Revathi and Gautami and Nassar, with Kallapart Natarajan, Kaka Radhakrishnan, Sangili Murugan and Vadivelu in supporting roles. It revolves around a respected village chieftain's son who wants to open his own business, whereas his father wants him to help the villagers.

Thevar Magan
Thevar Magan Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBharathan
Produced byKamal Haasan
Written byKamal Haasan
Starring
Music byIlaiyaraaja
CinematographyP. C. Sreeram
Edited byB. Lenin
V. T. Vijayan
Production
company
Release date
  • 25 October 1992 (1992-10-25)
Running time
158 minutes[1]
CountryIndia
LanguageTamil

The script of Thevar Magan was completed in seven days; it was the first written using a screenwriting software called "Movie Magic". Cinematography was handled by P. C. Sreeram and editing by N. P. Satish. The film was predominantly shot in Pollachi.

Thevar Magan was released on 25 October 1992, Diwali day, to critical acclaim and completed a 175-day run at the box office. It was chosen by India as its entry for the Best Foreign Language Film for the 65th Academy Awards, but was not nominated. The film won five National Film Awards, including Best Tamil Film, Best Supporting Actress for Revathi, and a Special Jury Award for Ganesan which he declined. It was dubbed into Telugu as Kshathriya Puthrudu (transl. Son of a warrior), and later remade in Hindi as Virasat (1997) and in Kannada as Thandege Thakka Maga (2006).

PlotEdit

Sakthivel returns home to his father Periya Thevar's village Thoovalur in Tamil Nadu after completing his education in London. Much to his father's annoyance, he brings his westernised girlfriend Bhanumathi with him to meet his family. Periya Thevar is deeply offended since it is a tradition that the family elders choose the youngster's spouses. To make things worse, Sakthivel reveals his plans on opening a chain of restaurants in Madras, which saddens Periya Thevar as he wanted his son to help the villagers improve their lifestyle with his level of education.

Periya Thevar is a well-respected village chief. His younger half-brother Chinna Thevar and nephew Maya Thevar hold a huge grudge against him over a falling-out. The entire village suffers from a spillover of this long-standing family feud as most of the village and its surrounding areas that fall within its jurisdiction is divided between the brothers. Since Maya Thevar always tries to one-up Periya Thevar, it puts them at loggerheads with each other.

Sakthivel spends time in the village with his girlfriend by revisiting his childhood memories. They come across an old temple which has been closed off on Maya Thevar's instructions. He insists on entering, and his friend and servant Isakki breaks open the lock for them to look around. Maya Thevar hears of this, and a brutal riot is started between the two village factions. Periya Thevar, in order to quell the situation, contemplates on apologising to his opponents. Sakthivel feels that it should be him or Isakki who should apologise.

When Sakthivel asks for Isakki, he learns that Maya Thevar has severed Esaki's arm as punishment for opening the temple. To prevent further escalation of the situation, Sakthivel, with permission from Periya Thevar, enlists the help of his friends in the government, and opens the temple for all legally. Slighted by this, Maya Thevar hires goons to break a dam protecting a part of the village faction that supports Periya Thevar. Although one of the villagers spots one of the goons near the dam, he does not think much of it.

The dam is damaged by explosives used by the goons, which result in flooding of half of the village. This results in numerous deaths, including infants, which deeply saddens Sakthivel. He spots the goon who placed the explosives again in the village and gives chase. After capturing, he hands the goon over to the police, but the goon does not speak of Maya Thevar's involvement due to fear for his own family's safety.

Later Maya Thevar closes a portion of his land, preventing the public from reaching the main road easily. Sakthivel and Periya Thevar invite them for talks at the village panchayat to resolve the standoff due to the riots and flooding. In the village panchayat, accusations fly from both sides. With no evidence backing up the truth, Maya Thevar accuses Periya Thevar of orchestrating various attacks on his brother's family. Disrespected and broken, Periya Thevar returns to his home and dies due to a heart attack later that night. Sakthivel takes over his father's duties as the village chieftain.

As time passes, this incident dies down. The villagers express concern to Sakthivel about going around the piece of land belonging to Maya Thevar's side of the village every day to work on their farm which causes a much longer travelling time. Sakthivel reasons with the landowner Paramasivam to open it up for all villagers to pass so that their long commute is shortened. Although understanding and willing, Paramasivam, who is actually Maya Thevar's maternal uncle, is afraid of Maya Thevar's backlash, especially since he has a daughter named Panchavarnam. Sakthivel assuages his fear by arranging the marriage between a well-to-do person from his village to Panchavarnam. Everybody involved happily agrees, and Paramasivam opens up the land for everyone.

On the day of the wedding, the groom runs away upon fearing Maya Thevar. Paramasivam and Panchavarnam are distraught over this, claiming it is a huge disrespect to his family. He opines that even if someone marries his daughter, they have to live in constant fear. Sakthivel then gets permission from Paramasivam and weds Panchavarnam. Although Sakthivel still has feelings for Bhanu and Panchavarnam is very shy, they overcome their awkwardness and move on. Soon, Bhanu returns and learns the truth. Although saddened by the turn of events, she understands the situation and leaves. Sakthivel too closes the chapter about Bhanu and starts his new life with Panchavarnam.

Maya Thevar, agitated by the land opening, plants a bomb during the village festival. This results in deaths on both sides of the village. Both factions of the village, wanting revenge, go after Maya Thevar and his family. Sakthivel protects the innocent family and helps them get away from the villagers. Appreciative of Sakthivel's efforts to protect them, they give away Maya Thevar's hiding location.

Sakthivel goes to meet Maya Thevar and asks him to surrender to the police before the villagers kill him. Maya Thevar's rabid hatred for Sakthivel makes him reject his offer of help. Maya Thevar, blaming Sakthivel for all his problems, tries to kill him. In the struggle that follows, Sakthivel accidentally decapitates Maya Thevar. Although other villagers are willing to take the blame for Maya Thevar's murder, Sakthivel surrenders to the police, wanting to put an end to the cycle of violence once and for all.

CastEdit

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

In the 1980s, Muktha Srinivasan planned to direct a film based on The Godfather (1972) with Sivaji Ganesan and Kamal Haasan; however, the project was dropped after Haasan's then associate Ananthu felt that it would be a Ganesan-focused film, not a Haasan film.[10] Haasan later wrote a script (which eventually became the film Thevar Magan) in seven days, although he claimed that he was challenged to write it in 12.[11] The film was initially titled Nammavar before being retitled Thevar Magan.[12] Haasan also acknowledged it as being inspired by The Godfather and the Kannada film Kaadu (1973).[13][11] Given his lack of experience in directing, he approached Bharathan to direct Thevar Magan.[14]

According to Haasan, Thevar Magan was the first film which was written using a screenwriting software called "Movie Magic".[15] Lyricist Gangai Amaran claimed that in 2016, that he was supposed to direct a film titled Adhi Veerapandian starring Haasan, but music director Ilaiyaraaja advised Haasan against accepting the film, feeling that Amaran was "not a good filmmaker", and the film was shelved. Amaran recalled, "Kamal took the story of Adhi Veerapandian and remade it as Thevar Magan".[16] P. C. Sreeram and N. P. Satish took care of cinematography and editing respectively. Tirru worked as Sreeram's assistant and actor Tinku worked as assistant photographer respectively.[17][18]

CastingEdit

Haasan has stated that the casting was done "against everyone else's suggestion".[11] He chose Vadivelu to play the character Isakki.[19] Vadivelu recalled, "While shooting of Singaravelan, Kamal asked me to go to his Raaj Kamal office next morning and collect an advance payment for my role in his next film, Thevar Magan. But, I was not ready to wait until the next morning. So I went to his office the same evening after the shoot," and received a cheque of 5000.[20] Meena was approached to play the character Panchavarnam, and she acted for a few days, but due to date issues, she was replaced by Revathi.[21][22] Gautami acted as Sakthi's initial lover Bhanu,[7] and her voice was dubbed by K. R. Anuradha.[23]

Thalaivasal Vijay was cast as Sakthi's elder brother on Haasan's recommendation.[24] For the character looks in the film, Hassan wore colourful buttoned up shirts and jeans with medium size beard and mullet in the first half of the film. He sported a thick handlebar moustache and wore six yards of village dhoti for the part of village head.[25] The unit had originally wanted to cast either Vijayakumar or S. S. Rajendran for the character of Periya Thevar, but Haasan approached Sivaji Ganesan who completed his portions within seven days.[26] Neelima portrayed the antagonist Maya Thevar's (Nassar) daughter, in her feature film debut.[27]

FilmingEdit

The film was predominantly shot at Pollachi in 75 days and for few days at Chennai and Ooty.[26][28] The scenes were shot at a palatial bungalow situated at Singanallur.[29] Haasan has stated that the scene where a truck, with a cargo of steel rods jutting out, reverses and rams into a car in the film was initially written for Nayakan (1987), but could not be used there since producer Muktha Srinivasan would not let a car be demolished.[30] The concept of one temple having two locks was suggested by writer Kalaignanam, which Haasan liked and added.[14][26] Some scenes were shot at Mariamman Temple at Sulukkal, Pollachi.[31]

Themes and influencesEdit

Haasan has acknowledged to Thevar Magan being inspired by The Godfather and Kaadu,[13][11] with journalist S. Shiva Kumar saying he re-used The Godfather's "crucial emotional core of a reluctant son ascending a throne full of thorns".[32] Writing for Film Companion, Sedhupathy M. differentiated Sakthivel from Michael Corleone (played by Al Pacino in The Godfather), saying that while Michael is forced to take up his father's mantle due to circumstances, "he doesn't think twice about it. He is perfectly at home in his father's world to make it his own. He quickly establishes his own authority. He doesn't have any fundamental qualms about the way the game is played," none of which is the case with Sakthivel. He said Sakthivel is "characterised by his stubborn refusal to ‘play the game’ he is expected to play, which is what defines him," which makes Thevar Magan "a very different film" from The Godfather with "very different concerns and ambitions".[33] Baradwaj Rangan said the screenplay by Haasan "uses small gestures to say a lot between the lines, without explaining everything in tiresome detail". He also said that Bhanu is frequently shown boarding and deboarding trains, establishing her status as an outsider.[4]

MusicEdit

Thevar Magan
Studio album by
Released1992
GenreFeature film soundtrack
Length32:33
LanguageTamil
LabelAVM Audio

The soundtrack was composed by Ilaiyaraaja, and the lyrics were written by Vaali.[34] It was released under the label AVM Audio.[35] Embar Kannan performed the violin portions.[36] Haasan's daughter Shruti made her singing debut at the age of six with this film.[37] "Inji Iduppazhagu" is based on the Hindi song "Yeh Dil Deewana" composed by S. D. Burman for Ishq Par Zor Nahin (1970).[38] Haasan wanted Ilaiyaraaja to compose on the lines of the Hindi song, and Ilaiyaraaja completed the song within 10 minutes.[39] The song "Manamagale Manamagale" is set in the Carnatic raga known as Shuddha Saveri,[40] "Maasaru Ponne" is set in Mayamalavagowla,[41] and "Inji Iduppazhagi" is set in Jaunpuri.[42] It was later remixed by Smita in her album Kalakkal.[43] The original song was re-used in its self titled film.[44]

Track list
No.TitleSinger(s)Length
1."Potri Paadadi Penne"T. K. S. Kalaivanan, Mano4:57
2."Potri Paadadi Penne"Sivaji Ganesan, Shruti Haasan1:26
3."Sandhu Pottu"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Kamal Haasan5:10
4."Vaanam Thottu Pona"S. P. Balasubrahmanyam2:26
5."Vettaruva thangi" (Vaanam Thottu Pona – reprised)S. P. Balasubrahmanyam2:38
6."Ada Puthiyathu Piranthadhu"Malaysia Vasudevan4:43
7."Inji Idupazhaga"S. Janaki2:16
8."Inji Idupazhagi"S. Janaki, Kamal Haasan, Minmini3:29
9."Manamagale Manamagale"Swarnalatha, Minmini, Sindhuja2:16
10."Masaru Ponnae Varuga"Minmini, Swarnalatha3:12
Total length:32:33
Telugu track list
No.TitleLyricsSinger(s)Length
1."Murise Pandaga Poota"VennelakantiMadhavapeddi Ramesh, Mano4:57
2."Murise Pandaga Poota"VennelakantiMadhavapeddi Ramesh, Shruti Haasan1:26
3."Netthina Bottu"VennelakantiS. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Kamal Haasan5:10
4."Ningi Chediripoye"Vennelakanti 2:26
5."Vettaruva thangi" (Vaanam Thottu Pona – reprised)Vennelakanti 2:38
6."Ada Puthiyathu Piranthadhu"Vennelakanti 4:43
7."Sannajaji Padaka" S. Janaki2:16
8."Sannajaji Padaka" S. Janaki, Kamal Haasan, Minmini3:29
9."Gunavathiga"VennelakantiSwarnalatha, Minmini, Sindhuja2:16
10."Masaru Ponnae Varuga"   
Total length:32:33

ReleaseEdit

Thevar Magan was released on 25 October 1992, Diwali day.[45] Although the film became controversial for identifying the Thevar community with glorified violence,[46][47] and faced competition from other Diwali releases such as Pandian, Raasukutti, Senthamizh Paattu,[48] Kaviya Thalaivan, Thirumathi Palanisamy, Thai Mozhi and Mangala Nayagan,[49] it was commercially successful and ran for 175 days, thereby becoming a silver jubilee film.[50] The silver jubilee celebration of the film was attended by Dilip Kumar.[51] The film was dubbed and released in Telugu under the title Kshatriya Putrudu.[52] Although no print of Thevar Magan has survived, the film is still available on home video.[53]

Critical receptionEdit

The film received critical acclaim.[54] On 25 October 1992, The Indian Express said, "The formidable combination of Kamal Haasan and Sivaji Ganesan, the directorial talent of Bharathan, excellent cinematography of P. C. Sriram and music by the maestro [Ilaiyaraaja], have all gone into producing Thevar Magan."[55] The Tamil magazine Ananda Vikatan in its review dated 8 November 1992 appreciated the film and mentioned that its naturalism was greatly enhanced by equal opportunity given to all actors in the film. It rated the film 60 out of 100.[56] K. Vijiyan of New Sunday Times wrote "Devar Magan proved a satisfying experience at the cinema and well worth the wait".[7]

AccoladesEdit

The film was chosen by India as its entry for the Best Foreign Language Film for the 65th Academy Awards, but was not nominated.[57] The film was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in 1994.[58] Ilaiyaraaja was a strong contender for the National Film Award for Best Music Direction, which he eventually lost to A. R. Rahman; the award was tied between Ilaiyaraaja and Rahman with 8 votes each before the chairman of the jury Balu Mahendra, a close friend of Ilaiyaraaja, decided to vote in favour of Rahman.[59]

List of awards and nominations
Award Date of ceremony[b] Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
National Film Awards 5 May 1993 Best Feature Film in Tamil Kamal Haasan, Bharathan Won [60]
[61]
Best Supporting Actress Revathi Won
Best Female Playback Singer S. Janaki Won
Best Audiography N. Pandu Rangan Won
Special Jury Award – Actor Sivaji Ganesan (declined) Won
Tamil Nadu State Film Awards  – Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Film-(Second Prize) Kamal Haasan Won [26]
Best Actor Kamal Haasan Won
Best Choreographer Raghuram Won
Filmfare Awards South 13 October 1993 Best Actor – Tamil Kamal Haasan Won [62]
[63]
[64]
Best Actress – Tamil Revathi Won
Cinema Express Awards  – Best Film Kamal Haasan Won [64]
Best Actress Revathi Won
Film Fans Association  – Best Actress Revathi Won [64]

RemakesEdit

Haasan initially planned to remake Thevar Magan in Hindi with Dilip Kumar reprising Ganesan's role. However, according to Kamal, Kumar found the theme "too violent" and refused to act in the remake.[65] Nevertheless, Priyadarshan directed the Hindi remake Virasat (1997).[66] The film was also remade in Kannada as Thandege Thakka Maga (2006) by S. Mahendar.[67]

LegacyEdit

Thevar Magan attained cult status in Tamil cinema.[68][69] Rajan Krishnan, PhD scholar in Film Studies from Columbia University, said "it was Kamal Hassan who brought that sickle bearing genre". He added, "I would like to propose that it is a Kamal Hassan film of high authenticity markers called Thevar Magan that can be said to have inaugurated the era of the south being represented as primarily a sickle bearing space".[70][2] Stalin Rajangam, writer, who has extensively written on the ‘caste component and narrative structures of Tamil films concurred, saying that "Thevar Magan was first of its kind with stronger idioms of caste and glorification of caste-based practices".[70] Tamil writer S. Ramakrishnan said that Thevar Magan captured "the very essence of the south Tamil Nadu's rural culture".[71]

Directors N. Lingusamy,[72] Mysskin,[73] Gautham Menon,[74] and S. J. Surya, called Thevar Magan one of their favourite films.[75] Gauthami too listed it as her one of her favourite films.[76] Sify in its review of Sandakozhi (2005) compared Rajkiran's character with Ganesan's character from Thevar Magan.[77] The magazine South Scope included Haasan's performance in the film in its list of "Kamal's best performances" in its July 2010 edition.[25] Silverscreen in its review of Vetrivel (2016) called the film "pretty much an unsophisticated copy of Thevar Magan".[78]

The song "Potri Paadadi" is listed by The Hindu among lyricist Vaali's songs in the list "Best of Vaali: From 1964 – 2013".[79] The same song was ranked by Rediff alongside "Madhavi Pon Mayilaal" from Iru Malargal (1967) and "Andha Naal Gnabagam" from Uyarndha Manithan (1968).[80]

On Haasan's birthday, 7 November 2015, Latha Srinivasan of Daily News and Analysis considered Thevar Magan to be one of the "films you must watch to grasp the breadth of Kamal Haasan's repertoire".[81] The scene where Kamal's character take over his father's duty as village head was included by Behindwoods in its list "Top 20 Mass Scenes" and also in another list named "10 Mass Interval Blocks".[82][83]

See alsoEdit

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ The Mukkulathor people, who are also collectively known as Thevar, are native to the central and southern districts of Tamil Nadu, According to R. Muthulakshmi, Thevar literally means "celestial beings or divine-natured people".[3]
  2. ^ Date is linked to the article about the awards held that year, wherever possible.

ReferencesEdit

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  2. ^ a b Velayutham 2008, p. 151.
  3. ^ Muthulakshmi 1997, pp. 11–13.
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External linksEdit