Thevar magan – A text book for screenwriting
Godfather by Francis Ford Coppola was released in 1972 which inspired many filmmakers all around the world and as a result, there are many adaptations of Godfather. In India, Ram Gopal Varma’s Sarkar comes to our mind when we think of best Godfather adaptation but there is another film THEVAR MAGAN which took the soul of Godfather and perfected adapted to our culture. Thevar Magan is directed by Bharathan and story/screenplay is given by Kamal Hassan himself. This film is considered as one of the best films in India and was also chosen as the entry for the Best foreign language film for the 65th academy awards. The greatness of this film is its writing, the way Kamal Hassan took the soul of Godfather and placed it in a village backdrop and the way he fits it into a mainstream space is commendable. On the occasion of 25 years of Thevar Magan here’s our analysis on its Screenplay.
Setup or 1st Act is the most important part of the film. Only if the 1st act is strong the 3rd act be resolved effectively. The setup is nothing but series of expositions we use it in the later part of the film. Let’s look at the perfect 30 minutes setup Kamal Hassan wrote in the film.
Shivaji Ganesan is introduced as a Village head and Shaktivel(Kamal Hassan) comes home from London with his girlfriend Bhanu(Gouthami). Kamal Hassan looks like a typical guy who comes home after a long time from a foreign country.
There is a scene where his brother asks about his hairstyle where Kamal Hassan replies that its latest style (Remember this, We are going to talk about it later)
In the later scenes, We get to know the relationship between Kamal Hassan and his father and difference of opinions between them
Immediately we are also introduced to the antagonist who is the brother of Shivaji Ganesan. All this is shown in the 1st 10 minutes itself.
The important elements of the film are the relationship with his father and the relationship between his girlfriend. Showing them both in parallel there is this brilliantly shot and composed song which we also get to listen to it in various versions in the later part of the film. This song also shows the customs of the lives of the village.
Next, We are introduced to Revathi who is going to play a pivotal role in the later part of the film.
With this, the setup ends. In Indian cinema, we use songs as a narrative tool like the above-mentioned song and also as a relief to the audience before getting into the serious business. After the setup and before the Inciting incident we have a song between Kamal Hassan and Gouthami which gives a relief to the audience as Gouthami is going to leave the village in the next few scenes and audience are going to get into serious drama after this.
INCITING INCIDENT –
An inciting incident is an incident which helps to get to the 1st plot and turns the course of the film. Here the inciting incident it when Kamal Hassan asks Vadivelu to open the lock of a temple which is been locked due to some issues between his father and uncle.
THE RULE OF THREE –
Before watching the film we know what the film is going to be, We know that Kamal Hassan is going to take over his father’s place, but how? He is clear that he wants to open a food chain in the city along with his girlfriend. So in order to change Kamal Hassan needs something to happen in his life which makes him to stay in the village that’s where Kamal Hassan used RULE OF THREE. “The rule of three is a writing principle that suggests that events or characters introduced in threes are more humorous, satisfying, or effective in the execution of the story”.
There are 3 strong events in the film which brings the change in Kamal Hassan’s mindset and makes him stay in the village taking his father’s place. Let’s take a look at them.
Vadivelu is a loyal servant to Kamal Hassan’s family they share a good bonding together. Because Kamal Hassan asks him to open the lock of the temple, His uncle asks him to cut off his Hands. This is a big blow to Kamal Hassan which makes him understand the situation in the village.
Following this, There is a brilliant scene between Kamal Hassan and his father where they have a conversation about the situations in the village and Kamal Hassan leaving the village.
2nd event is when Kamal Hassan’s uncle lift up the dam gates which floods the village killing many people and children which makes Kamal Hassan understand the pain the people are going through because of the fights between the families and the caste. This helps Kamal Hassan to cancel the tickets he booked to leave the village
3rd event is Shivaji Ganeshan’s death. This makes him to take a decision to take over his place.
Remember the scene in the beginning where Kamal Hassan tells his brother that his long hair is a new style? The first thing we are shown while taking over his father place is cutting down his long hair which symbolizes that he is out of his old life and getting into a new one.
The scene where he takes over his father’s place is considered as one of the best interval bangs in Indian cinema.
In the 2nd half, A situation arises where Kamal Hassan will have to marry Revathi and then Gouthami enters who doesn’t know that they are married. The way Kamal Hassan writes the next 20 minutes is just powerful dramatic writing. The moment Gouthami enters there is a strong wind blowing outside, We can see the struggle Kamal Hassan feels to reveal the truth. Instead of telling it to her he decides to take her to his room so that he can reveal it through a photograph. She has no choice but to accept the truth and then comes the song Inji Idupazhaga (sanna jaji padaka)
The climax of the film is also very brilliantly shot Like in the scene where Gouthami comes into Kamal Hassan’s house not knowing he is married, There is a strong wind outside which is used for dramatic purposes even in the climax the wind is used. Especially the performance of Kamal Hassan in the climax is one his best. Instead of giving a happy ending to the film Kamal Hassan deals it in a cynical way. Though Sakthivel wants the violence to end in his village, in the end, he ends up killing Maya stating that it’s a vicious circle and its tough to escape from the violence.
Look at the brilliant cinematography by PC SREERAM in the end where Kaman Hassan leaves the village. It perfectly elevates the mood and feel of the film and its choreographed in such a way that The actor’s movement, The music, the lyrics go hand in hand.
This is just an analysis on its screenplay but there is a lot to analyze on all the aspects of the film which is why Thevar Magan is such a classic film which will be discussed and analyzed for ages.