Thevar Magan: Movie Review

Actors: Sivaji Ganesan, Kamal Haasan, Revathy, Gouthami, Nasser
Direction: Bharathan
Cinematography: P.C.Sriram
Music: Ilayaraja
Language: Tamil

Shakti (Kamal Haasan), son of a village chieftain Periya-thevar (Sivaji Ganesan) returns home to his village after completing his education in England. His father is elated to receive his son but the his smiles fade away when he realizes that his son has not returned alone. True to the tradition of “foreign-return” heroes, Shakthi returns with his girl friend (Bhanu, portrayed by Gouthami). Shakti is impatient to get married to her and leave the village. The chaos due to the feud between his father’s and uncle’s supporters adds fuel to the fire. The death of his father places the mantle of responsibility on him. The rest of the story depicts Shakti’s struggle to educate the people, bring peace in the village and overcome his personal downturns.

The house that the Thevar family occupies, the fields where men practice silambaattam, the river, the beautiful tree groves in which Kamal and Gouthami romance, the fields in which the farmers work and all the other locations in the movie take us back to the era of beautiful villages.

This film is a treat to the eyes not only because of P.C.Sriram’s cinematography but also because of the presence of some of the best actors of the South. It is quite hard to pick out the best actor from the lot though Revathy stands out from the rest. Though hers is a character that gains importance very late in the film, her portrayal of the innocent village girl is so natural that it doesn’t look like she is acting.

Sivaji Ganesan is the grand old man in this movie and the scenes featuring him and Kamal is are sure to leave anyone short of words to describe them. Both actors represent different generations of cinema but it is very evident that their passion and talent is timeless.

Nasser has done a fantastic job as the villain, the arrogant cousin of Kamal. The other person actor who has breathed life into his character is Kaka Radhakrishnan, Nasser’s father in the movie, for his acting as a paralyzed man who hates his brother is brilliant. Vadivelu (Esakki) impresses us with his effortless Madurai Tamil accent and his timing in comedy. Thalaivaasal Vijay has done justice to his role as the irresponsible and drunken brother of the hero. Gouthami fits very well as the sophisticated lover of Kamal and shows her maturity as an actress especially in the later part of the movie.

Kamal Haasan, as an actor and writer has proved yet again that he is a man who delivers. Be it showing off his village to his lover, hesitating to introduce his girl friend to his father, respectfully reprimanding his elder brother, warning the not-so-friendly cousin and taking up the responsibility of the village upon his shoulders – he is Shakti personified, throughout the movie.

Music by Ilayaraja both in the background scores as well as the songs is yet another milestone in his career. The highlight is the background score during the scene in which Kamal takes his father’s chair. The audience will no doubt be moved every time they watch that scene, due to Kamal’s acting and Ilayaraja’s music.

The dialogues and the scenes seem to be very meticulously planned and there is not a single stereotypical line. “Nenga dan enga chinnamma va? Nenga dan enga chithappa va kattikitengala?” (“Are you our aunt? Are you the one who married our uncle?”) – when the child asks this to Revathy, it is sure to make us smile and also marvel at director’s/writer’s cleverness in bringing a naturalness to the movie with such scenes and dialogues. Sivaji’s “Aana Vedhai – Nan potadhu. Idellam ena perumaya, kadamai”(“But the seed was sown by me. Is this something to be proud of ? No, it is my duty”) is sure to be remembered.

On the whole, the film, in spite of splashes of violence, proves that cinema is a reflection of real life. This is a story that could happen in any Indian village. This film is also a wake up call, for all of us to do our bit in instigating the feeling of brotherhood among our fellow citizens, in these times of terror. This is a film that would always be relevant to the times.

In 1992, Thevar Magan was India’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film for the Academy Awards.

Soundarya R

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