Revisiting Thevar Magan

I watched Thevar Magan for the first time in 2003, almost ten years after its release. I remember my mother asking me not to watch that movie, she didn’t think it was appropriate for me. I also remember not paying attention to her and watching it in full, completely riveted, unable to take my eyes off the television.

I have seen it several times since, and it still continues to hold me in its spell. It is hard to pick out what I like about the movie – there is so much to say!

Should I mention the acting or rather the living-in-character by all the actors? Should I mention the wonderful songs, each one competing with the rest for a place on our lips? Should I mention the lines of dialogue, which are now immortalized? (Aana vedhai, naan pottadhu.) Or the beautifully depicted relationships? What about the dilemma – working for the people who made you who you are, or going in search of a better life?

Some scenes that I enjoy revisiting:

Kamal Haasan and Gowthami returning from London, having completed their education, with their demeanor and clothes screaming foreign.

Kamal’s attempts to project Gowthami as a suitable daughter in law of the family, hoping his father approves of her.

The dreams Kamal has, of becoming an entrepreneur and opening a chain of fast food restaurants; and the subsequent altercation with his father.

The magnificent aura of Sivaji Ganesan, and his exhortations to Kamal, asking him to do something for his land and his people.

Sivaji Ganesan passing away, but not before sowing the seed of doubt in Kamal’s mind.

Kamal’s transformation, no more a carefree youth, but the man responsible for the welfare of his people. It is not easy to forget the image of him stepping outside his house, dressed as his father used to be, and the villagers looking at him with wonder and pride.

The marriage to Revathi, who manages to hold a special place in my heart with her portrayal of this character – a woman quick on her feet and quicker to smile, accepting of the man she ended up marrying in a twist of circumstances, and loving him in a way that leaves him no choice but to love her back.

The awkwardness Kamal faces with Revathi, and the gradual shift in their relationship, when he comes to love her as his own (and the song Inji iduppazhagaa..).

Gowthami returning and finding her man to be wedded to someone else, the heartbreak that ensues. Watching Gowthami breaks my heart a little too.

Nasser as the menacing enemy, out for vengeance and looking to put down Kamal at every opportunity, making sure the audience dislikes him immensely.

The events leading up to the climax, where a fight between Nasser and Kamal ends with Kamal beheading Nasser and mourning that finally, he too was made a murderer. The hair on my hands never fails to stand up.

The police taking away a handcuffed Kamal, who knows he will be back – as a contrast to the time he arrived by train at the very beginning: the younger Kamal thinking he will be leaving as soon as he can.

I think I replayed the movie in my head now. I am sure I missed out on many other scenes, each time I watch the movie I find another moment to relish.

Thevar Magan, directed by the late Bharathan, is a mesmerizing movie, which deserves repeated viewings, each time for a different reason.  It feels as though everyone who worked on the movie wanted his or her contribution to be spoken about the most. At times, I do not know where to look, what to give my attention to.

It is time for me to refresh my memory.


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