Thevar Magan (1992) (aka The Chieftain’s Son)
“Go on, go educate your kids”
The slew of movies in Tamil cinema based on villages stopped with the late eighties as cities became the prime audience of the filmmakers. Though infinitely many stories still lie in the villages waiting to be told, not many movies from the nineties and the new century have tapped it. One film that has indeed done it, Kamal Haasan’s Thevar Magan (1992), stands out as a vital milestone in the history of Tamil Cinema.
Coming as a revamped adaptation of Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Thevar magan chronicles the life of Sakthi (Kamal), the son of the village head Periya Thevar (Shivaji Ganeshan) who has just returned from his life in the city for a few days. He experiences a totally different and even savage life in the rural area and is disgusted by it. Just when he decides that he has had enough of it, things take an awry turn and Sakthi is forced to relinquish his career to take up the helm of the village administration. Past rivalries are dug up, cries of scores to be settled once and for all echo and hatred and violence reign. Sakthi decides that the village needs to be saved and the villager’s pride for caste and race needs to be eradicated.
More than anything, the film is a powerhouse of high wattage performances with the central conversation between the two veterans remaining one of the best scenes of recent times. One can easily condemn the film as glorifying violence but on second thoughts, it is indeed the violence of the film that supports its cause. At the end of the film, one does realize that nobody has won and violence does not pay.