Thevar Magan

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Thevar Magan
Thevar Magan Poster.jpg
film poster
Directed by Bharathan
Produced by Kamal Haasan
Chandra Haasan[1]
Written by Kamal Haasan
Music by Ilaiyaraaja
Cinematography P. C. Sriram
Edited by N. P. Satish
Distributed by Raaj Kamal Films International
Release dates
25 October 1992[2] (India)
8 September 1994 (TIFF)
Running time
145 minutes
Country India
  • Tamil
Box office 14 crore

Thevar Magan (English: Son of the Thevar) is a 1992 Indian Tamil drama film produced by, written by and starring Kamal Haasan in the title role. It was directed by Bharathan and also stars Sivaji Ganesan, Nassar, Revathi and Gouthami in pivotal roles. The film score and soundtrack are composed by Ilaiyaraaja. The film was a blockbuster among 1992 Deepavali releases and completed 175-days run at the box office.

The film tells the story of Sakthivel who returns home to meet his father Periya Thevar who is a respected village chieftain to marry his girlfriend. Sakthivel comes to know that the villagers are facing huge problems due to his father's stepbrother and his nephew. After the death of his father, Sakthivel takes over the duty of his father. Rest of the film is about how Sakthivel solves the problems of villagers.

The film was chosen by India as its entry for the Best Foreign Language Film for the 65th Academy Awards, but was not nominated. The film was screened at the Toronto Film Festival in 1994.[3] The film won five National Film Awards, including the Best Tamil Film Award, Best Supporting Actress Award (Revathi), and a Special Jury Award (Sivaji Ganesan).

The film was said to be an adaptation of 1972 American film The Godfather.[4] The film was dubbed into Telugu under the title Kshatriya Putrudu. It was later remade into the Hindi film Virasat (1997) by Priyadarshan and in Kannada as Thandege Thakka Maga (2006) by S. Mahendar.


Saktivelu (Kamal Haasan) returns home to his father, Periya Thevar’s (Sivaji Ganesan) village in Tamil Nadu, after completing his education in London. Much to his father’s annoyance, he brings his westernized girlfriend (Gautami) with him to meet his family. Periya Thevar is deeply offended since it is tradition that the family elders choose the youngster's spouses. To make things worse, Saktivelu reveals his plans on opening a chain of restaurants in Chennai 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 (Kaka Radhakrishnan) and nephew Maya Thevar (Nassar) hold a huge grudge against him over a falling out. The entire village suffers from a spillover of this longstanding 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.

Saktivelu spends time in the village with his girlfriend by re-visiting 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 Esaki (Vadivelu) breaks open the lock for them to look around. Maya Thevar hears of this and a brutal riot is started among the two village factions. Periya Thevar, in order to quell the situation, contemplates on apologizing to his opponents. Sakthivelu feels it should be him or Esaki who should apologize. When Saktivelu asks for Esaki, he learns that Maya Thevar has amputated Esaki’s hand for opening the temple. In order to prevent further escalation of the situation Saktivelu, with permission from his father, 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 results in flooding of half the village. This results in numerous deaths including infants which deeply saddens Saktivelu. 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. Sakthivelu and his father invite them for talks at village Panchayat to resolve the standoff due the riots and flooding. In the village panchayat[a], accusations fly from both sides. With no evidence backing up the truth, Maya Thevar accuses Periya Thevar for orchestrating various attacks on his brother's family. Disrespected and broken, Periya Thevar returns to his home and passes away due to a heart attack later that night. Saktivelu takes over his father’s duties as the head of the village.

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

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

Maya Thevar, agitated by the opening of the land, 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. Saktivelu protects the innocent family and helps them get away from the villagers. Appreciative of Saktivelu's efforts to protect them, they give away Maya Thevar's hiding location.

Saktivelu goes to meet Maya Thevar and asks him to surrender to the police before the villagers kill him. Maya Thevar’s rabid hatred for Saktivelu makes him reject his offer of help. Maya Thevar, blaming Saktivelu for all his problems, tries to kill him. In the struggle that follows, Saktivelu accidentally decapitates Maya Thevar. Although other villagers are willing to take the blame for Maya Thevar's murder, Saktivelu gives himself up to the police.



Influential and prolific Malayalam filmmaker Bharathan was approached by Kamal Haasan to direct Thevar Magan for which he scripted. This was Bharathan's last film in Tamil. Vadivelu was recruited to play the character called Isakki.[6] Meena was approached to play the character Panchavarnam but due to date problems she was replaced by Revathi.[7][8] Neelima Rani was introduced as child artist in the film.[9] S. N. Lakshmi who was chosen for an important role said that, "I was on my annual visit to Puttaparthi, when Kamal Haasan called me up for Thevar Magan.[10] Gauthami acted as love interest of Kamal in the film. She recalled, "Thevar Magan was a different experience. The whole atmosphere that was created [..] was momentous for my career and my life. In the scene where I first discover that Kamal is married, I knew I had taken a huge step forward as an actress".[11] Dubbing voice for Gauthami was provided by K. R. Anuradha.[12] Cameraman Tirru worked as P. C. Sriram's assistant in the film and actor Tinku worked as assistant photographer.[13][14] Thalaivasal Vijay played Kamal’s elder brother and Ganesan’s son in the film. It was Kamal who recommended Vijay for the role.[15] 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 and he spotted thick Handlebar moustache and wore six yards of village dhoti for the part of village head.[16][17][18] The unit felt Vijayakumar will be suitable for the character of Kamal's father. During the story discussion, S. S. Rajendran was also under the consideration. However Kamal approached Sivaji Ganesan for the character and he completed his portions within 7 days.[7]

The film was entirely shot in Pollachi at 75 days and for few days at Chennai and Ooty.[7][19] The scenes were shot at palatile bungalow situated at Singanallur.[20] Kamal said that the scene where a truck, with a cargo of steel rods jutting out, reverses and rams into the car in the film was initially written for Nayakan (1987).[21] The unit went for shooting without a final script to Pollachi. The shooting could not proceed as planned due to confusion. Famous screenwriter Kalaignanam came to help and given the concept of "one temple, two locks" which Kamal liked and wrote the script within 7 1/2 days.[7] Kamal initially thought of naming the film as Nammavar but Ilayaraja suggested him to name the film as Thevar Magan to which Kamal agreed.[7]

Themes and influences[edit]

Rajan Krishnan, PhD scholar in Film Studies from Columbia University, says that it was Kamal Hassan who brought that sickle bearing genre. He says, "I would like to propose that it is a Kamal Hassan film of high authenticity markers called Thevar Magan (1992) that can be said to have inaugurated the era of the south being represented as primarily a sickle bearing space".[22][23]

Stalin Rajangam, writer, who has extensively written on the ‘caste component and narrative structures of Tamil films concurs. He says that Thevar Magan was first of its kind with stronger idioms of caste and glorification of caste-based practices.[22] Tamil writer S. Ramakrishnan said that Thevar Magan captured the very essence of the south Tamil Nadu’s rural culture.[24]

The film faced controversy for identifying the Thevar community with glorified violence.[25][26]

Awards and honours[edit]

1993 National Film Awards (India)

Award Category Recipient(s) Result
Silver Lotus Award Best Feature Film in Tamil[27] Kamal Hassan as a producer Won
Silver Lotus Award Best Supporting Actress[27] Revathi Won
Silver Lotus Award Best Playback Singer (Female)[27] S. Janaki Won
Silver Lotus Award Best Audiography[27] N. Pandu Rangan Won
Silver Lotus Award Special Jury Award – Actor[27] Sivaji Ganesan Won

Filmfare Awards South


The soundtrack features 9 songs composed by Ilaiyaraaja to lyrics written by Vaali. Ilaiyaraaja was a strong contender for the National Film Award for Best Music Direction, which he eventually lost to A. R. Rahman.[b] Violin was played by Embar Kannan.[31]

The song "Manamagale Manamagale" is based on Shuddha Saveri Raga.[32] The song "Maasaru Ponne" is based on Mayamalavagowla Raga.[33] The song "Inji Iduppazhagi" is based on Jonpuri raga and the tune is said to be inspired from Hindi song "Yeh Dil Deewana" composed by S. D. Burman for the film Ishq Par Zor Nahin.[34][35] The song was later remixed by Smitha in her album called "Kalakkal".[36]

No. Title Singer(s) Length
1. "Potri Paadadi Penne"   T. K. S. Kalaivaanan, Mano  
2. "Sandhu Pottu"   S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Kamal Hassan 5:05
3. "Potri Paadadi Penne"   Sivaji Ganesan, Shruti Haasan 1:26
4. "Vaanam Thottu Pona"   S. P. Balasubrahmanyam  
5. "Ada Puthiyathu Piranthadhu"   Malaysia Vasudevan  
6. "Inji Idupazhaga"   S. Janaki  
7. "Inji Idupazhagi"   S. Janaki, Kamal Haasan, Minmini  
8. "Manamagale Manamagale"   Swarnalatha, Minmini & Sindhuja 2:13
9. "Masaru Ponnae Varuga"   Minmini, Swarnalatha 3:07


The film was remade into the Hindi film Virasat (1997). The remake was directed by Priyadarshan and starred Anil Kapoor and Amrish Puri.[7][37] It was remade in Kannada as Thandege Thakka Maga (2006) by S. Mahendar starring Ambareesh and Upendra.[7][38]


N. Linguswamy, Mysskin and Gautham Menon called Thevar Magan as their favourite film.[39][40] Gautham Menon remarked: "Thevar Magan was a pleasant surprise. Because till then I had only seen Kamal as an actor [..] story and screenplay was by Kamal Haasan it was a surprise. It totally moved me the way it was made and put together."[41] Padma S. while writing for Hindu listed Thevar Magan among her favourite films.[42] A poster of the film designed by Abinav Bhatt from Bangalore depicted moustache.[43] Gauthami listed it as her one of the favourite films she had acted.[44] Karthi in an interview mentioned Thevar Magan as his favourite alongside other films.[45] In 2009, Meera Vasudevan said, "I’d love roles similar to Revathy in Devar Magan".[46]

The song "Potri Paadadi" is listed by Hindu among lyricist Vaali's songs in the list "Best of Vaali:From 1964 to 2013".[47] The same song was ranked by Rediff alongside "Madhavi Pon Mayilaal" from Iru Malargal (1967) and "Andha Naal Gnabagam" from Uyarndha Manithan (1968).[48] The song was parodied by Vadivelu in Englishkaran (2005).[49] The song "Inji Iduppazhaga" was listed by Behindwoods among other songs in its list "Kamal's unforgettable songs".[50] In the film Kuruvi (2008), Vetrivel's mother (T. K. Kala) is seen singing the song.[51]

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".[52] On Kamal Haasan's 60th birthday, an agency named Minimal Kollywood Posters designed posters of Kamal Haasan's films. The poster of Thevar Magan featured blood under the lock.[53]


  1. ^ A gram panchayat is the cornerstone of a local self-government organisation in India of the Panchayati raj system at the village or small town level, and has a Sarpanch as its elected head.[5]
  2. ^ 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.[30]


  1. ^ Film details from
  2. ^ Dhananjayan 2014, p. 324.
  3. ^ Jain, Ajit (16 September 1994). "27 Indian Films in Toronto Cinema Gala". India Abroad. Retrieved 1 June 2012.  (subscription required)
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Dhananjayan 2014, p. 325.
  8. ^
  9. ^
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  11. ^
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  15. ^
  16. ^ Southscope 2010, p. 52.
  17. ^
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  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ a b
  23. ^ Velayudham 2008, p. 151.
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ a b c d e "40th National Film Awards" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals. Retrieved 2 March 2012. 
  28. ^ "Kamal Haasan completes 50 glorious years of filmdom". 12 August 2009. Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  29. ^
  30. ^ Kamini 2009, p. 99,100.
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  48. ^ N. Sathiya Moorthy (22 July 2013). "Remembering Vaali". Archived from the original on 17 May 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2015. 
  49. ^ Englishkaaran (DVD). 7 Hills Film Factory. scene from 9.52 to 11.00
  50. ^
  51. ^ Kuruvi (DVD). Red Giant Movies. scene from 1.13.07 to 1.13.15
  52. ^
  53. ^

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