Asuran (Eng: Demon) is a 2019 Indian Tamil-language action drama film written and directed by Vetrimaaran and produced by Kalaipuli S. Thanu under his production banner V Creations. It is based on the novel Vekkai by Poomani. The film stars Dhanush and Manju Warrier in lead roles, where the latter makes her Tamil debut. G. V. Prakash Kumar scored the music for the film, rejoining back his association with Vetrimaaran. Cinematography was handled by Velraj, whereas editing was done by R. Ramar. Asuran was released on 4 October 2019. Asuran’s plot is influenced by the real life Kilvenmani massacre that occurred in 1968.
In 1980s Tamil Nadu, a man (Dhanush) and a boy (Ken Karunas) are trekking through a river in a rural village, carrying homemade bombs and hiding from the police. In another part of the village, a woman (Manju Warrier), man (Pasupathy) and a young child are also hiding from the police. The movie then moves into a flashback.
A narrator reveals in the flashback that the man is Sivasaami and the boy is his son Chidambaram, while the woman, man and child are Sivasaami’s wife Pachaiyamma, her brother Murugesan and young daughter Lakshmi. They also had an older son called Velmurugan (Teejay Arunasalam). They are a family of farmers living in Thekkoor (lit. southern village) in Tirunelveli district. Sivasaami has a close, loving relationship with his older son but a distant, almost abusive relationship with Chidambaram. Sivasami’s family, along with most residents of Thekkoor, are Dalits.
Vadakoor Narasimhan (Aadukalam Naren) is the richest landlord from Vadakoor (lit. northern village), who belongs to an upper caste and is buying the farmlands in Thekkoor under the name of his servant for a cement factory his brother Venkatesan will take control of. However, they need Sivasaami’s land as well to complete their plan, to which the family are against, especially Velmurugan. One day, Pachaiyamma argues with one of Narasimhan’s sons who was unjustly extracting water from the common well, and he hits her, to which Velmurugan retaliates by severely injuring him and his men. The latter gets arrested for this, for which Sivasaami bows and touches the feet of every single male member of the landlord’s village in order to have him released after Narasimhan says so. Velmurugan comes back, bruised and battered, and finds out about what his father did. He corners Narasimhan in a bathroom cubicle and hits him multiple times using slippers, humiliating him. In revenge, Narasimhan’s henchmen, led by a hunter Kariyan, ambush Velmurugan in the night and hack him to death, taking him away. Chidambaram witnesses this and tells his father and Murugesan, and they file a missing person case with the police.
The next day, Velmurugan’s mutilated, beheaded body is found in a nearby field. The police refuses to help, as they can’t confirm it’s him as they can’t find the head. Pachaiyamma suffers PTSD for a year after which she recovers, and holds one year death condolence for her son. Seeing the suffering caused to his family by his brother’s murder, Chidambaram tails Narasimhan during one night and hacks him in his village, killing him, and escapes from his henchman using homemade bombs. The family is shocked on hearing about this from Sivasaami who witnessed Narasimhan’s death and cut the lights when Chidambaram attacked, and when his son comes back that night, Murugesan tells the father and son to hide in the forest. The film switches back to the present.
One of Narasimhan’s family members asks Kariyan and his men to find the two, to which they agree. Pachaiyamma, Murugesan and Lakshmi hide in a family friend, Maari’s, house, and they move from there after some time as well and hide in various places. One day, Kariyan finally finds the two and tries to capture the son, but Sivasaami fights them all off, sparing their lives for unknown reasons. While the two recover near a river, Sivasaami narrates his past and explains why he no longer wants to kill anyone.
Contrary to what he told his sons, Sivasaami was actually a village-famous moonshine brewer. He worked under Viswanathan (A. Venkatesh), a rich landlord, and the latter always trusted Sivasaami. One day, he asks if his boss could employ Pandiyan (Nitish Veera), a distant relative of Viswanathan who was currently in poverty, as an accountant, to which the boss agrees. Sivasaami’s brother Murugan and Venugopal Seshadri (Prakash Raj), a Communist lawyer, is trying to obtain justice for the landless labourers by filing a case against the various landlords in their village who had seized their Panchami land, including Viswanathan. Sivasaami receives various wedding proposals but all are denied after they find out about his alcohol ventures, but his relative Maariyamma convinces him to marry her, to which he agrees and they fall in love. When Sivasaami gives her sandals, Pandiyan humiliates her by forcing her to put the sandals on her head. Sivasaami retaliates by hitting him with sandals. However, Viswanathan intervenes and supports Pandiyan as they’re related, and Sivasaami is saddened at the loss of trust. One night, before a meeting conducted by Seshadri and Murugan with the local farmers, news arrives that Seshadri was arrested at the train station and Sivasaami is made to go to his house to obtain the authorised documents which allowed the meeting to occur after the police come and intervene. When he comes back, many people were killed in the meeting, including Murugan, and it’s revealed that Viswanathan’s armed men were hiding in the crowd. Their village was also burned down by Pandiyan and his men and many people died, including Maariyamma. Enraged, Sivasaami enters his boss’ home and hacks many of the men there to death, including Pandiyan and Viswanathan.
Sivasaami then reveals that he had left that village and stumbled across Murugesan, who took pity on him and taught him how to become a farmer. He’s also introduced to Pachaiyamma. No one is willing to marry her as Sivasaami is staying there, and so he feels guilty and tells them that he’s ready to leave if they’re not fine with him staying there. He narrates his story to the two, and Pachaiyamma admires what he did to defend his family, and so she agrees to marry Sivasaami. He surrenders to the court and luckily is given a light sentence as Seshadri stated he only killed in self-defence during a communal riot. Afterwards, he marries Pachaiyamma. Chidambaram is amazed at his father’s past and starts to admire him. Sivasaami reconciles with his wife and daughter briefly, and he and his son go to Seshadri for help. Seshadri agrees to help them as long as they turn up to court the next day, to which they agree.
The next day, it is revealed that the police have been stationed outside the court to arrest the father and son when they come, and Narasimhan’s men are in the court premises if they manage to get past the police. The two get into the premises but escape after the men find them. Seshadri becomes angry as they didn’t turn up to court and Sivasaami tells him what happened, and also says he’s ready to sell his land to them to stop any more violence. Narasimhan’s family members agree, and they reluctantly sell the land in presence of the village council. Chidambaram stays near a temple. However, he gets abducted and taken to the village square by Narasimhan’s family to be killed, violating the Panchayat’s orders. Sivasaami comes in, armed with a sickle, and single-handedly takes out many of the henchmen, including some prominent family members, but he and Chidambaram sustain serious injuries. Murugesan and their village people arrive armed and defuse the situation.
In the end, it’s revealed that the two villages agreed that the conflict should end and prevented a caste clash. Sivasaami’s family has gathered in the court and he has agreed to go to jail instead of Chidambaram if that’s needed. He tells his son to study hard to become a powerful man, and that unlike farmland and money, the landlords can’t seize their education. The film ends with Sivasaami smiling at his family as he enters the court.
Directed by Vetrimaaran
Produced by Kalaippuli S. Thanu
Written by SuKa & Vetrimaaran (Dialogues)
Screenplay by Manimaaran & Vetrimaaran
Based on Vekkai by Poomani
Starring Dhanush, Manju Warrier
Music by G. V. Prakash Kumar
Edited by R. Ramar
Production V Creations
Release date 4 October 2019
Running time 139 minutes