Thevar Magan (Eng: Son of Thevar)[a] is a 1992 Indian Tamil drama film directed by Bharathan. The film stars Sivaji Ganesan, Kamal Haasan, Revathi, Gouthami and Nassar in pivotal roles. The film’s soundtrack album and background score were composed by Ilaiyaraaja while the cinematography was handled by P. C. Sriram. The film’s script was written by Kamal Haasan who also produced the film along with his brother Chandra Haasan under the production company Raaj Kamal Films International.
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.
Thevar Magan was chosen by India as its entry for the Best Foreign Language Film for the 65th Academy Awards, but was not nominated. 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 crucial emotional core of the movie about a reluctant son ascending a throne full of thorns was reported to be inspired by Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 film The Godfather.
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 westernised girlfriend Bhanu (Gautami) with him to meet his family. Periya Thevar[b] 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 Chinna Thevar (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 apologising to his opponents. Sakthivelu feels it should be him or Esaki who should apologise. When Saktivelu asks for Esaki, he learns that Maya Thevar has amputated Esaki’s hand for opening the temple. 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,[c] 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 Panchavarnam (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 wanting to put an end to the cycle of violence once and for all.
Directed by Bharathan
Produced by Kamal Haasan
Written by Kamal Haasan
Starring Sivaji Ganesan, Kamal Haasan, Revathi, Gouthami, Nassar, Vadivelu, Kaka Radhakrishnan, Renuka
Music by Ilaiyaraaja
Cinematography P. C. Sriram
Edited by N. P. Satish
Production Raaj Kamal Films International
Distributed by Raaj Kamal Films International
Release date 25 October 1992
Running time 158 minutes