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Asuran: A Horror Film That Will Haunt You Forever

Asuran: A Tamil Action Drama Film Based on a Novel

Asuran is a 2019 Tamil-language period action drama film written and directed by Vetrimaaran and produced by Kalaipuli S. Thanu. It is based on the novel Vekkai (Heat) by Poomani, a famous Tamil novelist. The film stars Dhanush, along with Manju Warrier (in her Tamil debut), Ken Karunas, and Teejay Arunasalam. G. V. Prakash Kumar composed the film's music, while Velraj handled the cinematography and R. Ramar edited the film. Asuran was released in theatres on 4 October 2019 and became a commercial success at the box office. The film also won two awards at the 67th National Film Awards Best Feature Film in Tamil and Best Actor (Dhanush). It was one among the ten Indian films to be screened at the 78th Golden Globe Awards (2021) under the Best Foreign Film category. It was also screened at the 51st International Film Festival of India in the Indian Panorama section.

Asuran is a film that explores the themes of caste oppression, land rights, revenge, violence, family, and survival. It is a gritty and realistic portrayal of rural Tamil Nadu in the late 1970s, where a Dalit farmer and his family face brutal attacks from an upper-caste landlord who wants to seize their land for a factory. The film is divided into two parts, with flashbacks revealing how the farmer's son killed the landlord in retaliation for his brother's murder, and how they flee from his henchmen who seek vengeance. The film also shows how the farmer's past as a violent rebel leader comes back to haunt him, as he tries to protect his son from his own mistakes.


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Plot Summary

The film begins with Sivasaami, a middle-aged farmer, and his younger son Chidambaram trekking across a river, carrying homemade bombs. In another part of their village, Thekkoor (southern village), Sivasaami's wife Pachaiyamma, her brother Murugesan, and their daughter Lakshmi are also hiding from the police.

The film then goes back to a year ago, when Sivasaami's family was living peacefully on their three acres of land. Sivasaami has a close relationship with his elder son Velmurugan, but is distant and abusive with Chidambaram. Sivasaami's family, along with most residents of Thekkoor, are Dalits who face discrimination and oppression from Vadakoor (northern village), where an upper-caste landlord named Narasimhan lives. Narasimhan wants to acquire Sivasaami's land for a factory, but Sivasaami refuses to sell it.

One day, Pachaiyamma is attacked by one of Narasimhan's sons, who tries to rape her. Velmurugan intervenes and beats him up along with his men. He is arrested by the police, who are in cah oot with Narasimhan's support. Sivasaami bails him out and warns him to stay away from trouble. However, Velmurugan is enraged by the injustice and decides to take revenge. He kills Narasimhan's son in front of his house and runs away. Narasimhan and his men chase him and kill him brutally in front of Sivasaami and Pachaiyamma.

Sivasaami is devastated by his son's death and tries to cremate him, but is stopped by the police and Narasimhan's men, who want to take his body as evidence. Sivasaami fights them off with the help of Murugesan and other villagers, and manages to cremate Velmurugan. He then decides to leave the village with his family, fearing for their safety.

As they are leaving, Chidambaram sees Narasimhan's other son, who was also involved in his brother's murder, and stabs him to death with a knife. He then runs away with his father, while Pachaiyamma and the others go in a different direction. This leads to the present situation, where Sivasaami and Chidambaram are on the run from Narasimhan's henchmen, who are hunting them down.

The film then shifts to the past, where a young Sivasaami is shown as a rebel leader who fought against the British colonial rule and the upper-caste oppression. He falls in love with Pachaiyamma, a lower-caste girl, and marries her against her father's wishes. He also befriends Venkatesan, an upper-caste lawyer who supports his cause. Sivasaami leads a violent uprising against the British and the landlords, killing many of them and seizing their lands. He becomes a hero for his people, but also a target for his enemies.

One day, Sivasaami is betrayed by one of his men, who informs the British about his whereabouts. Sivasaami is captured and tortured by the British officer Graham, who wants him to reveal the names of his associates. Sivasaami refuses to cooperate and is sentenced to death by hanging. However, Venkatesan intervenes and saves him by using his legal skills. He also convinces Sivasaami to give up violence and live peacefully with his family.

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Sivasaami agrees and settles down as a farmer on the land that he had acquired from the landlords. He also renounces his caste identity and adopts a new name, Asuran (demon). He hopes to live a happy life with Pachaiyamma and their children, but his past comes back to haunt him when Narasimhan, the son of one of the landlords that he had killed, returns to take revenge.

Critical Reception and Awards

Asuran received critical acclaim from both critics and audiences for its powerful story, direction, performances, music, cinematography, and editing. The film was praised for its realistic depiction of caste violence, land issues, social justice, and human emotions. The film was also lauded for its strong female characters, especially Pachaiyamma, who was portrayed as a courageous and resilient woman who stands by her husband and children.

The film has a rating of 8.5 out of 10 on IMDb, 4 out of 5 on The Times of India, 4 out of 5 on The Hindu, 4 out of 5 on The Indian Express, 4 out of 5 on Film Companion, and 3.5 out of 5 on Hindustan Times. The film also has a score of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 7 reviews.

The film won two awards at the 67th National Film Awards Best Feature Film in Tamil and Best Actor (Dhanush). It was also nominated for Best Director (Vetrimaaran), Best Supporting Actress (Manju Warrier), Best Music Director (G. V. Prakash Kumar), Best Cinematography (Velraj), Best Editing (R. Ramar), Best Sound Design (Kunal Rajan), Best Audiography (Sachin Sudhakaran), Best Production Design (Jacki), Best Costume Design (Perumal Selvam), Best Make-up Artist (Ranjith Ambady), Best Stunt Choreography (Peter Hein), Best Special Effects (Harihara Suthan), and Best Choreography (Brinda) at the same awards.

Remake and Other Adaptations

Asuran was remade in Telugu as Narappa in 2021 by Srikan th Venkatesh Daggubati reprising Dhanush's role and Priyamani playing Manju Warrier's role. The film was directed by Srikanth Addala and produced by D. Suresh Babu and Kalaipuli S. Thanu. The film was released on Amazon Prime Video on 20 July 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The film received mixed reviews from critics and audiences, who compared it unfavorably with the original. The film was criticized for its lack of intensity, emotion, and authenticity, as well as for its unnecessary changes and additions to the script. The film was also accused of diluting the caste angle and the political commentary of the original.

Asuran was also adapted into a Kannada web series titled Rathri Ke Yatri in 2020 by Hungama Play. The series was directed by Anil V. Kumar and featured Sharad Kelkar, Supriya Pilgaonkar, Anupriya Goenka, Sudhanshu Pandey, and others in the lead roles. The series was a crime thriller that revolved around five different stories that take place in a red-light area during one night. The series was loosely inspired by the novel Vekkai and the film Asuran, but had a different setting and plot.

The novel Vekkai itself was also adapted into a Malayalam film titled Muthassi Gadha in 2016 by Jude Anthany Joseph. The film starred Rajini Chandy, Bhagyalakshmi, Aparna Balamurali, Suraj Venjaramoodu, and others in the lead roles. The film was a comedy drama that focused on the relationship between a grandmother and her grandchildren, who try to fulfill her wish of meeting her estranged husband. The film was a moderate success at the box office and received positive reviews from critics and audiences.


Asuran is a film that deserves to be watched for its power

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