Sense of a scene: A lingering end
In this week's column, Paruthiveeran-director Ameer elaborates on the hard-hitting climax of the film
"Paruthiveeran's climax was not conceived during the scripting stage, but much earlier, when Sethu (1999) was released, in fact. Sasikumar and I were assistant directors back then and after a screening of Sethu in Madurai, we saw a woman come out, only to sit down on the ground and cry profusely. We were startled by how a film can affect the audience, and Sasi asked if we can come up with such a film. That's when I narrated Paruthiveeran's one liner to him along with the climax. I wanted the film to be a step better than Sethu and I'm glad it was.
After the film was shot, I played the film to Yuvan Shankar Raja for the music. He meddled with his phone in the first half at times and just said 'okay ji' during the intermission. But after the film ended, I couldn't spot him. After searching for him for a while, I saw him standing between a van and a wall, and he was crying. I'd never seen Yuvan in such an emotional state before and that told me that the climax reached. Even before release, the film faced a couple of issues and I had to screen it for eight members from the Producers' council. After watching the film, they were so shocked that they advised me to change the climax and even said they were ready to fund it. But I was adamant. Even Kalaignar Karunanidhi saw the film and scolded me, asking how could he sleep after seeing the film (smiles).
On the day of the release, I was standing outside a theatre in Madurai when someone ran towards the canteen to get a soda because a woman had fainted after watching the climax. Seeing that, my friends joked about how my film was making everyone faint. It was only later that I got to know that the woman who had fainted was my wife! (laughs)
If you see the climax of Mounam Pesiyathey, the film appears to be heading toward a negative ending when Laila's character comes in and changes it completely. In Paruthiveeran, inversely, we went with a negative ending despite the story seemingly leading to a positive climax. I believe that only a strong climax will make a film stand the test of time. I had eight climaxes for Paruthiveeran actually. One of them was Veeran (Karthi) killing all the men who raped Muththazhagu (Priyamani), leading to him being jailed for life. I'd have connected that to a previous scene where he says to his uncle Chevvaazhai that he wishes to see the Madras Jail at least once before he dies. I went with the original climax because only the audience will know why Veeran stages the killing of Muththazhagu in front of her father so that her dignity isn't stained. This will remind the audience about a scene where he would've threatened her father that he'll kill her violently if she decides to leave him. That's why even in the final shot, you'll see the car's headlight focusing only on half of Veeran's face; that's to imply that this is not the real him.
I was clear that I would show the rape scene in a dignified way unlike many films from the past. There is usually a template where the antagonist would rip the woman's blouse and chase her across the room. What is actually silly is how the hero would be handling the villain's henchmen in the same room while the bad guy tries to rape the heroine.
If you notice clearly, there won't be a scene where the baddies actually touch the heroine. That's why I went with a scene where the camera shows one panel of the door open when the first person does the horrendous act, while the other one is closed. When the next person goes in, the opened panel of the door closes and the other opens. It's to make the scene more intense and get the audience hoping that at least now Veeran should come to save the girl. If you notice it, the entire sequence is less than two minutes, but it still created an impact. Even now people say that they can't watch that scene, and as a creator, that's my success."
(As told to Gopinath Rajendran)