An Age-Old Drug

A stand-up comedian once jokingly said, " Tamil serials can be written using just two dialogues - one, she shouldn't live anymore and second, I will not let her live anymore."

Despite being a hard emotion to put on convincingly on screen, most plot lines revolve around a character's journey of seeking revenge or show us the side effects on one's revenge-seeking journey. We classify revenge as a negative emotion but empathize with the hero when we see them take to the path of revenge to further the storyline. 

Sometimes, several characters in a film are on a pathway to seek revenge and each of their stories form threads to form the complete picture. While we might feel that the popular opinion of the audiences forces filmmakers to create one revenge saga after another, we must try or attempt to understand why we associate with an emotion like revenge. There are no right answers to this but one can only wonder why we enjoy seeing another individual go through our plight to level the scales. 

Having seen an antagonistic individual in our lives at some point in time, we might associate with a film character's urge to settle the debt.
We see Chandra in Vada Chennai, calmly orchestrate a revenge plan to ensure that all those who were part of her husband's murder pay for it dearly. At some levels we might justify her desire for revenge. But to see a somewhat meek character turn to one driven and solely motivated by revenge might be a result of the classic revenge template.

Ideas of revenge have also been closely associated with conceptions of honour, respect etc as seen in reel and the real, allowing us to validate the usage of revenge as a motivating force. For example, Singhaar Singh's decision to destroy Malik's Tamil in Petta. We closely associate our identities with honour, respect and other self-preserving emotions, due to which we may legitimize a revenge-driven plotline.

Further, our desire to legitimize revenge may simply arise from the human tendency to categories and differentiate between right and wrong. Characters having story lines that somewhat justify our sensibilities of right and wrong are often viewed as permitted to undertake revenge. Sometimes they play on our sentiments to bring about the justification of a need for revenge. Case in point, Vihaan Shergil's dialogue from URI: The Surgical Strike, "They want Kashmir while we want their heads."

The question I think revolves around whether revenge needs to be the most-used tool to tell a story and justify itself in the audience's sensibilities. To go a step ahead, we might even need to consider it's glorification on screen.
However, would our natural instinct be to justify Chidambaram's desire to kill Narasimhan in Asuran, knowing the space he's coming from. This Age-Old Drug will never stop amusing us!

Thanks and regards,


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