The Butterfly Effect in Cinema

ananThe Effect of a small change resulting in a huge outcome has been a frequently used storytelling technique in cinema. Sometimes it’s deliberately taken in its purest form as a storytelling tool, sometimes the story writers may not intend to use that effect, but they do. The Hyperlink movies which has this effect used indirectly, brings in an amazing screenplay opportunity if handled well. Though there are a handful of movies around the globe using this theme, I would like to focus on some of the South Indian movies, which made a good use of The Butterfly effect.  

A straight-out movie which can’t be missed while talking about this effect is “Dasavathaaram”.  The movie begins with Kamal Haasan as Govind talks about these effects (both Chaos theory and Butterfly effect) making a layout of what’s coming in the forthcoming story. The story opens up to the 12th century rivalry between Saivite and Vaishnavites, where Rangaraja Nambi is made to drown in the middle of the sea along with a huge Vishnu Idol. 

Cutting back to the 21st century, the scientist Govind and his team invent a bioweapon, which can be stopped from spreading only by using large amount of NaCl which is a concentrated salt solution. We could never take our eyes off Ulaganayagan’s ten different roles which keeps hyperlinking to each character in the story, but when observed, the Drowning of the idol in the 20th century, has led to the Tsunami in the 21st century which actually saves India from a huge bio-hazard spread. It doesn’t mean that the idol was too heavy to disrupt the tectonic plates, but it added to the occurrence of the Tsunami, which happens centuries later. 

Even in our real history, Gandhi who was forcibly pushed out of the train can also be considered as a change which brought a whole different outcome on the course of the Independence of our country. If Gandhi had not faced Racism in South Africa, the Independence movement would have still happened but in a totally different alternative. That’s the plot which Hey ram handled too. The decision to split the country for Hindu and Muslim led to the Calcutta riots which brutally killed Saket Ram’s wife Aparna. From there on, the life of Ram shifts to a new goal, which is to assassinate Gandhi. If not for the partition, Saket Ram would have continued having a happier life with Aparna, Amjad, and Lalvani. His world would have been small, but that riot changed what he was and made him realize that Love is the Ultimate truth.


Another film worth mentioning movie is Jil Jung Juk. Though this movie was not given the recognition at its time, it still has a cult following to it. Jil Jung Juk has made the use of the Butterfly Effect very evidently. The movie was no way near to what Tamil cinema has seen in recent times. The fil is set in the future in 2020, where most of the population was looking at it as the year of hope. Jil Jung Juk, opens its story with a Harsh-reality of how 2020 could be. Jil, Jung and Juk are given a task to transport an Ambassador which is Paint-coated with Cocaine (“Car thaan Saraku”). During the course of the movie, Jil (Played by Siddarth) talks about The Butterfly effect by flapping his wings from one side to another and accidentally disrupts Juk, who is driving the car and runs into a tree off-road. That brings a change in the chain of events where they meet Narasimmaiah where the trio set a booze-trap for him but end up tripping over in their own plan. A butterfly flaps its wings towards the end and voila they escape like free birds.


Cinema sometimes calls these display of events as “Kadhaila Twistuu” which eventually shifts the balance of the story. Some of the other movies like Vaanam, Thamizhuku En Ondrai Azhuthavum, Maanagaram, Neram, Superdeluxe have used this technique to the best of its form. All of these movies have set two or more characters and their parallel projections which interwins together towards one bigger event. These kind of stories bring in a sense of thrill to the audience as we curiously wait for the characters to meet each other with a tinch of tease of their likely or unlikely meeting. Hypothetically, our lives could have been different if a small isolated event had/ had not happened. The thought of imagining, “which initiated what?” trips our mind with its Infinite parallels and possibilities, which becomes a Writer’s ultimate tool to take the story with multiple perception leading it to one great finale.

Written by

- Arjun Shiv Raaj L

Barani Bhoopalan September 19, 2020

This is amazing!😎

Kavi September 19, 2020

My mind is blown🤯😻 I am not a cinema person.. after reading this, i felt like i missed experiencing these small things which got so much meaning in it. Thank you arjun anna for enlightening me❤️ You are awesome ❤️

Lawrance September 19, 2020

Excellent in-depth analysis of story plot using butterfly 🦋 effect. Even in our real life small events may pave way for a quantum leap or lead to a disastrous turn which the author has brought out so vividly. Amazing & awesome article. Hats off..👌👌👏👏👏👏👍

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