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Readers Write In #581: Virupaksha: The Succubus lies in the details

By Vishnu Mahesh Sharma @ ​

We have seen so many films where the hero meets the heroine when the heroine is accomplishing an act of theft. Case in point Amar Akbar Anthony, Parvarish and Thupparivaalan. In these kind of films, this portion, apart from giving the heroine melodramatic reasons/motives for theft, doubles up as love at first sight for the hero. However, other than this nothing particular comes out of the sequence. The scene remains one of the masala tropes using which a bit comedy, a bit romance, a bit melodrama and a love song (in some cases)can be placed in the screenplay.

While watching Virupaksha, I felt the same about the hero-meets-heroine scene. Here also, the hero sets his eyes on the heroine while she is stealing a rooster. Their eyes meet and he instantly falls for her. However,by the time the film reached its concluding portions, I realized that even after being so similar to a conventional meet-cute scene, how different (read creepy) the scene actually was.

Note: The rest of the write up contains major spoilers. So if you have not watched the film, I would suggest you not to read further and come back to it once you have watched the movie.

In the mid portions of the film, we get to know that anyone- who witnesses the death (dead body) the first-gets possessed by a spirit. The spirit leaves the dead body and enters into the witness’ body through his/her eyes. Now here, we scratch the surface and get a devious layer. Because, when our hero looks, the very first time, at the heroine, the only facial features those are visible to the hero are her eyes for rest of her face is covered with a scarf. Scratch the surface one more time. And what is the color of the scarf!- It is RED!!!.

Thus after scratching the surface twice, we understand that the scene serves as a foreshadow that these very eyes would cause bloodshed in the village. The genius of writing is the scene is not content with this symbolism and foreshadowing. It goes a step further. Which means there is more to scratch and more subtext to discover.

So, what is that the girl stealing? No money, No bread, No double roti, No jewelry. She is stealing- a rooster. Moreover, if we hear the noises from the background, we get to know that the thief has been stealing roosters for a while. The question arises, why would a daughter of the village lord indulge herself in such a petty act? This we get to know in the concluding portions of the film. We observe that sacrificing a rooster (cutting its neck by one’s own teeth) is an integral part of an occult (black magic or Sidhdhi). When the hero meets the girls, by this time, she is still trying to expert the occult. She is still experimenting with the practice to master it. That is why she needed all those roosters every now and then till the time she perfected the occult.

Time to scratch the surface one final time and think about it in hindsight after watching the film. The seemingly romantic scene is, now, no more the same, instead, we see that it is filled with tinges of scare and spookiness.And, It is commendable that in a movie (which on its surface a super natural thriller) a plain and done to death scene is so very rich with color symbolism, foreshadowing and metaphor. It, in its body, follows every formulaic trope to the hilt. Nevertheless, in its spirit, it is so very different from those routine scenes by working not only at macro level, as a meet-cute scene, but also at micro level, as a red herring and intentional loose end (to be tightened in the climactic portions). One of the best examples of accommodating a necessary masala devil (read succubus) in the screenplay by giving it a purpose and a soul.

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