How to Best Use Coincidences in Your Film? Dos and Dont’s

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Do you remember the last scene in Kurangu Bommai? The scene where  the hero (Vidharth) is going to the hospital to get the bag, meets the bald man and starts beating him up to know about the whereabouts of his father. Now, how was that old man present at the right time and place when Vidharth came there? That’s a coincidence isn’t it? We didn’t question the presence of the bald man as we are so much used to such kind of usage of coincidences! Coincidences has been binding our stories for a long time now!

In fact, No coincidence. No story! Every film has it’s own share of co-incidences in the plot. Somehow, some character happens to be at the right time and right place or an incident initiates the conflict in every story. Our stories are filled with coincidences for a major part. But the problem arises when people make use of co-incidences as a tool of resolving conflicts in a story. Now, that’s where we got to realize the knack of incorporating coincidences in our story. But how?

When are Coincidences best utilized?

See, coincidences are seen to be best utilized in the first act during the establishment of the major plot or the conflict of a story. During the initial stages, you need an initiator to initiate the events right? That’s when coincidences serves best. Take for an example any movie that dealt with love. From Alaipayuthey till the recently released Taramani, Coincidences have been used for the meet up of the two main protagonists of the film. Marriage in Alaipayuthe and shelter for rain in Taramani. Now, such kind of usage has not been questioned until now and will not be questioned I assume (well, not sure). This doesn’t signify that coincidences are best suited only for the meet ups of the two main leads, it could be very well used for the sake of initial build up of the events according to one’s content.

It can’t be an answer to your conflict!

But if co-incidence is going to serve as the answer to a major conflict, does that even sound good to you? Let me quote to you an example that has been used in one of Student Filmer’s earlier posts. If our hero has a gun on the villain and hero’s gun jams, It’s called drama. But, if the villain has our hero dead in his sights and the villain’s gun jams, it’s called a lousy cheat. It’s a cheat because, the resolution is not formed by the hero! It in fact lowers the capability factor of hero too! But we can’t rely much on the nature’s call in practical life right? This aspect isn’t being taken care of when one relies on coincidences for solving conflicts. Anyone could come up with resolutions where nature solves the conflict on it’s own.It doesn’t involve much of the writer’s inventive brains to work upon  to do that. The creator that actually brings a solution through his characters is the one to stand out!

One could question what if the hero’s character is such a way that he isn’t the intelligent one and his winning his entirely determined by the circumstance in what he was, yes! In such a case, the jamming of the villain’s gun wouldn’t be a lousy cheat and would actually complement the story! This has been done in films like johnny english and our very own Indru netru naalai (2015)

So how do we Sneak in coincidences?

One cannot incorporate coincidences during the major high points of a film as it questions the practicality of a situation. Take the police station scene from Kurangu Bommai. If the fan hadn’t fallen from the ceiling, the story wouldn’t have moved further! Rather, one must incorporate coincidences in such a way that, the audience do not realise that it was merely a coincidence. This could happen only when the further events are strong enough and deviate our minds from it! Take Maanagaram, where sri is mistaken for Sundeep kishan and gets beaten up, this was a mere coincidence ( the guy who wants to hit Sundeep leaves the place). This again questions the practicality of the situation on why would that guy leave that place. Here, we didn’t question much about this scene as the events that followed made us forget it! The further events made us engross in it that, in fact many of us wouldn’t have even realized it. Also, Panchathanthiram was filled with coincidences almost throughout the film. But we didn’t realize much of the incorporation of these coincidences as we were busy laughing on the events on the screen! This is how one could sneak in coincidences in films!

Anyhow, whatever might be the way that coincidences are incorporated, unless they aren’t quite forceful (which happens only when used to resolve conflicts), they are surely going to be thoroughly enjoyed by the audience! Because, we obviously expect the unexpected in our lives!

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