The Massive Benefits Of Irony: Why and How to Use in Your Film?

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People adopt various narrative styles & plot movements in films to make it more appealing to the audience. These styles and techniques are evolving at a never ending fast pace. Thanks to the current phase of tamil cinema taken over by the new age filmmakers, audience are on a watch out for something unique and different in every film that releases. People have westernised themselves and don’t expect an usual treatment in films. One such westernised concept which is seeing the light of the day here only now, is the concept of irony in films.

There’s irony in almost everything and anything around us. Like how a corrupt politician talks about anti-corruption. Or how in spite of knowing what a corrupt leader he is, we all vote and bring him as a leader! Our life is a whole lot of an irony itself! Sadly, something of so much scope has been used very minimally in our films. Let me talk to you about why certain films have used it and how it benefited those films largely.

Is it a plot device?

Before that, for some that need to know what irony exactly is. Irony is actually a literary technique used by writers where there is a contradiction between what needs to happen and what happens actually. For instance, if a guy is searching for a treasure on a map and crosses many paths, forecomes many hurdles and ends up knowing that the end point of the map was his very own bedroom, it is an irony! This irony could evoke laughter in some, could make it tragic in some, or could end happily in some too!

Messages could be delivered easily!

Let us consider Kaaka Muttai (2015). In this film, a tree from which 2 boys enjoy eating eggs is being cut and the ground is being occupied by a pizza company to put up their pizza store. Naturally, these boys are attracted towards the pizza ads and stuff. Now these boys (who happen to be poor) want to get hold of a pizza at least once in their lifetime. Hence, they start working towards it. When finally, after a series of mishappenings, they get to taste the pizza, they are not in awe of it. This is an irony. Not just us, even the boys in the film (as the character) due to the pain that they went through just to get a taste of the pizza would expect it to give them a sense of happiness. But, what they get is something completely contradictory.  

Let us take another film oru kidayin karunai manu (2017). This film starts with people from a particular village traveling to their temple to complete their village deities. They take with them a ‘goat’ that has to be sacrificed to the god as part of their ritual. Unfortunately, there occurs an accident and owing to the fact that all of them might be arrested, the whole village halts in a single place and tries to cover up the whole accident. The goat due to which this whole event had started is left in the place without being sacrificed. How in tamil, we call the goat as a “bali aadu”, the whole village is symbolised as somewhat of a “bali aadu” of the accident. This is yet again an irony that the goat never got sacrificed in the first place!

The ironies used in the above examples have clearly helped the film have a greater effect on us! These ironies have helped the filmmakers ‘say the message out loud and clearly’ without being preachy. This is also why, nowadays preachy films are being disliked by many. Velaikaran (2017) and Mersal (2017) are clear examples for that. So irony in a way reduces the work of a director in sending out a message. The irony takes care of it.  But, is message the only purpose of an irony?

There is larger scope of irony!

There is a very large scope of irony in films when used at the correct dosage. Take Aaranya Kaandam (2011). Sappai in this film is all lured by subbu to go against singaperumal by stealing the money and gun. But what happens in the end? After sappai kills singaperumal, he is shot dead by subbu herself! Some might call it as a twist. Twist is actually a layman term used to signify change of events. So, it’s better to term it as a situational irony in sappai’s decision that ends up tragic.

Let us take another example, Kurangu bommai (2017). How Vidharth in this film gets hold of the bag in the beginning of the film and ends up losing it and searches again (for the statue here) is an irony firstly. When he searches for his father, and it is revealed to us that the bag that he initially had actually contained his father’s remains is yet again an irony! These are some examples how irony has ended up being tragic for the characters.

It can come anywhere!

Irony could be used anywhere and everywhere. It could come in between of a film or at end of the film, it makes its presence felt for sure. An iconic example of it ended happily for the characters is in Soodhu Kavvum (2013). How Brahma, a ruthless police officer gets shot by himself by his own gun evoked heavy laughter for us and ended fortunate for the characters in it. The concept of irony has been used in many animation films  from Finding nemo (2003 until the most recently released Coco (2017). It has been used for varied purposes in Coen brothers Films! That kind of a treatment to irony is yet to happen here!


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