Oh, the lunacy: Debunking myth in Dharma Yuddham

This weekly column debunks the various myths propagated by Indian cinema, Tamil films in particular.

Published: 21st March 2018 10:38 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd March 2018 08:48 AM   |  A+A-

A still from Dharma Yuddham

Express News Service

Thengai Srinivasan has to be one of the most underrated actors in Tamil cinema. He’s an actor who has done a variety of roles, and stayed on in pop culture, especially for his style of dialogue delivery. One such dialogue comes in Dharma Yuddham, when he exclaims in true 70s villainous fashion, “Oorukellam pournami aana un kudumbatha poruthavarai amavasai.”

Post this, the family gets killed brutally by Srinivasan on full moon day with a young Rajini tied to a pillar witnessing his parent’s death. Why this particular piece of information stayed on in my memory is that, later in the film, when a grown up Rajini is tied to a tree, it is a full moon day again, and suddenly the man who couldn’t beat up four people gains an extraordinary surge in strength and becomes a human version of the Incredible Hulk and swats aside all his enemies.

The entire movie is based on this amazing idea, but of course, this wasn’t the only film that used this trope of extraordinary feats of strength being performed on new moon day or full moon day. Since so many films took off on this idea that full moon or new moon days somehow accentuated abilities (or in many cases, insanity), we reached out to Dr Daniel, consulting psychiatrist, to find out if there was any credence. “This is one of the oldest beliefs existing in the world.

It is not just restricted to our society or our country. It is a trans-national cultural belief which exists in different forms. You would remember this in the most popular werewolf theory. That is probably where cinema got the idea in the first place,” he says. “The whole thing started when ancient humans based their belief system entirely on the lunar cycle of 28 days and even though science advanced significantly, this particular belief continued to exist.

You would be surprised to hear that this existed even in the mental health space. People will have stories and such anecdotal evidence do abound. But as with anything that science does, when you build up a large enough sample space, you can easily prove such claims to be myths.”

Myth

Humans are affected mentally during full moon day and new moon day Propagated in Dharma Yuddham, Yaar, Kalakalappu 2

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