Nagraj Manjule

Just One Scene
Sairat Climax Scene

A Good Example of Foreshadowing

The Climax Scene of Sairat
And a Discussion on
Foreshadowing, as a narrative technique

Sairat, a recent Marathi Blockbuster has been the talk of the nation for a while be it the Director, Social Message, the unknown faces making it big – to an extent of the actress bagging National Award for Debutant Acting and so forth.

But among all those topics on Siarat, one topic to which all discussions on the film culminate is where the film does so. The Most Talked About Climax Scene.  

This scene begins with Archi drawing Rangoli. Rangoli is a Traditional Art form in which designs/patterns are drawn in front of houses mostly by young ladies, supposedly to welcome visitors/guests/and God/Goddesses on days of festival.

A neighbouring lady takes Archi’s young child with her, as she is going out nearby, and Archi is busy with her chores.

Archi is seen drawing the Rangoli, when suddenly she’s shocked to see a few feet coming standstill just at the Rangoli.

Archi looks up and there is some apprehension on her face. As audience we still don’t know what is happening, just then we see these are guys from her hometown, her brother and uncle and other folks, same guys from whom Archi and Parshya escaped before they eloped.

The visitors instead greet Archi and offer her the gifts they brought along. It’s a normal Indian tradition where Maternal Relatives bring gifts to their daughter’s family – on various occasions - this being birth of a son.

Archi is pleased to see this. She had been calling her mother and enquiring if her father is still angry with her. She was missing her family all the time. This comes as a much awaited moment for her, which might usher in rebinding with her kins back at home.

She welcomes the guests in her small tenement. She asks her uncle if his arm is fine, she fired a shot at him out of fear while escaping. This shows her concern for him and a bit of regret. After that she goes in the inside room which is kitchen to make tea for them. While the tea boils, she checks the gifts. They are all those articles which her parents would have given to her, had she married as per their wishes. Getting those things now is an indication of things becoming normal. Her long cherished wish coming true.

Just then Parshya enters with household daily needs, which are bagfuls. Bagful? Was he expecting some guests? He’s rather apprehensive to find them there. But when he comes, further inside to the kitchen, Archi gives him the good news that they have come for good and things will be fine here onwards..

She tells Parshya to go and offer them tea. A typical trait of her character where she says, she prepared the tea so he should serve and share the work.

Parshya serves the tea. One by one they take their cups without talking, and the uncle in last empties a little from his cup in another. This is a normal but typical habit of some people mostly snobs, which is kind of hurting the hosts because they are offering. In the given scene this also means ‘PART REFUSAL’.  

The next we see, the neighbour bringing the child back. It is total silence. No background music, no commotion, no nothing. Now here you see this walk through the corridors of the tenement is pretty long, making the audience fidget in their seats. A sceptical few could even be thinking WTF editing.

The lady drops the child outside his house and asks him to go inside. The kid toddles towards the door. We follow all his steps calmly and then he enters the door. The silence is still maintained. By now you know, all is not well. Camera just catches the infant’s expressions and he becomes sad and begins to cry with sorrow.. just then it is revealed what he’s seen, or what happened. Totally from kid’s PoV we see - His parents have been slashed and bled to death. The tranquillity is still maintained. The child crying is also not given any sound. He turns back and comes out of the door and we see tiny red footprints of his blood soaked feet. The silence in the film is reciprocated by the pin-drop silence in the hall.
People are awestruck. Suddenly we realize all those signs, the dead silence etc. hinted at this sinister fatal twist.

Here’s the scene, you may watch. Probably this is pirated scene but as we are using for academic purpose we will share it here as long as it is available.

Now coming to why we chose this Scene for discussion?

Yes, it follows the Three Act Structure..

Yes, it is the talk of the B’Town..

But as Writer I felt this is the scene which explains Foreboding/Foreshadowing very well and just in one scene seeds-in and pays-off. Foreshadowing enhances audience’s emotional experience. Almost every member of the audience is like in total shock. जैसा हम हिंदी में कहते है सांप सूंघ गया..

Foreshadowing has been one of the all-time favourite devices of good Storytellers. Right from the time of Ramayana and Mahabharata to Shakespeare, who extensively used foreshadowing in almost all of his stories, this device has served as a good narrative technique.

In Literature it is called Literary device and in storytelling we call it narrative technique. Whatever we call it, storytelling has always been using it widely as craft whether consciously or unconsciously.  

Just before Seeta Haran, in Ramayana we will find some ominous signs..

In Macbeth – the Witches are always hinting at what’s coming up, thereby making the readers anxious with anticipation.

In umpteen Hindi films we have seen foreshadowing in all forms used to craft the screenplay.  

The crudest is “Meri Bayi Aankh phadphada rahi hai”..(My left eyelid is flickering, a popular Indian superstition of forthcoming evil); To an allusion like the 'Aradhana' song 'Chanda hai Tu mera Suraj Hai tu' where the mother says "Rama kare kabhi hoke bada to ban gagan pawan mein ude" and her son becomes a Pilot when grown up;  
To the subtlest like Sairat.

In Deewar, Mother India, Satyam Shivan Sundaram, and recently even in Neerja. Foreshadowding has been highly effective with drama/tragedy stories and also to some extent other genres as well.  

Foreshadowing builds up anticipation and anticipation heightens the pay-off, pay-off eventually is the reward you gift the audience for investing their time in listening to your story. It's like the smell of food cooking in kitchen which induces appetite and builds the suspense to make our mind think, what must be cooking. And when that's served the revelation is satisfying. It's the gradual build up that makes it an experience we cherish.  

Good films (even Superstarrers) have failed because their pay-off was peanuts. Certain other films have worked marvels just because of right foreshadowing. Eg. Yun Hota to Kya Hota had the perfect foreshadowing with ultimate pay-off from within our knowledgebase still coming as a shock to us.

Sairat’s climax may live with us for long, because of this high the pay-off gives.

In this Climax Scene let’s analyse the Foreshadowing and how it builds up the anticipation and then the final pay-off.

  1. The Child is taken away from the action.. Why we feel for a while and then go back to watching the film.. but this why sows some allusion in our subconscious mind..

  2. Archi is drawing Rangoli, to welcome guests. Was she expecting someone, probably subconsciously again? But it’s a part of our tradition (prominent in South and Maharashtra bordering South) so we take it as normal. But in retrospect when we will ruminate this, we will feel the undercurrents. Did you notice, she leaves the Rangoli incomplete? Another foreboding of her Incomplete Poetry.

  3. The way the visitors are behaving, their gestures and gifts show favour but they are silent and composed. As the popular saying goes “Silence before the Storm”.

  4. Archi telling Parshya – “Everything will be ok now”..
    But what happens is most tragic.

The beauty of this scene’s foreboding and what sets it apart from many is its subtlety. The Writer-Director never makes any direct hint at it. There is not even a whisper leave alone a character telling anything. But still we become tense due to mood building. And when the scene unfolds in front of us we suddenly realize this was what we have been feeling uneasy about. Our own apprehension is vindicated. Thus it becomes our own first-hand experience of feeling the anxiety, then the apprehension and finally the sinister shock. The more subtle the scene is, the more severe the pain. Probably this is why it has become the talk of town. Knowingly or unknowingly people are living the experience themselves and becoming one with the characters thereby making it a success.   

As Writers, we may use this device to enhance our craft of storytelling. As students of Screenwriting it is good to keep noting such allusions and see how anticipations are built up. Foreshadowing is also or rather more useful to Directors because it helps in manipulating the mood, preparing the audience for that upcoming shocker.

Foreshadowing is not always for indicting only evil coming our characters’ way. It could also be about some happy event or something highly unexpected.
Take an example of Deewar, where early in the film, Davar Sahab tells Jaichand that the kid polishing boots will be a big shot someday. It’s a foretelling, which we enjoy later when our Vijay pays-off when Davar chooses him as the successor and he occupies the Boss’ chair. Davar recalls his foretelling to Jaichand, who is aghast as we have our Goosebumps. smiley

Please watch this compilation scene from Deewar

Remember the Soothsayer of 'Bicycle Thief' who tells – If you will find the thief, you will find him now, or never. And then immediately after that when they come down, voila – the thief stands in front of them, but quickly runs away! And then they never find him..  

Our Indian Films Unique Feature yes, Songs have also been vastly used for foreshadowing a good/bad fortune..

  1. Waqt’s Title Song.

  2. Ek na ek din ye kahani banegi tu mere sapno ki Rani banegi. A wishful foretelling of a happy ending.

  3. Jogi O Jogi hath mein mere likha hai ek din main Raja Banuga tera hi Tota kahta hai (Kamchor)

  4. O mehbooba tere dil ke paas hi meri Manzil-e-Maqsud from SANGAM, Especially here we see Raj Kapoor’s character as an outside angle to love triangle where Rajendra Kumar and Vaijayantimala’s characters are in love. But still foreshadowing verbalized in a verse ‘Sab dekhte rah jayege le jaaoonga ek din’ - foretells us what unexpected turn the fate will take.

  5. The Title Song of Gumnaam has abundance of Foreshadowing, but then we will keep horror out of the discussion, because there, foreshadowing is invariably the central or the only device, mostly.

How to check foreshadowing elements in a given narrative? Or

How to weave them in your narrative..?

  1. A Character or action indicates something coming our way

  2. Use of weather - dark clouds, winds, rain or ambience – lights going off and things like this. (See how this helps in making it subtle).

  3. An Astrologer’s prediction, Or some Supernatural being directly or indirectly alluding at something

  4. Something seeded in during an earlier scene but left incomplete without obvious reason..( again like Sairat - the neighbour taking the child with her).

  5. Background Music is also a great device to induce foreshadowing. Remember the Thakur & Gabbar theme Music of Sholay? Many comic scenes still use the Chaplin era Music pieces to foreshadow forthcoming fun..  

Did you find this article useful? Or have other thoughts?
Would you like to share any scene where foreboding / foreshadowing reinforces the narrative? We may append your scenes to this article. There are lot of articles on the topic but all about foreign films or literature, let’s build our own for Indian Films..

Please write to us at editor.fwa.co.in@gmail.com

So let’s part for time-being with this classic song, which is a common apprehension of a lady in love, where on one hand she is happy to be in love but on other constantly worried something might go wrong..and needless to say there’s a crisis post this song as foretold surprise  



Additional Reading..
1. http://www.macgregorliterary.com/blog/literary-devices-for-the-real-world-foreshadowing/

2. http://udleditions.cast.org/craft_elm_foreshadowing.html

3. http://study.com/academy/lesson/foreshadowing-in-othello.html

4. http://www.markedbyteachers.com/gcse/english/discuss-shakespeare-s-use-of-foreshadowing-in-romeo-and-juliet.html

5. http://www.bookrags.com/notes/mac/top2.html#gsc.tab=0

6. https://filmschoolrejects.com/14-great-moments-of-foreshadowing-in-films-aaf02246729b#.gepdgnagr

7. http://www.elementsofcinema.com/screenwriting/foreshadowing.html

8. http://www.watchmojo.com/video/id/13876/

These are just a few, you will find plenty of literature on Google.

-Sanjay Sharma

Critic who loves to appreciate.

Click here to Top