Ira Madiyama: Futility of peace through war
In the rat-race of which we are now all part of, few are the
occasions one finds the time for a movie. They become fewer still with
the choice available either in the form of Tamil or Hindi films - many
of them with sleazy poor imitations of follies de berges kind of vulgar
dances - and that too from the land that gave the world the beautiful
dresses, grace and elegance of many oriental dance forms - Bharatha
Natyam being just one of them.
Now that we are denied the choice of Hollywood and Western films that
were a plenty here until about 70s - just about the only quality stuff
available is usually the Sinhala films. And, that is strictly my
That I was not alone in this opinion was demonstrated by the time I
went an hour ahead of show time and was told balcony tickets were sold
many days ago in spite of the fact the film was running for well over a
fortnight. I was consigned to a way back place in the long and winding
If the makers of the film had in mind the thought resorting to war to
achieve peace is a futile exercise, they had my vote. Not only this
course of action fails to deliver the desired objective but it also
brutally dislocates, in a most inhuman form, society all around and,
this - the movie portrays somewhat poignantly.
After nearly 30 years of taking this debilitating road both
governments since 2002 have settled for the method of "capturing the
hearts and mind" of the people involved - through paths other than
Prasanna Vithanage and his colleagues prove no major community is
spared from the grip of war when the search for peace through military
alternatives is opted for. While in previous films made with the
internal conflict in the background often blame is apportioned almost to
one side whereas in this film it is almost equally distributed.
There is young Chamari dedicating herself to meeting and freeing her
young husband Roshan - a downed air force pilot believed to be a captive
in the hands of the LTTE. Her quest assumes more urgency than normal
since hers was a marriage that did not have the sanction of her
husband's parents. And since his mishap, they blame her for bringing bad
luck to the family.
Having tried and exhausted all help from official channels to trace
her husband, by chance she watches a TV chat-show where a local
expatriate Gamini, a Sri Lankan political activist living abroad, widely
believed to have LTTE connections, speaks of the causes and possible
remedies of a conflict that has drained the country of both its manpower
and financial resources.
In desperation she traces Gamini to his hotel and pleads only he can
help her find her Roshan. While he initially demures, he eventually
takes pity on the young girl and agrees to do what he can - while
dismissing any thoughts he might have "special LTTE connections."
They travel through battle terrain to the northern coast using
whatever thin contacts Gamini has to help Chamari to be taken to
Roshan's captives. In the interim the film draws attention to the
tremendous suffering of the ordinary Muslims, Sinhala and Tamils.
Vithanage also boldly points out helicopter air strikes and armed
action against one's own people kill innocent civilian non-combatants -
often innocent women and children. Simultaneously he also questions the
legitimacy of an armed organization fighting for the "rights of its
people" and at the same time inhumanly up-rooting yet another minority
community-merely on "suspicion" - as in the case in the film where an
entire Muslim village is "cleansed" of their homes and their possessions
in 12 hours - with only a bare Rs. 4,000 per family allowed to be taken
The extreme cruelty of the war does not stop with humans alone. The
film also shows young Arafath separated from his canine friend - in
touching scenes. and then there is the Sinhala soldier Duminda
unwillingly drawn to a bordello for "Rest and Recreation" - to use an
American military phrase - by his well meaning friends.
Here he is shocked to see his own sister as one of the comfort women
- for the want of a job to help keep the family fires burning. The
message is - even the majority is not spared in times of internecine
war. If the resources of the land are diverted to development, as
opposed to where much of it now going to finance Defence expenditure, in
an environment of peace his sister probably would have found a
This becomes clear when he questions the other girl in the brothel,
on whom he has taken pity, why she is there and she answers "because I
need a job to run my poor home in Bibile".
He then innocently wonders "Is this then - a job?" The film ends
somewhat abruptly now that Chamari's quest to find her young husband
remains unresolved; and so is the question of the Muslims who were
de-housed and sent to Kalpitiya. In fact the bigger question of the
Tamil-Sinhala equation too remains to be settled.
But Vithanage and company, though not with equal resources of the
better known film makers in the world scene such as George Lucas, Steven
Spielberg, Roman Polanski et al bring home to the local audience a film
whose background is not merely familiar to most of our people - but
sadly, where many of them are also active players and will remain so
until the final settlement or something akin is in the horizon.
Kannadi Pookal: Perfect family entertainment
Kannadi Pookal depicts the bond between a son and his step-mother.
Although this film is a remake of the Malayalam film "Ente Veedu
Appoontem", it makes no difference in Tamil; the film gets through its
message without creating any perplexity.
The theme is based on a simple concept of the friendship between a
son and his step-mother where the problems enter due to the birth of a
younger brother. The director Shahajahan has gone deep into the
consequences of possessiveness that have to be faced because of
imbalanced treatment of children.
The film is simple and sweet and to its maximum kept away from the
regular Tamil film contents. There is no separate comedy track or
unnecessary fight scenes. Everything has been included into the story
and it is carried on by the main characters.
Master Ashwin plays the role of the son and Kaveri plays the role of
his mother. Unlike other Tamil films, in this film the leads are the
mother and the son, who are introduced as close friends. Kaveri brings
up Ashwin with a kind of love and affection which is even more than a
real mother would give. Until her father Pyramid Natrajan enters, the
director does not reveal the fact that it is her step-son.
As his mother expects a baby, Ashwin is the first person to be happy
but when his parent's attention turn towards his brother, he gets
depressed and feels ignored. When his anger reaches the peak, he sprays
the pesticide used to spray their garden on his little brother's face
thinking it would only make him sick. The consequence turns out to be
more than what he thought.
He realizes he has killed his brother. He panics terrified by his
act. Pyramid Natrajan sends the baby for a post-mortem test being
mystified by the sudden death. The post-mortem reveals the cause of
death and turns into a police case. A sincere and tough police officer,
played by Raj Kapoor, investigates and takes Ashwin to the Juvenile
Court. Kaveri tries her best to protect her first son from the police
but Raj Kapoor doesn't show sympathy.
The highlight of the film is the court scene where Ashwin is put into
a situation where the public prosecutor played by Thalaivasal Vijay
starts digging the reasons for his provocative act. Ashwin suffers in
guilt and bursts into tears when he says that it was because of his
parent's disregard and their lack of attention towards him which pushed
him towards this act.
He expresses his guilt for the unexpected death of his beloved
brother. The judge sends Ashwin to 18 months in Juvenile jail. The movie
is straight-forward but moves on interestingly building up expectations.
Sarath Babu who is introduced as a child psychiatrist moulds the
depressed child back to normal and advises his parent on how to go about
re-building their child.
The stage where children get more disheartened is when society and
friends neglect or refuse them. The director has pointed out this danger
in his film as well. This is where the director provides the solution to
his story completing it without leaving any gaps. Ashwin is resented
with another brother when he returns from the jail by his parents to
prove their trust on him. The delighted Ashwin starts over a new life
with his new present.
The vital aspect for such a movie is the cast. All the artistes who
have performed in this movie have been given some importance and
portrayed memorably. The young master Ashwin is talented and brings out
the expressions beautifully and comfortably.
Kaveri looks like Ashwin's sister in appearance but with her matured
performance she has portrayed herself as an ideal mother. This is again
a challenging role for Parthiban like "Thendral", so with experience he
has performed his role with ease. All the other supporting actors have
also performed competitively.
Many directors have the habit of making simple concepts complicated
to just provide the story with twists and turns. When unnecessary twists
are taken, it becomes extremely difficult to provide a solution.
Director Shajahan moves the story along a straight path without turning
back or forth just concentrating on the message.
The cameraman Arthur Wilson has shot some good close-ups to bring out
the expressions according to the situation. This film is a lesson to the
high budget film makers to provide the film goers with simple useful and
thoughtful entertainment which will give them million dollars worth
results. Kannadi Pookal is a perfect family entertainment.