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Chirakkal Kelu Nayanar, a warrior in 16th century Kerala wants to avenge his father killed in a confrontation with Vasco da Gama and his troops and is assisted by his best friend Vavvali and warrior princess Ayesha.
Malli is a 19 year old girl, who joined a terrorist organization at a very young age after her brother was killed in the cause. Now in her young adulthood, she volunteers for a suicide assassination mission to kill a VIP in the service of her cause. With intricate preparations and seemingly firm resolve, she makes her way to the target area where the plot will be executed. However, events occur that make her question her determination to complete her mission and the very nature of the sacrifice that she is called upon to make. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
This is a starkly sad and beautiful film by the Indian filmmaker Santosh Sivan, in the Tamil language with English subtitles. It was shot in 17 days on locations in Kerala and Madras with a cast made up entirely of nonprofessional actors on a small budget.
The theme, however, is large.
The lead character, Malli, exquisitely played by Ayesha Dharkar, is a 19-year old woman who lives in a terrorist camp, fighting for her unnamed country. Her eyes are large and her expressions innocent and strong and even though we see her actively participating in an execution, she wins the audience's heart immediately.
She is honored by being chosen to become a suicide bomber. A very important person will come to the town, she will put a garland around his neck, and blow him and herself up by pushing a button which will ignite the bombs strapped to her body. But will she really do it?
When she leaves the guerilla camp she is led through minefields by a young boy named Lotus. We glimpse the horror of the war through his eyes and his boyish bravery. Then she is taken on a boat to spend a few days with a elderly farmer named Vesu who doesn't suspect her mission. As she dresses for the final event, she is torn with conflict.
By subtle complexities in her acting, the audience is drawn in to Malli's dilemma. However, the director sometimes gets a little too arty, with too many close-ups with raindrops on her face. And, in order to show every single emotion, the action of the story moves too slow for my taste.
However, the beauty of the film lies not as much in the actual story, but in the director's ability to put a human face on terrorism. The mood is somber, the cinematography beautiful and the emotions of the individuals caught up in the drama are captured well.
I recommend this film for serious film buffs only who are willing to incorporate sadness and starkness into their movie-going experience. Others will find it too harsh.
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