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Dhileepan and Shyama are Tamil-speaking residents of Mankulam, Sri Lanka, who get married with the blessings of their respective families. After the marriage, Shyama confides that she would like to be a mother of 8 children, but is stunned when her husband tells her that he cannot father any children until there is peace between the mainstream and the Tamils in this country. Nevertheless, they do get intimate, resulting in Shyama getting pregnant. Dhileepan goes into hiding because of his connections with the Tamil Tigers, while Shyama returns to her dad, Devanathan's house. A storm threatens their village, and they are forced to flee to a Refugee Camp in Rameswaram, India. Alone, without any support, Shyama gives birth to a girl, leaves her, and returns to Sri Lanka to be with her husband. This child gets noticed by noted Tamil author Thiruchelvan, who lives with his sister, Kamalee, her husband, and their son, and authors books under the pen-name of 'Indra', who is actually an ... Written by
Sensitive, top-notch film from a great director ...
The film has Maniratnam written all over it. It is subtle in its content, yet manages to be in-your-face with some trademark-Maniratnam blunt dialogs and blunt visuals too. I've only seen Spielberg and Benigni who have managed to balance subtlety and directness wonderfully. Maniratnam is not their class but very close on their heels. At times he is better than them!
The performances are superb, the production values are excellent, particularly the camera and art direction. Yet I have to mention two let downs in the movie. One is sort of major - Rahman's background score. It had a widely fluctuating quality - at times (in the final scenes and in the scenes following Amudha's birthday) bordering on superb and at times (in most of the war scenes, in the scene when Amudha sees the young LTTE girls) downright intrusive. The second one is a minor let down - editing. The movie could have used a good 10 minute trimming in the middle stages.
The first half hour is a series of disjointed events thrown at you at a rapidfire pace, which may not be easy for even Tamilians to follow, not to say how difficult it is for the Western audience. Yet, being a Tamilian, while I relished the first half hour of the movie so much, I can't help but wonder how much of that brilliance remained after translating the dialogs. Personally I had a very hard time translating all the comedy in the movie when I attempted it for North Indians and Americans!
That said, I have watched the movie 5 times already. I don't think I'll stop watching it anytime soon. One of the best to come out of India, heck, one of the finest movies ever made. Kudos to Maniratnam and the entire team!
A hearty 8.5 out of 10.0!
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