Inam- Review

Inam- Review

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Everyone could have their own views and ideas about the Sri Lankan issue, but the perspective of the common man towards the Sri Lankan civil war and its bitter end needed to be recorded. Santhosh Sivan has nonchalantly managed to slap the cold truth aesthetically on the faces of the audience, that now they know what and how it feels to be a ‘war victim’!


So Santhosh in this sincere attempt to tell the truth, narrates the story of a group – ‘a bunch of teenagers in an orphanage, set against the backdrop of a catastrophic civil strife and the horror which followed after the UN peacekeeper army withdrew from Sri Lanka and national army started shelling the rebels’ – in a visually striking and emotionally poignant way! Impressive casting, detailed characterization traits and natural powerful performances by the whole cast makes the film a hard one to digest , and harder to ignore. Sugandha as ‘Rajini‘ has given life and soul to her character on screen, and she comes off topnotch convincing!  Shyam Sundar as ‘Ravi‘, a youngster who had seen his father being burnt alive in one of ‘those riots’ gives a graphic performance, who is caught between love and his feelings of revenge. Saritha as ‘Tsunami Akka‘ is a natural, and she gets into the character so well. The emotions she is able to convey in the scene when she is accusing her God of making her powerless in the midst of the increasing number of people falling dead, are so raw and intense! Karunas as the teacher ‘Stanley‘ and his wife Janaki as ‘Stella‘  lend immense integrity to their roles and Karunas in particular shines in the sequence where he is pushed to the brim, forcing him to roar about his willingness to  do ‘anything’ to save his family, if his wife is continued to be manhandled by a few army men.


But the real star of the film, apart from of course Sivan himself is Karan (a special child in reality), playing ‘Nandan‘- a mentally challenged seventeen year old boy with Down’s syndrome, whose ‘brother’ works for the separatist forces. The scene where he is inducted into the group of orphans, after being found sleeping with a dagger engraved with an extremist symbol is extremely well made and raises a lot of questions regarding his background. Breaking erstwhile stereotypes, Sivan has depicted Nandan exactly as he was as in real life, in an accurate yet endearing way.  His antics and innocence would inevitably make you fall in love with him. Nandan  brings in the color, hope and all the buoyancy. His character works out very well. Nandan  literally and emotively weaves magic into this tale. His repeated mispronunciations of lines, the plastic bag of a skull (Mister My Friend, as he calls it) and the toy car – he carries throughout the movie, brings out his original charm very convincingly. Sivan chooses to sometimes view the war through his innocent eye, enabling us to see everything from ‘his’ perspective.


Symbolism runs rampant in all the frames as the director leaves his trademark insights in each and every shot he composes, like the one where he places the camera within a bag of a variety of live and dead fishes, where Stanley Sir pleads the UN peace keeping forces not to leave the war-zone. What a poetic way to depict an ‘impotent’ situation! Also, Sivan often makes use of Nandan’s character to strike a chord with the audience, like the way he makes ‘Nandan’  identify a dead fish in the fish bag and later in the battle field, seeing so many corpses lying around, counts them out as dead fishes! Sivan takes his figurative signatures to new heights and writes dark poetry in several sequences –  like Nandan  letting free a turtle rescued from the war zone ‘with a dollar note sticking on it’ , a kitten sitting on the top of the television set showing the atrocious war crimes, a broken Buddha statue lying on the frame randomly where Rajini washes off her blood stains on her skirt after being sexually exploited,  and insects scurrying into the ground frantically as bombs fly randomly!


The director amidst  all this agony, also manages to make a strong statement that there is more to our lives than just blood, bullets, shells and smoke by showcasing moments of cheer when Rajni develops an attraction towards a fellow orphan, and the chicken dinner the group cooks one night secretly, thieving Stanley Sir’s rooster! He ventures to tell the emotionally stupefying tale of strength and survival without taking sides. Its literally impossible to make a non-controversial film about this theme ( a genocide of sorts ) which will be allowed for public viewing by the censors and the director has achieved it in a brilliant way by seeking to stand out by a ‘neutral recording’  of the happenings! And yes, that was true! There was hope as well as good hearty people among all the gloom and twisted people on both sides. And the director brings this out in a riveting fashion, making the story-on screen as authentic as possible.


Sivan’s cinematography makes it all look as realistic as possible, yet giving a riveting feel to the audience. The film was shot in various locations in what they told was a Red Epic digital camera. Every single frame screams of lateral purpose, angles and lighting which makes it look genuine. Editing by TS. Suresh is as sharp as a razor, and he especially shines in the cuts between the past and the present.



Mani Prabhu

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