Inam – An illuminating experience!, Santhosh Sivan, Inam


Innocence is bliss. It is innocence when it charms us and ignorance when it doesn’t. It’s a very fine line that differentiates the two. To maintain the innocence at the right level and to keep the charm alive was the biggest and the most important task of director / cinematographer Santosh Sivan in Inam. And he did that with ease and style indeed. What a man!

The two central characters in Inam that drives the movie forward are Rajini, a caring youngster and Nandan, a teenager with Down syndrome. One might wonder that the latter’s role is to provide a sympathy factor to pull the crowd. If you do, you are terribly wrong. There’s nothing to sympathize in this character. It is a character you’d envy, you’d want to be. Nandan is the purest of the beings, a huge bundle of joy and it is his innocence, which is the major contributor to the impact Santosh Sivan intends to make.

When he (Nandan) doesn’t understand the intensity of the problem he is surrounded by, it creates an impact. When he doesn’t realize that it is also him that the army is trying to bomb and yet he stands tall in the middle of the explosions, innocently trying to act like a superhero, it brings a smile, but you pray for him to be alive. When he tries to caress everyone around him, without even knowing that even he needs some, we finally get what Santosh Sivan is trying to say.

Inam overflows with symbolisms and here are a few things I’m proud of having learnt from the movie.

War is bad. There’s too much bloodshed and too many precious lives wrecked. Our censor board is never lenient to violence. Yet, they gave Inam a clean chit. Why? The genius that Santosh Sivan is, he didn’t paint the screen red. Here’s what he did.

As the skies mushroomed with deadly smoke and filled the atmosphere with the smell of death, the birds tucked themselves into their nests, turtle hid in its shell and the insects buried themselves beneath the earth. What better way to establish that there’s war, than showing the fear around?

Secondly, a pond remains crystal clear until you disturb it. Same is the case with Nandan. As he stabs a soldier, who molests Rajini, there is also a shot of a toy car falling away from Nandan. It denotes the loss of a part of his innocence. Innocence might be unsuspicious after all, but all things truly wicked start from innocence.

The best for the last! At the end of the movie, as Rajini completes the story she was narrating to Aravind Swamy, something so hard hit my mind that not many would agree or would have noticed. This is the very last shot of the film.

As Rajini gets up to leave, for a second it appeared as if she’s pregnant. Then, I realized that it wasn’t a baby bump, but the globe on the table right in front of her. It was an illusion. Then it struck me.

After wishing a safer future for the coming generations, Aravind Swamy concludes his narration with the famous verse of poet Kaniyan Poonkundranaar – “Yaadhum Oore Yaavarum Kelir” (every country is my own and all the people are my kinsmen).

With that quote in the background and the shot I just described, on the screen, I realized that Santosh Sivan has successfully brought on screen his wish for the future generation.

Rajini represents the current world and the globe stands for two things. One, as a separate entity the globe is literally the world and when it appears as Rajini’s baby bump, it represents the future generation. On the whole, it was Santosh Sivan’s wish for a safer world for the coming generation.

Some films leave us on a happy note, some with a heavy heart and many with nothing but regrets. But there are very few films, however intense or even tragic the content is, it leaves us satisfied and overjoyed. That happens when the art is in its purest form and masterful. To me, Inam was one such movie and an enlightening experience.

Inam is a film by a Visual exponent. Hadn’t it been for the love and passion Santosh Sivan has had for photography he wouldn’t have been able to bring into picture such an impactful thought. I guess, that is what long time relationship with a camera can do.

Mr. Sivan, thank you for letting us see the world through your beautiful eyes. Your eyes always seem to find the best vantage points. It was a pleasure.

Written by Sudharshan | @ssshisson

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