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Times of India
A group of Sri Lankan Tamils try to cross the sea and reach the Indian coast. However, they lose their way in the middle of the sea and soon, the only destination in sight seems to be the land of no return...
At a time when many films are afraid to take a political stand,
deserves praise for being brave enough to explore the thorny Sri Lankan issue. And, it is remarkable that it also manages to not end up as a jingoistic publicity tool for the LTTE or other pro-Tamil groups. Instead, the film takes up the side of the common man, as it seeks compassion for a group of people who are not only discriminated in their own land but are also not wanted by their brethren across the sea.
The main characters in the film are individuals in a Lankan village who want a peaceful life for themselves and their future generation. They mistrust both the Sri Lankan army (whose soldiers are shown murdering the common folk and raping the women at will) and the Tigers (who refuse to allow them to leave the land and murder those who attempt to do so). Victor, the film's lead character, is a person who stealthily helps his people to flee to India. He is in love with Abinaya, but wants to marry her only when there is peace in his homeland. Then there is Anthony, who dreams of great things for his newborn, the elderly Velupillai and his wife who are yearning for any news of their son who has crossed the sea and Kumaran, a resourceful but self-centered merchant whose motto is "modhalla panam apporom dhaan sanam".
This village is a place which constantly changes hands between the LTTE and the Lankans. After a couple of tussles, Victor and co decide to take a boat to India to stay alive. However, the refugees get lost in the sea and soon, death seems to be the only destination for them.
The second half of
comes close to being a gut-wrenching survivalist tale. It is not just a Life Of Pi-ish humans-against-nature struggle, but also a sort of resistance of the oppressed against the aggressor. This is certainly the most involving episode in the film, but to reach this point, we have to sit through the entire first half, which is essentially one long set-up that feels like a messy TV drama. The problem is that the filmmaking lacks sophistication in terms of both writing and performances. It is one thing to make a scrappy-looking film because of budget constraints but fragmented and badly lip synced scenes and non-actors take away all the drama and never let us get involved in the film. Throughout the film, we constantly wonder what a better filmmaker might have done with this terrific material. Yet, the second half manages to draw us in and makes us care about these hapless characters, not just because of the inherent tragedy in the narrative but chiefly due to the fact that there is a sincerity behind this enterprise that somewhat softens the crudity in the presentation.