Movie Review – The Terrorist

Posted: March 30, 2014 in Movie Reviews
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I watched this film when I was in school when we had only Doordarshan. My dad has this habit of watching at least one unknown awful movie per week but sometimes that clicks. One in hundred films turn out to be awesome. As I had to study for some exam, I don’t precisely remember which one, I got a chance to see this film. I don’t think I’d have seen such a slow film on a normal day. But studies makes even staring at the ceiling interesting. So thanks to my exam the next day I watched the film fully and boy, was I blown away by it. The climax is something which I couldn’t forget till now. It was a fabulous movie which created a huge impact on me.


Back then I didn’t know who Santosh Sivan was, what’s the base of story was, what Ebert had written about it etc. In fact it’s the only Tamil movie which Ebert has written a movie. Ebert is like grandpa. He does nothing superfluous but every time I read his reviews I feel like my grandpa telling me stories. So humble, so soothing… And he has raved this film like anything. Those who’ve not read his review. Please read the review of this film in his Great Movies section. See even the title he selects for great movies is not something superfluous. He calls great movies, great movies. That’s the unique quality of Ebert. To keep his reviews simple in spite of having so much depth in the thought process.

The film is inspired by the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi but that’s just for the story. We see here more about a woman and her existence as a terrorist in this world. It has trademark Santosh Sivan shots with some brilliant cinematography. All the close up and the early morning shots are a treat to watch.

Malli (Ayesha Dharker) is an individual who rarely talks. She is a focused woman who goes about her job with clarity. Once she loses her brother she joins the terrorist organization and does completes all the mission given to her till date. When he gets the suicide mission you could see her happiness reflection on her face while talking to the leader of the gang. Part of it is attributed to the surroundings as it plays a major role in your development. In the terrorist camp all she sees is bloodshed and violence. Only during her suicide mission she gets to go outside the camp.

She immediately starts liking the freedom that she has got. Right from the clear water she splashes on her face to the talkative land lord she starts to enjoy her existence. The water splashing shot is a trademark Santosh Sivan shot. As soon as she goes to the house she looks at the photo of glamorous woman. May be first time in her life and imitates them. I guess every woman does that. Everyone wants be that object of desire. For Malli she sadly doesn’t even know how to show that off. In fact many of her Ayesha’s expressions were like Aishwarya Rai. I understood that one doesn’t have to be Aishwarya Rai to be shown beautiful in the camera. Any honest attempt would be projected well on screen.

The theme music, if you had observed carefully is similar to Om Jai jagadish Hari. I’m not sure whether it was intentionally done but even though the music was minimal it created the impact it wanted to. But the scenes where a wounded Malli’s boyfriend and she talk the background music was a bit loud and the dialogues couldn’t be heard properly.

The location, timeline, assassination wasn’t shown clearly due to obvious reasons but from whatever I could deduce the place was like Kerala and the land owner looked like a Keralite. That person comes across as a breath of fresh air, not only for Malli but also for us. He’s the positive energy in the film. Look how he lives his life with an ailing wife and a dead son. He has so much hope. His story about two types of seed explains us that.

The helper for the landlord too is an interesting character. Though initially he looks like a crook, calling Malli beautiful in a kind of obscure way, once he knows that she’s pregnant she comes and says, “Nalla Iru,” which shows what kind of person he is.


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