The Criticism of the Tamil Short Film: Sambalilirinthu (From the Ashes)
Reviewer: Dr. Jeyaseelan Gnanaseelan, senior Lecturer, Vavuniya Campus of the Jaffna University. (email@example.com)
Once again, Mr. A. Nishanthan, has directed a Tamil short film (8 minutes), Sambalilirinthu, (From the Ashes), sponsored by the Oblates of the Society for Social Services. The function for the release of the film was held at ‘Annai Illam’ (the Home of the Mother), the Centre of the Oblates of Social services in Kilinochchi on 20th February 2014. It is a film about the post-war survival of a Vanni family seriously traumatized physically and psychologically. The survival leading to revival efforts of the family are projected as a microcosm symbolizing the macrocosm of the entire Vanni families affected by the ethnic conflict and the intensive war at the end during 2008 and 2009. The momentum of the emotional moments of the inception of the resettlement and rehabilitation efforts of the family is portrayed dynamically with an intensive symbolic significance. The determined survival efforts of the directly affected, parent-deprived, education-deprived, disabled but responsible children and the young ones are dichotomized against the carefree, irresponsible life style of the less affected or unaffected ones.
The role of Tamil Women who are the majority in the Vanni is projected as the primary force to be reckoned with and they should lead the Tamil society during this transitional period. The livelihood means and ends are emphasized by consolidating local food security measures. The emphasis is laid on developing local small industries.
Their happiness originates from their local context, not externally dished out or doled out as aids: for instance, music from local leaf fiddle, locally blossoming wild flowers, and pushing Nongu vandi (a rolling structure made of a pair of the raw fruits of Palmyra by hooking them with a stick across and pushing them with the help of another long stick with the split end (bi-parted). The Local rice kanji (rice with coconut milk spiced with onions and chilly and so on) makes the members of the family together and their eating and sharing symbolizes unity for re-establishing livelihoods - happiness through locally made commodities and industries- showing satisfaction. It is the rediscovery of happiness and freedom in a simple original way.
The barbed wire fence intimidates women security, community security and human security at large. The child standing on the abandoned empty ammunition tin box, respecting the parents killed or who died may remind the bitter truth of the people’s psychological resistance of violent war and military control. It may further shows that the younger ones should consider their rebirth from the consequences and loss of war as steps for socio economic, educational and political changes. Picking up and looking on the broken piece of the mirror gives hope for restoring the ethnic and cultural identity. The injury and the scars must remind the Tamils for speedy recovery from the negative feeling of the social, political and psychological defeat due to the war.
The elder brother deprived of one of his legs stands for the idea and action of responsibility for restoring whatever is lost, evolved from the pain experienced in the war or as a victim of the consequences of the war. His buying note books implies educational revival and now the brother does think of liberation from a fresh point of view - liberation by education. The scene of cleaning the house premises from litter insists eliminating the evils of the war.
On the whole, the film tries to give hope and confidence to the war affected Tamils in re-establishing their dignity, their economy, their culture, their livelihood, their political rights and their freedom from military control. It is the binary projection of the post war situation of traumatization versus rehabilitation, responsibility versus irresponsibility, experience versus expectation, education versus entertainment. Further it exposes the construction of a binary in the life style of the younger generation- iphones, alcohol, and idling versus family and social responsibility; how a post war younger generation should be and should not be in a context where grand parents and grandchildren mostly live and parents and youth were mostly dead. The old woman, the grandma symbolizing old age and weakness with the disabled youth and children shows this reality of human existence and human absurdity.
The writer cum photographer cum director, Mr. A. Nishanthan has done a good job. The music is appropriate. The film does not have any dialogue. The director, A. Nishanthan has reached up another step in directing Tamil short films. The film is available for view at the Oblates Society for Social services (Annai Illam), No: 87, Kanahambihaikulam, Kilinochchi.
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