Santosh Sivan’s Inam is a charming film that pulls at your heart strings. Santosh has made a film on a very sensitive subject, but has handled it beautifully without any propaganda, preaching or twisting of facts.
The writer, director and cameraman have been able to weave a deeply moving human story against the backdrop of the final weeks of the 2009 Sri Lankan civil war. He has woven a story of how a group of children and teenagers in an orphanage in North Sri Lanka are traumatised by the happenings around them.
Santosh has based his plot on strong facts. Remember, London based Channel 4’s ‘Sri Lanka's Killing Fields’ video which exposed damning evidence of atrocities committed in the war. The film begins in a Sri Lankan refugee camp near Rameswaram with a voice over (Arvind Swamy) narration about the brave tale of Rajini (Sugandha Ram), a 20 year old girl who has crossed the sea, and come to seek refugee status.
The story is told through her interrogation by Indian police. Rajini was living a happy life in an orphanage run by Tsunami Akka (Saritha). Along with other boys and girls they lived like a family. Enter, Nandan (Karan) a new entrant to the Tsunami Akka's Orphanage, a 17 year old "special child” with Down syndrome. He has a knife and is in search of his brother, who has joined the rebels. There are other characters like Stanley sir (Karnas), who is a sort of guiding force.
The director explores the relations and turmoil of these teenaged orphans, as they journey through dramatic incidents that explode around them as they try to survive. The film also shows the horror which followed after the UN peacekeepers withdrew and Sri Lankan army took over. Santosh has taken an unbiased view and horrifying visuals are not there.
The film works mainly due to the perfect casting of characters, which makes story believable. Karan the real life teenager with Down syndrome is aptly cast as Nandan. You can feel the wetness of his tears or get irritated by his pranks. Sugandhi Ram as Rajini is the real hero of the film and is simply outstanding.
The supporting cast of Sarita, Karnas and all others have done a great job. The music especially the background score of Vishal Chandrasekhar is in sync with the theme of the film. A major plus is TS Suresh’s editing, it gives the film the required speed and the whole story is told under 2 hours.
The visuals, landscape and story is told in a manner that keeps you hooked to the narration. Santosh’s characterisation is perfectly fitting the milieu and is well researched. As usual his camera itself is another character that takes the story forward and gives it the realistic look. On the down side there is a documentary feel to the narration.
On the whole, Santosh Sivan’s is a well-made poignant film, a human story told in a docudrama way. Take a bow Santosh Sivan, you can be proud of Inam.
Verdict : Very Good