Ini Avan opens to rave reviews

A Tamil movie by a Sri Lankan director has been making waves across the world long before its release in the country.

Ini Avan is the first Tamil movie to be made on LTTE post-war. And that is reason enough to trigger curiosity among Lankan film buffs worldwide.

The title ‘Ini Avan’ is a beautiful play of words. When used separately it means ‘Him, Here, After’ and when used as one word ‘IniAvan’, it means ‘a sweet person’. It’s only when you hear Asoka Handagama, Director, you realise the title could not have been more apt. “I wanted to give a [message] to Sinhala audience through this film. Often an ‘ex-militant’ is portrayed as a ‘bad guy’. They suffer a negative image in society and I wanted to challenge that.”

Going by the response the film has generated at the three international film festivals – Dubai, Toronto and Edinboro – he has, indeed, pulled it off. “We had live discussions in all places, especially in Toronto and Dubai. Now I am waiting for the response in Sri Lanka,” says Handagama.

Viewers are divided on their opinion. One Lankan expat, stepping out from a cinema at Mall of Emirates in Dubai, opines, “This is a totally biased movie.” Another says, “I’m impressed. The theme is well-executed. Hope it clears some people’s misconceptions.”

He denied that the movie is an attempt to distort and rewrite the history of Tamil freedom movement. The movie is a just representation of the post-war society.

The unnamed [Ini Avan] ex-LTTE soldier’s attempt to gel into society and start a new life as [Iniavan] a sweet person is elegantly executed.

The protagonist returns to his village after years, to start life with his lost love, but finds it a challenge because the villagers have turned against him.

They hold him responsible for the lives of their boys, who he lured to the separatist cause, and who never returned. Only he returns, much to the ire of his folks.

His desperate urge to lead a normal life is marred by his own past. Ultimately, he finds a job as a security guard, but for a mafia don, who is into in drug smuggling among other illegal activities under the cover of a jewellery shop.

Only when he thinks, his life has begun taking some semblance of normalcy, that he inadvertently calls on the ire of his family yet again. He happens to help a distressed family, with the help of his employer. But the don exploits the widow, and he learns yet another lesson in his new life.

The simplicity of the film edges on its realism. Avan is no more the charismatic soldier who can influence young minds. He is a raw man in flesh and blood going through a spectrum of emotions -longing, fear, anxiety, aspirations… as he tries to live his life.

He shows how one can be positive and just live, no matter what the situation. However, the fact also remains that the scars of the war will remain.

The movie will be released today in Sri Lanka. “We had around 700 theatres all over Sri Lanka. Now there are hardly 300,” says the director.

But the movie will be shown only in three Tamil theatres. “It is very hard to get Tamil theatres for this type of locally produced non-commercial movie.

The reason is Sri Lankan Tamil theatres are always occupied by Indian Tamil movies,” says Handagama.

“I am encouraging Tamil short film makers to do more projects. The country is coming back to normalcy and signs of development is visible everywhere. There is a renewed hope in Sri Lankan society,” Director, Asoka Handagama [pictured below] said in response to questions from a viewer.

Ini Avan produced by Jagatha Wellawatta and Anura Fernando has the music score by Kapila Poogalaarachchi.

Written and directed by Asoka Handagama, the cast includes, Dharshan Dharmaraj; Subashini Balasubramaniyam; Niranjani Shanmugarajah; Raja Ganeshan; King Ratnam; Malcolm Machado; Mr&Mrs Thairiyanathan; G.P.Ferminas; Maheswary Ratnam.

Director of Photography is Channa Deshapriya and Art Director is Sunil Wijeratne. (Emirates 24/7)