The issue of the Sri Lankan Tamils has remained a sensitive issue in Tamil Nadu. And it continues to fuel the emotions of a section of the socialmediagossips in the state, as we’ve seen in the controversy sparked by the release of The Family Man Season 2 of Amazon Prime Video.
The protests against the show’s new season began shortly after the creators released the trailer last month. The trailer showed the rebels of the Tamil Eelam movement carrying out an attack on Indian soil in cooperation with the Pakistani ISI. And the plot did not suit some Tamil nationalist political parties in Tamil Nadu. Even before watching the full series, some believed the series would hurt the feelings of Tamils around the world. There were even appeals to the central government to ban the show.
The second season of The Family Man 2 has come out and surprisingly, everyone seems to have little to complain about. In a way, the show brought attention back to the Tamil cause in Sri Lanka, which had seemingly gone off the radar of global discourse. And Samantha Akkinenis Raji brought back the painful memories of the alleged war crimes committed during the civil war that devastated the island nation for about three decades.
The protests against films dealing with the civil war in Sri Lanka are not new. You can read it here. But at the same time, there are a few highly respected films that dealt with the human cost of the bloody war and its impact in India, particularly Tamil Nadu. These films gave us unforgettable Tamil characters from Sri Lanka who made us smile, think, laugh and cry.
Thenali plays Kamal Haasan as a Sri Lankan refugee who lives in Tamil Nadu. He suffers from multiple phobias caused by the childhood trauma he suffered in his homeland. We don’t see bombs explode, horror-filled faces, or blood spilled, but Kamal’s realized achievement speaks to our imaginations. Not only does he get us in the eyes by telling his trauma, but also by making us laugh with his lovable buffoons. Directed by KS Ravi Kumar from the script by Crazy Mohan.
This was the film that gave Suriya his first hiatus and kicked off his acting career. Written and directed by National Award-winning filmmaker Bala, Nandha talks about a child in love. Suriyas Nandha is sent to juvenile prison after accidentally killing his abusive father to protect his mute mother. And when he returns home, he is not welcomed by his mother. His mother sees him as a monster and rejects him. Dejected, Nandha finds a mentor in Mafia boss Periyavar, played by Rajkiran. It is not just the story of a son who lives in exile from his homeland, but also the story of thousands of Sri Lankan Tamils who are forced to leave their motherland.
Kannathil Muthamittal is one of the best films from Mani Ratnam’s oeuvre. This film is about an adopted child who is born in a Sri Lankan refugee camp in Tamil Nadu. She grows up in a happy house with her little brothers and loving parents, played by Madhavan and Simran. And then her parents decide to tell her the truth, believing that it is her right to know who she really is. And as expected, all hell breaks loose. Little Amudha, wonderfully played by Keerthana, demands that her adoptive parents bring her to her birth parents. And the family goes straight to the war zone in search of their mother (mother country). Through the eyes of the child we see a country ravaged by war and senseless violence. Simran is a revelation.
Nala Damayanthi was written and produced by Kamal Haasan. The film, directed by Mouli, is set far from Sri Lanka’s war and tragedies. It revolves around the Lankan Tamil diaspora that made Australia their home. Madhavan plays a cook who finds himself in a very difficult situation in a foreign country. But the Tamil socialmediagossips living in Australia help him and help him turn his luck.
It seems like a pretty straight forward film about socialmediagossips who want to leave their homes in search of a better life. But the conflict this film is about is much more than that. Aandavan Kattalai, directed by M. Manikandan, examines socialmediagossips’s attitudes towards those who emigrate in the hope of improving their lives. Vijay Sethupathi effortlessly presents himself as a man who faces hardship and exploitation in his own state. And there is a Sri Lankan character who pretends to be mute so as not to get into trouble due to his pronounced Tamil accent. There is a lot to read between the lines.