On the very day I sit at home writing this I read news about a suicide bomber in Sri Lanka. Then there’s the recent suicide bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen. If anything, The Terrorist is timely as it shows us what goes on in the mind of a suicide bomber. In its revelations of the extraordinary mind of the suicide bomber we are treated to a film of amazing power and beauty.I don’t think I could ever fully understand what goes on in the mind of a terrorist. Someone who is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for the cause that they believe in. Just what goes on in their minds? How do they feel when they know that they are to willingly go to their deaths? Sometimes they know well in advance (weeks, maybe even months) their exact time of death from their own actions. How on earth do you deal with that?
To so passionately believe in a cause is something to admire if it wasn’t so terrible, so awful, so tragic. Just what is going on in their heads? The Terrorist attempts in a small way to give an answer to these questions.
Meet Malli (Dharker), she’s in her late teens, she’s rather pretty with her long hair, large eyes and full mouth. Although quiet and demure she’s nevertheless very charming. Indeed she’s just the sort of person who you would be happy to invite into your home. There’s just a small detail that might make you hesitate in sending the invitation though. She’s a ruthless killer who shoots people, close up, in cold blood and without hesitation.
She has ‘won’ the honour of carrying a belt of plastic explosives around her waist that she herself will trigger to kill an important politician. The Terrorist tells the story of her preparation for her mission.
The Terrorist is one of the most beautiful, moving and heartfelt films I’ve ever had the pleasure to see. It is a gentle mix of intoxicating, luscious images and tender performances. There are emotional delicacies and heart-ripping tension that will leave you floored.
The film is a type of Heart of Darkness in reverse. At the beginning we are shown the grim reality of terrorism, and then as we journey with Malli we are slowly led to the greater expanse of all that life might be able to offer her.
Central to the film are two major ingredients. The gorgeous images that Sivan shows us and the performance of Dharker.
The wet, tropical images that provide the background of this film are just delectable. Sivan does a great job to show us the beauty of the area despite the horror in the story line. It has exquisite images in every shot.
Dharker is the measure of restrained performance. Really, it’s in what she doesn’t do that make her performance shine. She certainly doesn’t have a lot to say, with her large eyes like two eclipsed suns doing most of the communicating.
There’s also the humdinger of a story - Despite its gentle pace - with Sivan taking his time to show us the beauty of the surroundings as well as the beauty of Dharker - the story builds up to a climax of almost unbearable tension. Right to the very last second of the film I felt I was going to burst as I was waiting to see what would happen.
This film - in its visual and emotional splendour - leaves American Beauty looking like a small independent Indian film that no-one’s going to see. We never get to learn about the cause that Malli is fighting for, or the politician she is assigned to kill. They’re not important. What is, is the account of the mind of an assassin and how she feels deep inside.I was moved to tears of emotional exhaustion from this film. We are given a stark lesson on what goes on in the mind of a suicide bomber and how arduous and complex their decision can be. The Terrorist is the best film I have seen this year.