The Terrorist

Infobox Film
name = The Terrorist

image_size = 100
caption = Movie poster for "The Terrorist"
director = Santosh Sivan
producer =
writer = Santosh Sivan
starring = Ayesha Dharker
K. Krishna
Sonu Sisupal
music = Rajamani
Sonu Sisupal
cinematography = Santosh Sivan
lyrics =
editing = A. Sreekar Prasad
distributor =
released = flagicon|India 1999
runtime = 95 min
country = India
language = Tamil
budget =
imdb_id = 0169302

"The Terrorist" ("Theeviravaathi" - original Tamil title) is an Indian film directed by Santosh Sivan. The film portrays a period in the life of a nineteen-year-old woman, Malli (Ayesha Dharkar), sent to assassinate a leader in South Asia through a suicide bombing. It stars Dharkar, K. Krishna and Sonu Sisupal.

The film is in Tamil, and is easily read as a commentary on the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, allegedly by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Tamil Tigers). Released in 1998, the film was shot in 15 days, with natural lighting, on a budget of $50,000.

Actor John Malkovich first saw the film at the 1998 Cairo International Film Festival and subsequently adopted the film as a kind of post-facto executive producer (the reissued film's titles read "John Malkovich Presents".)

Roger Ebert has included the movie in his list of Great Movies [] . Ebert concludes his review with this line "Every time I see the film, I feel a great sadness, that a human imagination could be so limited that it sees its own extinction as a victory."

Inspiration for the film

On May 21, 1991, Rajiv Gandhi was campaigning in favour of a UCPI candidate for the upcoming parliamentary elections in Tamil Nadu, when he was assassinated by a suicide bomber in the Indian town of Sriperumbudur, near Madras.

The suicide bomber Thenmuli Rajaratnam A.K.A Dhanu is widely believed to be have been a LTTE member. Dhanu was a cousin of Shivarasan, the supposed mastermind of the assassination.

This assassination marked the first high profile use of the suicide vest now used by suicide bombers the world over. (Palestinian terrorists are alleged to have taken the idea of the suicide vest from the Tamil Tigers.) Dhanu wore the belt bomb with the explosive material in her lower back region and the power pack, two switches and the circuitry in front.

When Santosh Sivan, a well-known cinematographer, wanted to make a film on terrorism and about a terrorist, he chose the above events as the inspiration for his story.

The film is not a direct biography of Dhanu, as she had a whole troupe working with her, as backup in case she failed.

Further reading

*"Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism" by Robert Pape, Random House (May 24, 2005), ISBN 1-4000-6317-5

External links

* [ Official Website]
* [ Santosh Sivan on low budget filmmaking]
* [ How John Malkovich God-Fathered Sivan's The Terrorist]
* [ Interim Report of the Jain Commission of Inquiry into the Assassination of Shri Rajiv Gandhi]

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