Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Another day, another unchecked to-do list. The weekend has flown past, yet again. I have not had the chance to sit down and relax, especially with the headache that has been following me around since Friday.
Today, I headed down to The Projector to catch the screening of Dheepan as part of the Singapore Writers Festival. Anthonythasan Jesuthasan, the star of the movie, was present for a mini dialogue session. The Palme d’Or winning movie is intense, albeit a little long, hence may not be of everyone’s taste.
It is the tale of three Sri Lankan Tamil refugees who flee to France to escape the civil war. The main actor is Sivadhasan, who himself is a Tamil Tiger and involved in the war, until his team suffers too many casualties to continue fighting. Together with two other strangers from the war-torn land, Sivadhasan, now Dheepan, Yalini and Illayaal step into the shoes of a family that has passed on, and get political asylum in Paris. The family settles into Le Pré, at a housing project swarming with Algerian drug dealers. The story follows the three actors as they learn to live with their new surroundings, and each other, and the complexities that arise from living in a neighbourhood involved in drug trade. Towards the end of the movie, the family starts to see parallels of the environment they left behind, and how, once again, they escape.
Having been a former member of LTTE as well as a refugee, Anthonythasan even fit his role off-screen in some ways. During the dialogue session, Anthonythasan said that the horrors in the movie are vastly downplayed. It took him five years to get to Europe, during which he had been arrested multiple times for having had connections to the LTTE. For a person who has been through much suffering, Anthony had a surprisingly good-humoured persona (a way in which he differs from Sivadhasan). Something he said particularly struck me – as an answer to a question (my memory fails me), he quoted Tolstoy saying that a peaceful mind is not a writer’s mind (I do not know the exact quote). Hence, he yearns to always be restless, for only then will he be able to write. Man, he said, as a witness to his surroundings, will not and should not ever be at peace.