Sri Lankan director Asoka Handagama’s Tamil film ‘Ini Avan’ deals with unhealing wounds of war

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Cameron Bailey, TIFF Artistic Director (left) with Asoka Handagama, Director of Him, Here, After (centre) and Micheal Ignatieff, Senior Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs attend a public screening of the film. (Picture by Mahesh Abeyewardene)

Cameron Bailey, TIFF Artistic Director (left) with Asoka Handagama, Director of Him, Here, After (centre) and Micheal Ignatieff, Senior Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs attend a public screening of the film. (Picture by Mahesh Abeyewardene)

Asoka Handagama’s Tamil film Him, Here, After (Ini Avan) was shown at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) of this year, under Contemporary World Cinema category.

For the first time this year the festival brought together the worlds of film and education by partnering with the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs on the Contemporary World Speakers series.

Janice Gross Stein, the director of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto says, “Since its inception thirty years ago, the Festival’s Contemporary World Cinema program has been home to some of the most relevant social, political and economic stories from around the world. The program continues to be a favourite among Festival audiences, providing opportunities to learn about and engage with communities, themes and issues that are both emotionally and intellectually impactful.”

Being Sinhalese, writer-director Asoka Handagama writes a story to direct his film making the theme of post-war situation in the Tamil-dominated Northern Sri Lanka. After twenty-six years of devastating war ended in 2009 the scars of the untold stories of the innocent people who got caught between the two sides still remain. Handagama’s film revolves around one individual who returns home after the rehabilitation program.

 A scene from Asoka Handagama’s Tamil film Him, Here, After (Ini Avan).

A scene from Asoka Handagama’s Tamil film Him, Here, After (Ini Avan).

He tries to get back to his former community in Jaffna and faces numerous difficulties.

In the middle of rejection, fear, accusation and suspicion he struggles to get a job. He sees barricades everywhere he goes to get help. His mother helplessly watches her son’s struggle at least to get his driver’s licence renewed.

She didn’t have any tears in her eyes. May be she may have shed enough tears in the past to survive. Even in his own community there are people waiting to exploit the innocent and vulnerable individual.

Without his knowledge he gets involved in a smuggling and corruption team that enjoys life by using the innocent and the poor. To escape from death once again he has to depend on the weapon which he buried in the past. His wife watches him very carefully.

She knew if he gets involved in murder once again there will not be any second chance for a normal life. She knew that she has to take care of him, hereafter. Dharshan Dharmaraj plays the main role in the film. Asoka Handagama is a well-known film director in Sri Lanka. His feature films include Flying with One Wing (02) Aksharaya (05) and Vidhu in 2010.