Monday, November 23, 2009

1999 Review by Manuel Jesudasan for Tamil Mirror

“Generation gap” – a very popular phrase in the Tamil community. It denotes an imaginary distance between parents and their children/elders and youth, culturally.

According to the Tamil youths unwillingness on the part of the parents to understand and accept the change in time and cultural environment that influence and impact the today’s youth causes the generation gap.

The elders on the other hand claim to have been brought up in the culture that embodies the norms that was elicited in the poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson:

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’the soldier knew
Someone had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

According to the elders therefore, disobedience on the part of the youth to the thinking and the dictates of theirs causes the generation gap.

Who is responsible for creating the Generation gap, the parents or the children or both?

The debate goes on for generations.

With the exodus in the 1990s of the Tamils from their homeland due to violence perpetrated against them and with the migration in large numbers in western countries, this generation gap further widened.

The realization of the devastating effect of letting the gap widen is brought out in the movie appropriately. 1999 exactly depicts the mentality of the youths who engage in violence in Canada; their heart hardened having witnessed killings of their kith and kin. In the movie, Kumar, as a child, witnessed his parents and siblings being killed by the IPKF in front of his eyes, and he manages to seek refuge in Canada with his little brother whom he loves dearly. He starts up a gang to protect his younger brother. The brothers’ entry into adulthood without guidance from the parents/elders is the outcome of their disastrous life.

On the other hand, Anpu, although did not have the love of his mother, yet nurtured by a loving father, joins Kumar’s gang and gets himself into the troubled world. Admission, finally, by the father that he is responsible for having driven his son away from him and away from the desirable world and into the troubled world is the ultimate message in the movie.

“I have alienated my son by failing to understand his emotional needs. My providing materialistic things did not help my son……..”

The theme is not an unknown one. The incidents highlighted in the movie still continue to torment the community. Yet the community fears to talk about it and thus far is unable to stop it.

Lenin, the director of the movie deserves praise for his courage in selecting a powerful story which needed to be highlighted at the time of confusion the Tamil community is forced to encounter in Canada. At the end of the movie my companion commented, “Won’t those involved in this movie be targeted by the gangs?” I replied, “This movie will soften their hearts and make them open their eyes.”

1999 deserves its accolades:

- an official selection of the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF)
- ranked as one of the top ten Canadian films at VIFF
- Toronto International Film Festival considers it to be one of the top 10 movies out of hundreds of movies produced in Canada in 2008
- Canadian Immigrant magazine ranked 1999 as one of the top 5 movies to watch at VIFF
- First Canadian Tamil movie to reach an international stage.

The characterization of each cast is excellent. Every actor in the movie performed its role to please the audience. It is true that, at times, there were indication of inexperience before the camera of some of the casts. That too brought out the innocence in the youths. The veteran actors, K.S. Balachandran and A. Ketheeswaran were exceptional.

The uniqueness of the movie lies in the fact that there are only two female casts, the restaurant waitress and the young girl over whom Anpu and Akilan are infatuated. Many, however, expressed that the young girl need not have been given a face by the two duet songs, but, rather should have been allowed to the imagination of the audience as to her beauty and charisma just like Maranaai, who is aptly left to the audience to imagine as a ruthless and a hardcore gangster who had lead many murders of Tamil youths. The art of telling a decade long story with the gruesome incidents happening within two days without any flaws is exciting. The pace in which the movie proceeded captivated the audience. I must, however, point out what was observed by my friend, “My main objection is that the film is run by narratives throughout. Usually narrative is used exceptionally in a film but here it is used extensively and defeats the purpose of a visual art.”

The crew has also done its best technologically although lacking slightly in the standard expected of an international film. The blame, however, cannot be attributed as the dearth of talents of the crew, but to the meager finance put into producing the movie.

I had the pleasure of watching the premiere showing of 1999, and I take this opportunity to commend the M.C at the premiere showing. Ms. Suhanya Ketheeswaran was very impressive. Her command of both languages, Tamil and English was excellent. The choice of words, the diction and the presentation were befitting and pleasing. Happy to see hidden talents among out youth finally come public.

Best Gains- must have the Losses’ test-
To constitute them-Gains
- Emily Dickson

It is heartwarming that the sun is finally rising in the horizon of the Tamil Film industry in Canada. Congratulations to the director, producers and the casts and the crew of 1999.

I would like to urge the community to support this movie to encourage the young talents and to promote the Canadian Tamil film industry.


  1. Excellent article. Agree wholeheartedly.

  2. Well written and thought-provoking article. I haven`t seen the movie, but the article makes me want to watch it. :)

  3. This article captures the true conflict that exists between the generations, as shown in the movie. Bravo to the author!

  4. I watched the film only yesterday - and was deeply disturbed. Of course, the struggle is declared over - officially in the homeland. But the hardships continue...

    We are a community that needs a caring leadership to make us move forward! By saying leadership - I am not saying we need a heroic superhuman leader! But, community leadership - through participation and sharing...

    We need to move on - move forward! Thanks to Lenin M Sivam for the wonderful, and thoughtprovoking piece of cinematic art!