Research on Kannathil Muthamittal

Topics: Sri Lanka, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Tamil people Pages: 32 (9535 words) Published: January 10, 2013
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A new universalism: terrorism and film language in Mani Ratnam's Kannathil Muthamittal. Ads by Google

Article Type:
Critical essay
Terrorism (Portrayals)
Terrorism (Media coverage)
Filmmakers (Works)
Jaikumar, Priya
Pub Date:
Name: Post Script Publisher: Post Script, Inc. Audience: General; Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Business; Business, internationalCopyright: COPYRIGHT 2006 Post Script, Inc. ISSN: 0277-9897 Issue:

Date: Summer, 2006 Source Volume: 25 Source Issue: 3
NamedWork: Kannathil Muthamittal (Motion picture) Event Code: 290 Public affairs Product:
Product Code: 9101340 Terrorist Control; 9916550 Security Mgmt-Kidnapping & Terrorism NAICS Code: 92212 Police Protection Persons:
Named Person: Ratnam, Mani
Geographic Scope: India Geographic Code: 9INDI India
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Full Text:
Writing about contemporary representations of terrorism in cinema reopens questions of primary concern to film theorists. Asking how a film defines a terrorist requires an interrogation of the visual, aural and narrative conditions through which subjects enter the realm of discourse. Exploring the relationship between a film's depiction of political violence and the traumas of people forced to adopt, resist or live with brutality reiterates suspicions that the referent or real escapes complete representation. The obscene opportunism in writing about terrorism today, at a time when it is receiving an ideologically defined global profile to entrench reactionary and racist anxieties, echoes concerns about the ethical responsibilities of intellectuals. These questions nearly blighted my ability to write this essay, before I came to the conclusion that they were in fact the motivation behind my writing. Consequently my analysis of Mani Ratnam's depiction of Tamil militancy in Sri Lanka in Kannathil Muthamittal (A Peck on the Cheek, 2002, henceforth KM) is offered as a reflection on the affiliations and limits of a particular cinematic language that makes sense of terrorism.

At a mundane level, such an analysis demystifies the film's representative process. It also discloses the aesthetic vocabularies, cultural functions and opportunities for national and global circulation potentially available to a Tamil film today. Recent hype about the globalization--or what Ashish Rajadhyaksha has called the "Bollywoodization"--of Hindi cinema rarely extends to regional films. Mani Ratnam's Tamil films, however, constitute an exception. Ratnam's internationally competitive production values and thematic validations of a culture of neo-liberalism qualify him to exploit opportunities beyond...
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