Directed by Santosh Sivan. Starring Ayesha Dharker.
The Terrorist is a film that explores the mind of a suicide bomber. It was inspired by the 1991 assassination of the former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Set in the depths of the South Indian jungle it tells the story of an unnamed country at war.
Nineteen-year-old Malli (Ayesha Dharker) is an orphan whose only brother died in action and has been elevated to hero status. She has been brought up within a patriarchal war-torn society. Taught to love country over self, she has not been allowed to develop as an individual, yet despite everything her spirit remains intact.
Travelling to the assassination site she meets Lotus, the young boy whose job it is to guide her through the mine filled jungle. She connects with this child and is moved by his tragic story. When he tells Malli he will take her to the other side we realise he is leading her to the other side of life - to death.
At the house of a middle-aged spiritual man who has lost his son to the war and his wife to a coma, Mali is forced to examine her life and accept something deeply disturbing about herself, which has the power to stop her carrying out her mission. Mali must choose between life and dying a hero.
Dharker gives a passionate, all-embracing performance, and first-time director, cinematographer and scriptwriter Santosh Sivan proves that in order to make a remarkable film all you need is a good story and sensitive direction - not a huge budget.