The Terrorist

The Terrorist is an Indian movie. Before discounting it any further, it should be noted that The Terrorist is unlike most other Indian movies. For one, it is good. The film follows Malli (Ayesha Dharkar) as she trains to go on a suicide mission. The Terrorist is based partially on the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The film takes place in Sri Lanka amongst the Tamil separatists, but neither is mentioned throughout the entire film. Aside from Milla, almost everything else in the movie is shrouded in mystery. The identity of the assassination target is never revealed, nor is the leader of Milla's group. They are referred to as 'the Leader' and 'the VIP.'

The two contrast with Milla, who is in nearly every shot of the movie. Milla is nineteen years old and is comfortable with violence. She grew up around the rebels, and has no qualms about killing. This makes her perfect for the mission. She is to travel to the city and await the arrival of the VIP. When he is out amongst the crowds, she is to approach him and detonate a bomb strapped to her body. She believes in the righteousness of her cause, and that her sacrifice will throw publicity on the plight of her and her comrades. However, Milla still has a conscience. As the assassination date nears, her doubts grow. For a movie where not much happens, director Santosh Sivan manages to keep the viewer glued to the screen. The Terrorist is a gripping drama that takes place primarily within Milla.

Dharkar is called upon to act with her emotions and actions, not with her lines. Milla has very few lines in the script by Sivan and Vijay Deveshwar, and remains somewhat of an enigma. She will hack a man to death with a machete at one point, and later treasure a small gift of shampoo. The intensity in The Terrorist arises from Milla herself, and not from the violence. All shootings or killings take place off camera or blurred out in the distance, taking the focus away from the brutality while acknowledging its presence. Refreshingly, The Terrorist's ending remains completely unpredictable. Milla resolutely wavers back and forth between deciding whether to kill the VIP. Her inner struggle defines and drives the movie forward, until its gut-wrenching conclusion.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 35 minutes, Not Rated.

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