Malli’s Choice April 18, 2007Posted by rachaelg in Female Power, motherhood, Power, The Terrorist, women and war.
Did anyone else notice how the cause Malli was fighting for was never really explained? I don’t even think we ever learned the country she was in (though it seemed clear it was India). The “Leader” remained nameless and so did the “VIP.” By leaving these kind of details ambiguous, The Terrorist was making a decision to avoid making a political statement (or to make the statement less overtly) and to focus instead on Malli and her journey. (I felt like her face filled the screen for almost the entire movie. )
Malli is only 19 and yet willfully makes the decision to become a martyr for her cause. Her journey and short stay on a farm before the assassination, however, change her and she begins to rethink her decision. (By the way, she never says any of this… it’s all conveyed through those close-up shots of her face and flashbacks to when she took care of a wounded comrade.) In the end, it is left ambiguous whether she goes through with it (though I’m tempted to say she didn’t, because the last shot is of her letting go of the trigger.) Her reason for not doing it? She thinks she’s pregnant. (If anyone can enlighten me as to how this happened, please do… I think I missed something.) Her “maternal instincts” end up being stronger than her belief in her cause for “the future of her people.” Or is it something else? Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions about motherhood because this is a class about women; it could be that in her time outside of her training camp (maybe her first time out ever) she experienced a different kind of life. A normal one. Though the man at the farm comes off annoying at first, he ultimately shows Malli what it means to live day-to-day without some kind of heroic vision for the future (he has set the table every day for his wife though she has been in a coma for 7 years). Learning that she is pregnant, Malli might be considering the opportunity to have that kind of life (or at least giving her child the chance to have a life). But would a man in her position have had the same doubts? Probably not, even if he had learned he fathered a child.
I don’t think we are supposed to view her doubts as weakness, but then how do we view them? Would she be stronger or just more brainwashed if she stuck with it? Did we want her to go through with it or did we want her to run away and have her baby? Which route gives her more power? In one sense, she could do the masculine thing and die a martyr. In another, she could abandon her life as she knew it (kind of ironic considering the other option is also “abandonment of life”) and try to find meaning in everyday life as a mother (if they would let her after failing the mission?) which takes a lot of strength of will, too. I’m having trouble sorting out my thoughts about this film, in case you couldn’t tell, and any comments/thoughts would be appreciated.