A right to die, a will to live

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It is a subject that has sparked many a heated debate; a subject that finds itself the topic of legal interest in the country and world over. Euthanasia is never easy to discuss. So when AISFM student Sasindhar Pushpalingam decided to venture into this territory, the idea was to start a healthy debate. Titled Uyirmei, Sasindhar’s master’s film deals with the pain, irony and agony terminally ill patients and their family goes through when contemplating euthanasia.

“The inspiration came from a personal experience. My aunt suffered from cancer for years and her husband took care of her till the day she died. Seeing her suffer made me wonder about people who didn’t have the fortitude to deal with pain and agony. This sparked the idea for my short film,” reveals Sasindhar.

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Instead of going with someone younger, the director decided to revolve the story around an old couple. “I think the struggles of an old couple are a lot more relatable and real. They have been through a healthy and happy life, so in old age when infirmities strike, it hits them hard,” explains Sasindhar. “The couple in my story struggle with Pseudocoma – a neuromuscular disorder involving total paralysis of voluntary muscles except for the eye muscles. The movie probes their anxiety about the difficult choices they have to make, while fighting the illness. I wanted someone mature who could carry off the complex roles,” elaborates the director.

The lead in Uyirmei is played by veteran Tamil actor Mohan Sharma and artiste Lakshmi, popular in the Tamil film and TV industry. “Mohan sir is a writer, actor and director himself. He is from FTII, 1970 batch and knows cinema. So when I emailed him, he got back to me in 10 minutes! He loved the script and came on board immediately. Ditto with Lakshmi ma’am. She loved how mature the role was. And my story demands accomplished actors like them,” explains Sasindhar.

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For the director, the biggest challenge came at the scripting stage. “Penning the script was difficult. It wasn’t easy to write for my protagonists as there was so much loneliness, pain and emotional turmoil to express. Once I was satisfied with what was on paper, only then did I approach the actors,” says Sasindhar.

The movie which has already been shot is in its post-production stage right now. “I’m happy with what I have. The actors absolutely nailed the performances – it’s just like how I envisioned.  Right now we are in the process of editing, sound mixing and DI,” he says.

Quiz Sasindhar on what he expects from his film, and he says, “Working on the movie has been a very enriching experience. It has given me deeper understanding of the debate. I hope my film is able to add to the debate on this contentious issue,” he signs off.

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