At its most simple Kannagi is the story of a troubled marriage. Although several thousand years old, forming part of the of the Tamil epic Silapathikaram, it resonates with contemporary themes of female betrayal and empowerment explored, for example, in Beyonce’s Lemonade.  Kannagi’s husband leaves her for a dancer and only returns once he has lost his fortune. While Kannagi agrees to take her husband back tragedy strikes when he is wrongly accused of a theft and killed without trial by the King. Kannagi retaliates by proving her husbands innocence and burning down the palace in a torrent of vengeance.

The enduring popularity of this story, however, springs not only from the marital drama it depicts but in the tensions it engages between vengeance and forgiveness, power and powerlessness, the personal and the political. These tensions are sharpened by the contemporary context in which Kannagi has become a popular symbol: the wake of the civil war in Sri Lanka and the defeat of the Tamil liberation struggle. Australia is home to a sizeable Tamil refugee population and this project will create cross cultural dialogues between film makers who are seeking asylum in Australia and those who currently have citizenship rights. The project will be curated and filmed collectively creating a multilayered viewing experience that will provide complex insights into justice and/or forgiveness.

 The team includes Zanny Begg, Jasmin Tarasin, Dinesh Ravi, Jessica Sekar, Roger Monk, Jiva Parthipan, Keethana and Narthana Parthi and springs from a partnership initiated by Jiva Parthipan, from  STARTTS and Zanny Begg. More soon.

This project is supported by The Australia Council for the Arts.