Lives of seemingly ordinary people clash and change forever in interlocking stories of guilt, passion and courage.
A Gun & A Ring explores the emotional burden Tamil Canadians bear as they rebuild their lives in an adopted land while fighting off pasts framed by violence, death and war in Sri Lanka. Random acts prove to be fateful coincidences, that lead to deadly consequences for some and hopeful beginnings for others.
A Gun & A Ring explores the intertwined stories of seemingly ordinary and unrelated people over a two-week period in Toronto, Canada. A troubled young man, Gnanam, tries to confront his dark past that he had hoped to leave behind; a passionate detective, John, questions his integrity after making a fateful call; a closeted gay teen, Aathi, blames his tradition-bound father for his lover’s suicide; a widower, Sornam, is too preoccupied with helping his community to protect his daughter from harm; a grieving father, Ariyam, who questions his immigrant life in Canada after the tragic death of his only son, is forced to confront his own past that shows up at his door looking for revenge; and a courageous young war survivor, Aby, arrives in Canada looking for a fresh start only to find that she has been abandoned by her fiancé at the airport. The film delves deeper into the harsh realities faced by different generations of immigrants as they attempt to rebuild their lives in adopted lands under the weight of emotional baggage from their past.
The movie begins with a memory. Gnanam is a young man with a difficult past. As a youth, he was a rebel cadre training in India. Under intense interrogation by “The Butcher”, he divulges the plan made by his friends to escape the detested camp, and, in return, was granted freedom and a passageway to Canada. Years later, living in Toronto, Gnanam is a tortured soul – overly anxious and prone to violence which drives his wife away. Gnanam is angry at the world, his nights racked by guilt and painful memories. However, when he spots The Butcher, the man who still haunts his dreams years later in Toronto, he fervently sets out to exact his revenge and make everything right again.
In stark contrast to Gnanam is Sornam, a community leader. Sornam idolizes his wife, who passed up her chance to move to Canada to instead remain in Sri Lanka and help her people survive the war. Sornam is the type of man others seek help from and in his passionate attempts to help his community he loses sight of his primary concern – the safety of his young daughter, Meenu. However, someone is paying attention to her in his absence – a pedophile murderer hunting for his next victim.
Tracking down this monster for more than three years is detective John. A man committed to his job of protecting the public, John makes numerous personal sacrifices in the line of duty. Used to leading with his heart and not his head, John does not heed the advice of his partner and makes a critical decision to use Meenu as bait to trap the killer. Believing he is prepared to live with the consequences, he also chooses not to inform Meenu’s father of the imminent danger his daughter is in. He lays down his fateful trap and waits.
One of the people Sornam tries to help is Aby, a young war survivor with a sad past. Having witnessed the death of her loved ones in Sri Lanka, she arrives in Canada for a fresh start – an arranged marriage to a Tamil Canadian man, who ends up abandoning her at the airport. Aby is forced to stay at the home of the relatives who arranged her marriage and who desperately try to ensure the union succeeds. Unable to cope with her extended family’s pressure tactics and ignorance, Aby decides to register herself in a shelter where she meets Abit, a war victim like herself, but from Sudan. Aby slowly realizes that she has much more in common with Abit than with her community of Tamil Canadians and a beautiful new possibility opens up.
Ariyam, an aging man, and his wife struggle to understand the death of their son who committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree in the nearby park. Ariyam chooses to deal with the loss by immersing himself in his job, working as a dishwasher as many new immigrants do. However, he is constantly reminded of their tragedy by his wife who slowly sinks into depression. Ariyam withdraws even further in an effort to forget, but as he tries to a find way out, his dark past shows up at his door, giving him an opportunity to release his anger and frustration.
Aathi receives devastating news – his lover has been found dead, having hung himself from a tree in a park. Aathi is a bright young man who lives with his tradition-bound father. While Aathi has lived up to his father’s expectations in many ways, he has failed miserably in one aspect – he is a homosexual which his father refuses to accept. Aathi believes him choosing his father over his lover led to the latter committing suicide. He chooses to deal with this guilt in silence, brooding over his loss and his father’s expectations, until he can no longer control his emotions.
The story reaches its climax as these different characters decide to take action in their own ways. Connected by a gun and a ring, one that symbolizes a dark and violent past while the other symbolizes hope and renewal, these characters’ lives intersect as some reconcile with their loss and pain, and others try to seek redemption.
Executive producer Sabesan Jeyarajasingam found an interesting email waiting for him in his inbox in 2011. The email was from one of his long-time associates, emerging Canadian filmmaker Lenin M. Sivam, with whom he had collaborated on the award-winning feature film, 1999.
The email from Sivam contained the script for a new film that he had worked on around the clock for the five preceding weeks. Jeyarajasingam found the story of survivors of Sri Lanka’s war trying to rebuild their lives in Canada to be both interesting and moving. He worked with Lenin to tighten up the script and then brought in young Montreal-based entrepreneur Vishnu Muralee who decided to produce the film under his banner, Eyecatch Multimedia.
The film shooting began on May 19th 2012, on the third anniversary of the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka – one of the bloodiest and least reported armed conflicts in the recent history.
Recognizing that almost everyone involved were working full-time, shooting was restricted to two weeks with everyone using their vacation time to work on the film. The shooting ran for 14 straight days without respite with about 40 crew members, a cast of 50 principal actors and extras from Canada and Europe; filming took place at over 52 script locations. Anticipating the tight schedule, Suresh Rohin, the Director of Photography, recommended that the film be shot with two cameras to save time. Given the limited budget of the film, two RED Ones were simply unaffordable and the decision was made to film with two Si-2Ks instead.
Post-production of the film finally wrapped up in April 2013, and on May 20th 2013 Sivam announced its world premiere at the Shanghai International Film Festival in June 2013.
The film portrays ethnic Tamils from Sri Lanka, part of a community of over 250,000 who are now domiciled in Canada. Many of these immigrants harbour painful memories of the country they left behind in which a brutal and violent civil war was waged for nearly three decades, drawing to a bloody conclusion in 2009. The war resulted in hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties and an exodus of Tamils who sought refuge in Canada, India, Australasia, and many parts of Europe. Since the 1980s, Canada has seen a steady stream of Tamil refugees arriving at its shores, including the “boat people” as some have derisively called them. Even though language was a barrier, many Tamils began the difficult task of re-constructing their shattered lives. They often settled into menial jobs trying to balance the demands of daily life while attempting to recover from the trauma of separation and loss. Over a period of nearly 30 years, the Tamil Canadian community has worked hard and continues to move up the socioeconomic ladder. Yet, regardless of whatever success it has achieved so far, the community continues to be affected by the causal trauma of loss which it often expresses in public and private spaces.