The Maldives National Defence Force has released a trailer of the military’s first feature film, Handharu, based on the failed coup attempt on November 3, 1988 by a group of Maldivian and Tamil mercenaries.
Chief of Defence Forces Major General Ahmed Shiyam launched the trailer Thursday night at the Kalhuthukkala Koshi barracks in Malé ahead of the film’s official release next month.
Handharu was filmed in Laamu atoll over the course of six months. The trailer shows scenes of a wife and child bidding farewell to a soldier as well as action sequences of trainees running through forests and fields and soldiers storming an island on a powered dinghy.
It also features gunfights between tattooed men, the Sri Lankan mercenaries, and soldiers.
The tagline of the film – starring Mohamed Shammoon, Faseeh Ahmed, Shabana Mohamed, and Aishath Maajidha – is ‘My Religion – My Country – My Duty.’
In his remarks at the launching ceremony, Shiyam said the Maldivian military was not merely a group of armed men attacking enemy combatants. The army chief said the MNDF’s mandate involves the advancement of religion, culture and language.
“We didn’t make this film to create talented actors amongst the army. The sole reason for this is to carry out our national duty,” he said.
Shiyam added that “the morals in the film show the obligations that apply to of us.”
According to Sun Online, the film was based on a concept developed by Shiyam, who was assisted by famous local writers Ibrahim ‘Bimma’ Waheed and Mohamed Shaheeb, president of the Maldives Broadcasting Commission.
Speaking at the ceremony, Defence Minister Adam Shareef Umar said that film is one of the most valuable mediums for creating awareness of national security concerns. He suggested that it could also be used to encourage and foster patriotism among the public.
“Research reveals that media is the most forcefully persuasive to the human brain. Of which, what plays with the brain the most is film,” he said.
Shareef expressed confidence that Handharu would become the best Maldivian film with the highest audience to date.
The film will “stun” the Maldives and reveal unusually substantive messaging that Maldivians need to know, he said.
Ashar Waheed, the film’s director, said the most modern facilities available in the country was utilised in the production.
“It was a well organised project. We made one of the biggest film sets ever used in the Maldives,” he said.
The trailer was also shown on the popular Maldivian Idol show aired on the same night by the state broadcaster together with a lively performance by the military’s pop band.
The MNDF meanwhile held its annual family evening at the Republic Square last weekend.
Inaugurated by President Abdulla Yameen, the event featured public viewings of military uniforms, vehicles and equipment. Children were allowed to handle firearms and items used in military training.
The MNDF had drawn criticism after allowing children to handle firearms during an event to mark Children’s Day in 2012.
Photos of toddlers handling heavy machine guns and staring down the barrels of pistols were met with concern by Maldivians on social media, who described the images as “just not right”, and “sick and wrong”.