Aneesh Daniel’s The Least of These: The Graham Staines Story is welcome film to any film-lover’s kitty.
The gruesome murder of the Australian leprosy worker and a missionary Graham Staines’ life and work, and above all his commitment to India and its poor are crux of te film
Yet, this film is niether religiouos nor pious. It is hard core narrative of passion – on the one side the passion for people, the lepers, the unwanted and the poor from India’s Orissa state. On the other hand, it is the story of blind passion of the editor who is guilty of abandoning his leprosy father, and is now haunted by hatred for the Oz Missionary who has healed physically and spiritually. His father Sunder is not a convert; but still a practicing Hindu, who is dedicated to Staines. The editor wants to defame the Missionary and have him arrested.
Then, you have the journalist who wants to make his ends meet, but is caught up in the Modi-esque trap of unemployed youth. He wants to publish some scoop with the wily editor, who gives him a camera to produce evidence against Graham Staines and his “forced conversions”, but just can’t find any.
Daniel does not make the film any melodramatic. It is a good narrative, full of character and values. The journalist does not give up his hunt for evidence; he lasts till the end; the missionary is an ordinary human being, madly in love with India’s poor. He does convert people to Christianity- those who willingly come forward. He is averse to giving money or using any force; and that makes Bannergee (journalist)’s job difficult.
The film is no indictment of the myopic sangh parivar – though it deserves the condemnation for its crimes against humanity and its helpless groups. Here, everybody is a human being with weakness.
The film is topped by Graham Staines’ relict Gladys. She is a woman of strengh and a heart. And that is all!
I would love to watch this film again!