Poongkothai Chandrahasan

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Poongkothai Chandrahasan

Poongkothai Chandrahasan is a film maker and activist. Poongkothai starred as the lead Actress in National Award-winning cinematographer P. C. Sriram's Vaanam Vasappadum (2004) India's first digital film to be shot in the HD (High Definition) format.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, she came to India in 1983, age 3. She was schooled at the Sacred Heart convent, and went on to procure a B.A in English and a Masters in Communication, and a diploma in film making. she has interned at Kronkite and Ward in Washington DC[2] and apprenticed under P. C. Sreeram during the making of India's first Digital film (Vaanam vasappadum)[1] and Chetan Shah (Framed 2006 – First assistant director)[3] She currently FOUNDER/ TRUSTEE & CEO of ASTHTVA FOUNDATION, DIRECTOR (new programs) OfERR (Organisation for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation) and Managing DIRECTOR of SERENDIP BOUTIQUE SOCIAL ENTERPRISES Pvt. Ltd.


Poongkothai is the scion of one of Sri Lanka's most prominent political families. She is the granddaughter of the man hailed as "Ezha Thanthai Selva" and "Sri lankan Gandhi" the Honorable S. J. V. Chelvanayakam, QC MP, Leader of The Federal Party/ TULF (1949–1977, a revered Sri Lankan politician and iconic leader of the Tamil community.[2] Her Maternal grandfather the Honorable Dr. E. M. V. Naganathan MD MP, was the Secretary of the Federal Party, a Senator and Prominent Leader of the Tamil Community. E.M.V. naganathan is a descendant of the Royal families of Jafna.[4] She is the daughter of Samuel Chelvanayakam Chandrahasan (S.C. Chandrahasan) and Anne Nirmala Chandrahasan née Naganathan.


She has written and directed many feature Length Documentaries and documentary shorts, which have been telecast on International Channels all over the world. Some of her most famous films are "Refugees to the rescue" [5] (2007) and "Sri Lanka Struggling to Stay afloat, in the aftermath of the waves" and the soon to be premiering "My island is Bleeding"[6] Her films are usually Political in Nature, Human Rights centric and Objective.

Social adovocacy[edit]

Aside from her career as a film maker, Poongkothai has been actively working with social causes.[1] She has been working with the Refugee community for the past five years,[7] and is a Resource person for OfERR,[8] the NGO founded by her Father S.C.Chandrahasan in 1984, (one of the largest Sustainable development NGO's in the world, with over 1000 Refugee Volunteers). She works mainly with the women and Children in the Refugee community.[9]

Though Political in her films, Poongkothai had steered clear of the Sri Lankan Political arena so far, preferring to work in the area of Human Rights. Yet she is now emerging as a Voice of moderation in the Sri Lankan context, following in Her Grand father's Footsteps. “The Sri Lankan army has captured from the LTTE the north-western district of Mannar which is the traditional gateway to south India. The Army does not like the world to know the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the war zone,” said Poongkothai Chandrahasan, a filmmaker and activist working with Sri Lankan refugees for the past five years."- Poongkothai is quoted as saying to the Deccan Chronicle 10, 9 Feb.“The Sri Lankan government does not want the refugees to bring stories from the conflict zone. If refugees keep turning up in large numbers, international attention will shift to the humanitarian crisis. That is why the Sri Lankan Army is discouraging them,” adds Poongkothai. She has started talking out against the human Rights violations on both sides and is working actively to put forward the Human angle and Need for Peace in Sri Lanka.

Poongkothai has recently organised and curated an exhibition called "Sunshine in a Tear Drop" An exhibition of Refugee Children's Drawings. Five Hundred refugee Children (between the age of 5–15) from the 117 Refugee camps in India took part, The Topics she had selected were "My Life So far", "An Incident that Affected me", and PEACE. "The drawing as Poongkothai puts it, shows what the child went through back in Sri Lanka. “Our main aim with this exhibition is to spread awareness about the innocent people suffering because of the war. All we get to see is the political side of the war. But what about the human loss? (In an interview to Deccan chronicle) After narrowing it down from 500 to 25, Poongkothai and a famous Indian Photographer visited the Refugee camps and Photographed the Children. The Exhibition of the Drawings, the child photograph and a 50 word piece by the child were Displayed. The exhibition opened in Chennai in January (from the 10th–18th) Traveled to Goa in February, Premiered in New York at the Queens Museum in March (8th–28th), opened in Boston April 7 and will be exhibited in Canada in May.“The news talks of so many Tigers killed, so many soldiers killed, but we forget the human face of starving civilians, children losing their parents and worse", she explains. "What began as a competition for an international exhibition is now a statement by these children. The war, to them, is not an abstraction. These are the stories of their sufferings, their personal tales of loss." says Poongkothai in a recent interview with the Indian Express.

Poongkothai is also an ardent supporter of the concept of homeless pet adoption, and speaks out against the pet trade. "I wish people would adopt (homeless pups), instead of flying in dogs from all over the world – dogs that can't even cope with this weather! Many are bred in terrible conditions, it's so unfair. Why have these foolish notions about things like breed? It doesn't make a difference to your relationship with the dog”, she is quoted as saying in The Hindu in 2011. Her dog Bambi whom she rescued from the streets as a puppy appears in PETA's "Adopt a Homeless Dog" advertisements alongside movie star Trisha Krishnan.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Kumudam magazine (Tamil weekly) 15 April 2009, page. 96,97,98
  2. ^ a b "Tales of loss and heartbreak". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 2016-12-01. 
  3. ^ https://www.imdb.com/name/nm3294284/
  4. ^ "Personal Biography - The Royal Family of Jaffna". Jaffnaroyalfamily.org. Retrieved 2016-12-01. 
  5. ^ http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?title=Tales%20of%20loss%20and%20heartbreak&artid=avlQ49I4ClE=&type=
  6. ^ Kumudam magazine (Tamil weekly) 15 April 2009, page. 96,97,98.
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ "Archive News". The Hindu. Retrieved 2016-12-01. 
  9. ^ Galatta Cinema – May 2008, page 15. wonder women. Towards a stronger Asthtva https://www.scribd.com/doc/2974195/Galatta-Cinema-May-2008?__cache_revision=1235867715&__user_id=-1&enable_docview_caching=1
  10. ^ From the streets to stardom: http://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/society/article2084775.ece

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