A chance encounter between two citizens in post-war Sri Lanka quickly leads to romance, but as they spend time together it becomes increasingly clear that their cultural backgrounds are struggling to peacefully coexist. Sarathsiri (Shyam Fernando) is a lonely pawnbroker that cares only for his work. Selvi (Anjali Patil) is his shy, subdued, and beautiful customer. Following repeated visits to his pawnshop, Sarathsiri realizes that Selvi is one of the few sources of joy in his life. She accepts when he asks for her hand in marriage.
Differences in age and demeanor are significant challenges for Sarathsiri and Selvi. While those issues are often easily overcome, ethnic and national identity questions are much more difficult to resolve in the aftermath of Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war. Estimates of death tolls range from 60,000-100,000. The result is a dramatic division throughout the nation between the Tamil and Sinhalese people, as no one was left unaffected. Can love really conquer all?
With Sarathsiri and Selvi coming from opposite sides of the conflict, the differences in their past threaten to affect their future. The issue of ethnic identity is placed squarely under the microscope in this modern adaptation of Dostoevsky’s 1876 novella, The Meek One. With You Without You is the seventh feature-length film by director Prasanna Vithanage, and has been welcomed with acclaim on the festival circuit, taking home awards from the International Film Festival of India (Winner – Best Actress, Anjali Patil) and Vesoul Asian Film Festival (Winner – Best Film), among many others. This contemporary tale of taboo romance examines the hazy intersection of love, identity, and nationalism, and the devastating consequences that can result as these disparate elements struggle to harmonize.