Monday, February 4, 2019

The Least of These

As the social fabric of life in rural India disintegrates in the late 1990s, journalist Manav Banerjee (Sharman Joshi) moves with his pregnant wife to the town of Orissa in hope of a better life and the promise of a lucrative career. When speculation mounts that local Australian missionary Graham Staines (Stephen Baldwin) is illegally proselytizing leprosy patients, Manav agrees to investigate undercover for the newspaper. What he finds is a series of revelations that are difficult to fathom and even harder to explain, and Manav is forced to make a choice between his own ambition and the truth. In the end, his actions spark a tragic event that is felt around the world.

Based on a true story and shot on location in India, Staines beautifully illustrates the power of love, hope and forgiveness to overcome hate. Aneesh Daniel directs the film, featuring Stephen Baldwin, Shari Rigby, and Bollywood star Sharman Joshi.

My Review: "
The Least of These: The Graham Staines Story" uses a (fictional) journalist to unfold the story of what is happening in India in the late 1990s as the backdrop leading up to the ultimate death of Graham Staines and his two sons. It's a very good storytelling device that introduces us to all of the characters and gives a connection with each. Filmed in India, the scenes present both the beautiful and bleakness of India, but my deepest recollection is the stunning beauty shown. The story does tell us about Graham Staines, but he is seen as part of God's plan rather than this being a biography of his entire life. He is clearly portrayed as a man of courage and humor while being determined to fulfill God's purpose in his life through his love for God, his family, and the people of India, especially the lepers.

Many of the actors were unknown to me, but all impressed me with their talent. I loved Sharman Joshi as the ambitious journalist who is sincere in seeking the truth, yet open to seeing the truth as it unfolds throughout his investigation. Stephen Baldwin was excellent as Staines. His accent bothered me a bit, but considering Staines had lived in India for over 30 years, it made sense that the accent would not be as strong. Shari Rigby was perfect was the quiet yet strong wife of Graham. The actual Gladys Staines both forgave the people who murdered her sons and husband and remained in India with daughter Esther until 2004.

The original soundtrack of the film was outstanding and included award-winning musical artists such as Michael W. Smith, Nicole C Mullen and Toby Mac.

Graham and Gladys Staines - Missionaries to Orrisa  

See "The Heart of the Movie" for more background info on the making of the film:

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