20th May 2001
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  • Kala Korner By Dee Cee
  • A wild kind of love
  • Spicy plot tempered with song and dance
  • On a hallowed trek
  • Kala Korner By Dee Cee

    Awards for Handagama
    Another Sinhala film is doing the 'Festival round' and winning awards before local audiences have even seen it. 'Me Mage Sandai' (This is my moon) is the third creation of young film-maker Asoka Handagama, voted the Most Promising Director a few years ago. It has won two prestigious awards so far - Best Film at the Jeonju Film Festival, Korea from amongst 19 films in the final round, and the Young Cinema Award for the Best Film at the Singapore Film Festival last month. It got a special mention in the FIPRACY/Netback Award category in Singapore and at Houston, it won a Bronze Remi award for the best feature film. 

    So when will we get a chance of seeing the film? Asoka has good news. "We have got Fifth Circuit grading and we are working out alternative methods of screening it within the next two months," he says.

    Great Expectations
    Sinhala readers are getting the opportunity to enjoy classics in world literature. The latest is a two volume Sinhala version of Charles Dickens' 'Great Expectations' coming out as a Dayawansa Jayakody publication this week.

    The translator of this highly acclaimed work is Chandra Anagiratne, who has already earned a name for himself by translating a number of classics for the Sinhala reading public. The two volumes are titled 'Udara Apekhsha 1 & 2'.

    List completed
    With this year's two Gold Lion awards won at the State Film Awards, the pioneering members of the 'Rekava' team have all won recognition. The first to receive this coveted award was director Lester James Peries with leading actress Iranganie Serasinghe receiving it next. Though Gamini Fonseka won the award for acting, he too started his film career in 'Rekava' as a unit assistant in the production crew. K. A. W. Perera who wrote the dialogues also won the award. National Film Corporation Chairman Tissa Abeysekera who himself cut his teeth as dialogue writer in the film industry with Lester's 'Gamperaliya', is happy that he was able to complete the list by recognising editor Totawatte and cameraman Blake during his tenure of office.

    A wild kind of love

    During her early years at Ladies' College, Nirmala de Alwis showed promise as an artist, with a flair for depicting nature. Immersed as she was in an environment of animals and plants in her home within the National Zoological Gardens, where her father was Director for some 25 years, it enabled her to Imagegain deep insights into their moods and behaviour. 

    Frequent forays into the national parks and sanctuaries sharpened these perceptions and helped give expression to her appreciation and respect for animals. Her work reflects her own understanding and this she conveys through her many animal personalities especially the magnificent elephants. 

    She held her first solo exhibition in 1988 at the National Art Gallery. To develop her technique and master different media she entered the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore and followed a three-year diploma course. She participated in the Singapore Festival of Arts and the Asia Pacific Art Exhibition in 1992. 

    Her work was displayed in galleries in Singapore. She also did graphic and design work for the Singapore Zoological Gardens and NTUC Pasir Ris Resort. 

    Returning home with many ideas and much experience, Nirmala decided to choose wildlife painting as a career. She held her second solo exhibition, "Drawn to the Wild" in 1994. Her papier mache work titled 'Rajah' was "highly commended" at the 107th exhibition of the Ceylon Society of Arts. 

    She held her third solo exhibition at the invitation of the Alliance Francaise in 1997. She has participated in all exhibitions held by the George Keyt Foundation since July 1996 and the first and fourth International Artists' Camps and exhibitions. She was invited to participate in the exhibition commemorating 50 years of independence in May 1998 held by the Ceylon Society of Arts. 

    Her gallery aptly named Vana-ras, down Hotel Road, Mount Lavinia is a gathering point for artists and the art-loving public. 

    Nirmala's fourth solo exhibition, "Hasthi" is now on at the Havelock Place Bungalow at No. 6 & 8 Havelock Place, Colombo 5. It will be concluded on June 30. 

    Spicy plot tempered with song and dance

    By Alfreda de Silva
    Danger Kids- 'A Joke and Dagger Musical' will be presented by the Primary Section of the Overseas School of Colombo at the Bishop's College Auditorium on May 25 and 26 at 7.30 p.m.

    Director: Nancy Quin

    Music Director: Kerry Gittins

    With a script by Lynne Bartlett, Mark Leehy and Kevin O'Mara and music and lyrics by the two Imagelast-mentioned writers and Rob Fairbairn, this play, which is an exciting departure from convention was first performed in Australia.

    It gives wonderful opportunities to showcase the collective imagination of the young players in various situations in the fast and furious chase of Carmen San Franciso.

    This notorious character has taken control of all the video games in the world and there is a widespread feeling that it is always possible through her sneaky ways to give victory to the Baddies.

    Among those concerned with destroying her powers are the Heads of Government (HOGS) at one end of the scale, and the highly daring young people known as the Danger Kids, on the other.

    A melange of events full of humour and a continuous rhythm and light-heartedness, song and dance add to the spicy flavour of the plot. The music provides a medley of cultural influences. 

    So do the costumes and meeting place of the Danger Kids who are all out to get Carmen and stop her destructive plans for the world.

    The settings of their search range from the Sahara Desert to the Swiss Alps, not to mention a hint of Colombo. Their meetings and those of the HOGs take place in the most unlikely venues - a roller coaster, a football match, a Chou Dynasty Chinese Restaurant and on board the HMS Britannia the royal yacht (the Queen herself is one of the HOGS). Then there is the grand finale in the Mystery Mansion.

    Cluedo is the unwilling side-kick of Carmen San Francisco, who drops clues around her, although it takes quite a while for the Danger Kids to decipher them. The HOGS fare no better.

    But the Kids outsmart them with a quick-witted grasp of their final clue. They save the world from Carmen's evil plans just seconds before they are about to work, and win the praises of everyone.

    The Danger Kids glory in names like Cody, the code-cracker of the team; Gizmo, the electronics expert; Gaucho, loyal and true but a little clumsy and unreliable though he means well, and Butler the know-all.

    Woven into the action that gallops along are the Runaway Legionnaires. There is Pierre, but there are also Lumierre, Derriere, Brassierre and Carrierre the Postman.

    And to carry you along to peals of merriment are the Von-Shut- Your-Trapp Family Singers. The Chinese Dancers add a touch of the exotic. And to make this whodunnit as real as real can be are secret agent Maxwell Smarty Pants and his co-agent- 98.6.

    When you are on the edge of your seats while the roller coaster rolls or the clock ticks on to zero hour before the world is saved, some rollicking songs will entertain you, like this one, sung by the Runaway Legionnaires:

    Left, left

    I left, my wife in New Orleans

    with forty-five cents

    And a can of beans

    I thought it was right, right

    Right for my country


    Or this one by the Von Shut-Your-Trapps, who yodel away.

    "Yodellededi- hee- yodelledi-hoo

    Yodellededi-me, yodelledi you

    Yodelledi-up, yodelledi down

    Yodelledi round and round"

    And the special song of the Danger Kids:

    "Someone calling on the hot-line

    Satellite in outer space

    Can you help us - have you got time?

    Time to save the human race..........

    It's a desperate situation

    Send a call across the land

    To the younger generation

    We are here to lend a hand.

    D-D-D-D, D-D-D-D, D-D-D-D, Danger Kids

    Oi, D-D-D-D, Danger Kids.

    Pat Goddard, the dynamic principal of the Primary School is very appreciative of the splendid teamwork of the six to eleven-year-old performers; the dedication of the play directors, and the whole- hearted support of the teachers and parents. It has been an enjoyable experience for them all.


    On a hallowed trek

    To climb Sri Pada is the lifelong ambition of many Buddhists. True, the climb is somewhat tedious, yet even the old folk are keen to give it a try. It's because Sri Pada is hallowed as one of the 16 places Imagevisited by the Buddha.

    Continuing his booklets on 'Rataka Mahima' featuring sites of religious and cultural significance in Sri Lanka, Professor J. B. Disanayaka has just released two books on Sri Pada titled 'Siri Pa Vandanava' and 'Sripadasthane'. They are the 10th and 11th in the series.

    In 'Siri Pa Vandanava', J.B. takes the reader through the three different routes to the summit - through Hatton, Ratnapura and Kuruvita. The most popular is the Hatton route, which is also the most convenient. Vehicles can drive up to Nallathanni ('good water' in Tamil) where one crosses a wooden bridge over a canal and starts the trek of about four miles to the top. The route is easy to climb with well-maintained steps unlike on the Ratnapura route where the climb is tougher with the steps being neglected except in a few places around Mahagiri Dambe, Ehele Kanuwa and Andiya Mala Tenna. On the Kuruvita route, one can drive up to Eratna and then walk up to Heramitipana and join the Ratnapura route.

    JB discusses the key places along the way, making the reader aware of their significance. 'Seetha Gangula' as the name suggests, is a 'cool spot' where pilgrims cleanse themselves with a bath before proceeding. Reaching 'Indikatupana' (also called 'Gettampana' ), the 'kodukarayas' (first- timers) leave behind a needle and thread continuing an age-old tradition. The place is thus, one mass of thread. (Some pilgrims from the South also insist that the first-timers cover their heads with a white cloth and virtually take them up blindfolded!) 

    The devotee then passes the 'Bhagava Lena', a cave where the Buddha is believed to have rested and 'Maha Giri Dambe', a fairly steep climb. Pilgrims from both routes pass this point. Hatton pilgrims then reach 'Ahas Gawwa' and the others pass 'Hulang Kapolla' before reaching the 'Maluwa', from where they can see the 'Ira Seve', the sunrise. The final destination is the 'Uda Maluwa' where the devotees worship the sacred footprint of the Buddha. Though the footprint cannot be seen since it is covered with a rock, the devotees worship with utmost veneration placing their foreheads at the doorstep.

    J.B. gives the popular verses sung by the pilgrims on the climb and also includes quotes from books describing different sites. He devotes a chapter to verses from 'Purana Himagatha Varnanava' describing the 216 noble signs of the Buddha's feet. Another carries a series of verses ('Pathum Kavi') describing the numerous wishes made by pilgrims after worshipping.

    In 'Sripadasthane', J.B. discusses the significance of Sri Pada. He goes back to the days of the Buddha to describe how on occasions the Buddha had left behind His footprint to indicate that He was at a particular place. A Pali stanza mentions four places where the Buddha's footprint is found - on the banks of the river Narmada, on the rocks named Sacchabadda and Sumanachala and the peak of Samanala Kanda. Each site is described in the book. King Nissanka Malla who ruled Sri Lanka from Polonnaruwa had left behind records of his visits to Sri Pada. These are found in rock inscriptions.

    Impressions by foreign travellers like Fa Hsien, Marco Polo, Ibn Batuta and Giovanni de Marignolli are recorded in the book. British Government Agents administering the district of Ratnapura have also left behind interesting records in their diaries of their visits to Sri Pada. A note by H. Wace made on March 17, 1886 refers to the start made from Gilimale at 5.45 in the morning, reaching Palabaddala at 7.30, Nili Ela (Leeni Hela) at 9.30,Heramitipana at 11.30, Aandiya Mala Tena at 11.45 and Ihala Maluwa at 12.45. Some like H. W. Cave (Picturesque Ceylon), Emerson Tennent ((Ceylon), R. H. Basset (Romantic Ceylon), John Still (Jungle Tide), Major Skinner (Fifty Years in Ceylon) and H. Parker (Ancient Ceylon) have devoted separate chapters in their books to Adam's Peak. 

    Both books are well illustrated in colour. Publisher Sirisumana Godage has once again done an excellent job in quality printing.

    Hopefully J.B. will continue his efforts to give us more books on the interesting places to visit in our country. 

    It's time he also thought of presenting the series in English as well. 


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