2nd December 2001

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Kala Korner By Dee Cee

Pathi looks at a day in the future
Whenever Dharmasena Pathiraja produces a film, we get quite excited. He always tries to tackle contemporary social issues and he rarely disappoints the film-going public. It's no different this time. In his latest effort, 'Mathu Yam Davasa' (Some Day in the Future), he projects today's much talked of issues. Underworld operations, political violence and torture form the theme. The events occur in the backdrop of the late eighties. 

Pathi, as we all call him, has obviously done a lot of research. It could not have been easy, yet he has done a fine job. Had he not done an extensive study on how gangs operate, how politicians manoeuvre to kill, how killers react, along with the fears of the average man, he would not have been able to get the best out of the two young men who play the key roles. Saumya Liyanage and Wasantha Waragoda are two upcoming actors who have proved their talent on stage during the past few years. (Saumya gave a fine portrayal of the 'lost soldier' in 'Me Mage Sandai'). 

Just as in some of the plays they have acted, in 'Mathu Yam Davasa', Saumya is more sedate and careful, while Wasantha is aggressive, daring and impatient. It's the two of them from beginning to end and inspite of their killer instincts, they are able to win the sympathy of the audience due to their sheer acting ability. Pathi has depended entirely on the two young men to deliver - and they do. Of course, it also reflects Pathi's ability to direct his actors. Even the supporting characters do their bit extremely well.

How refreshing it was to sit through an absorbing film amidst the heap of cheap, meaningless Sinhala films that are churned out these days! And a film without the usual romantic and 'open sex' scenes.

Rebel with a cause
This is an opportune moment to see what two students of cinema had to say about Pathi. Introducing him as "a rebel with a cause", Wimal Dissanayake and Ashley Ratnavibhushana in their authoritative work, 'Profiling Sri Lankan Cinema' say: "He wanted to break out of constrictive formats of Sri Lankan cinema and strike out in new and more fruitful directions. He was deeply perturbed by the haze of ossifying orthodoxy, both of filmmaking and opinion that was settling over the local film culture. He wanted to create a new cinema that proposed a counter-disclosure to the bourgeois artistic cinema and the formula-based popular cinema of the time."

They described Pathiraja's effort as "highly significant ushering in a new era in Sinhalese cinema".

Having assessed the seven full-length narrative films (Pathi also has a number of innovative teledramas to his credit), they concluded that he is a filmmaker who is desirous of moving away from the bourgeois idealism, to pave the way for a socially engaged and critically humanist cinema. "There is an off-the-cuff, improvisatory quality of the films, and a grainy visual surface that is wholly in keeping with the imperatives of the themes he has chosen for his exploration." 

Strokes of young expression

By Ruwanthi Herat Gunaratne
A colourful painting of endless butterflies, with a different insect stuck in the middle, disgustingly large. "You are not who you think you are. We are all governed by some incredible force and that causes our lives to rotate, unendingly, like a circus acrobat," says Sudath Amarasekera, a new "find" of the George Keyt Foundation.

For Sudath this is art, this is his expression. Born and bred in Mapalage, Galle, Sudath sees art as life. After obtaining a Fine Arts Degree from the University of Kelaniya, he has stationed himself in Kaduwela. 

But the world of art is highly competitive and it is extremely difficult for a 'nobody' to become a 'somebody' overnight. And that's just what the George Keyt Foundation is attempting to change by giving a chance to new talent at the annual exhibition and sale entitled 'Nawa Kalakaruwo. 

For Sudath and more than 25 others who presented their paintings at this exhibition held last week this was the beginning of what would otherwise have been a Herculean task. 

Unlike Sudath, Dhammika Akmeemana is not an artistic revolutionary. Her paintings are not a cry against injustice, they are just her viewpoint. Each painting is a blow out of colour deep reds, midnight blues, bottle greens and sunny yellows, A past student of the Vibhavi Fine Arts Academy, Dhammika found her greatest strength in the female form. 

Dhammika has been part of the 'Nawa Kalakaruwo' exhibition for quite some time and feels that she has made a name for herself due to this.

In an age where abstracts have become a vital part of art, Paul Miranda has gone further. His paintings are not bold proclamations nor are they a celebration. He uses cement as a novel method of painting and thus his work is a stark contrast from the others. 

In the case of Nirmala De Alwis, the exhibition was yet another occasion for her to present her love for elephants. "I practically grew up in a zoo, so I guess wildlife really does dominate my work," laughs Nirmala whose elephants are made of `matulu' ( chips) from the coconut tree trunk. "Each year we find that the artists themselves mature," says Sita De Silva, the Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the George Keyt Foundation. "The exhibition gives them that extra bit of confidence."

The Hunchback of Notre Dame: A delightful act of lively theatre

By Alfreda de Silva
Wycherley International School presented the Walt Disney version of the immortal Victor Hugo classic, The Hunchback of Notre Dame at the Lionel Wendt on November 23, 24 and 25.

Directed by Indu Dharmasena,it proved to be a showcase for the bringing together of a cast of almost a hundred students, in a delightful act of theatre.

With the growing acknowledgement of the value of school drama as an important teaching aid, its potential is now being tapped extensively. Besides the wonder and enjoyment that plays provide for both players and audience, is the growth of the collective imagination of a theatre group, its grasp of stage-craft, facial expression, speech, gesture, posture and the appreciation of music and movement.

All this was evident in the Wycherley Hunchback. It brought to the fore a good deal of young talent.

Judge Frollo, an irascible and overbearing character gets an unpleasant surprise when a group of gypsies confront him. He apprehends them. The mother gypsy, carrying a bundle which he thinks contains stolen goods, dumps it on the steps of the Notre Dame Cathedral, when he gives chase. He knocks her unconscious and grabs the bundle - a hideously deformed baby.

Thwarting his efforts to get rid of it, the Archdeacon forbids the act and orders him to care for the child. The boy Quasimodo, the Hunchback, is kept in the bell-tower of Notre Dame by Frollo, who ill-treats him. Surreptitiously watching the Festival of Fools, Quasimodo is crowned King of Fools by the pretty, vivacious gypsy dancer Esmeralda portrayed by Anoli Ratnayake. Frollo is enamoured of her, while his gallant Captain Phoebus falls deeply in love with her. Quasimodo who is devoted to her realizes that she is far out of his reach, and Phoebus and Quasimodo help her to escape.

Glen Abeywardane, in the title role of Quasimodo, the Hunchback, played it to perfection, using his sensitive face to display pain and sorrow and the occasional moment of grace. 

In dramatic contrast to him was the handsome Phoebus, presented with aplomb and gallantry by Aravinda Page. Judge Frollo, was brought to life by Devinda Aranagala both in speech and gesture, in a neat cameo that portrayed his cruel, scheming ways. The wide variety of colourful costumes enhanced the show.

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