‘Uppalawanna’ completes 75th day landmark
‘Uppalawanna', Prof. Sunil Ariyaratne's latest film completed its successful run of 75 days last week.
The eighteenth film venture of Prof. Ariyaratne, the film is dubbed as a contemporary 'Theiri Gatha' or the doctrine preached to female disciples of Lord Buddha and it is the first film highlighting the life of Bikkhunis or Buddhist female monks on cinema.
Started on July 23, the film completed its 75th running date on October 12 and is now being screened in 17 outstation cinemas around the country.
Scripted by veteran script writer Tissa Abeysekera, the story is set against the backdrop of the dark period of the1989 insurrection and it revolves around three Bikkhunis representing three different stages played by Malani Fonseka the eldest, Sangeetha Weeraratne as 'Uppalawanna' and the youngest 'Nanduththara' by child actress, Sandali Welikanna.
The film highlights the clash between the love or 'Maithree' by a female monk to an injured 'Sathwa' or being and the interpretation of this act by the world. Returning to film producing after a long lapse, Mrs. Milina Sumathipala produced the film for Sumathi Films.
The film collected Rs. 31.5 million islandwide with Rs. 42 million in Regal Colombo at the end of 83 days on October 17.
Roshan Ravindra, Jagath Chamila, Sanath Wimalasiri, Rohana Beddage, Suminda Sirisena, Vasantha Vittachchi played the other key roles.
Production manager of 'Uppalawanna' is Prasanna Kithalagama and A. D. Ranjith Kumara played the role of production executive.
A Catholic priest views on 'Uppawalawanna'.
Founder of the Sri Lanka Branch of the International Catholic Organization for Cinema (OCIC), writer and journalist, Rev. Fr. Ernest Poruthota, speaking on 'Uppalawanna' says that the film has opened a new chapter in the Sri Lankan cinema history.
‘Uppalanna’ has invited a new insight into the service and the life of Bikkhunis or Buddhist female monks," Fr. Poruthota said. "It discusses about the closed, suppressed lives of the order of the clergy’.
Prof. Sunil Ariyaratne and Tissa Abeysekere had discussed the theme revolving around the lives of Bikkhunis and Sil Mathas as never before done in any other films in Sri Lanka or internationally.
|Fr. Ernest Poruthota
Compared with over fifty films including controversial films like ‘;The Last Temptation of Christ’ and ‘Jesus Christ the Superstar’ done on the lives of Jesus Christ, there are a few films done on the lives of Lord Buddha. In a country with Therawadi Buddhism, Sri Lankan cinema too has limited original films including Lester James Peries' 'Ransalu' (1967) and Sathischandra Edirisinghe's "Adhisthanaya" (1982). Most of the films were dubbed into Sinhala or copied to Sinhala from Hindi cinema.
‘There are a number of internationally acclaimed films which were made looking into the closed life styles of Christian nuns and with 'Uppalawanna' a new theme is added to the world cinema,’ Fr. Poruthota one of the pioneers in bridging the gap between Christians and Buddhists and one who had contributed towards inter-religious harmony said.
There is a vast difference between the lives of Christian nuns and Bikkhunis. Mother Theresa who looked after the sick and those confined to deathbed was honoured with the Nobel Prize for her service. And the nuns of the Sisters of Charity, the congregation she found continues her service and this film opens a serious discussion whether the order of Bikkunis too should be allowed to serve the needy in this manner.
‘The discussion should be started with the meritorious act by Uppalawanna, the role played by Sangeetha Weeraratne to the injured murderer which posed us to think whether what she did was justified or not’ Fr. Poruthota explained. "And I believe the film gave a fine beginning to discuss whether Bukkunis too should be freed from certain restrictions put on them that prevents them from extending their service to the mankind".