fine cinematic experience from Vasantha
'Is there a future for our youth' is what filmmaker Vasantha Obeyesekere
asks in his latest creation 'Asani Warsha'. "A reflection of
the tragedy of alienated Sri Lankan youth", is how he describes
the theme of the film, which he titles 'Wrath and Rain' in English.
picked talented actor Jagath Chamila (he bagged the Best Actor Award
at the State Drama Festival just a fortnight ago) to portray the
unfortunate youth. Despised as an illegitimate child while in school
(he gives up schooling after grade V), jobless due to lack of an
education, Pradeep seeks the local politician's patronage along
with other youth in a similar plight. Pradeep joins the politician's
gang of toughies ending up as a frustrated young man. He finds his
father but fails to build the relationship he was longing for. Under
Vasantha's skillful direction, Jagath plays his first big role in
has the knack of picking up interesting themes for his films. 'Asani
Warsha', like most of his other stories, is based on a true story.
Once he locates an incident (very often from a newspaper report)
he does a lot of research, threads the missing links and finally
sits down to write his own screenplay. "I go into great detail
shot by shot, frame by frame to prepare an exhaustive document.
It takes time but makes my job easy once we start shooting,"
Vasantha explained. The result is a highly successful creation which
gives the audience a fine cinematic experience.
picks his style of presentation to suit the story. In 'Asani Warsha',
he relates the story from beginning to end in sequence. Though he
had ample opportunities to go back (what we used to call 'flashbacks'
those days), he avoids doing so and keeps to a straight narration.
For example, he is not interested in bringing in unnecessary romantic
scenes. Violence is very much part of the story - so the fights
are not out of place.
again, Vasantha demonstrates his cleverness in handling his players.
He gets the best from Kamal Addaraarachchi (the rich father), Sanath
Gunathilaka (the district minister excelling in political thuggery
and brutality), Mahendra Perera (the understanding husband), Meena
Kumari (the mother who tries hard to forget the past), Veena Jayakody
(the rich mother trying to cover up the son's sins) and others.
They all live their characters.
'Asani Warsha' is Vasantha Obeyesekere's 11th film. I
remember the time we were colleagues on the Dinamina editorial when
he was yearning to get into filmmaking. He got his break in 'Sath
Samudura' assisting Siri Gunasinghe in his directorial effort and
made his first film in 1970 ('Ves Gaththo') followed by 'Valmathuwo'
(1976), 'Diyamanthi' (1977) and 'Palagetiyo' (1979). The last named
based on a murder that occurred, was one of the best ten films during
the first 50 years of Sinhala cinema.
eighties saw him mature with the much talked about 'Dadayama' (1983)
- also among the best ten. After a break of five years, he made
'Kedapathaka Chaya'. In the nineties, he made three films - 'Maruthaya'
(1995), 'Dorakada Marawa' (1998) and 'Theertha Yathra' (1999). His
'Salelu Warama' was screened in 2002. He is also ready with 'Sevvandi'
and is about to start on another film financed by the National Film
journalist to filmmaker has been a tedious journey, but Vasantha
has enjoyed it. He has mastered his craft and has the right recipe
to give us absorbing stuff.