Kala Korner - by Dee Cee

Another lesson on the futility of war
The invitation was for an Auction. 'Centigrade 7.28 - Bidding for War' it said. Minimum bid mentioned was "Tears of 23 years + (12.5% VAT)'.
This unusual invitation was for the premiere of Sudath Mahaadiulwewa's maiden cinematic effort 'Sudu Kalu saha Alu' which he called 'Shades for Ash', at the Regal. Sudath from the days he was a shy quiet copywriter at TAL, showed signs of thinking afresh, wanting to do something different. His creative abilities were obvious even at that stage. With 'Sudu Kalu saha Alu' he joins the band of young filmmakers who are an extremely talented lot capable of turning out world class fare.

Sudath talks of the futility of war. And he does so most effectively convincing everyone what a meaningless pursuit it is. The story is set in a border village and revolves round the original settlers who return from a refugee camp to the village devastated by war. They don't have the basic essentials - not even water because the tank from which they got their water is poisoned by the terrorists. They have to depend on a bowser which brings water to the village. Sudath had obviously done a lot of research to develop the key characters in the film.

Though there are some daring sequences involving very human situations (the film is recommended for adults), Sudath handles them well. The reaction of the soldier who returns home on leave to find his bride in the arms of another young man is just one example. The soldier meets with an accident, goes off his head and becomes a wreck. To look after him, the wife needs money. To get the money she has to sell her body. The ultimate tragedy capsules the story of 'Sudu Kalu saha Alu'.

The film has given some of our popular actors an opportunity to prove how versatile they are. Sudath has got the best out of them guiding and directing them cleverly. Mahendra Perera as the soldier excels. He portrays the transformation from a young energetic soldier to a helpless young man who loses his way remarkably well. Sriyantha Mendis as the blind protector of the ashram thinking of the good old days shows a freshness from the vast array of roles we see him on the small screen. Sanath Gunatilleka puts in his maximum effort to any role he plays. Apart from driving his bus, he is a smart operator in the village. Dilani Ekanayake does her bit perfectly.

Sugath introduces two characters to the village who have their own agendas. One is the school head, played convincingly by Vasantha Kotuwella, who is sent to this remote village on punishment transfer. Ruwan de Costa's photography and maestro Khemadasa's music coupled with classy acting and inspired direction makes 'Sudu Kalu saha Alu' ‘a must' for the keen filmgoer.

Acknowledging Jayantha's talents
This column also acknowledges the talents of Jayantha Chandrasiri who, with his last effort 'Guerilla Marketing' once again proves himself a gifted filmmaker with new ideas who is not afraid to experiment. At a time when we are bombarded with advertisements whether it be TV, radio or the print media, Jayantha gives an insight into the planning and execution of a publicity campaign. The campaign revolves round a Presidential election, a subject under much discussion right now.

It's generally accepted that creative guys in advertising agencies are a different breed. They are always looking for new ideas and new ways of executing those ideas. In the process they may come up with outrageous concepts but never do we hear of a creative director literally going crazy. Jayantha goes to the extreme of driving the creative director (superbly portrayed by Kamal Addaraarachchi) mad and sending him to the mental asylum. The man is obsessed by his own creative effort.

Though this theme dominates the film, Jayantha brings a humane twist to the whole story. In his childhood days the creative director has had a soft corner for his cousin. Their close relationship continues when they are undergrads. They lose contact when she (played by Yashoda Wimaladharma) decides to go abroad for further studies. By the time she gets back, he is married.

Jayantha's selection of a traditional dance family to discuss the childhood days of the duo is a clever move. While exposing the traditional rhythms, Jayantha makes full use of folk songs to create a new form of film music, with maestro Khemadasa giving us yet another memorable score. Hopefully these songs will be made available in a CD for posterity.

The portrayal of the Presidential candidate by Jackson Anthony in his inimitable style is yet another treat. He is such a versatile actor capable of changing from one role to another with the utmost ease.

It's so heartening to see our new generation of filmmakers moving away from the stereotyped themes and trying their hand at something different and unusual, yet providing clean entertainment. It's a pity that we do not see this happening in the teledrama scene which is going from bad to worse except for an occasional bright spot.

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