ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 01

Vasantha brings an outcast into the limelight

Kala Korner by Dee Cee

Does honesty pay in the current socio-political scenario in our country? How should an honest public servant respond to political pressures? Should a hard-working, law-abiding public servant risk his life by clashing with political big-wigs? These are the issues Vasantha Obeysekera pinpoints in his latest creation, 'Aganthukaya'. The title has been translated into English as 'Outcast' which to me sounds more appropriate to the theme.Vasantha relates a simple story in a simple manner. His cleverness is in relating a down-to-earth story in a most convincing way. He does it unaided by any background music. It's gripping and absorbing.

Scenes from Aganthukaya: Saumya Liyanage, Chandani Seneviratne and Sanath Gunatilleka

The story revolves round a principal of a government school who tries to do an honest job of work. He wants to have a disciplined set of teachers and is keen to mould the children according to accepted social values which are fast eroding in our society. He requests the teachers to refrain from smoking during school hours thereby setting an example to the children. A couple of them resist and there begins the 'war'. Those teachers carry tales to the chief minister and poison his mind.

A man of strict principles, the principal refuses to yield to political pressure. As president of the school development society and acting strictly according to the rules, he awards the contract to construct the new school building to the lowest bidder ignoring pressures that the politician's supporter be given the job. When it comes to school admissions, he sets up a new committee eliminating teachers who had served several years and had got used to making money. He earns the politician's wrath when he rejects the application of the politician's secretary's child.

He gets assaulted by a gang and he is warned of worse things to come. His father too was a victim of the 'bheeshanaya' era. He is constantly reminded of that. Yet he refuses to yield. Does he win the battle or lose it?

These are everyday happenings. We hear such stories day in and day out. Vasantha brings them into the limelight exposing the corrupt elements which stand in the way of law-abiding citizens. Even though we have begun to accept these happenings, when Vasantha highlights them we begin to sit up and take note. We wonder why honest individuals should be harassed in this manner and whether they don't deserve a better place in society. Should they be outcasts?

Of course, from the word 'go', you are on the side of the principal superbly played by Saumya Liyanage (he has obviously got his father, Hemasiri's talent). Once again Sanath Gunatilleka plays the role of a power-hungry politician brilliantly. He seems to revel in the character playing it effortlessly. In one of Vasantha's earlier films 'Asani Warsha' he played a similar role of a politician excelling in political thuggery and brutality. The third key player, Chandani Seneviratne plays the patient wife of the principal convincingly. As he always does, Vasantha has the knack in getting the best from the supporting players as well.

From among 150 applicants, Vasantha is the first to be chosen for financial assistance under a new scheme introduced by the National Film Corporation. He has given a good start and let us hope that more will follow.

After watching one of Vasantha's films, I wrote that Vasantha seldom lets you down. He gives you a good product. He's done it again.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.