10th October 1999

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Kala Korner - By Dee Cee

Vasantha will not let you down

Film maker Vasantha Obeysekera doesn't let you down. He gives us another of his top grade films - 'Theertha Yatra' - inviting us to join him in exploring the psyche of a woman in search of her true identity.

It's not often that a director gets a chance of getting two of his creations released within a year. Even though he has been in the queue for quite sometime, Vasantha is lucky. So are filmgoers who are being 'inundated' by the 'kama rella' -cheap low grade stuff. Rarely do they get a chance of enjoying a good film these days.

This time last year, Vasantha gave us 'Dorakada Marawa' , a decent, well acted, quality production. The same can be said of 'Theertha Yatra'. Vasantha displays his capabilities as a sensitive director getting everyone to play their roles just the way he wants.

Vasantha has the knack of picking up the right players for the key roles. In 'Theertha Yatra', Yasodha Wimaladharma plays the teenager who, though being brought up amidst luxury, realises her beginnings were somewhere else. The exploration begins. She plays the role perfectly, just as Sangeetha did in the earlier film. The one who comes close to her brilliant performance is Joe Abeywickrema, once again in his role as a simple villager looking for his son who has been abducted by some unknown persons in the night. Then there is Ravindra Randeniya and Veena Jayakody performing well as Yasodha's parents and upcoming actor Channa Perera, (the indecisive young man in the tele series 'Senehewanthayo') playing a subdued role as her boy friend.

Vasantha's creations are based on his own stories. And he always looks for an actual happening for his plot. 'Theertha Yatra' is no different. On someone's tip off, he spent many months picking up the threads in the rubber growing Horana area. The result is an absorbing story.

Having successfully tried out Rohana Weerasinghe in ' Dorakada Marawa', Vasantha uses him for the music in 'Theertha Yatra' too. It's not a dominant score. As in the previous film when we heard a minute or two of thematic music, here too, Rohana uses music sparingly just where it is needed. Jayanath Gunawardena's photography and Elmo Haliday's editing do justice to Vasantha's effort.

With no fighting or humour and hardly any romance, Vasantha has created a fine piece of art which will have mass appeal.

'Mastering the art'

Talking of mass appeal, it's apt to recollect what Gamini Haththotuwegama said of 'creative experimentalist' Vasantha Obeysekera in his review of '50 years of Sinhala Cinema.

"His filmmaking career spans three decades and marks a steady graduation from innocent endeavour to pregnant achievement. He is in my opinion the most wisely and 'securely' placed of our directors. He seems to be 'mastering' what others are furiously and with extreme bother and strain muscling to achieve. His films have no difficulty in carrying the art to 'mass' audiences. In terms of cinematic dramaturgy tuned to social and personal utterance his blendings seem right, and even rich. 'Ketapathaka Chaya' is as good a family epic as any in the genre. Other genres he strides well - the thriller using sex and violence. 'Dadayama' was a strong serious melodrama astutely avoiding the populist temptation; and 'Palangetiyo' projecting the frustration of youth and sexual desire was an exceptionally fresh film."

Fourth novel in as many years

In the past few years, Henry Jayasena has moved away from drama production to writing. Three of his books - 'Karaliyaka Kathawak', 'Nimnethi Kathawak 1 & 2' (autobiographical novels) were released within the last four years. And now comes the fourth 'Lazarus'.

Dr K G Karunatilleka ranking among the best translators, having won the State Sahitya Award five times, will preside over the launch ceremony next Tuesday at the National Library Services Board auditorium. Popular writer Somawira Senanayake delivers the keynote address.

Early British times form the setting for 'Lazarus' which is an insight into the characters of Sinhala and Tamil people, as well as the British. Henry discusses them through the medium of one person, Lazarus.

Publisher Dayawansa Jayakody invites the reading public to the simple launch ceremony where they will be able to meet Henry and get an autographed copy of the book.

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