Aloko Udapadi (Light Arose) is an Epic Film of the unswerving human effort, to record for all time, a unique spiritual heritage. In 89 BC, King Walagamba of Sinhala kingdom (present day Sri... See full summary »
After the Gonagala massacre by the LTTE, the villagers are about to flee their village. The village monk persuades them to stay, with the support of a schoolteacher, who later manages to get the village guards trained by the military.
Vadeesha Devaminda Wickramanayaka is a highly creative and sensitive young music student in his school. A special love letter that he finds accidentally, written by Punya, a women, more ... See full summary »
Dutugamunu also known as Dutthagamani and Gamani Abhaya ("fearless Gamini"), was a Sinhalese king of Sri Lanka who reigned from 161 BC to 137 BC. He is renowned for defeating and ... See full summary »
Some are called heroes, some villains. Histories get buried and the dead are resurrected. Sometimes a thread of humanity gets drawn from blurred stories. It could clothe the world one day or stitch together a fallen flag.
Thanha Rathi Ranga (Between Yesterday and Tomorrow) is a visually pleasing, entertaining movie. It cautiously introduces and presents an interpretation of our post-war society, but doesn't bravely explore it. As a result, I would say that it is an entertaining movie that lacks depth.
Director Nilendra Deshapriya starts the movie well, with an engrossing, captivating, 30-minute sequence that takes us to the moment in 2009 when we heard of Prabhakaran's death and the ensuing street celebrations. The sequence establishes the mindset of the people that the rest of the movie deals directly with – namely, the urban poor – and specifically introduces the three protagonists, planting in our minds interesting seeds of unanswered questions. These questions would, eventually, yield an interesting coverage of our general social (or sociological) ills. These include the intolerance of the ethnic 'other' (Chandare vs. Suraj) and the inequality of everyday life (Wimal vs. his uncle).
The director then takes us to the theater of war – a search for the war's legacy. In between tender moments of innocence and romance, the protagonists discover it: the residue of violence that has become the sediment of our minds and lives. His use of the snake as the visual metaphor of our impending peril – something the audience sees but the protagonists cannot – is beautiful. Eventually, the tiny snake grows into a terrible cobra that comes home to roost. In effect, this is a brilliantly structured script (by Sarath Kothalawala and Kumara Thirimadura).
The weak part of the film follows this moment of truth, once the terrible legacy we have inherited has had its full effect. Instead of a deep, searching exploration of our plight and fate, the movie slips into a colorless anti-climax, bereft of dialogue, ideas or interpretations. The one moment of poignancy was Suraj's mother's equanimity, as she watches her son being taken away to his fate (played by Swarna Mallawarachchi) – a Tamil mother (with a symbolic name), who has already lived and learned through her terrorized society, watches with profound yet concealed grief, while the Sinhala mothers, to whom this truism is yet to dawn, wail openly.
It is in this part that the movie fails to 'go deep.' This is partly because of the lackluster script, which fails to fill its brilliant structure with the substance that could have carried the message effectively. But there is another part to this failure. Deshapriya's skill with the visual has got in the way of serious engagement with the issues that underlie the characters and the plot. Next time, I hope he seriously curtails showing off his skills. Just as an author with too vast a vocabulary can obfuscate the issues and alienate the reader, a movie director with a great visual eye can paint too many aesthetics into a frame and misguide the audience of the message. Sometimes, very often in fact, the most visually pleasing camera angle or lighting are not the most articulate.
But Deshapriya has got many things right: a well-structured script, an ensemble of wonderful actors who play their roles with sensitivity, a visually pleasing style and, perhaps most difficult of all, the right pace and mood that he sustains throughout. If this director develops well, great things may be on the way. I would say without any hesitation: 'watch this space!'
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