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DateLine Sunday, 18 May 2008





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Government Gazette

Reply to the article “Has justice been done to the masterpiece in literature?”:

Malicious, informal piece of writing - Sudath Rohana

Sudath Rohana

In a statement to the Sunday Observer, on article titled “Has justice been done to the masterpiece in literature?” which appeared on March 16, 2008, here the director of the tele-drama Karuwara Gedara, Sudath Rohana says that the piece of writing was malicious and an informal piece of writing which amounted to some kind of a critique. (Here we publish the complete recorded statement by Sudath Rohana.

“As a creator and even as a viewer, I consider this article as a malicious, informal, critique or compilation of incidents amounting into a critique.

Following the publication of the article, Dr. Ranga Wickramasinghe phoned me and told ‘Sudath, there is an article published and it is a very inhuman piece of writing (Amanushika Lipiyak). This must be a by-product of a lot of awards you received for your creations recently and you better get Tissa (Tissa Abeysekara) to reply this.

A press conference was organised by Independent Television Network (ITN).

At the press-conference, showed incoherent, not properly edited scenes with low -sound quality. Even at the introduction, the announcer stated that journalists should not come to a pre-conceived conclusion about the tele-drama as the scenes were taken randomly from an unfinished work and they were unedited without even mixing music properly and the scenes were just taken from the tele-drama with the intention of pre-viewing it to the audience there.

That extraction was also incoherent and had no connection one with another like in a chain. This, I even, stated in my speech delivered at the press conference.

Thereafter, if one could have seen certain scenes, that happened on March 9, 2008 at Karuwala Gedarata Pera Wadanak (A forward to Karuwala Gedara) a programme telecast on ITN and conducted by Bandula Nanayakkarawasam. Those were the only scenes that viewers could have seen before the telecast of the tele-drama.

At least, the script-writer Tissa Abeysekara or any one In the Martin Wickramasinghe Trust did not see any other scene other than those until the telecast of the tele-drama. By then editing had not been completed and single episode had been handed over to the ITN.

To the amazement, Ranga Chandrarathne has done several interpretations on the tele-drama and I still doubt whether it is done to fulfil some one else’s objectives because I believe I do justice to the work of art.

I have mortgaged my homes for Rs. 34, 000,000 and suffered a loss of Rs. 17,000,000.

At the time when the standards of Sri Lankan tele-dramas are deteriorating and mega tele-drama series with beastly taste are telecast, I tried to present something meaningful to the audience and if this is the kind of support that a fellow journalist or a newspaper offer for such an artist, it is inevitably a matter of regret not only for me but also for other artists.

In the article it has been mentioned that the tele-drama has copied Dr. Lester James Peries “Giraya”. Giraya has absolutely no connection with Karuwala Gedara in storyline, background or the era in which the story unfolded.

The most virulent accusation levelled against me and fellow artists who were involved in the production was that Karuwala Gedara was just like a dubbed Hindi tele-drama. I firmly denounced this accusation. Not only me but also a majority will condemn this. As people watch the tele-drama with interest, the facts in the article have already been proved wrong. I am also happy about it.

But the article says that same success achieved by Dharmasena Pathiraja’s Kadulla has not been achieved by Karuwala Gedara. I consider this statement as a very childish remark. Kadulla and Karuwala Gedara are two different tele-dramas and one can not make a judgment watching few scenes. I could not comprehend on which basis the writer compares Giraya, Kadulla and Amba Yahaluwo with Karuwala Gedara.

Article also stated that actor and actresses were failure in general and Semini’s acting was a total failure. This is acceptable if the writer has watched the tele-drama. But writer has deliberately devalued actors and actresses.

Thereafter the writer has ventured on to discuss creations by Asoka Handagama and his creativity citing his works like Prabhataya, Maghatha, and Synthetic Sihina and Nagenahira Weralen Esena.

There is no question about Handagama’s creativity. The writer has introduced tele-dramas Handagama has himself refused to acknowledge as great works of art.

For instance, Handagama never mentioned about his first tele-drama Prabhathaya and also reluctant to accept it as one of his good works. Reading the article, I understood that writer could not make a difference between tele-drama and a stage-play. As far as I know, Maghatha is a stage play which has been mentioned as a tele-drama in the article.

The writer is so malicious that he compared Karuwala Gedara with Saradiel which he described as a cheap tele-drama and with Uppalawanna. (Saradiel has also won several awards). On the other hand, question arises as to why he has cited Uppalawanna, a film for his comment.

Tissa Abeysekara has written scripts for both Uppalawanna and Karuwala Gedara. A doubt arises in the minds of readers as to why he had drawn Uppalawanna into the argument. The writer also mentioned that Karuwala Gedara failed to do justice to the novel.

How could he arrive at such a conclusion watching only few scenes of the tele-drama? If he is correct, I believe, hereafter, he will be invited to consult his opinion at world forums. The writer also makes a contradictory remark in stating that Tissa Abeysekara’s script has been distorted while maintaining that justice has not been done to Martin Wickramasinghe.

He also argues that the tele-drama did not depict the environment against which the story was set.

In referring to Samini’s acting, Dr. Ranga Wickramasinghe said “She has depicted subtle nuances of emotional expressions in the character of Podihami created by his father. Even I also had doubt about her seeing the characters she portrayed in other cheap tele-dramas,” I told him “That I removed her usual hide and took her into the cast”. He says that art direction is weak and camera is weak. I consider this article as a mean attempt to prevent audience from watching the tele-drama. This attempt to kill a creation that would make positive contribution to art of tele-drama, at its very birth, is denouncable and unashamed. I have a doubt about the writer’s beastly taste (Thirisan rasaya).

Please open up a debate on whether one can come to a pre-conceived conclusion only by watching part of a work of art? However, I thank you for interviewing me.

Writer’s view on the statement

In reply to my article titled “Has justice been done to the masterpiece in literature? Karuwala Gedara” apparently infuriated that director of the tele-drama, Sudath Rohana has come out with a statement trotting out lame excuses to cover up his act of distoting a masterpiece in Sinhala literature in the guise of converting it into a tele-drama. I stand by my interpretation of the tele-drama.

Though I whole-heartedly agree with the idea that piecemeal observation of work of art would not suffice to make a judgment on it, it is naive to think that a creator of a work of art would show a series of incoherent scenes at a pre-view to convey a fairly accurate impression of the entire work.

To the contrary what happens at a press pre-view of a film or a tele-drama is that the creator put together series of scenes which he believes would represent his or her work and would give an idea of the work.

If the pre-view of the tele-drama was not to be meant for journalists and critics and the creator would not intend them to comment on it on the basis of the ‘ incoherent scenes’ shown at the pre-view, journalists and critics should not have been invited to the pre-view.

Watching by the few episodes telecast, it is apparent that Sudath Rohana’s flatly under-lit Karuwala Gedara as a result, has a poor texture in the visuals. Though low-lighting is appropriate for a work of art with shadow details if demanded by the work and give it some life.

Here, perhaps the cinematographer was restrained as the director wanted him to move all over the place and would not have space to place the lights. It is obvious that the director failed to derive the best out of the otherwise brilliant cinematographer who had proved his mettle in recent works as well.

If the director could not tolerate constructive criticism, he should better not engage in work of public interest. I can remember once Sumitra Peries and Dr.Lester James Peries had said that they had also been subjected to harsh criticism.

For instance, when the film ‘Ran Salu’ by Dr. Lester Peries was released, then critic of Sunday Observer H.L.D Mahindapala criticised it as ‘it is like a street urchin pushing a ten-ton truck up St.Sebastian Hill”. However, no person complained about it. Donald Abeysinghe, another critic writing to Sunday Observer described Gamperaliya in his review with a heading “Gamperaliya, what a pity?

Sudath Rohana should do his home work and study further on the craft he wishes to master. It should be emphasised here that Sudath Rohana who converted some of Martin Wickramasinghe’s work into visuals had demonstrated his talents brilliantly as a director of works of art.

However, Sudath Rohana has failed to demonstrate his talents and capabilities in making Karuwala Gedara. His depiction of talents is more amounting to that of an operator than a director.

It advisable for Sudath Rohana to read the criticism made by generation of critics like Tarzi Vittachchi , Reggie Siriwardene, Edwin Ariyadasa, Jayavilal Vilegoda, Benedict Dodampegama, Gamini Hattotuwegama, Sarath Amunugama and Ajith Samaranayake. (Writer’s note; I had never mentioned that Sudath Rohana copied from Giraya. But compared Karuwala Gedara with Giraya as a tele-drama)

My article is not a review but an impression and it is amply demonstrated in the headline ‘Has justice been done to the masterpiece in literature?’. I have every right to compare Karuwala Gedara with successful tele-dramas in the context of the medium of tele-drama I have never stated in the article that actors and actresses in the tele-drama were failures in general. however, it is up to the critics and viewers to decide on success or the failure of Prabhathaya.

I have never criticised Dr. Abeysekara. I stated ‘Despite the highly impressive script by Dr. Abeysekara, the tele-drama, has, apparently, not done justice either to the author, Martin Wickramasinghe or to the novel Karuwala Gedara.’ in the article. In the review on Uppalawanna, I described Dr. Tissa Abeysekara’s script as an impressive and thought-provoking.

I have never mentioned that script was distorted. This is due to Sudath Rohana’s poor understanding of the language which he himself admitted in the recorded interview.


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Ceylinco Banyan Villas

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