Controversial Ehelepola episode on the silver screen
By Sureshni Pilapitiya
Sri Lanka has a proud history and culture going back to over 2,500
years. The country had been ruled by several kings. They fought against
enemies to safeguard the sovereignty of their motherland. However, there
were kings who created chaos by their own folly, and made the country
and its citizens suffer.
The film Ehelepola Kumarihami, directed by Sugath Samarakoon and
produced by Gayan Ranadheera, depicts one of the most unwise decisions
by a king. It also shows the loyalty and the courage of a woman, who
sacrificed her own life and her children on behalf of her husband.
The film reminds us of history going back more than 200 years and
this particular incident has remained an unforgettable tragedy up to
The director has done a thorough study of the past before making the
historical film. Recently many other historical films have been made.
Some of them are Siri Parakum, Aba, Gamini and Siri Daladagamanaya.
Sugath Samarakoon made his landmark in the film industry by making the
film Vijaya Kuweni in 2012. It generated an interest in the public to
see more films of that genre.
A scene from the film
Ehelepola Kumarihami is a historical film based on the colonial era.
The film begins with the British officials discussing plans to expand
their territory in Sri Lanka and promote their trade. The film shows how
they treat their slaves, tying their legs with chains and beating them
with canes. Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe is depicted as a playful king who
enjoys himself rather than getting involved in statecraft. At first he
appears to be an intelligent ruler. However, at the end of the film he
is addicted to liquor.
Ehelepola Kumarihami is based on the British colonial era of 1814,
where the incidents take place. Ehelepola, one of the king's most
trusted officials, steals the limelight of the castle winning the king's
favours and rewards for his loyalty. Some officials including Molligoda,
Mullegama and Aritta who are not happy with the situation try to mislead
the king with false stories. But the king is not convinced, therefore
the attempts are unsuccessful.
When the king increases taxes the people in Sabaragamuwa rebel
against him. He sends Ehelepola to quell the rebellion. The king is very
pleased and decides to reward Ehelepola with an honorary title.
Ehelepola takes up duties as the Disawe and brings prosperity to
He develops its agriculture and the king tells his officials to
emulate his example. His enemies hatch another plot but the king does
not believe what the conspirators tell him. Ehelepola is a devoted
father who loves his wife and children. Keppetipola, his brother-in-law,
is his best friend and confidant.
The traitors inform the king that Ehelepola is conspiring against
him. They also inform the king that Ehelepola is planning to be the king
with the help of the British. The king in a drunken stupor decides to
question Ehelepola. After a heated argument the king is forced to take
revenge. He summons Ehelepola to the palace but Mullegama, Molligoda and
Aritta prevent the summons reaching him.
Ehelepola is clueless of what's happening. However, when Ehelepola
fails to turn up at the palace, the king takes his wife and children
Ehelepola's friends, including Keppetipola and Ven. Wariyapola
Sumangala Thera try to intervene but their efforts are in vain. After
getting to know the king's decision Ehelepola decides to invade the
upcountry with the natives and the British army.
Infuriated by the turn of events, the king orders the killing of
Ehelepola Kumarihami and her children. The Ehelepola loyalists try to
prevent the king from taking such drastic action but the king does not
Anura Dharmasiriwardena and Dulani Anuradha who play the roles of
Ehelepola and Ehelepola Kumarihami have done justice to their roles in