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Sunday, 28 September 2014

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Que Sera, a highly entertaining film

Que Sera, the Sinhala Film is screened at the Regal, Colombo and Lido, Borella.

The title of a very popular song sung by Doris Day in the 1950s, also for a Hollywood film, means 'What will be, will be'. The theme of the film too bears some relevance to this meaning.

Que Sera can be classified as a dark comedy, with some romance and satire thrown in as added material. The genre - comedy has been largely neglected in the Sinhala cinema, with comic character playing masquerading as comedy taking over in the last many years. This film attempts to fill that blank to some extent.

The story is that of a burgher family of morticians-funeral directors, who have been in business for over hundred years. The Burgher community, once a very lively and a colourful component of the Sri Lankan society is now minimal in the local social fabric, largely due to their steady migration to Australia and the west in the 1970s.


A scene from Que Sera

The present owner of the business dies leaving a debt ridden business in the hands of his two unmarried daughters.

Assets

The two girls are now left with the option of either selling the land and other age-old assets and settling the debts or reviving the business again.

The older sister, a very determined girl, decides that she is going to revive the business. With the help of a relative who is also a professional money lender, she starts the business again.

The good name the business has carried over the years and with the help of some very crafty business techniques of some new employees, she turns the business around quickly. Then the unexpected happens.

The business starts experiencing unexpected setbacks causing substantial reverses in income and things look just like what it was when the father of the girls died. Nobody can explain the reasons as to why and how these things are happening and the soothsayers point the finger at a ghost who is haunting the premises.

Repeated attempts to exorcise the ghost fail and when all seem to be lost for the girls, a woman in the neighbourhood offers to help the girls. This woman possesses a unique ability to communicate with ghosts. She too hails from a respectable family and the girls have no reason to doubt her. Finally, through her intervention, all issues are settled and as to why the ghost haunted the premises and tried to disrupt the business and harass the girls are revealed.

The subject matter, though looking a bit creepy, has been treated with such delicacy that all characters appear to look refreshingly endearing. The three main roles are played by relatively newcomers to the cinema, with only Michelle having acted in a film earlier.

Yoshini Abeysekera making her debut in the film gives a stellar performance and is well supported by English theatre veteran Hans Billimoria, who is simply marvellous. Michelles acting does not need any elaboration.

She is simply classy in her role and does it with so much ease too. Their handling of dialogues both in English and Sinhala simultaneously is a treat to watch and listen and the audiences will seldom feel they are listening to English dialogues.

The three main roles are well supported by characters played by some of the finest names in the Sinhala cinema. Starting with veterans such as Nita Fernando, Cyril Wickramage, Amarasiri Kalansuriya, Dilhani Ekanayake, Anjela Seneviratne, Manel Wanaguru, Sandun Wijesiri, Dammith Fonseka, Srimal Wedisinghe, Anura Bandara Rajaguru, W Jayasiri, and Sando Harris, the cast of characters ends with many newcomers who have all acted well.

A most notable feature of the film is its musical score. Veteran musician Somapala Ratnayake composes a score that is really beautiful and quite unusual from the stuff he normally does for Sinhala films.

There is a very interesting rendering of a famous song sung by the late Rukmani Devi, which is a household name in Sri Lanka. "Mawila penewi Roope hadhe" has been done again with a touch of jazz and the female vocalist whose voice bears a remarkable resemblance to that of the original singer has done a good rendering. And a very catchy melody for the song sung by his nephew, Victor Ratnayake's son- Lelum will be remembered for a long time, both for the excellent rendering and the music arrangement.

The film editor M.S. Aliman has, as usual, done his work well and some special effects done by assistant editor Ruwan Chamara Ranasinghe, needs special mention.

The satirical scenes in the film are funny, yet thought provoking. There are surreal elements too. But all these do not take away from the general viewer, the smooth flowing entertainment of the film. Its entertaining throughout, both for the lighthearted film goer and the discerning one too.

Parakrama Jayasinghe has always maintained that cinema is for entertainment.

He very often quotes a famous sanskrit soloka which reads as ' Kan anandan Laalathie Kala' which translated into Sinhala would read as Kalaawa Ananadya pinisama we'. And that is what he has attempted to do in Que Sera, in a mission which started with his award winning film in 1994, Eka Da Wahi.

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