Not quite a sunshine story
The premiere of 'Irasewaya' (Sunrise) by veteran journalist,
lyricist, teledrama director and assistant film maker, Rodney
Vidanapathirana, was screened in Kathmandu, Nepal, recently and
subsequently released in selected local cinemas across the country.
movie about societal idiosyncrasies, man's vulnerabilities and the
drawbacks of extreme wealth and extreme poverty, it strikes a poignant
note, not so much for its storyline as for the final appearance of
actress Rebecca Nirmalee, who succumbed to cancer last year, shortly
after the movie was completed.
Rebecca plays the lead character of a woman who decides to remain
single, when her boyfriend walks out on her because of her poverty
The storyline is realistic enough, in that, as explained by
Vidanapathirana, it is based on social issues faced by most Sri Lankans
owing to their economic situation. "The monk enters priesthood because
of the problems he faces," he says, adding that with society changing
people's problems also change.
Vimal Alahakoon plays the role of Nalaka Bandara, a rich politician,
who is suffering from kidney failure. Despite his wealth he is not happy
in his married life.
Apart from Alahakoon and Nirmalee, the cast includes Maureen Charuni,
Stanley Krishnarathna, Gamini Samarakoon, Ishara Wickramasinghe, Tissa
Bandaranayake, Ranjith Ranasinghe and Malini Kathirasinghe. Photography
is by Ranga Kariyawasam, Chaminda Dissanayake and Kapila Thilakarathne,
with editing by Viranga Ketapearachchi and Madhura Prasad.
Music for the movie is provided Visharada Manoj Peiris.
How much of the message that Vidanapathirana seeks to impart to the
audience is left to be seen, but what emerges as interesting is the
manner in which characters appear to be narrating their stories rather
than merely acting them out.
Deviating from traditions Vidanapathirana decided to have the premier
of 'Irasevaya' in Nepal mostly because of its Buddhist concepts.
He is extremely happy with the response he has got so far, most
specifically the response he got from a German Professor, who had said
the movie was one of the best he had watched so far. Also deviating from
tradition, he had the movie released in selected cinemas, believing it
would create more of a 'worthwhile impression'
Vidanapathirana is mournful about the various issues suffocating the
movie industry. Topping the list is the dwindling number of people
actually going to cinemas these days. He believes there are numerous
reasons for this, but also points out the industry has other problems as
well, particularly technical problems. "There are only a few Cinemas
which have gone Digital. Even in India, the Cinema halls do not show
Reel based Films. The technology has developed now," he says.
He is of the view that if industry standards improve, develop film
quality would be an automatic given.
Then it will be possible to show a good film, he says, explaining
that it costs a lot of money to make a good film copy.
"A film director has to face many challenges such as having financial
security and attracting a good audience. Therefore, we will have to
depend on the digital technology," he says.
Vidanapathirana does not agree it is a good idea to copy foreign
films, even though that is how most Sinhala films start. He suggests the
best way to attract the audience to return to the cinema is by
developing the industry and by making good films. "If we can bring a
good audience to the cinemas again, then the income and the facilities
of the cinemas will be developed as well," he says, pointing out that
some cinemas are about to close down because of the low income they get.
He also welcomes the idea of mini theater, and says there should be
many more such theaters.
Vidanapathirana, who began his career with ' Udawadiya Mal' went on
to direct a lot of teledramas including 'Hemanthaye wasanthayak' which
was well received , and films such as 'Ananthaya'. He hopes to make
another film based on light entertainment without being too serious
about the subject matter.
Of course, the theme might be based on a serious subject, but he
hopes to bring out the story with a rather subtle approach. The premier
of Irasewaya' was a joint effort of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in
Kathmandu, under the guidance of Ambassador W.M Senevirathna, and was
held under the patronage of Dr. Narayan Khadka, Minister of Urban
Development of Nepal, Duminda Dissanayake, Minister of Education
Services, Weerasumana Weerasinghe, Minister of Youth and Sports ,
Southern Province, Dr. Keshab Man Shakya, former minister of Science and
Technology of Nepal, Most Ven. Dr. Gnanapurnika Maha Thero, Deputy
Sanghanayake and the Maha Sangha of Nepal.
Reported by Sureshni Pilapitiya