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Sunday, 14 July 2002  
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'Little Angel' - will capture your heart


A scene from “Punchi Suranganavi” 

Director Somaratne Dissanayake, whose debut feature film 'Saroja' won many international awards, will release his second film ' Punchi Suranganavi' (Little Angel) this week.

The story is based on two characters, a Sinhala boy and a Tamil girl. Sampath born to a rich family is emotionally disturbed because of the lack of parental love and care from his infancy. He doesn't talk to anyone and is more to himself and alone.

Sathya, the Tamil girl comes to work as a servant in this home of the rich family. She is the daughter of Velu, the longest serving domestic employee of the family. Sampath is attracted to Sathya's innocent and joyful and childish behaviour. Gradually they become friends, and Sampath comes out of his loneliness and is soon speaking Tamil.

Director Somaratne Dissanayake

But with the 1983 riots the two children's life pattern changes. Velu is killed. Sathya goes back to her village.

Sampath reverts back to his introvert state and starts his destructive behaviour after losing his whole new world he had built with Sathya.

The lead roles are played by Tharaka Hettiarachchi,(Sampath) and Nithyavani Kandasamy (Sathya). Others in the cast include Sriyantha Mendis, Dilani Abeywardena, Namel Weeramuni, Henry Jayasena, Malani Fonseka, Jayalath Manoratne and Janaka Kumbukage.

The music is by Rohana Weerasingha. The art director is Hemapala Dharmasena, Camera by Suminda Weerasingha and the film is produced by Renuka Balasooriya.

Drawing and sculpture exhibition

An interesting exhibition of 50 paintings and sculptures depicting a range of themes and emotions was displayed by Mahinda Karunaratne, last week at the Laksala Art Hall, Laksala Centre, Colombo. Titled 'Drawing and Sculpture' the exhibition which was held for five days was opened by Prof. Anura Wickremasinghe, film director Parakrama Nirielle and Francis Perera.

This was not the first time Mahinda Karunaratne has exhibited his paintings and sculptures. His paintings on other occasions have been sold to western art enthusiasts in countries like France, Italy, Germany and Britain. A graduate of the Colombo University, karunaratne besides his expertise in art is a novelist as well. He bagged the award for the best novel in 1999 for Bami and is planning to stage his first drama Agni Wasantaya. His novel Suli and the cinematic composition Herana were launched under the patronage of the National Library Services Board.

Another new CD from Rohana

Rohana Siriwardena, the well-known singer has released his new cassette and CD; 'Rohana Siriwardena with Sunflowers' after a hiatus of ten years. Rohana was famous for his songs like 'Devamandire, Enna Mandanale, Matath Horen, Waradinne Netha.' He released his first cassette in 1979 'Matath Horen' and second, 'Devamandire' in 1985 and 'Obe Athagena' in 1992.

His latest CD and cassette is a compilation of his famous songs as well as seven other songs hitherto not released. Lyrics for the songs are by Kularatna Ariyawansa, Bandara K. Wijetunga, Kithsiri Nimal Shantha, Karunaratna Abesekara, Clarence Wijewardena, Camillus Perera, Sunil Ariyaratna and Yapa Bandara Seneviratna. The music is by

"Sunflowers" and the CD distributed by Nilwala Entertainments. Rohana was awarded the Presidential Award for Creative Music Producer in 1995 and OCIC International Award for Best Music Producer in 1995. He was also a part time announcer on the national radio SLBC.

The Forbidden Tree

Thahanam Gaha, (The Forbidden Tree) a film directed by Christy Shelton Fernando and produced by Ranjith Perera for Winson Films will be released on July 19.

A scene from the film

The script is based on a story by Christy Fernando which looks sarcastically at leaders of a left movement who while appearing to be the saviours of the proletariat live in luxury spacious bungalows as land-owners. It focuses on the corrupt side of these people who have no respect for culture, tradition and accepted norms.

The cast include Anoja Weerasinghe, Sunethra Sarathchandra and Cyril Wickremage, Shashi Wijendra. Camera is by Andrew Jayamanne, Editing by Elmo Haliday. Music is by Sarath Wickremasinghe. Ivor Dennis, Nanda Malini, Pradeepa Dharmadasa and Karunarathne Divulgane are the play-back singers.

Indonesia's rich culture

An artistic eye opener to the complex Indonesian rich culture is now on display at Indonesian Arts and Cultural Presentation at the Hilton Colombo. More than 300 ethnic tribes in Indonesia have an identity and a culture of their own and an interesting and educative compilation of their dances, art, Batik and glass painting is presented by the Indonesia Culture and Tourist Board.

Dancers from the Dance Academy of Jakarta - Pic. by Herbert Perera

Dr. Surya Yuga M. Si, Director for the Arts is an artist himself who enjoys non objective painting - the abstract with colour combination and is largely influenced by the art of Picasso and Salvador Dali.

He has held exhibitions in Jakarta, Bandung, Kalimantan and Brunei, and now enjoys his art as a hobby and for therapeutic reasons and not, he insists, for commercial purposes. Surya Yuga used to teach art to students in the early years of his career, instructing them in the expression of beauty in colours.

Now as Director of Arts his duties are, he tells us, to protect the culture of Indonesia, develop the culture domestically as well as internationally and use the culture to portray the history, archaeology and art by regular exhibitions for audience appreciation. Handicrafts, he tells us, are protected by law, so too the communities pattern rights. Handicrafts are marketed through regular exhibitions of the three leading items - Batik, wood carvings and rattan which are exported to Europe, America and Japan. The dancers who are performing at the Hilton Colombo are from the Dance Academy in Jakarta and their program includes many folk dances from the numerous islands of Indonesia with music provided by a traditional orchestra the gamelan.

Debut cassette by radio announcer

"Sangawanna Epa Hasarel" (Don't Hide the Smiles) a cassette containing 16 songs composed by Vipul Dharmapriya Jayasekera, the versatile radio and television announcer of the young generation will be launched at Sudarshi Hall, Colombo 7, on July 19 at 3.30 pm.

Vipul Dharmapriya Jayasekera

This open air launch will take place in the company of veteran artistes in a cordial and jovial atmosphere. Renowned announcers from the electronic media in the island, will participate in the event.

Gunadasa Kapuge, Sanath Nandasiri, Chandralekha Perera, Edward Jayakody, Nirosha Virajini, Chandrakumara Kandanarachchi, Rohanashantha Bulegoda, Malani Bulathsinhala, Chandana Liyanaarachi, Asanka Priyamantha Peiris, Shirley Vyjayantha, Karunaratne Divulgane and Chandrasena Hettiarachchi are among the several popular vocalists who have lent their melodious voices in the production of the songs.

This is the first ever musical cassette produced which contains songs composed by a radio announcer in Sri Lanka.

Nature in art form

Water Colour Exhibition: "Leaves"

Havelock Place Bungalaow, 6&8, Havelock Place, (Opposite Police Park) Colombo 6, June 21-July 15th

I believe that a single leaf of grass is no less than the journey work of stars - Walt Whitman

"Leaves" is Niloo Gunasekera's second solo exhibition. Like her last highly successful exhibition "Calla", in which the Calla Lily took centre stage, Niloo's inspiration is again nature. This time she takes as her subjects the Gingko and the Bo Leaf. Gingko trees are ubiquitous in Japan and their leaves are an important design element in Japanese art. In shape they much resemble the Gotukola leaf found in Sri Lanka. The leaves are edible and are also much famed for their health giving properties. Her second chosen subject, the Bo Leaf, as any Sri Lankan would know, has religious significance and also serves as a recurring motif in Sri Lankan traditional design and architecture. It is no accident that Niloo has chosen leaves which have strong, symbolic meaning in the 2 countries which have formed her. Niloo has spent most of her life in the country of her birth, Sri Lanka and had her artistic apprenticeship in Japan.

The watercolours of this exhibition are a fusion of textured design and ethereal watercolour strokes. As a starting point Niloo uses actual Bo and Gingko leaves, as a sort of block print to help create images of leaves, while the watercolour wash helps create a soft backdrop which spotlights the rich detail of each leaf. Each watercolour bears the imprint of the special unique characteristic particular to the chosen leaf. At the end of this process the leaves are embellished with the paint and rendered into art themselves. In effect, Nature is the instrument which transforms the medium (paint and paper) into Art, while the medium in return transforms nature into Art.

Each Autumn, Niloo receives fresh Gingko leaves from a Japanese friend. Each leaf is sent to her carefully wrapped in tissue. The sender often writes a short poetic few words about each leaf that is sent. This is not unusual. The Japanese have a highly cultivated appreciation of nature. Most of their art forms draw inspiration from trees, landscapes, flowers and the seasons. In fact, their art can be said to be a philosophic meditation on nature. In Japan, in Spring when the Cherry Blossom trees are in bloom, many Japanese have cherry Blossom parties where they picnic under the trees with family and friends and compose and recite Haikus (a special short form of short verse with a nature theme) in honour of the occasion.

The same communion with nature is very apparent in all of Niloo's work. Her watercolours are a meditation on the uniqueness of Nature's creations. In something as insignificant as a mere leaf, we can discover the beauty and the generosity of nature.

Niloo's art is almost iconic. It is genuine, pure, unreceptive.

- J. Moragoda

Sudu Sevanali: fillip to the film industry

by Padma Edirisinghe

One need not be a connoisseur of Lankan films to make the observation that films of colossal magnitude, sometimes known as epic films especially when woven around great figures are rarely or never made in our island. Personally and frankly speaking when I am compelled to watch a female scraping coconut for about quarter of an hour on the mega or mini screen I yawn and yearn for those colossal scenes in Western films woven around the Roman invasion of Europe or the background scenarios depicting the world wars Asoka film of Zudia too belongs to this genre.

Then sadly I wonder on why such films are not made here and one cause naturally surfaces in my mind ie. the economic factor. Even a film on the commencement of imperialism in the country would necessitate the construction of huge caravels, galleons, ships, fortresses, battlements and what not that a so - called third world as ours can hardly afford. So it is natural for producers not to venture into plots that deal with such themes for economically it would be almost suicidal.

Shadows of White (White shadows would have been a far better title) produced by that versatile professor of ours, Sunil Ariyaratne based on Sudu Sevanali, a book written by a teacher, Piyadasa Welikannage encapsulates a period running from the aftermath of the English conquest of the Senkadagala kingdom, the last bastion of Lanka's independence, the subsequent 1818 rebellion and the 1848 rebellion that again trailed behind it.

But it is the producer's cleverness or tact none of these happenings are actually shown on the stage. Innuendos in conversations are the chief device adopted to reveal these occurrences.

If one were to look at the positive side of this feature or failure (as some may call it), the film throws into focus a forgotten element of people here. Usually films of this nature rivet round the mighty characters, their doings, their thought processes, their families. Hardly any attention in most of these films is paid to the ordinary masses who are most battered and traumatized by the events orchestrated.

In the world of the producer actually his real intention (Sarasaviya. 20.6.02) was to portray how the events staged during this period affected on single family".

And what an insignificant family! A family only unusual writers and more unusual film producers would notice. The house is ensconced among the magnificent Matale hills breathtakingly beautiful. But imperialism had spread its massive tentacles and king coffee begins to reign on the hills. What has happened to the village Buddhist monk?

He is nowhere to be seen. Instead a kind looking Christian father in his strange cassock dress is all over. The producer and the writer (both Buddhist Sinhalese as far as I know) should be congratulated on their boldness here for the non - subscription to the view that this cassocked gentleman is a carbon copy of Satan. Actually he is kindness personified. He listens almost with devotion to the Buddhist gaathas and Thun sarane recited by Tikri Banda who joins the Christian missionary school. Hypocritical tactics, some may scoff. The terrain around Matale changes rapidly under the colonial regime. The Sinhalese villager has no leader.

They are bewildered by all what is happening at the novel transformations in commerce, transport and the social system and milieu. But as said earlier, Sunil Ariyaratne does not try to present the bewilderment enmasse but more or less limits himself to reveal the bewilderment of one particular family.

The scene that best typifies this is the gaze invested by grandmother (played by Iranganee Serasinghe) on her grandson, Tikiribanda (played by Thaaraka Hettiarachchi). Tikiri Banda when he left the village to join the missionary school was just a rustic lad with unkempt appearance and rough shod manners. But for the vacation he returns home, a prim and proper boy, dressed in Western garb and his feet ensconced in socks and shoes. The grandmother just gazes at him. She neither shows her appreciation nor disapproval. In fact there is nothing she can do about the transformation,her gaze plainly insinuates.

In fact there had not been anything any one could have done about the inevitable transformation that had been staged in the early half of the 19th Century in the inland or maybe in the whole island. The great technological advances including the renaissance had led to world supremacy of the white man. Nothing could prevent his expansion of power and his increasing greed for more land and more cash. The bayonet in one hand, the bible in the other hand became the fashion all over the world. Sunil Ariyaratne has looked at it all very philosophically and like Arnold Toynbee has preferred not to quarrel with history. In fact he, the producer has done so that the risk of being criticised by die hard fanatics. The white shadows had fallen not only on little Lana but on the whole world never to get effaced totally.

There are other issues equally dealt with in keeping with the equanimity a cardinal virtue of Buddhism. "The positive and negative aspects of "eka gei kama" (Joint family system by brothers) is one such issue. But even here hatred does not predominate. The corpse of the child born to Podi Menike (played by Vasanthi Chaturani) by Heen Banda's (Linton Semage's) brother, Sudu Banda (played by Roshan Pilapitiya) is carried with deep sorrow by Heen Banda to the tiny grave pit.

There simply seems to be no hatred in the film not even against the Suddas who are represented by many as the pioneers of the devil's own army come to destroy our indigenous culture and economy. If anyone criticizes the producer and author for having been rather treacherous to their own religion this very tolerance (Upekka) absolves them of this criticism.

The large images produced via the cinemascope media add weightage to the messages conveyed.

We may not have themes of colossal magnitude. But we have fascinating enclaves of history that any country can envy and now that this very experienced and versatile man of arts who straddles the world of art and culture in our island like a Goliath had entered the world of our bygone history may be he can display further prowess by trying his hand at a few more intensive themes of this nature. It would obviously lead to the resuscitation and resurrection of our weakening film industry and help a come back.

I hope the new chairman of the Film Corporation, Mr. Jayantha Dharmadasa will take cognizance of this fact and encourage or take the production of films of this nature with the assistance of brilliant men and women of the caliber of Sunil Ariyaratne.

"LES SIX": brilliant piece of musical experience

The concert presented recently at the Oberoi by six students of Trinity College London's Sri Lanka Centre promised to be different. This was not just a showcasing of the latest prize winners. Here were six who had attained privileged membership of the college who also achieved individual distinction as musicians. Now they were teaming up for a special project that of expressing their appreciation, in the way they could best do, of the institution that had encouraged and measured their musical progress over the years.

Tanya Ekanayaka, in her rendition of the popular but difficult Chopin Ballad, proved herself equal to its technical challenge with a flawless execution. She captured, too, the theatrical brilliance of the piece. One felt that the dramatic intensity, however, was insufficiently plumbed, an ability that will surely come with experience.

In the beautifully sonorous Faure Elegie and the complex Popper Hungarian Rhapsody, where she was accompanied by Kamalinie Samarakoon and Soundarie David respectively, Tamara Holsinger proved that in skilled and sensitive hands the cello is the loveliest of the stringed instruments. She produced a breadth and richness of tone that were well beyond her years. Kamalinie Samarakoon was quietly expressive and supportive where the cello was to the fore in the Faure. One felt that she would impress as a soloist, and she did not disappoint.

I am no lover of the electronic organ, but was won over by Shyama Perera's devotion to her instrument of choice by the skill and imagination with which she displayed its versatility. These reached their peaks, I thought, in the duet where she and Soundarie David played selections from Delibes' Coppelia. In her hands, the organ proved a worthy partner to the pianoforte, and the two performers displayed a degree of rapport which was itself a pleasure to watch. Menaka de Fonseka Sahabandu sang twice with the piano alone and twice with piano, cello and organ. Her renditions were given with much expressiveness and richness of tone.

Finally to Soundarie David. I have left her for the last because she was clearly the anchor of the programme. She appeared in no less than six of the twelve items as accompanist, duo and quartet member, where her playing was variously restrained and supportive, expressively cantabile and boldly dynamic. One could sense that there were further depths here, and these were fully revealed in her seventh appearance as soloist in the Rachmaninov Elegie.

"Les Six" clearly enjoyed teaming up for this occasion. One could sense the team spirit and rapport that prevailed throughout. The mutually complementary and complimentary performances alongside the displays of individual brilliance provided the complete musical experience one had anticipated.

- Priya David.


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