Rekhava marks 60th anniversary | Sunday Observer

Rekhava marks 60th anniversary

29 January, 2017

Dr. Lester James Peries’ Rekhava, which carries its English title as, The Line of Destiny, has now come upon its 60th anniversary since its debut in 1956. The government in its vision to foster and promote good taste for the arts has planned commemorations to mark this significant event in our country’s cinema history.

What is worth noting, in the light of the celebrations in view of Rekhava’s 60th anniversary, is that the Sunday Observer too had played a role back in 1956 in carrying across the message of the artistic merits of this film to the general public and the wider English readership that may exceed our national boundaries.

When Rekhava opened in the cinema halls, back in December 1956, the initial response had been good but a painful slump had soon followed, as it had not been in line with popular expectations at the time, as to how a film should end.

In the book, Lester by Lester, as told to Kumar de Silva, the veteran filmmaker recounts his memories about Rekhava and how it managed to gain a space at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, and states thus on page 10: “Fortunately one day, the celebrated Austrian actress, Maria Schell, who was here on holiday had told her guide that she would like to see a film. He assumed it was an American film. She had said, she wanted to see one of our national films.

Lester directing the film

This man had the sense to take her to the Roxy Cinema in Wellawatte where Rekhava was being screened. She saw the film and gave an interview to The Sunday Observer which carried her photograph, with the headline saying, Rekhava should go to the Cannes Film Festival. She had seen the long version with all the songs, before it was heavily trimmed later on. She was “totally captivated by the film.”

Among the recollections recorded in the book, Dr. Peries details how his meeting the legendary filmmaker, Sir David Lean who was in Sri Lanka at that time working on his film, Bridge on the River Kwai, had been central to gain invaluable insight about how to create rain for film scenes.

Scripted and directed by Dr. Lester James Peries who is now the world’s oldest living filmmaker, Rekhava had its music score written by Sunil Shantha and K.A. Dayaratne.

This work of cinema was instrumental in giving Sri Lankan cinema a vision of moving off the theatrically performed style of film that had prevailed at that time. Considering the host of talent that was at work on this project and the outcome it achieved for Sri Lankan cinema on the international arena, Rekhava surely marked a revolution in our folds of the art of motion pictures.

Today, 29th January, this great work of Sri Lankan cinema will be saluted with a screening at the Regal Cinema Hall at 6.30pm through the efforts of the Tower Hall Theatre Foundation under the initiative of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education, together with the support of Ceylon Theatres.

An effort to revive our national heritage in the art of cinema, this commemorative event of Rekhawa deserves the applause of all cinema lovers and those who believe that good taste in the arts must be preserved and passed on to the next generation.