Delovak Athera (Between two worlds) Set in 1960's Colombo | Sunday Observer

Delovak Athera (Between two worlds) Set in 1960's Colombo

The film Delovak Athera (Between two worlds) is directed by late Dr. Lester James Peries and the screenplay is by Dr. Tissa Abeysekara. It stars Tony Ranasinghe as Nissanka Wijesinghe, Jeevarani Kurukulasuriya as Shirani Gunasekara, Suwineetha Abeysekera as Chitra, Iranganie Serasinghe as Mrs. Wijesinghe and J. B. L. Gunasekera as Mr. Wijesinghe.

The film is set in Colombo in the mid 1960s and begins with a depiction of the boring courtship between Nissanka Wijesinghe and his fiancée Shirani Gunasekara. Shirani and Nissanka follow a conventional and boring routine of going to Galle Face every evening to watch the sunset. It is obvious from the beginning that both Shirani and Nissanka are very bored with each other's company and their courtship is a precursor to a marriage of convenience.

Nissanka and Shirani function as two instruments in a mechanical social process which bring together two families of the same background, rather than two human beings who like each other’s company and want to be together.

One day Nissanka asks Shirani whether she would like to accompany him to a dance to be held at a club and Shirani tells him that he should ask her parents for permission. Shirani’s father politely refuses to give Nissanka permission to take his daughter to the dance which is prudent of him.

Nissanka goes to the dance alone and meets a batchmate named Chitra. They engage in conversation and begin to feel attracted to each other.

Nissanka offers to take Chitra home after the dance but while he is driving, in heavy rain, knocks down a pedestrian fatally wounding him. Nissanka and Chitra drive away and flee the scene.

Chitra feels bad about the accident after reading about the injured man being in critical condition in hospital. She asks Nissanka to meet her and tries to persuade him to confess to the accident but he vehemently refuses, after which Chitra leaves and breaks ties with Nissanka. Meanwhile, a journalist with a strong hunch that there is a secret behind this accident persuades his editor to allow him to investigate the case. He goes to visit the injured man’s wife and children to obtains information about the victim. He finds a clue which is published in the newspaper and which gets the attention of the police who trace the clue to Nissanka and go to his house to question him. Nissanka lies to the police about the type of car he drove that night and when the police ask him whether he could provide a witness he gives Chitra’s name and the police question her. The injured man dies in hospital after which the police intensify the investigation and find a witness who provides the numbers on the number plate of the car which Nissanka was driving that night.

The police go to Nissanka’s house and confront him with the new evidence of the number plate which proves that he lied to them. Nissanka then tells the police yet another lie that the servant boy named Martin who works for them, went on a drive in that car at the time of the accident but the police are sceptical about his story.

Nissanka is heavily stressed by the new developments and tries to contact Chitra but she refuses to take his call. Nissanka then confesses to Shirani, who goes into shock and tells her parents. Shirani’s parents confront Nissanka’s parents and tell them that they will break off the engagement if Nissanka is found guilty of the accident. Nissanka’s father tells Shirani’s father that he will somehow see to it that Nissanka is not found guilty and he frames Martin.

Martin is arrested by the police and put in prison after which Nissanka’s conscience pricks him and he visits Martin in prison. When Nissanka returns home he finds that his parents have arranged to meet a lawyer along with him that evening. Nissanka’s mother tries to persuade him to meet the lawyer but he feels guilty and refuses to go.

Nissanka then goes to meet Chitra and tells her that he wants to confess to the police and asks her whether she would accompany him to the police station. She agrees to accompany him and the film ends poignantly with the couple driving to the police station. The film is beautifully shot and bears testimony to Dr. Lester James Peries’s brilliance as a film Director.