There had been many heroes in the silver screen in recent times. There was Aba and Siri Parakum. Then we saw Kuweni as a heroine. After that Maharaja Gemunu. But they were all historical heroes not of our time. It seems that we do not believe that there are heroes today or even if there are, we wish to be blissfully ignorant.
Film directors behave as if this is an era where there are no heroes. Maybe it is easy to worship past heroes instead of taking the pains to create new ones. Anyway except Ratupaswala Ranja, we haven’t seen a hero that belongs to present times emerge in the Sinhala cinema. In Ratupaswala Ranja, we saw Ranjan rather than a hero. In this background, the film Pravegaya directed by Donald Jayantha is very significant. In this film we can see a hero of the present and we feel too that he is real.
The attachment to the family, love for parents, these are among the qualities which make one a hero. These values are a part of our culture. The film director makes the leading role of the film a hero not only through showing off his fighting or dancing skills but his sincere love for family and all those good people around him
I mainly appreciate the manner in which the hero was created by the film director. In a sense, making a hero is both easy and difficult at the same time. It is simple because one has nothing to do other than make the leading role of the film behave according to the cultural norms and values of the people for whom the film is meant for. A character who is against the cultural values is usually not a hero but a villain. We see in the film Pravegaya a young Sri Lankan hero who believes in what our people commonly believe as ‘good’.
Although it seems easy it is perhaps the most difficult task. Only by making the hero act in accordance with the cultural aspirations he will not become a hero. The character must feel ‘real’. We should feel that he is one of flesh and bones. He should be a hero at the same time he should feel like one of us. Though a hero we should see him as a one among us average people. In Pravegaya we find such a hero.
Consequently, this film will signify a new era in Sinhala cinema and the beginning of a new ‘70th decade’ when it was the golden era of the Sinhala silver screen. We have started diverting from historical or past heroes into present day heroes and this is a timely change as it seems that many of those who talk or make films about past heroes are not themselves heroes. And in this context I will not hesitate to say that new film director Donald Jayantha is a real hero.
When we watch this film, we start to think that our land still retains the capability to give birth to heroes. Our cultural soil is still fertile. Our culture has sustained that capacity. This is good in a background where many other film directors who had won international awards for their films believe that our land is barren. So, they have depicted those who act against culture as heroes in their films. The ‘patriotic’ film directors think that our past is fertile but present is barren. This film will make one realize that our culture is not dead. So I have to salute Donald Jayantha, the film director and Hemal Ranasinghe, who plays the role of the young hero.
The attachment to the family, love for parents, these are among the qualities which make one a hero. These values are a part of our culture. The film director makes the leading role of the film a hero not only through showing off his fighting or dancing skills but his sincere love for family and all those good people around him. Anyway while doing this he makes use of the various conflicts generally existing within a family. We see the verbal arguments between the father and the young heroic son. But philosophy has more meaning when it relates to the family or defined in the context of a family rather than when it becomes notes in a university lecture.
The film explores philosophy in a family context. In this sense it is a philosophical film too and the full credit should go to the scriptwriter. I think Jayalath Manorathna who plays the role of the father acts both as the father of the family and a philosopher at the same time. I know Mano Ayya will not act in a play or film if he has not much ‘acting’ to do in it. But here it is clearly that after reading the script Mano has gone to the set as he enters the stage of a drama, with equal faith. It is apparent that Jackson Anthony too relishes his role in the film. Not one but all the artistes have contributed to the film wholeheartedly. Sanath Gunathilaka’s role is not a big role. But he too does justice to it.
I have not yet spoken about Hemal Ranasinghe who plays the role of the hero. Hemal is a very relaxed actor. So, he can express a lot though dialogue and facials expressions, without much effort. He does not try to be a hero, but acts according to the script and on the directions of the film director, while still retaining his own identity. But this simplicity has made him a real hero and a most promising actor. He is confident about what he is doing, but I should say that this would not happen without a good script and film direction.
A film is meant for the masses, not for a small group of intelligent people. But good films can be made for the masses if the director and scriptwriter are intelligent enough. Pravegaya is such a film.