Vimukthi Jayasundera’s latest film effort is given a name that you would most likely associate with essay topic misnomers. It’s called Sulanga Gini Aran. Vimukthi ruffled many feathers with his previous effort which had a relatively jaw breaking name though it was also about ‘Sulanga’ (breeze) – Sulanga Enu Pinisa.
Vimukthi is a lad who used to push the envelope and incur the wrath of various people, but it is unlikely that he does what he did with Sulanga Enu Pinisa in Sulanga Gini Aran.
Take a listen to the name, and it appears he is trying to cash in on his previous notoriety.
But it doesn’t matter much.
Vimukthi is streets ahead of the competition in the jaded-mediocrity department. It is fair to say that his film in its entirety must be different from what some of the snatches shown in a trailer indicated. It could be brilliant. The Jury is still out in that.
But when Hiru TV introduced Vimukthi’s film together with one by a person who goes by the name Weerasiri, titled Weeraya, though the title couldn’t have been in honor of the director, the producers of Hiru’s Art Cafe may have tartly offered the sublime together with the ridiculous.
Vimukthi’s movie is about a doctor and a Buddhist monk, and apparently it draws the contrasts between the private lives and the public personas of these two worthies.
There were some bluntly said things about the deterioration of social values later in the Hiru program, and the author of a compilation on Buddhism said that there are so many kovils that are cheek by jowl with Buddhist temples that it could safely be said ‘Lanka is one big kovil.”
That may well be true, but this writer will not get into the area of religion for more reasons than one, none of which need to be gone into here.
‘One big kovil’ is evocative if bluntly so, but one thing can be said loud and clear – and that’s about Sri Lanka being one big sweatshop for creating some of the world’s most asinine tele-dramas.
Soaps they are called in other parts of the world, but though the word tele-drama is a local coinage, what’s shocking is why we have nothing whatsoever to proudly call our own in terms of sitcom or light entertainment.
That’s to put it mildly. The trailer for Weerasiri’s Weeraya looks an amalgam of the worst episodes of the most asinine tele-drama productions of the month.
But there is one thing that could be said for Weerasiri and that’s this: He is succinct with his title notwithstanding its exact source. Weeraya does not sound half as bombastic as say Sulanga Enu Pinisa or even Sulanga Gini Aran.
None of the rash of tele-dramas that are made off the assembly line has names that are easy on the tongue.
They are absurd sounding and often nonsensical, even as they are trite and bombastic – and examples include Monara Kadadsi, and Mutu Wessa.
Someday, this column should return to the subject of tele-dramas in a more analytical manner, but that would on second thoughts be impossible.
There are no Vimukthi Jayasunderas in the Sinhala tele-dramas as far as anybody can see. I confess; I’m not an avid watcher or even a watcher in passing.
But I fall into the category of those who are forced to watch by virtue of reason that others watch, or others control the remote.
There isn’t one production that I have come across that does not seem as if it has been made on a shoestring budget with so many corners being cut that it reminds this writer of the quip about Kung fu movies of a previous era. They used to say, they make two flicks at a time.
If somebody karate chops a wall, one movie is about what happens on one side of the wall, and the other about what happens the other.
None of the actors in any of these tele-dramas are given a script they can do justice to, though one or two of the guys seem to be obviously talented. They are so talented that their only memorable performances are in commercial advertisements.
Somebody gives them a few catchy things to say in those, but if originality is being looked at in the area of tele-drama scripts, you need to be so jaded that you deliberately go looking for the asinine, may be expecting to be so amused that you could laugh at the production, and not with it.
Programs such as Arts Cafe do not bother about tele-dramas as there is an unspoken covenant among those in the field of television and entertainment that they should not speak about the unspeakable, particularly when their own medium is concerned.
Nobody expects these soaps to be mediocre in this country. They know that all are bad.
The rule of thumb seems to be that the worse they are the more viewers they attract, or something like that.
The movie Weeraya is so formulaic that it’s easily identifiable as a Sinhala film but no tele drama can exactly be called formulaic. That is for the simple reason that there is no formula — as none is necessary in the churning out regular garbage.
The actors and actresses are so obviously expected to keep to the main task of getting the next episode done that it appears they are in an awful hurry to read their lines and disappear from the set.
When Vimukthi Jayasundera names his movie Sulanga Enu Pinisa, and follows up with Sulanga Gini Aran, he introduces an element of quirky dynamism to his title. Sulanga Gini Aran, absurd though it sounds is a moniker that suggest some pregnant possibilities.
Contrast that with Monara Kadadasi. Peacock writing paper? The name suggests that garbage by any other name smells as awful. What would the sequel of Peacock Writing Paper be? Peacock Stapling Machine?