The politician’s theme song is something that belongs to the cyber age. Individual politicos spared us the pain of these songs and other promotional theatrics before the advent of YouTube, and the proliferation of social media.
But now the theme song has come to stay, but yet the culture of shall we say, the political vaudeville keeps reinventing itself, each new election outing.
Weren’t there any bright spots then in the entire campaign season where there were innovative yet not so irritating ways of making use of song and drama for promotional purposes, or otherwise, pure parody
Increasingly, political satire is also inflicted upon on us, some of it bearable and the rest, excruciating. Now that the polling season is over, perhaps, a flashback would do.
This was the season that the Puswedilla plays and the take on the Mattala Airport for instance was used for good effect on social media, going mini-viral in its own right.
Puswedilla suits the election season for sheer audacity, and there is nothing that is so unusual about that, but perhaps the opportunity can be taken to explore the satirical relevancy of the Puswedilla parodies.
In the obvious take on the Mattala Airport’s alleged dearth of flights and passengers, a male mimics the usual airport announcements by female staff to say that there are vegetables being sold along the airport lounge’s aisles.
But Puswedilla never foregoes the slapstick element, and very soon there is the usual dressing down of the hapless Secretary, Mr. Nitharama-suffering.
But, the problem with Sri Lankan satire and parody is the lack of maturity, and when the airport’s public address system blares out that Indian passengers should refrain from using travel irons to turn out chappathis and rottis, we know that the script writers were struggling for a feather to tickle themselves, before they inflicted their writers block to bad effect on others…
The relevant line here was something to the effect that all Indian travelers who use their travel irons for chappathi and rotti making ‘would be prosecuted.’
A parody of Puswedilla is due, promising prosecution for those inane script writers who have to make use of racial profiling and other substandard devices to animate their comedy.
However, the Puswedilla mini viral clip on social media was the least of the serious affronts to our sensibilities this polls season, in which the Gypsies for instance were used for promotional ditties of certain UNP candidates.
Given that the Gypsies star Sunil Perera came out wailing for the UNP from very early in the campaign season, this was certainly not surprising, but yet the hagiographic (or is it sycophantic?) nature of the ditty made for Ravi Karunanayake was so cringe-inducing that the Elections Commissioner should certainly consider strictures on any kind of promotional material that prostitutes the arts.
Certainly there were offenders all around, and those who used the Gamen Liyumak Awilla number made famous by Clarence Wijewardene to poke fun at the six page letter dispatched by President Sirisena to ex President Mahinda Rajapaksa during the twilight of the campaign, though extremely creative in a mischievous kind of way, were ‘offenders’ too in the department of mauling the Arts, though the degree of culpability may have been less than that of Sunil Perera’s…
But yet, it is no secret that it is the UNP which uses baila, etc., to appeal to the lumpen elements from time immemorial, and it was no different this time, with the crowds mostly attracted to meetings via ‘sangeetha sandharshana’ at locations at which it seemed impossible to match Mahinda Rajapaksa’s milling crowds…
The crowds and their intensity and density and how that reflected on the final result however is an entirely different matter with which this essay will not concern itself…
Weren’t there any bright spots then in the entire campaign season where there were innovative yet not so irritating ways of making use of song and drama for promotional purposes, or otherwise, pure parody?
Well, there was Saman Ekanayake, the Kavi kola karaya, who in fact turned out to be a simple Kavi Karaya who amused the UPFA audience with his improvised verses on the political shenanigans of the day.
He was pitch perfect, and was able to bring it all off in a remarkable ‘Sri Lankas’ Got Talent’ sort of way.
This sort of innovation followed from the early pattern of using ‘viridu,’ etc., on the UPFA stage, with the early Mahinda meetings, for instance, all ending to the refrain of Vena Kenekun Kohinda, Mulu Ratatama Mahinda, sung to the viridu tempo on the accompanying rabana …
Viyaru vetunu Val Alida Soyagena or ‘in search of hysterical pachyderms’ was how Saman Ekanayake began his Kavi session onstage, which was parody and anthem all rolled in one.
On the one hand he sought to fire up the UPFA troops, but succeeded in segueing back and forth into the area of pure parody, and pungent satire as well.
This was a relief considering that on the UNP stage the Arts were further mauled with the frequent rather unembarrassed focus on the literary ‘skills’ one Sannasgala who had apparently written about a woman who was impregnated by Prabhakaran’s semen that had ‘wafted her way from the region of the Nandikadal.’
In all, this was a far cry from the sanga, veda, guru, govi, kamkaru, ranaviru improvisations by Ekanayake who seemed to be appreciated in contrast to Sannasgala who was sought for nuisance value.
But in all, perhaps we’d rather forget these politicians dabbling with the arts, sooner than we forget this draining and rather brusque election season altogether.