Machan, an unusual film about ordinary people

By Jayashika Padmasiri 
Ever since the day I watched the film Machan, I have been wanting to write something about the film. If speaking to the point, it can be categorized as a comedy worth watching. The film is directed by Uberto Pasolini and revolves around a number of Sri Lankans and foreigners who are trying to escape from the country in search of a better, promising future.  

The film starts by depicting wasted lives, with two youths in their twenties, pasting posters of a political party they do not belong to, on the walls of Colombo city at night fall. While the contractor, an idealist and the son of a politician, and a friend, of these two youths roams the streets on a bicycle freely, talking about a utopia in Sri Lanka which they see as arriving soon.. The dialogue that takes place between these three youths captures the essence of the film and produces the theme in a nutshell.    

Two young boys waiting to get out of Sri Lanka, hoping that life would be better somewhere else- an escape from the crucial reality they are forced to face and live in. One has a small brother turning out to be a gangster, while managing a roofless house hold which has the cool shade of a tree as a roof instead of a covering, with two dying grandmothers to support, and living in debt. The other- a bar tender in a luxuries hotel searching for a way to find money to help his family, while dreaming of getting a visa to Germany and to fly away...    

The politician’s son who is trying to convince these two youngsters to stay says,  
“Api Kohey giyath, Erata wala api second class minissu”  
(Where ever we may go, we are second class people in those countries)  
And one of the youths pasting posters on the walls, wearing a dirty torn t-shirt answers saying laughingly, 
“Uba kiyaney api may first class jeewithada gatha karanawa kiyalada...”  
(Are you suggesting that we are leading first class lives today...) while holding a bucket full of glue and pasting a poster on a wall without having any idea of what it contains...  

The film was initially named handball while later the name was changed into machan. It is about people leading different lives while all sharing the common notion that life in a foreign country could be better than living in Sri Lanka.  

To escape from the nation 23 people form a Sri Lanka National Hand Ball Team without even having any idea what hand ball is, and manage to hoodwink foreigners and escape from the country, ending up and disappearing in Germany in 2004. However after first arriving in Germany they are forced to play handball as a team for the Olympic Games. Three games are played, where Sri Lanka earns one goal to the surprise of the audience and the Sri Lankan players themselves. 

It is the way that the events of the film unfold that makes the film so interesting to watch. It succeeds in capturing the attention of the audience from the very begining, while not forgetting to add humor frequently to the scenes, though the circumstances, environment or the background of the film are created among events which can be considered barely amusing.     

When all of these players arrived in Germany with the intention of running away as soon as they arrived at the air port, a banner and a host was waiting to welcome them. So the story continues. They had to play the game, which they knew nothing about. But the best part was that they were nobody, when they arrived in Germany. The travel agent, who robs money from both foreigners and Sri Lankans saying that he will find away for them to escape from Sri Lanka, proudly declares that, “I’m nobody now-not even a crook” after losing the first game of handball they were forced to play.  

Grave diggers, male prostitutes, illegal immigrants, orange sellers, hotel cleaners, husbands, lovers, sons, men without professions, and men whose profession was to spend the whole day by singing and dancing without jobs, were all forgotten as they were allowed to chose whatever identity they preferred and start a brand new life... 

The word machan has many meanings. Though it is originally a Tamil word indicating “massina” (relation) many Sri Lankans use this word as a term of friendship, “comrade”. Uberto Pasolini has chosen an attractive title for the film which will not fail to attract both local and international audiences, as it has a particular friendliness to the name and a slight bit of suspense into wanting to find out what the movie is really all about.  

When I was first asked by the Producer Prasanna Vithanage to come and watch the film as I covered some of the on locations and areas the film was shot in previously, during its inception, I was a bit hesitant, knowing that I was not going there as a journalist now but as a member of the audience. However, an invitation was given to me, so I accepted it and went for the pre-view, held last Thursday at the National Film Corporation (NFC).  

And when I saw the scenes unfolding on the screen, I recalled how I once watched from the sides, as they were being made with actors and actresses running around with make up and costumes, and the film crew walking about with scripts and tea cups on their hands, standing among the settings and props made of card board, wood and other essential items, as a very young journalist who had little understanding and knowledge about the cinema, Watching those scenes on screen on Thursday evening come alive, that I wanted to write something about the film as it turned out to be interesting and fascinating., an experience I thought, was indeed, ‘certainly worth watching’.   

Machan is not similar to a Hindi reproduction of a silly romance running around bushes and trees full of flowers while singing happily, or a Hollywood production with the American beauties or with the bombs and guns. It is about ordinary people living day to day lives and the difficulties they have to face daily, just to get through the day. The film is based on a true story that happened in Sri Lanka. How a man working for 30 years at the same profession can be replaced by a machine and be turned out in one day without a job. How a man arriving from a land cruiser doesn’t have to wait at the Visa Facilitation Centre (VFC) for more than 10 minutes, while a man arriving from an unclean shanty in Colombo, has to wait for hours outside the VFS, to gain entry to the building.  

The most impressive aspect is the irony used by the director through out the creation. How he captures all off these vital and critical issues into a humorous presentation, while directing the attention to the opposite, the crucial harshness under the surface. So, cheers to Uberto, for all the hard work and dedication that went into the film, because he has certainly earned it...


Sihina Rangahala
‘Short Drama’ festival at Elphinstone

The stage drama series, “Sihina Rangahala” (Theater of Dreams) written and directed by Dananjaya Karunaratne will be staged on August 30, at Elephinstone, at 3.30 p.m. and 6.45 p.m. The actors who are participating in the “Sihina Ranagala” drama series are, Chandani Seniviratne and Susith Nishantha who have taken part in “Valentine Enakan”, Saumya Liyanage in “Last bus eke kathawa”, Palitha Silva and Madini Malwatha in “Chandrawathie Samage Rathriyak”, Chamal Ranasinghe and Dimithu Chinthaka in “Duwana un Dennek”, Kaushalya Fernando, Chamila Peiris and Sanath Wimalasiri in “Oba Sapekshai”. All the above dramas have won the awards at the State and Youth drama festivals.

Music director will be Kapila Poogala arachchi, lighting designer Wasantha Kumara, make-up artist Bhanu Prasanna, while Kosala Thottawathge will be assisting in direction. Stage supervision is by Sameera Nuwan and Sumeda Niroshan, stage arrangements and costumes will be by Dananjaya Karunaratne. Jude Shirimal will be the chief organiser of “Sihina Rangahala”.

“Sihina Ragahala” is sponsored by the Sunethra Bandaranaike Foundation.
The latest addition to the series “Duwana Un Dennek,” is also scheduled to be staged with the series.. “Duwana Un Dennek” is a tragic-comedy influence by physical theater.

Over the past few years Dhananjaya has been experimenting in a more proactive and sensitive style of theatre. This series is a successful result of above experiment. The drama series is being reproduced with the original cast since there is a growing demand for Dhananjayas plays. New interpretation has been added to the plays. One of the plays, “Last Bus Eke Kathawa” has been translated into English and been shown in many countries.
Some of the plays have been already published as a book named “Last Bus Eke Kathawa”.
For more information please log on to www.dhananjaya.net

Dhananjaya Karunarathne is an experimental playwright, director who has written and directed number of plays. He has gained a bachelor degree in painting and sculpture at the Institute of Aesthetic Studies, University of Kelaniya and a masters degree in theatre arts at the University of Wollongong, Australia. In the last few years Dhananjaya has been involved with the Merrigong Theatre Company in Australia. He has been developing his own theatre concept named Theatre against the Audience. Currently Dhananjaya is working as a visiting lecturer in theatre arts at the University of Visual and the Performing Arts.


Jagan Ma on the boards at Elphinstone

K. B. Herath’s new stage play “Jagan Ma” (Mother Universe) will be performed again on August 29 (Friday) at the Elphinstone Theatre at 3.30 and 6.45 p.m. This drama revolves around the tragedy of those who attempt to challenge the very existence of nature showing man is but a part of nature not the guardian or controller.
Rathna Lalani Jayakody, Sampath Thennakoon, Indika Ferdinando, Madhanie Malwatta and Lanka Bandaranayake are playing the key roles while music is by Shantha Peiris. The settings are by Dhananjaya Karunarathne. Costumes are by Sweenitha Perera Make up is by Buddhadasa Galappaththi and the production manager is Jude Srimal.


An aesthetic treat for Kandy art lovers

By Thilak Palliyaguruge
Srieemathi Herath, a young graduate teacher presently serving in the tutorial staff of Weerodhara College in Kandy in the capacity of a teacher of art, is holding her 4th solo exhibition of watercolour paintings. She has named it “Glamour of watercolours”. The Alliance Francaise de Kandy, an academic institution committed to promote language and culture, is sponsoring the exhibition comprising 25 water colour paintings at its auditorium at No. 642, Peradeniya Road Kandy. The opening will take place at 6.30 p.m. on August 22, 2008 and the exhibition will continue till August 29, 2008.

Sreemathie learned the finer points of the medium of watercolours under the tutelage of M. D. S. Gunathilleke, a renowned water colour painter and tutor. Her carefully selected predominant themes radiate around the focal points of the lush evergreen environment and selected incidents of day to day life of the Kandyan landscape.

Her paintings, executed mostly in sober hues intermixing with harmonious unity is quite a fascinating characteristic in the work she had produced. The flowing brush strokes are both pleasing and striking. The rhythmic easy flow of her carefully selected colours ends up in grand simplicity and remarkable fidelity. New creative vigour is displayed in the work she had created. On the whole Sreemathie’s exhibition will no doubt be a visual treat for all art lovers.


A ground-breaking art exhibition

Painting, dance, photography, design, performance, music: the many colourful faces of ‘art’. Art is a many splendoured, and many faceted thing: it has moved beyond boundaries, transforming over centuries to become the world-changing, life-changing thing it is today. We are no longer held back by the conventional understanding of what ‘art’ is; it is no longer only a painting, or a concerto. Today we are full to brimming with ideas of the varying and wonderful forms it can take. And with Art Walk 2008, we bring it all together on a catwalk.

Art Walk focusses on the various forms of art, while giving young people a chance to not only take the stage, but also decide what happens on it. An art exhibition with a difference, Art Walk will have the different forms of art displayed on young models in unique and ground breaking ways.

As said before, one of the main focus points of Art Walk is that young people are on stage, as well as behind it. Aspiring designers have the arena to display their talents and creations for the first time, and have produced clothes that will be worn by models especially chosen by them. Other aspiring artistes are choreographing, creating and dancing in Art Walk,, making it a show by young people, for young people, with young people! Put together by the dynamic Anjuli Flamer-Caldera, this show will feature the creations of young artists such as Deandra Bulner, Rohen Wijeysekera, Natasha Jayasuriya, Natalie Jayasuriya, Suba Menike, Shanika Perera, Thisakya Senanayake, Saraah Deen, Tarja de Silva and many others.

Art Walk will also feature the work of professionals admired in their respective fields. Sandun de Silva, photographer, who presents the photography section titled The Seven Deadly Sins, Darshi Keerthisena for Buddhi Batiks, Anitra Pieris for Artina Style and Mihiri Devendra, who presents a display of unique jewellery and body sculpture, are amongst them.
Art Walk will have on display everything from funky clothes, to hand-made jewellery, and a flipbook of photographs. It will feature dancing, modelling and a performance arts section.

This show is the ideal evening of entertainment not only for the young; but for anyone on the look-out for fresh talent. If it is undiscovered talent you are looking for: Art Walk is the show for you
Art Walk will be on August 29, at the Part Street Warehouse, followed by an after-party. Tickets are priced at 2000/-, 1500/-. Tickets for the after-party only are priced at 1000/-.
Call Karin on 0714821650 for details and reservations today.







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