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
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
(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
‘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
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
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
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
An aesthetic treat for Kandy
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
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
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.