Sunday, August 17, 2008

ABA - my next rant..

I wasn't going to blog about this movie because I felt that one rant after another after another will just be excessive. However, i just read the following:

And I feel that it is imperative to express my opinion that this movie cannot be looked at anything but a movie.

For those that aren't entirely familiar with Sinhalese cinema, 'Aba' is the story of King Pandukabaya's childhood. It was directed by film actor Jackson Anthony and it was produced by... well apparently two business men. However the story behind the story is that Rs/- 800,000,000.00 was provided by none other than our great leader. The trailers for 'Aba' started been played when the hindi movie 'Jodhaa Akbar' was playing in the cinemas. And I have it on a trusted source that Mr. Anthony believed his cinematic creation to be on par with 'Jodhaa Akbar'.

So, shall we compare the two movies? (Just the two movies and what they inspired not the actual legend/story)

Whilst I was watching 'Jodhaa Akbar', a singular important thought came into my mind. 'How lucky are the Indian people that they have leaders like this they can look back upon with pride'. Why did I think this? Well, Akbar appeared from childhood to be a fair human being. He did not seek to kill his prisoners of war for the glory of his name. He went beyond himself to understand the plights of the people, reducing their taxes and bringing about prosperity to the country during his reign. He was fair to all his subjects were they Hindu or Muslim or the other various sects that India has to offer. So these were the reasons that were illustrated through this movie abt Akbar.

As a piece of cinema, it was a masterpiece. Songs by A.R.Rahman, dance sequences that were elaborately planned and hundreds as junior artistes. Of course, Indian cinema has more money available to it and more advanced technology and all around talents that are available to it than we have. Politically what did the movie potray? That it is possible to have fair leaders who can bring about the prosperity of a nation irrespective of the ethnicities present in that nation.

Now let's take 'Aba', cinematography and sets were excellent. Mr Anthony had taken on board what he has seen during his work with directors in large scale movies. They had workers from India flown in to create the sets. As you enter, the slogan associated with 'Aba' speaks of a person ascended from 'Ruhuna' (Now Hambantota) that saved the nation. Hmm.. analogies anyone? Movie starts. First line in the blank screen? Salutations to His Excellency MR. Ass licking anyone? I've watched many a movie in my lifetime, not many salutes a nation's President at the beginning.

For a movie spanning two and a half hours, the first twenty minutes are spent focussing on the events at the birthing chamber. We have a whole host of senior artistes from the Sri Lankan film industry: Malini Fonseka, Raveendra Randeniya, Sabeetha Perera, Shriyantha Mendis and a whole host of new artistes. The kid acts pretty well, more natural in his actions. It wasn't his fault that the script was ever so... retarded. Serela (the little girl who was a main actor in 'Water') is wasted in her role as the adopted child by Sabeetha's character. She merely dances here and there and waddles off. We know she is capable of a lot more.

Raveendra looks like a Sri Lankan Gandalf as the Pandula Brahamana. All decked out in white with the stump. Sabeetha seems incapable of efficient emotions even now as Unmada Chitra. Malini performed well in her role showcasing grandeur and dignity. Saumya Liyanage was excellent as Habara. His performance was slightly reminiscent of that of his father, Hemasiri Liyanage in certain films. Kingsley Loos appears to be a good fit for the character of Tissa.

Anyhow, back to the movie. Dialogue contained gems such as 'Even the Gods will forgive those who murder in the name of the country'. Needless to say several people in the audience snorted. And of course, Aba seemed to have mixed himself with Harry Potter as he is protected by the love of his uncle Chittaraja (who protects him as a ghost). And of course, in a highly ironic twist of facts... what religion protects Aba from his birth to his ascend to kingship? Hinduism. Mr Anthony seems to utilise Hindu Slokas and chants as background music and it is these chants as well as the psychic eye of a seer that succeeds in ensuring Aba's safety through all danger. Right at the end, Aba lifts his sword and is blessed by Chittaraja's ghost who is up on a rock and has assumed supernatural powers as he transfers his powers to Aba's palms or sword (I really couldn't be arsed paying attention to detail by this point). Its kinda like Lion King really. Only Simba is down below and Mufasa's ghost is on a rock. Imagine that. Its actually an injustice to the actual fellow who lived to reduce him to a mere puppet of a ghost or an astrologer.

And of course scattered throughout the 2.5 hours is various comments regarding the Sinhalese and the various gothras we come from etc etc. And the last rocker of a statement from Aba, 'I will fight for the glory of this motherland till death'. Yeah charming that.

So, why make this movie at this time? Around the world people use the medium of cinema and art as an opportunity to bridge gaps. To exaggerate the similarities and negate the differences. Did this movie make me proud to be Sinhalese/Sri Lankan? Err.. no. It made me feel a tad daft to be honest. Why, if this was true I have to go finding a ghost to protect me. Did this movie focus on the importance of blood lines and the importance of ethnicities? YES. Did it say we are all the same, cmon get along? No. So why would anyone in their right mind spend 800M rupees to make such a movie, intersperse nationalism promoting comments within it and throw it out to the public?

Why else? P.R.O.P.A.G.A.N.D.A

Hitler used it, Mussolini used it, Bush uses it, I'm sure Mugabe probably uses it, so why not our fellow?

To come back to the blog entry that inspired this post, this is how some people take this movie- to be fair I didn't read the whole post. However, it is not an epic movie that enters the annals of Sinhalese cinema. For its cinematography and elaborate attire, yes I conceded it is a great improvement from the Anarkali clad rubbish we see. However, if I was a fellow from Matara who watch this with the few rupees I have and I have already been indoctrinated about how great my race is, then we will have issues.

One must look towards legends and myth as examples of how to solve current problems. Sri Lankan history as illustrative as it is, is bogged down in Sinhalese Buddhism. That's not what the country needs at this point. That's precisely why MR spent money on this movie. That's precisely why the greatness of fighting for the nation is written all over it. Its an exaggerated method of alluring young fellows to join the army or support the war cause.

It is sickening when artistes use their talent (as Mr. Anthony clearly has talent) for these purposes. People are blinded by money. However, I am not blinded by 'Aba'.


Turning cats in to Lions said...

I was planning to watch this in the coming week. Your review changed my mind. I had my doubts and Now it is confirmed.

Rine said...

you should watch it.. just to get an idea of the extent these people will goto to brainwash the people. very sad!

Anonymous said...

I was going to go see it as I was told it's as good as Sinhala cinema gets technically by someone who saw it already. But now I have changed my mind. We don't need movies that divide us further.

NagaClan said...

I saw this film as soon as it was released. It is one of the best comedies that Sri Lanka has ever produced. It was so badly done, forgive me but I didnt think that the costumes or the set design was any good. The acting was putrid, its riduculous to expect Sabitha to act as a young girl. Grandmother is more up her line these days! I can safely conclude that the Sinhala people are an ugly race as Jackson Anthony couldnt get a halfway decent good looking woman or man to portray any of the main characters. With the exception of Chittawhatever, and the fickle male lover and his wife, we just saw one ugly after another. The prince was totally miscast, he ismore appropriate to play the role of a runt rather than a prince, though I concede he is a good actor.
So in a country of substandard, we have just added another limp feather to our hat of stupid accomplishments!