Uppalavanna validates fundamental principles of life, guides human
CINEMA: Uppalavanna, the latest film by Professor Sunil Ariyaratne is
now having a successful run amidst praise by critics and viewers. It is
the story of a Buddhist Dasasilmatha living in an Aranya temple located
in a remote rural area separated from the village by a waterway.
SERENITY: A scene from Uppalavanna
It is the story of a beautiful young woman who has found solace as a
Dasasilmatha for some reason unknown to the audience at the inception of
the film. In the group of Dasasilmatha's living in the Aranya
Uppalavanna is the only young one,apart from the "Podiaththi" the child
They share the abode allocated to them. She understands and tolerates
the childish nature of the little Dasasilmatha and advises her kindly
whenever she becomes playful. In the relationship between the two, one
observes traits of Uppalavanna's character such as loving kindness
caring and understanding.
These inner qualities led her to care, treat and feed a young
insurgent, although she was aware that he had killed another insurgent
youth who had decided to give up their cause, creating problems for the
Dasasilmathas from the law and the villagers.
As Uppalavanna ponders over the decision to help the young man she
recollects her past. In the flashbacks we come to know her family
background, her artistic inclination, her interest in dancing, her
falling in love with the son of a dancing teacher who is a tom-tom
beater and the events leading to her decision to become a Dasasilmatha.
The audience feels her sensitive nature, the sincerity of her love
towards the boyfriend, her subtle nuances of love and the beauty of
their young love. Her feeding the deer with milk, her concern for and
treatment of Podiaththi when she accidentally cuts her finger are
further expressions of her kind caring nature.
These qualities of her character amply explain her decision to help
the fatally injured youth rebel even though her act violates the rules
There is no social message in the film as it is not the directors
intention. The incidents relating to the youth insurgency, social
conditioning and traditional values of her conservative parents and the
family backgrounds of the two lovers have been included for the
exclusive purpose of developing the character of Uppalavanna and to
explain her behaviour in getting involved in mundane matters, which
being a Dasasilmatha observing Dasasil violating the rules of
The film structure is closely knit and includes only the images
landscape, situations and events necessary to communicate the essence
and the meaning of the film the director seeks to convey.
Uppalavanna is a creative work of aesthetic beauty. It is customary
to assess the aesthetic value of a film by commenting on various aspects
such as direction, script, editing, performances, music photography and
so forth. In reality it is not possible to point to any single aspect
that make the whole thing work.
It is the entire work, all the aspects of film making working
together to create an overall effect. It is this overall effect that
makes Uppalavanna a work of art that effectively communicates the
essence and meaning of the film.
Uppalavanna effectively validates the fundamental principles of life
such as love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness human dignity, service
to others, among others. These natural laws are part of the human
condition, human consciousness and human conscience.
These are guidelines for human conduct that have enduring value. They
have contributed to the survival of the human species through the ages.
Although these principles get submerged at times due to social
conditioning and opposite values, people have succeeded in restoring
them as guide lines for human conduct.
The value of Uppalavanna as an artistic film lies in its validation
of these fundamental principles of life. It is the essence and meaning
the director seeks to communicate. It is done artistically and
aesthetically by stirring the heart of the audience.
Uppalavanna explores and throws light upon personal relationship with
poetry and sensitivity without descending to sentimentality. Humanity
inspired by Buddhism permeates the film. Uppalavanna is a realistic
Its realism, however, is different from that of a documentary film.
It is realistic in the sense that its images and seems are "true to Sri
Lankan life and society". All the images that appear in the film are
purposefully constructed to achieve "poetic realism". Beauty of life
The film is perfectly paced intentionally to get the audience to get
involved in the images deeply and grasp their significance to reflect on
life and enjoy the beauty of life as it flows.
The film creates an aesthetic emotion in the mind of the audience and
as the film ends, calmness, tranquillity, and wonder engulf the mind of
the viewers and effectively drive home the validity of the fundamental
principles of life as guidelines for human conduct. While maintaining
its national identity, the film deals with a universal truth.