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Show to the gallery

* ‘Pictures are for entertainment... messages should be delivered by Western Union...!’

Sam Goldwyn (1882 - 1974)

*‘...All comedies are ended by a marriage...’

Lord Byron (1788-1824)

* ‘All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl !’

Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977)

* ‘Comedy is an imitation of the common errors of life...’

Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1986)

Udayakantha Warnasuriya says that all he does is entertaining people, and survival! It’s not serious cinema. It does not raise your eyebrows. So we have some. Why can’t he raise his standard of films Why always be an imitator of a certain formula Can’t he break the typical framework for better or worse Does he think this is ultimate goal he can reach

So film is big business! In business you cannot take risks! As Dr. Lester James Peries pointed out the risk of filmmaking is there, until the cost of production is similar to the price of pens and pencils.

Udayakantha Warnasuriya knows this fact and he does not want to put his producers into trouble. But these producers contributed to the film industry as continuous film producing companies, Dr Peries points out. It is the saddest part of the business.

Is that why Udayakantha Warnasuriya has begun a film producing company himself Or is it the poor situation in the prevailing film production pattern Before 1977 there were three leading film companies: Ceylon Theatres, Cinemas and Ceylon Entertainments. Then there was S de S. Somaratna (Hela Diva Film Arts) SPM Movies (taken over from S M Nayagam - S M N Studios) and of course Sirisena Wimalaweera (Navajeevana Productions) EAP films, Sena Samarasingha, Dissanayaka Films and Wijaya Ramanayaka Productions were Production Companies to name a few.

Film after film they produced Sinhala Movies. They were continuously scheduled for production and exhibition. Artistes, technicians, musicians and the relevant crew were always engaged in film production. Investors were encouraged when Film Corporation came into being. But with the open economy, this set up was completely shattered. And with the 1983 communal riots the destruction of cinema halls was the biggest blow to the film industry. One by one the leading film companies were fading.

With the advent of television, things became worse.

Udayakantha Warnasuriya entered filmmaking under these circumstances. He was a forceful film director who did not look back even after 20 films. He had courage and alternatives to take his films to a major audience. After a few successful teledramas, Udayakantha acquired the large canvas as a successful film director. His films dealt with various subjects. He tried his hand on every contemporary incident which aroused Sri Lankan Society. He was his own scripwriter too.

The dearth of film scripts - writers in the film production – is grave, because we do not have film schools of any sort, which was not in our education curriculum. There was neither proper film appreciation nor the channel to view good films. Udayakantha’s filmmaking should have been different, if he could get some varied scriptwriters. They who have a knack for scriptwriting did not establish themselves in the industry, owing to financial constraints. Personalities such as Somaweera Senanayaka, K D Nicholas and H M P Fernando were engaged in the job for some time.

Come 1977 and the situation worsened and at the beginning of the new millennium some youngsters came into being. Most of them are experimenting with feature films not viable for commercial releases. There is no art cinema movement in Sri Lanka - at least a circuit dedicated to film exhibition for the benefit of the student population.

A box office director of yesteryear L M Perera said to a journalist: “This is the kind of bucket I have with me! It may differ with anybody else - who are serious filmmakers!”

So whether you agree with Warnasuriya’s filmmaking or not, his films draw crowds! His latest comedy Gindari is based on a belief of Sinhala Community. Some exorcist could get hold of devil, tame them and make them household assistants. It ends with an adventure.

As Raj Kapoor mentioned, film audience is not confined to towns itself! There are far away village folks who like to have entertainment after a hard day’s work!

Even Udayakantha caters to this audience - and survives!


 

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