Epic for the fallen hero | Daily News

Epic for the fallen hero

Silence reigned in that doomed dungeon-like abode. The officers donned in the military attire question the most dangerous criminal in the country. Arrested when he was taking a shave, Attanayake had to reveal his true self to Sri Lanka’s military. He was Rohana Wijeweera who manifested one whole episode in the Sri Lankan chronicle with a hearty laugh.

Until the 2019 Oscar long-list nominations were announced, no one knew that a film was yet to be produced on that saga. Titled ‘The Frozen Fire’, a biopic on Rohana Wijeweera, this is the first Sri Lankan film to enter the mainstream ‘Best Picture’ category of Oscars 2019 according to its officials. The previous Sri Lankan movies that entered the Oscars were under the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category.

The Oscar long-list is handled by the All Lights Film Services (ALFS), a leading film consultancy company in India.

Anuruddha Jayasinghe

The Frozen Fire divulges the life and times of Wijeweera and his close associates who stood courageously for his ideology. The work runs across the period spanning between Wijeweera’s release from jail and his mysterious murder towards the late 1980s. Literary materials are abundant on the turbulent times of the late eighties, but surprisingly no one took the initiative to introduce it into the widescreen. This phenomenon prompted Anuruddha Jayasinghe to seize the opportunity.

“Most filmmakers have opted for distant historical events. But none of them was concerned about the recent events of the history. What happened in the 1988 and 1989 is a recent historical event. But they are interested in distant historical events,” Jayasinghe said.

History attracts filmmakers. The World War II still generates themes for films. Hitler, for instance, still looks a fresh subject for creative artistes. As Jayasinghe noted, a period when 60,000 youths were killed counts as a serious episode in any country’s history.

“Why didn’t a single filmmaker make a film on this period? We need to go beyond the fantasies.

We have seen enough films on the colonial rule and the Sinhalese rebellion. Comparatively, it is easy to find sources and information as this is a recent era,” Jayasinghe noted.

Probably because you are not supposed to fly the losers’ flags over the winners. In the eighties saga, the government could successfully crush down the youth resurrection. Wijeweera and his organisation did not have the opportunity to emerge triumphantly. Someday in history, they will remain backstage as losers and traitors. No epic will be written in their memory.

“Remember, those who joined the resurrection,” Jayasinghe added, “did not expect ministerial perks. They did not look forward to car permits. What they stood against was the Indian expansionism. They were disturbed by the major events such as the IPKF presence and the shocking silence of the government and the military.”

Jayasinghe did not have the disadvantage which affects most other history-based filmmakers. His sources were abundant. A few of those who offered shelter to Wijeweera the fugitive knowingly or unknowingly are still alive to relate interesting narratives.

“Wijeweera’s period spent masquerading as various personalities is quite significant and interesting. Especially because this much sought-after fugitive lived in hiding shifting from one place to other thanks to his masquerading talents.”

Elaris Ralahami was one name given to Wijeweera during this brief spell. His carer, however, discovered his identity because of his signature placed on a book. Many such interesting incidents have coloured the film that eventually reached the Oscar sphere.


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