Force without recognition | Daily News
Sri Lankan Tamil films

Force without recognition

Sri Lankan film directors have produced over 100 Tamil films and a few of them created ripples in the field indicating that Tamil films have much potential to be a recognized force in the country and abroad. Unfortunately, stakeholders in the field have not been making enough effort towards meeting this end for about many years now for various reasons.


The war that lasted over three decades in the Island had been the main destructive cause to curtail any progress towards this end. Even after that, rational divisions and destructive forces in the country such as those who set up Easter bomb blasts obstructed the path of Tamil filmmakers and creative forces of country’s different communities who have been reversing from novel ideas thinking that they do not have a future in the field unless they have recognitions in the country as a useful factions for its development.

However, Tamil films in the country could gather a massive audience even overtaking Sinhala films if relevant authorities support Tamil filmmakers taking the field as a potential path to produce considerable revenue to the country. This is possible because neighbouring Tamil Nadu and India as a whole has a vibrant Tamil film industry and a large audience for Tamil films. But today what have happened is Sri Lanka has become a lucrative platform for Indian Tamil filmmakers since those in the Island nation are dozing without a proper vision to get advantage of the vibrant Tamil audience here and in India for leveraging the Sri Lanka’s Tamil film production as an industry.

Economic pacts

Meanwhile, economic pacts and agreements that are signed or yet to be signed between the two countries mostly serve the big brother though those more often opened or will open opportunities for Sri Lanka as well which have not been utilized properly by the relevant fields including the Tamil filmmakers. Pacts between two countries have to be reached to develop the domestic film industry and those opportunities must be probed in by the stakeholders of the industry itself which is not happening now. Instead, India or Tamil Nadu is exploiting the island extensively in distributing their films and popularizing their actors and actress here.

Komaali Kings

Even against this background, Sri Lanka boasts good Tamil film directors, both Sinhala and Tamil, who can produce laudable commercial as well as artistic Tamil films. A good example in this regard is King Ratnam’s Komaali Kings. Produced in 2018, Komaali Kings won the Best Tamil Film Award at the Derana Film Award in 2019. The film was a commercial success as well and also made a bridge among all the ethnicities in the island nation.


Surprisingly, 50 years ago before Komaali Kings hit the silver screen, a Tamil film showed the potential for an effective Tamil film industry in Sri Lanka. This film, Komaligal, was released in 1976 and it became a box office hit in Jaffna as well as in the island capital, Colombo. It ran over 75 days at the Central cinema hall in Colombo and at Plaza cinema hall in South Colombo over 50 days. All most all the cinema halls in North and South whereat Komaligal took residency recorded ‘houseful’ every day. S. Ramadas directed and M. Mohammed produced the film and the former wrote its script and also starred its main role.

Ini Avan

On the other hand, a few Tamil artistic films, too, had their indelible marks in the Sri Lankan Tamil Film Industry. Ini Avan (Him, Here, After) that was directed by Asoka Hadagama received immense praise by critics locally and abroad. Released in 2012, Ini Avan won many awards at every recognized local film festivals in the following year including the awards for the Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress to name a few. It was also screened at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival in the same year.

The Road from Elephant Pass

The Road from Elephant Pass (2006) is another Tamil film that made its mark in the industry. Chandran Rutnam wrote the script of this film and produced as well as directed it. The film was produced based on a novel written by Nihal de Silva, which won 2003 Gratiaen Prize for creative writing in English. This was the first Sri Lankan Tamil film screened in India.

Sri Lanka Tamil films have introduced many a veteran Tamil actors and actress as well. They include Dharshan Dharmaraj, Niranjani Shanmugaraja, King Ratnam, J. P. Chandrababu, K. S. Balachandra, Isaipriya and V.I.S. Jayapalan, to mention a few among many others.

Saroja and Tsunami

Meanwhile, laudable efforts have been made by a few film directors to make their films popular among people in every ethnicity in the Island nation. Among them, Somaratne Dissanayake is prominent. His Saroja, and Tsunami broke the shackle of a weaker audience by attracting thousands of filmgoers in every ethnicity to cinema halls.

This type of story lines that take both Sinhala and Tamil dialogues that address every community in Sri Lanka is essential to make films once again a main public entertainment. Such films also extends the vistas of the Sri Lankan Tamil film industry in particular and the country’s film industry in general.

Even though Sri Lankan filmmakers have not yet realised, Tamil films can be the path openers for the Sri Lankan film industry for it to be in the international arena. Tamil films can carve a niche in India for Sri Lankan Tamil films and open avenues for new ways to get recognition for the country’s film industry globally.

Continuing efforts in this regard will not be futile given the vast Tamil film audience in India and the neighbouring countries.

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