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DateLine Wednesday, 30 April 2008

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Film Review:

Prabhakaran: striving for an imaginary state

Cast and credits

Priyankara Rathnayake
Anuruddhika Padukkage
Dasun Madhusanka
Sarath Dikkumbura
Darshan Dharmaraj
Producer: Osmond de Silva in Italy
Cinematographer: Jayanath Gunawardana
Art director: Sena Mambulage
Make-up artiste: J. Suranimala
Editor: Praveen Jayaratne
Assistant director: Donald Jayanath
Scriptwriter and director: Thushara Peiris.

Following the death of her parents, Kamalini joins and recruits her brother 'Prabhakaran' into an LTTE sect. She gets married to Piyasoma, a Sinhala youth obeying to a high echelon order, and settles down in a border village.

LTTE's mission is to assign her a deadly suicidal mission, but Kamalini's human feelings sabotage the mission earning the wrath of her superiors. The climax descends to anticlimax at the end with the sect seeking revenge for noncompliance; the turn of events, however, is not banal.

The brochure distributed at the press show ranks 'Prabhakaran' as the first film based on the ongoing war. A country scarred by a war of over 20 years obviously has many war-based films. Quite ironically many Sinhala war filmmakers seemed to have been concentrating on backing the terrorist cause by creating a negative image on Sri Lankan Army.

Scholars entertain different opinions on the original settlers in Sri Lanka. However, one thing is certain: the LTTE does not represent Tamil ethnicity, even if Tamils might be considered the original settlers in Sri Lanka. Anyone, either Tamil or Sinhala, will suffer violence if they stand against the Tigers. To sum it up, the LTTE is purely a group of power-hungry terrorists. As for Thushara's portrayal, he questions the right of Tigers for a separate state.

We live at a stage when International monitors go on saying Sri Lanka is a country with a high rate of human rights violations with credits to Sri Lankan Army. Hardly anybody would dare speak against the sheer human rights violations carried out by Tigers, especially by recruiting child soldiers.

Hence the brochure remains correct in its rank: 'Prabhakaran' is the first film portraying the nudity of war initiated by the LTTE. In this background, we should be proud to have a director in a calibre of Thushara Pieris to be brave enough to do a film portraying the nudity of a so-called liberal terrorist group.

However, an enthusiast will be disappointed to see Thushara state that the film is neither pro-government nor anti-LTTE. I don't see anything wrong with being pro-government and anti-LTTE, when so many films do otherwise openly.

The horror of child soldier recruitment is stunningly depicted with brilliant performance of Dasun Madushanka. It's difficult for Kamalini's brother to cope with brutality he is expected to be equipped with. Prabhakaran looks away when he shoots the Sinhala gentleman of his father's age, and weeps the death caused by his own gun. His facial expressions alone say it all!

Kamalini is torn between professional and emotional realms. Professionally she is supposed to give up emotions; emotionally she cannot handle the professional role. Being a tiger woman destined to reach the targets by hook or by crook, her feminine flexibility however makes her have second thoughts making allowances for her bonds both existing and yet-to-be born: brother, husband and the baby to be born.

You can see a weak element of sensitivity in insensitive sect chief sparklingly starred by Darshan Dharmaraj. Thushara's script sees this as the centrepiece for brainwash, a concept commonly used referring to LTTE as a whole.

The sect chief becomes a little sensitive when he sees the plights of Prabhakaran and his sister. He reminds them his own periods of being unable to cope with violence, and how he overcame gradually.

The constant brainwash on a separate state is one way of inspiration for LTTE soldiers just to imagine committing suicide. Humiliatingly human emotions outmanoeuvre the brainwash; hence Kamalini and Prabhakaran go out of track.

Symbolism, though little, goes a long way. Kamalini sees schoolchildren happily roaming with schoolbags. The scene slowly shifts in and the schoolchildren become child soldiers with weapons on their back.

Thushara does not preach the evils of war, but he brings in actual events - sidestepping the sensationalism - that make you feel so. If you have a slightest idea about the ongoing war, you will realise what the film doesn't say. If you get the right message, you will certainly leave the theatre frustrated over films backing the terrorist cause.



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