ABA to the fore
A kaleidoscope of fantasy,history and folklore:
Destiny decides manâ€™s course of life and so it did more than 2400
years ago when it foretold the birth of a prince born under the shadows
He who was fated to unite two tribes under one rule was also
predicted as the killer of his 10 uncles. The oracleâ€™s horrifying
prediction rocked a whole nation and little did they guess that the
heroic prince will also bring forth a whole generation of monarchs to
establish the countryâ€™s richest era in history, the Ruhunu kingdom.
Many might not have contemplated this legend for a cinematic venture,
until award winning actor Jackson Anthony undertook the serious
assignment. Anthony breathes life to the prince destined to occupy the
throne and baptises him as the unexplored epic hero in Sri Lankan
Reviving history in the modern social set up requires much effort.
History is only written data set in point form. The creative writer is
faced with the task of moulding data to take form of an interesting tale
with added creativity. A touch of skillful imagination is required to
make a creation which will keep the audience glued to their seats from
beginning to end. Anthonyâ€™s much-talked-about mammoth creation
epitomises this factor.
With years of experience in the field Anthony had recognised the
ingredients of capturing the audienceâ€™s interest. He had pieced historic
accounts together with talent, resources and technology to make one of
the best movies that local cinema-goers had seen for years.
Hollywood and Bollywood films are mostly hero-oriented. Aba will
probably be one of the very few local films based on an epic hero. It
brings us back to Lester James Periesâ€™ Weera Puran Appu who was not
considered as a hero in history as the battle with the Portuguese turned
out to be a failure.
However Peries with the renowned scriptwriter, Dr. Tissa Abeysekara,
has glorified Puran Appu in his creation. Likewise, Anthony has
glorified the legend of the first king of the Sri Lankan kingdom without
harming the historic contents he had gathered from local and foreign
Mahavamsa, Sri Lankaâ€™s official chronicle, indicates that Chittaraja
and Kalavela were killed by Digha Gamini to protect his son, Aba.
However the scriptwriter deconstructs the legend by making the royal
command responsible for their death.
The film relates the story of Prince Pandukabaya from his birth up to
the point when he gives an oath to protect his motherland and recovers
Though the director had intended to set the young prince in the
spotlight, Habara, brilliantly portrayed by Saumya Liyanage, overshadows
him. A cast comprising prominent figures in cinema had stepped up to
contribute to the creation along with new faces like Dulani Anuradha,
who should be credited for her outstanding performance as Gumbakabootha.
These two imaginative characters, though absent in historical
sources, eclipse the legendary figures played by the veterans.
Chittarajaâ€™s calm, serene and fearless behaviour adds substance to Aba
and is powerfully presented by Bimal Jayakody. Though beheaded at the
beginning, his constant emergence as the guardian of the future king
keeps his character alive.
Anthony should be commended for his choice of actors as they fit the
incarnation of the historical figures. Sabeetha Pereraâ€™s comeback to
cinema after a lapse of seven years is itself enough to spark interest
towards the film. Her presence as Unmada Chitra, along with key players
like Malani Fonseka as Baddakachchayana, Ravindra Randeniya as Pandula
Brahmana, Sriyantha Mendis as Parumukhaya, Sajitha Anuththara as Aba,
Bimal Jayakody as Chiththaraja, Wasantha Dukgannarala as Mahaberana,
Dinusha Rajapathirana as Kiriyakkini, Chinthaka Vaas as Wasdanda,
heightens the value of the production. However the characters of Sabitha,
Malani and Ravindra should have been given more prominence as their
legendary roles add more depth to the movie.
One highlight of the film is the music composed by Nadeeka Guruge.
The young musician sets lively tunes to match the scenes. For instance
the song sung by Habara, Gumbakabootha and Parumukhaya narrates the
story in brief to those unfamiliar with the legend.
The song relates the better part of the dynasty and the visuals
display daily activities of Doramadalawa while giving a glimpse of Abaâ€™s
childhood upbringing. It emphasises the link between the Yakka and Aryan
communities for Aba is of royal blood and brought up among the
A kaleidoscope of fantasy, history and folklore is also brought out
with the music, dance and scenes involving combat.
Age-old fighting techniques like Angam Pora are mastered and
displayed, revealing that it was no push over for the cast.
Recreating huge sets like the Panduvasdev Palace, Upatissa city,
Doramadalawa village, Kokkalagama, Wadagal Kanda and the Gasbene Pokuna
is certainly an arduous task but one that the Art Director Udeni
Subodhikumara and the team handled well.
One instance that the film failed to impress was in some of its
scenes aimed at bringing out the comic element. The royal messenger,
Mahaberana, arrives at a village to announce that princess Chitra had
given birth to a daughter. On seeing a flirtatious look from one of the
village women he forgets his lines. This episode neither adds colour to
the storyâ€™s development nor brings the intended humour.
The movie ends abruptly, signalling what is in store for the young
prince. This creates an element of disappointment for the audience eager
to see the full version but it tactfully sets the stage for the sequel
that is rumoured to follow, creating enthusiasm and anticipation among
Weera Puran Appu, God King, Weera Madduma Bandara and Sigiri Kashyapa
can now add Anthonyâ€™s Aba its list of all time Sinhala epics as the
movie will no doubt be a landmark in the history of Sinhala cinema.