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Wednesday, 29 September 2010

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Film Review:

Whirlwind rises from whirlpool

Vibrant and power-packed movie Bambara Walalla (Whirlwind) directed by Athula Liyanage is a whirlwind rising from a whirlpool of wild and aggressive events embracing bitter social, sexual and economic experiences in a pool of wreck.


 A scene from Bambara Walalla

Impressive opening scene where a buffalo bellows is symbolic of rustic life which works hard but earns no recognition as the buffalo which roams the village. It toils to sustain the farmer, but eventually ends up in the slaughterhouse.

Thus even in death it serves the farming community. So is the man who works hard to maintain justice and sustain life in the village. Podi Eka (Athula Liyanage) exists as human parallel to the village buffalo. As the buffalo lives to enrich the economy of the village, Podi Eka struggles to bring justice within the deranged rural social order.

Vengeance is an instant reaction of the villager who has distanced from religious feelings; it had taken root and command in Podi Eka who was instinctively and instantly compelled to take revenge from the step-father who raped his sister which led his mother to commit suicide. Also, he was driven by his love to the mother whose affection that was his, was robbed by the step-father the total alien in their midst.

Romantic approach

Podi Eka is so self-centred and emotionally inflamed he had not been moulded either by morality or by the long prison term. Thus, it reflects the impulses of a raw being rooted to the primary level of a being but, away from a true human being.

On his release from jail Podi Eka being driven to be one to look after buffaloes leads himself once again to endure at primary level. No transformation in ethical or social sphere takes place within him despite maturing in age and experience. The landowner’s daughter’s rejection of Podi Eka’s romantic approach, strengthens the system that they see no difference between him and the buffalo whom he oversees.


Damitha and Mahendra

Podi Eka who is in his teens took revenge by murdering the wrong-doer was content with chopping off hair of the girl whom he loved for refusing to reciprocate displays an element of compassion at elementary level being ingrained in him when he deviated from the normal path of violence to meet opposition however raw it looked.

Compact and vigorous nature of unfolding events in the film tells how did the social fabric infused with explosive mentality which could be driven to ruthless eruption at any given moment. Seemingly calm that surfaces in the village is a delusion that the environment is ideal for a quiet life. Calm and unmoving Mel, a florist, is a murderer; but, his life outwardly evince no suspicion among the villagers while he continues to eliminate his opponents quietly and shines among the people as a benevolent personality. Only his eyes, but not the ways that betray him.

Domestic violence

On the surface his normal quiet life persists while the underworld led by the undertaker brings out the vibrations which engulf the life in the village.

Domestic violence leads to social disorder about which the film-maker is firm. However, in turn domestic violence is a by-product of social violence. People learn in the process and react to social attitude to life.

Podi Eka maturing himself to a professional killer is propelled by the events that taught him no lessons on compassion but revenge, leading to elimination for their own survival.

The power, packed into the frames and characters the effect of which is heightened by background music played with dramatic sense to suit situations enhancing the inner meaning of the visual, creates a fresh and rare cinematic experience to any film goer. The film-maker sticks to the natural appearance of the artiste which he exploits to enliven the character without moving away from the natural environment which nourishes the character in his mind.

For instance, buffalo-dung, shanties, muddy water and shacks form an ideal background that enhances the natural quality of the characters. Illicit liquor inspirits the villager and the village.

The buffaloes symbolize energy and the degree of submission and hard work the villagers undertake to make a living.

Liyanage does not make his film to move in a poetic rhythm to sustain the tumultuous situations which the village face socially and individually, however, to make the inner rhythm and the underlying vision in the film, a poetic creation that penetrates into the filmgoer who is driven and sunk in a rare cinematic experience of power and force is made.

The crosses which Podi Eka draws on the wall symbolizes a single unit of a physical and mental pack of a brother, sister and mother whose identity is one with no lines of demarcation drawn.

Podi Eka’s love for the mother, sister and himself in a singular compact driving force that moulds itself with their identities melting into form one single blend devotion.

The entire cast in the film contribute to the success of this dynamic work of moving art. However, the director deserves distinct commendation for his identification of the character of Mel in Mahendra Perera’s thespian talent.

Past memories

Instead of going for an able bodied personality, he went for a small made man with a stern face to show that the skillful villainy lies not in the physique but in the mind.

Similarly, Bimal Jayakody’s random appearance in the performance of his character is one which we seldom see in cinema. It is so impressive and imposing.

Sinhala cinema as any other cinema occasionally goes for movie with material excellence and psychological depth, and Bambara Walalla is one such film.

What it unfolds in a fast moving whirlwind in life is absorbed into a whirlpool leaving only the memories of the past alive.

Podi Eka’s past however bitter and violent is forgotten and he rises to win rich class status where it shows that crime does not pay, but it had only been justified. If a filmgoer misses Bambara Walalla, he is sure to have missed a good film.

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