Mahindagamanaya is Sanath’s best creation
Aesthetics and Buddhism have been inseparable forever. This is quite
evident when we closely observe the handful of films that depict
Buddhist culture and ideology. In this backdrop Patachara, Angulimala,
Satharapera Nimithi, Ajasaththa, Vesathuru Siritha, Adhishtanaya,
Sankara, Ransalu and Uppalawanna still roam in our minds.
But it is none other than Sanath Abeysekara who diverted from the
traditional path to produce Mahindagamanaya to mark the 2600th
Sambuddhathva Jayanthi. The film which mirrors bequeathed legacy of
Buddhism has reached islandwide audience.
Sir Lester James Peries even amid harsh criticism made the turning
point by producing Rekhava , which escaped the pattern of early Sinhala
movies Kadauna Poronduwa, Ashoka Mala and Kapati Arakshakaya that
followed the Indian film tradition.
Lester further spearheaded Sinhala cinema by producing Sandeshaya and
Nidhanaya. The trend was further nourished by left front movie makers,
notably Dharmasena Pathiraja (Ahasgauvva, Bambaru Avith) Wasantha
Obeysekara (Walmathuvo, Palagetiyo) Dharmasiri Bandaranayake (Hansa
Vilak, Thunveni Yamaya).
A list of prominent figures of a generation who have nourished the
local cinema include Sumithra Peries, Tissa Abeysekara, Prof Sunil
Ariyaratne, Prasanna Withanage, Prasanna Jayakodi, Benett Ratnayake,
Jayantha Chandrasiri, Jackson Anthony, Inoka Sathyangani, Somaratne
Dissanayake and Ashoka Handagama. They have all analysed society in
different scopes while Jackson Anthony came up with Aba which gained
popularity and criticism as well.
Siri Sangabo and Andare also depicted Sri Lankan reign and the
fresher Sanath Abeysekara dared to produce Mahindagamanaya at a cost of
Rs 600 million.
The making of the film was based in Thantirimalaya Raja Maha Vihara
while Hambantota and several other parts in the island and India also
became locations. The cast apart from the stars consisted of more than
There was doubt that he could carry out such a complicated mission
and at last he has done the job and will soon be judged by the audience.
Sanath Abeysekara who is responsible for this massive creation
revealed how he took the challenge: “I am not that giant, but as a
journalist I have been reading all those books and resources. So I could
study the plot and it took me a year to finish off the script. But it
was very difficult to find a helping hand to sponsor the story of our
heritage. Nevertheless I did not give up and it was the President who
gave film a life. If there was not such a leader there would not have
been a Mahindagamanaya. I tried my best to convey our history and
religion as it is after a through study of Mahawamsa and folklore. Some
alterations in the language were needed so as to make it simple for
Devanampiyathissa was crowned twice during the period of 250-210 BC
and Buddhism was introduced at the same time. The film reveals many
interesting pieces of history.
Sanath pays his special tribute to Venerable Gatamanne Gunananda,
Ellawala Medananda, Pallegama Hemarathana Theras and Gamini Senarath for
their immense support. Jeewan Kumarathunge performs as King
Devanampiyatissa while Dilahani Ashokamala takes the role of queen
Anula. They both share the same idea of feeling lucky and be privileged
with the characters.