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Wednesday, 7 March 2012

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An insightful recreation of Kausilumina

The audience would be equipped with some knowledge of the Kusa Pabawathie tale when enjoying this film. Some would have heard of it from their parents. Some could have listened to or read the Jataka story. Some could have enjoyed reading the poet Alagiyawanna Mukaveti's poetry book.

According to the Jataka story and Alagiyawanna's poetic narration Pabawathie should not receive any sympathy for leaving her legal husband on the grounds that Kusa is an ugly person. But those who have read King Parakumba's Kausilumina, would find that Pabawathie has been cheated by all in respect of her marriage and family life. She rises aggressively against her exploitation. It is a question of empowerment.

Jackson and Pooja

The creators of this film have amiably demonstrated this fact in one sensitive scene where Paba lovingly and tenderly offers emergency treatment to Kusa when he fainted while carrying a load ... Paba loved Kusa and vice versa. It is the truth according to the great poet king Parakumba II.

The genre, structure and style of Kusa Paba are impressive and praiseworthy. It cannot be easily classified within a single genre. It has a gripping plot intermingled with psychology, history, Buddhist philosophy and elements of a mystery story and moral Jataka story.

It is also a creation of different viewpoints and different ideas. It examines with dramatic force the Buddhist concept of Karma and Samsaric existence. It moves the audience.

There are serious observations about individual and social responsibility. Internal conflicts of the key individuals like Paba (Puja Umashanker), Kusa (Jakson Anthony), King Madu (Ravindra Randeniya), Queen Seelawathie (Veena Jayakody), Kudi or the hunch backed chief female servant (Chandani Seneviratne) are sensitively expressed.

In particular, Jakson Anthony and Ravindra Randeniya excel others in performance when making choices in difficult situations. Structurally, the film is complex but impressive. It begins with the current situation and sinks into the past and reemerges into the present. The film proceeds in a circular construction offering glimpses of past events and tragic Samsaric situations and events related to the awakening of the sub consciousness of Kusa.

While dwelling in the wilderness Kusa seems to communicate with an unidentified invisible spirit or a divine power which seems to influence and guide him to appropriate actions. Flashback events and utterings strengthen the line of communication in the context of the film.

First person narrative is confined to Kusa. But the creators of the film have designed the film from the perspective of Kusa as well as that of Paba. Both Paba and Kusa receive the sympathy of the mature audience. The use of parallels and analogies strengthens the impact of the film. The paintings and sculpture and Veena recitals etc of Kusa represent his emotional instability. The caged beautiful parrot of Paba represents herself. The film is unusually virtual and extremely communicative. The events combined with music and dance too are symbolic. The creators have attempted to maintain a high sense of equilibrium pertaining to the symmetry of the film in texture, plot, design and the application of technology. Tissa Abeysekera's script has marked some changes deviating from the Jataka story texture. Language is finely lyrical and richly metaphorical. Many unrealistic episodes have been trimmed off. For instance the seven kings who wished to get married to Paba arrive after an invitation from Sakra.

That is in accordance with the Jataka tale. But Tissa has altered this situation. They have been shown as ones who have been eyeing on marrying Paba even in the past and their wishes aflame when they came to know of Paba breaking off her ties with Kusa and has returned home to Sagalpura.

The main themes in the film evolve around the conflicts in the states of mind of a pretty young princess and that of a powerful, skilled and talented prince who is ugly.

The spirit of love forms the under current. The focus is sharp. But, the audience could interpret in different ways reflecting their own experiences, inclinations and views of the world. The non linear plot sequences of the film, let the viewers decide for themselves how the storyline progresses.

All the characters are well defined. Kusa (Jakson Anthony) fits very well into the physical and mental features of prince Kusa described in the Jataka story. He has great artistic talents.

He is a great worrier and above all a forlorn lover. The film makes adequate use of Anthony's talents. Puja Umashanker as Paba plays the role of an exclusively pretty princess. She is being exploited by others when she is cheated by Queen Seelawathie (Veena Jayakody). Puja expresses her talents in the scene where she tenderly treats Kusa when he fainted. Her acts and words of communication demonstrate her love to Kusa. Both Kusa and Paba suffer from physical and emotional separation and bear the pangs of love. Both long to see each other.

Both express youthful vigour, artistry, and the capacity for love. It is queen Seelawathie (Veena Jayakody) who devised and hatched the plan to get her ugly looking son (Kusa) wed the pretty princess Pabawathie. It is a masterminded dishonest cheat and the audience members are aware of it and the subsequent repercussions. But she has her own reasons. She has to find a successor to the throne.

She fulfilled the condition imposed by Kusa of finding a princess resembling the features of his own creation of golden image.

The great and powerful king Madu (Ravindra Randeniya) is a symbol of absolute power. Ravindra does great justice to this role with his physical and communicative performance.

Palitha Silva and Kusum Renu play the roles of princess Paba's father and mother respectively exhibiting their usual skills. In particular the role played by Chandani Seneviratne as a faithful chief servant has a catalytic role throughout the film. She is the go between Paba, Seelawathie and Paba's mother. The creators of the film have been sensible not to make Kudi slap on the cheek, but to give a kind thrust on the arm of the golden image mistaking it to be the princess. Professor Sunil Ariyaratna and Dr Somaratna devote quite a few scenes to demonstrate and strengthen the emotional conflicts burning in the minds of the central characters. What is most impressive about the film is that it does not preach about love or morals.

The human relationships are dissected on the alter of a context sensitive social background. It emphasizes the significances of crucial choices taken by important individuals.

 

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