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
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.
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
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
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
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.