This article was published in the 2nd September 2010 Ceylon Daily News, and thereafter on, 5th September 2010 issue of the Lakbima News, and on 5th September 2010 issue of The Nation.
Bambarawalalla was officially selected for the 43rd Annual Houston International Film Festival, won special Remi Award (Gold) for the Best Cinematography, and the special jury Remi award for Best Direction.
The director Athula Liyanage had shown different perspective of the rural community in this movie.
Bambarawalalla is a unique crime movie to Sri Lankan cinema and has characteristics similar to that of famous western movies such as Godfather. It is not a crime movie with excessive bloodletting and violence but it touches very sensitively the unethical behavioral patterns of a cross section of our society. Throughout the movie the director has not deviated from the core subject matter. Music, excessive violence or sex is not inserted purely for the purposes of attracting audience. Athula Liyanage has adopted a no- frills policy in his movie direction and it has clearly differentiated Bambara Walalla from others.
Athula has expressed his unbiased views on rural society different to our conventional thinking. Conventional Sri Lankan writers described rural society as self-sufficient calm and with an unpolluted environment occupied by humble and generous group of people. But this is highly imaginary because villagers are also human beings with selfish needs. Athula describes the dark side of society from this movie and they are common to us. And can be analyzed with any sub society. Further crime and corruption are common to both rural and urban society.
Mel mahathtaya and Podi-eka are characters very common to contemporary society. Mel is a powerful man well versed in the intricacies of the dark side of society. Thus Mel is willing to take risks and challenges on criminal activities. Podi-eka is less experienced and prefers to serve somebody and remain within his comfort one. This is explained in the movie by Podi-eka’s famous statement “I can’t understand anything” Thus Mel becomes a leader and Podi-eka a follower. Willingly or unwillingly Podi-eka commits crimes on Mel’s instructions because he believes that is the only way he could survive. Mother is helpless to stepfather’s sexual harassments of Podi-eka’s sister because she’s financially dependent on that man and is the only place for her to survive.
This is not an exaggeration there are thugs to support political violence because they are looked after by a powerful person. Similarly, in a workplace informal power groups disrupt the formal hierarchy by harassing certain employment. The followers are more loyal to the group than to their organization and support power struggles by building images of informal leaders. Mel behaves like a social worker and a kind hearted man and is explained in the movie from his famous slogan of “I bury only dead bodies” But in addition to burying bodies from his funeral parlor Mel is involved in criminal activities in today’s context, most of us play the role of podi-eka in real life. We are in endless rat race. We compete with each other on materialistic achievements and we adopt easy ways to get things done. And sometimes they are unethical and harmful to society.
Mel has been a generous man and helps people irrespective of their back grounds. However, he will make use of them for his personal gain and hence, they become party to criminal activities on Mel’s instructions. This is a common phenomenon in today’s society. There is no sincere assistance without strings attached. We maintain short term partnership for mutual benefit. Thus we cannot get rid of our old adage, “there is no free meal”.
Podi-eka could not go to school due to his rural background and poverty. This is also a common phenomenon in our society. Benefits of free education have not gone to really poor people. It has been grabbed by the middle class and upper middle class. Podi-eka would have been a loku-miniha if he was given the benefits of free education.
Podi-eka’s mother says “it is only a couple of seconds required to change a good person to a criminal”. This is a reality but most of us do not want to accept because we want to differentiate ourselves as saints from convicts. The reality could be that most of us have not been confronted with similar situations and also not sensitive enough to understand social calamities. Fyodor Dostoyevsky from his famous novel “Crime and Punishment” emphasizes that a person has criminal and human instincts and it will get activated according to different situations in this book Raskoinikoff is a kind hearted person. But he brutally killed Ivnanovna, a selfish money lender. Even with his university education Raskolnikoff behaved as a Podi-eka. Because he believed that he has to commit this crime for the society’s betterment. Petrovton’s character is similar to Mel, an ambitious lawyer with middleclass attitudes, planning to grab Raskolnikoff’s sister at any cost. Athula tries to introduce Mel and Podi-eka to us from his movie, but we already know them, they appear globally in any cross section of a society.
Bambara walalla officially selected for the 43rd annual Houston international film festival won special Remi award (gold) for the best cinematography and special jury Remi award for best direction.