File size : 800 MiB
Codec ID : XVID
Duration : 2h 3mn
Bit rate : 784 Kbps
Frame rate : 25.000 fps
Writing library : XviD 50
Format : MPEG Audio
Bit rate mode : Variable
Bit rate : 112 Kbps
Channel(s) : 2 channels
Sampling rate : 48.0 KHz
All of us have heard the story of Bhikkuni Uthpalawanna. But the film Uthpalawanna directed by Sunil Ariyarathna is not the story that we are familiar with. Ariyarathne’s story is about the conflict between discipline, rules and regulations and humanity brought forth through the life and the hardships that a priest, wearing a yellow robe has to go through everyday.
The story takes place in 1989, in a time of a revolution where a wounded rebellious university student escapes into a forest near a hermitage. A young bhikkuni finds this rebel and is faced with the choice of saving his life or leaving him to die. The story develops with this conflict and the protagonist’s mind travels back to the past, a flashback about her life before she became a priest.
Upuli (Sangeetha) is a dancer who comes from a very rich high caste family; she has a relationship with the son of her guru who belongs to a lower cast. She elopes with her lover, and her heartbroken mother dies when she hears the news. When she comes to pay her last respects to her mother at the funeral, Upuli’s infuriated father kills her husband. Shattered by the demise of her young husband, Upuli decides to become a bhikkuni and enters a hermitage.
The Nation had a brief interview with the director of the film, Prof Sunil Ariyarathne to find out more about this film.
Why did you choose Sangeetha for the main role?
“We wanted whoever is going to play the main role to have the head shaved. There is a real mahana pinkama in the film, and shaving the head was to be shot in real. In the beginning, we were afraid to approach Sangeetha, but she said that she will read the script and decide. We are very thankful to her for considering to do that role and what she did was a service to the Sri Lankan cinema.”
What message do you want to give the audience through the film?
“I wanted to tell the public that just because someone wears a yellow robe, it does not mean he or she not is a human being like any other with shortcomings and temptations. I want to show the difficulties a monk goes through to play the role he is expected to do. Here, the bhikkuni goes against rules but ethically, what she does is justifiable or justified.”
What were the hardships that you had to go through during filming?
“We did the shooting in Thanthirimalay in a bikshunee aramaya. So, I was afraid that a lot of people might come to watch the shoot and we will not be able to create the atmosphere that we needed. But I’m glad there wasn’t any disturbance and people gave us all the space we wanted. It is said that at Thanthirimalay, Sangamiththa Theraniya had spent her first night in Sri Lanka and there is a little shoot of Sri Maha Bodiya still. We used that for our shooting also.”
What do you consider as the climax of the film? “I think the climax of the film is where Uthpalawana has to leave the hermitage because the villagers accuse her of helping a rebel. It is a very moving event.”
What are your hopes for the film?
“Every director has hopes on their films. My last film was Sudu Sewanali and I’m making this film after a break of five years. The story is very powerful and this is the first time that a bhikkuni plays the main role in a Sri Lankan film. And it is the first time I’m making a film of this nature. We have used advanced technology in this film and I hope that it will be a success.”
What is a good creation to you? “I think a good creation means a well handled film which is created with immense financial expenditure. But it won’t be a success if it does not please the audience. The purpose of a creation is not individual pleasure. So I hope people will watch this film. Receiving an award is only a plus point but my hope is that people will like it”
The story, dialogue and screenplay are by Thissa Abeysekara and produced by Sumathi Films. The cast includes Malini Fonseka, Sangeetha Weerarathna, Sadali Wallikana, Roshan Ravindra, Saman Wimalasiri, Jagath Chamila, Suminda Sirisena, Chithra Warakagoda and Rohana Beddage. The assistant director is Wimal Deshapriya. Art director is Darmasena Hemapala and the Camaramen Suminda Weerasinha and the music is by Nawarathna Gamage.