To ‘enjoy’ dreadful reality

Preview on Boodee Keerthisena’s ‘Mille Soya’

enjoy.jpg (13253 bytes)by Revata S. Silva
It is not wise to ‘label’ ‘Mille Soya’ (Boungiorno Italia), the latest film by Visvanath Buddhika Keerthisena - better known as Boodee, as a film exploring the dark side of Sri Lankans who seek greener pastures in the Europe or even as a cinematic portrayal of the sub-culture of the island’s north-west coastal villages; drugs, prostitution, kasippu, violent politics, pop music, Bob Marley and Che Guevara.

Instead it’s more apt to name it a film that shows the violent-plus-humorous nature of Sri Lanka after the advent of the open economic system in 1978. ‘Mille Soya,’ the second Sinhala feature film by Boodee after ‘Sihina Deshayen’ (Veils of Maya) (1997) is all about man’s greed for money and all the mundane material comforts which people expect in a money-worshipped society. This new film will entitle Boodee to a new identity, a film maker who portrays this eerie reality in a hilarious context. ‘Mille Soya’ will be released in Sri Lanka shortly.

The central character of the film (Mahendra Perera) is an ardent fan of Bob Marley. In fact he sings a Sinhalese version of "No woman, no cry" at a village musical show. His music group is a funny thing. They make funny mistakes in mass musical shows; the drummer dropping the stick and the vocalist forgetting lyrics.

Friends returning from Italy on their holidays to these parts of Chillaw called "Punch Italiya" or "Punch Romaya" arouse these pop singers’ desire to migrate to Italy. In a dangerous and, in a way, the ugliest bid to fulfil this desire, the friends are engaged in a deadly trip to Europe at the expense of the money their families saved for them. Two chaps lose their lives in airless luggage carriers of the big coaches they were pushed in and in fearful winter conditions.

Friendships are betrayed as some take money from those who freeze to death. They leave the two dead bodies on their way. Survivors settle down in the alien nation. The main character returns to Sri Lanka to attend to the funeral of his brother who is shot dead in a small political rally. The ‘hero’ gets another opportunity to go back to the ‘dreamland.’ At the beach he reflects on his past. The sadness and joy of his life in Italy. He falls into a reverie.

In the film Boodeee juxtaposes murder and laughter. Crime and fun and Marley and Che. Does it give any light to the Lankans’ socio-cultural contours rather than showing the ‘dreadful’ reality in a new-look cinematic narrative?

‘Mille Soya’ - Produced by Buddhi Keerthisena, Camera - Moshe Benyaish, K.A. Dharmasena, Art - Chandragupta Thenuwara, Editing - Ravindra Guruge, Music - Lakshman Joseph de Saram, Make-up - Wasantha Vittachchi, Asst. Directors - Daminda D. Madawala and G. Sivagurunathan Cast - M. Perera, Sangeetha Weeraratne, Dilhani Ekanayake, Ravindra Randeniya Sanath Gunatillaka, Linton Semage, Roger Seneviratne, K. Addaraarachchi, Veena Jayakodi, W. Jayasiri, Suvineetha Weerasinhge, Nadee Kammallaweera, Edward Gunawardena, Navanandana Wijesinghe, Anthony Surendra, Pradeep Hettiarachchi, Channa Perera and Victor Ramanayake.