Saturday Magazine

The Intruders (Sudu Kaluwara)
A cinematic spring of patriotism

A review by Ariesen Ahubudu

Sudath Rohana, a leading Sri Lankan tele-drama director, of no mean repute, has entered the film industry with his debut feature film the Intruders (Sudu Kaluwara) at a very crucial time in the history of our country.

We are now in the grips of a cultural, spiritual and environmental crisis and the film takes us back to the root causes of all these developments.

The producer/director of this film based on N. T. Karunatilleke’s ‘Ulugedera Arachchila’ puts this across very well when he says:

"My maiden cinematic effort is intended to bring into focus the reality of colonial rule and the consequences of the intrusion of alien habits, customs, traditions and politics that totally disrupted the flow of peaceful simple self-contained life of the Sri Lankan rural folk."

I wish to recall here that Robert Knox, an Englishman himself, who authored the well known book about the Kandyan Kingdom, has referred to the Sinhala people as a community with temperate habits refraining from the consumption of liquor and meat.

They had no ill will towards others and were able to control their anger very easily. They were also endowed with the quality of hospitality. There had also been no beggars.

‘Sudu Kaluwara’ with a formidable cast including renowned artistes Sanath Gunatilaka, Jayalath Manorathne, Buddhadasa Withanarachchi, Palitha Silva, Geetha Kanthi, Rathna Lalani and Somalatha Subasinghe supported ably by Indrajith Nawinna, W. Jayasiri, Jaya am Senanayake, Sandeepa, Sewmini and others bring out very effectively the darkness that spread over a simple village with the arrival of the British, to whom the country was entrusted in 1815, to protect our heritage. But alas, they only destroyed our heritage and brought in hatred, cultural and spiritual degeneration to our villages, as is aptly brought out in this film.

Depriving thousands of countrymen of their lands by the Waste Lands Ordinance of 1842, the British brought into this country cheap Indian labour which ultimately became a big problem to our country. It is sad that our leaders did not have the foresight of Burmese leaders who absorbed such people only after they learnt their language and adopted their culture in order to unite into one Burmese nation.

Wilson Herald, the planter in this film, is the personification of this destruction that was brought into this village in that manner along with the Arachchila (Village Headman), a petit-official who bent backwards to keep The British master happy.

Dingiri Banda, is the typical outsider, who was brought into the villages to disrupt the serene life style of the village.

Wilson, the planter, had already set the destruction in motion when he transformed a natural forest into a coconut estate. We are now seeking advise from those self same imperialists to conserve our environment forgetting that they were the perpetrators of environmental destruction in our country! So it is very appropriate that our attention is being focused on the beginning of environmental destruction which is plaguing our country now even with unprecedented land slides.

The fate of the innocent damsel Heen Menike who is looked between the cultural values and customs of our country and the immoral behaviour of the white man brings out the moral degeneration that tore apart the serenity that was so highly praised by Robert Knox.

Podi Nilame’s fate in becoming a tenant cultivator in his own land is only a reminder to us about the fate that is about to befall the villagers for a second time in the guise of development. Our people should at least now take lessons from the past and be more vigilant about dark skinned "white men" (Kalu Suddas) and take care to preserve what little is left of our cultural heritage.

The tank that sustained the village with the tank civilization that lasted for thousands of years is finally dried up due to political, economic and cultural exploitation of the intruders both local and foreign. Now we seek aid and grants from those very same intruders who reduce our country to a state of destitution.

At a time when intruders are about to pounce on our motherland for a second time, Sudath Rohana has so aptly chosen this story for his film, to awaken the people of this country, who are in deep slumber when history is about to repeat iteself.

‘Sudu Kaluwara’ is a film that every national minded person, especially our younger generation, should see not merely as a form of entertainment but also as a reminder to us to act with more foresight.