by C. A. Lenin Divakara
Formerly of the Faculty of English, University
of`A0 Sri Jayawardenepura)
The Sinhala poet Parakrama Kodituwakku's
accolades on Ranjan Ramanayake's film ‘One Shot One’ has aroused
a hornet's nest. Reputed film critics have criticized the poet
turned–critic saying he has ventured into an unknown field.
According to the producer Soma Edirisingha who
defended the poet turned-critic and the director announced that
‘One Shot One’ does not claim to be a work of art and it is a
Bioscope whose one and only objective is to entertain the
Technically every film is a bioscope.
Nevertheless since the advent of the Sinhala cinema the Sinhala-speaking
public have been using the term to describe the pure and simple
entertainment spiced with music and dance with a dash of
violence and containing a didactic story with an ending ‘They
lived happily ever after’. It is taken for granted English
‘bioscopes’`A0do not have this formula but stun the audience
with explicit sex and violence. In fairness, it should be
mentioned that some 'bioscopes' earned critics' acclaim by
virtue of their originality. Raj Kapoor's and Mehbook's hindi
films are shining examples of this genre.
Against this backdrop ‘One Shot One’ deserves
comment and cannot claim immunity from criticism and demands a
different criteria which critics wisely use to assess the
quality of the films of the like of ‘One Shot One’ as they do
with 'Horror' 'Detective' 'War' 'Musicals', etc. In doing so
critics may even rank them among works of art.
Now, the vital question is whether 'One Shot
One' a quality entertaining film.
Directors of entertaining (Commercial) films
(Bioscope) should be knowledgeable as to the different levels of
enjoyment possessed by various audiences who can be placed at
different points of the spectrum. At one extreme are the most
gullible. At the other those who`A0critically enjoy the
entertaining film. The former are enthralled by the incredible
feats of the ‘hero’ who make minced meat of the 'villain'. It is
the critics' role to asses the quality of ‘One Shot One’
considering which level of enjoyment it provides to the
Unfortunately most film-makers are blissfully
unaware of the potential of the local audience - the highest
level of enjoyment they may attain.
In the present social context the
larger-than-life portrayal of the 'Hero' of the films gains mass
appeal because they tend to identify with the 'Hero' even for a
moment, the audience a cross-section of the general public,
relish watching the 'punishments', mercilessly meted out to the
'villain-of-the-piece', the corrupt politician.
Is this a political film? Definitely not. ‘One
Shot One’ does not shed light on the hidden political agenda nor
does it impart political education on the structural violence
prevalent in society nor does it involve the audience in
political dialogue. On the contrary, physical violence is
presented as the
panacea. Fortunately, Sri Lankan audiences are
too intelligent to be misguided or misled by RR's 'message'.
What would be the fate of a person who will dare to emulate the
'Hero'? Will RR dare bell the cat himself in real life? If RR is
a true social reformer with a social commitment he should
involve the audience in meaningful political dialogue and help
them to grope for root causes of corruption in public life. In
doing so, he has the liberty to spice it with all the
ingredients of a 'bioscope'.