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Sulaga Enu Pinasa lead actress:
My real life is quite different
by Shamindra Ferdinando

Nilupuli Jayawardene is no stranger to stage and cinema but she was not a well known actress. Hardly anyone knew her. But her controversial role in Vimukthi Jayasundara’s award winning film Sulanga Enu Pinisa (Camera d’Or, Cannes 2005) grabbed public attention with critics censuring the moviemaker, actors and actress.

Nilupuli, in an interview with The Island yesterday said, "I am glad I accepted Vimukthi’s invitation and would not hesitate to act in a movie with a similar theme. It was a pleasure to work with him."

In some ways Jayasundara’s movie is similar to Sudath Mahaadivulwewa’s maiden feature film Sudu Kalu Saha Alu. "I have acted in both," she said acknowledging that her part in Mahaadivulwewa’s movie was small.

In Sulanga Enu Pinisa, she plays the role of the adulterous wife of a homeguard.

She takes a wash, hears the sound of heavy vehicles and goes topless to a window and looks outside. She presses her breasts to the grill and looks longingly at the scene outside—two heavy military trucks and uniformed men. She wipes out paint from her breasts pointing to the fact that she had pressed herself against the grill. The scenes are powerful. They send a clear message. But is it true? Is it the reality and the actual ground situation in vulnerable Sinhala villages and settlements and in areas inhabited by Tamils? The Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims living under unbelievably miserable conditions would be disappointed.

Nilupuli is glad the movie triggered a lively debate. "Let us not fight over this but exchange views," she said pointing out to the fact that maestro Dr. Lester James Peiris hailed Sulanga Enu Pinisa as a remarkable film debut and a unique achievement for Sri Lankan cinema. She also emphasised that Tissa Abeysekera declared that it was "a marvellous cinematic creation."

She said she had studied under several experts in the field and met Prasanna Vithanage when she was studying at Mahendra Perera’s Vibhavi Institute.

She is thrilled that she also got the opportunity to work with Asoka Handagama and Prasanna Vithanage. "They are the future of the local cinema and they have the courage to move forward despite obstacles," she said dismissing claims that their work tends to undermine the security forces and police. "This is ridiculous," she said, emphasising that all four won international awards and wide acclaim for depicting what she termed as the ground reality.

Handagama had given her her first role in Thani Thatuwen Piyabanne. It was followed by Prasanna Vithanage’s Ira Madiyama, Sudath Mahaadivul-wewa’s Sudu Kalu Saha Kalu and Sulanga Enu Pinisa.

She said that Jayasundara gave her the script. "I studied it thoroughly and accepted the role as it suited me. I was confident of handling the biggest assignment of my career," she said. "I did it well," she said claiming that she won praise from many people. "Of course there are critics. Critical analysis is necessary. It would generate interest," she acknowledged but the entire movie industry must protest against attempts to undermine the new generation of moviemakers.

She strongly defended a series of sex scenes in Jayasundera’s movie. "Maybe another would have produced the movie without them. But this is Vimukthi’s vision and he has a right to bring it out." She insisted that she accepted the controversial role as she was ready for it. "My family and my friends as well as the vast majority of viewers are firmly on our side," she claimed vowing to accept any role if she was confident of handling it well.

This is what Vimukthi had to say at Cannes: "If The Forsaken Land has something to do with my country’s history, it is especially through its conveyance of the suspended state of being simultaneously without war and without peace--in between the two. I wanted to capture this strange atmosphere`85For me, film making is an ideal vehicle for expression of the mental stress people experience as a result of the emptiness and indecisiveness they feel in their lives. With the film, I wanted to examine emotional isolation in a world where war, peace and god have become abstract notions."

Jayasundera recently contacted Deputy Chief of Staff Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera over the ongoing debate over his movie. This was after National Film Corporation Chief Sunil C Sirisena brought to Weerasekera’s notice of threats being directed at Jayasundera. Weerasekera who publicly criticised Jayasundera’s movie and the work of his colleagues, Handagama, Mahaadivulwewa and Vithanage accusing them of being part of a wider conspiracy against the Sri Lankan State has assured that they never meant any harm.

Jayasundera had assured Weerasekera that he was not under threat. Weerasekera has asked why Jayasundera missed a recent meeting arranged by an advertising company executive to discuss the issue. Jayasundera has claimed that he was not aware of it. Handagama, Mahaadivulwewa and Tissa Abeysekera had met Weerasekera and Brigadier Daya Ratnayake at the firm’s office near Museaus College where they discussed the issue at length but failed to reach a consensus.

Nilupuli said that there was no need to be scared of "love scenes" "sex scenes" or any other controversial scene. "I completed this movie early this year in about a month. There were scenes depicting hard sex and frustration. It’s a good movie. But it’s only a movie. My real life is quite different and I hope the people would accept it as a movie."

 

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