Relentless striving after justice in an unkind world
CDN / 04MAY2005
by Chandana Silva
It all happened long ago; the cinematic tale begins from the present. A straight line to the climax, no flashbacks or visuals or any other form of countenance for good reasons.
A scene from the film
In Asani Warsha director Vasantha Obeysekera exposes the bare truth, the raw reality of the day, in simple cinematic form. The theme implies how Pradeep a disoriented youth strives for justice in an unreasonable and unkind world.
The irony in the state of affairs is that he plays the stooge of a minister in power, joins the politico's gang to violently harass the opponent's helpers who are pasting posters. In his plight he calls for sympathy as a poor uneducated youth, although engaged in criminal activities.
Pradeep is a symbol of a group of youth who ride rough on society due to their unfortunate plight. The situations they engage themselves in, show how difficult it is to make them understand the correct approach to life.
Pradeep suffered much in his childhood, humiliated and thrashed for this illegitimate birth. Once, with a lot of determination he confronts his father who has returned to the country after a long overseas stay. Pradeep hopes to plan his future with the assistance of his father.
The conflict arising then onwards opens the stark reality of the world we live in, the reality Pradeep believes is totally unreal in its true sense. He has to face a few failures and it is due to his lack of education. Pradeep blames his father for his unfortunate life.
He will never understand the true situation. It is very very wrong, but one cannot go back on certain events. Pradeep does not trust his father (he is correct in his own sense) more attempts to appreciate the limit he could help him in his condition.
Capacity of perception
It is clear how Pradeep has become a victim of the situation. With minimum scenes the director has put this together without much elaboration. Not having the opportunity to study, his capacity of perception is low; twisted personality having associated youths of unrefined nature.
He is unaware of this. He is helpless and is looking for a stable life and his sole expectation is the father, armed with the argument that he who brought him to this world should provide a good future for him.
The father Sanjeeva Godakumbura is a well-established contractor. When Pradeep confronts him, he accepts paternity, yet he has to maintain the good name of the family and erase the past. The director has cleverly brought this conflict to a climax of humanity and love.
The direct method of story line used, moves forward swiftly with powerful scenes of the father son confrontation and makes way for the gradual violent behaviour of Pradeep. The more he is rejected, the more painful he feels at the point when he is kicked out of the premises; anger turns to bitter animosity.
In a way the viewer understands that the assistance offered by the father is not genuine, it is just to get over his obligations. He never shows the slightest tenderness to the son. The director uses this as a strong weapon against the father resembling the norms of today's socializing.
In whatever way the illegitimate child will never have a place in society. Due to social norms the father cannot accept him as his son in the true sense. This very conflicting subject is drawn to our attention in the eyes of the unfortunate youth.
The director uses one still photograph and the knowledge of a few characters to establish the paternity. The forceful nature of the youth blasting against his fate is of a pathetic nature as the viewer knows he has almost no chance of winning over.
Sanjeeva Godakumbura's children brought up in an affluent and sophisticated environment is used in contrast to Pradeep's character. Pradeep has no animosity towards the children but the director indirectly awakens the viewers' mind to weigh the difference in reality.
Later on it appears that Pradeep envies his father. The scene where the father is happily sea bathing with the family is used very well, and brought in as a supporting point to the climax.
However much society has developed, even today, illegitimacy is looked down upon by people; even in terms of law, it is not acceptable. This is what director Vasantha Obeysekera is discussing with sympathy in his film.
Apart from this he uses the young man as a symbol of the disoriented youth of today who faces a bleak future. Surprisingly the governing officials nor society take the situation seriously. This will cause a grave danger in the near future.
Pradeep engages in political crimes and associates with underworld characters. His outlook is moulded by such acts and by the company he keeps.
It is clear that there is harmony in the house where he lives with his step-father, mother and step-brother. Yet, Pradeep is quite hot tempered and violent due to his bad association.
He has the natural urge to establish himself by finding employment, then earn money to marry his dream girl. Pradeep is forced to approach his long forgotten father who has just returned from abroad, whom he believes will help him to make his life comfortable.
Sanjeeva Godakumbura, at the beginning, through sympathy or otherwise helps Pradeep financially. He has a social status and a beautiful family; he cannot accept Pradeep as his son in whatever manner without being humiliated by society.
In this social and scientific advanced stage, are we prepared to accept an illegitimate child and a legitimate child in equal status? It is sure that there will be a whisper or to in the crowd. Some may point a finger with a sarcastic smile.
The child suffers innumerable pain throughout his life, for no fault of his. The film focuses on this intricate human situation examining in close-up; the deeply embedded truth Asani Warsha has made a unique statement of validity and reality.
Although society rejects suicide as an end to unanswerable conflicts, for most people in such plight as Pradeep there is no other way out. At the very moment Pradeep is ready to pull the trigger at his father sprawled on the ground but what freezes him is humanity.
His subconscious mind works out in front of his father and step-sister trying to save him, crying and pleading. The deeply embedded guilt in human mind and compassion overpowers his aggressiveness, there comes the feeling of being isolated and dejected. The director touches these extremely sensitive scenes dexterously.
In Asani Warsha the director has precisely arrived at his goal. It is clear that he has no intention of making funfair on the pretext of entertainment. He wishes to deal with a serious question. What might be the outcome when the next generation is going to take over? If this is what they are, what would the society be like? What principles will govern society?
Imbalance of characters
There seems to be an imbalance of characters displayed against the theme and background. The real self of the father and his inner life is vague. More sequences are allocated to Pradeep's activities.
The social and psychological battle between father and son is suppressed by this approach. Also at the blasting climax Pradeep vanishes too fast from the screen. True, he points the gun at his father, but after deciding not to commit that sinful act, we guess he would have been in utter disgust and pain. That dejected feeling counts a lot before we hear the sound of the gun.
Though he has not read what existentialism is, he sees the meaninglessness of things around him. He has not made an indirect approach where interpretations are required. Audience is made to confront the images in their realistic perspective.
The film makes a strong statement about the present day youth and the future society. The view of the audience may vary. It is not purely for visual pleasure of the romantic cinema; the director does something more than providing entertainment and thereby contributes to society his share of duty as an artist.