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 Post subject: Guerilla Marketing : Conflict between reality and fantasy
 Post Posted: Wed Jun 22, 2005 4:10 pm 
Guerilla Marketing : Conflict between reality and fantasy

by E.M.G. Edirisinghe

Marketing is described as the unknown of the known. But, Guerilla Marketing of Jayantha Chandrasiri is fantasy behind the known.

The energetic and cherubic young filmmaker who dares to break into innovation whether in thematic content or in formal compositions, tells the audience that presidential candidature is for sale, and like any other commodity it too is marketable, and it has to be marketed in the form of a physical and spiritual pack.

In this milieu, everyone involved in the marketing of the candidate becomes items of subsidiary merchandise.

Jayantha in his second cinematic effort takes on a challenging theme to infuse vitality that needs innovative format to extract that sting in the content. He dwells on a presidential election campaign which has intellectual, political, social and emotional relevance and significance at national level.

Four power-packed characters unleashed into an environment of fusion, friction and fantasy, touch the intellectual capacity of the non-mainstream audience with an impact that will linger on in the imagination track for some time. Energy they release and intensity they create, extensively elevate the entire atmosphere of the movie into one of rare experiences in film art of Sri Lanka.

Transient nature
Presidency itself is inward reality and outward fantasy. Fantasy is its unique wing, unimaginable contribution that keeps the campaign floating above the intellectual and moral comprehension of the blinded voter. However, the reality is the deflated president as well as the inflated president is subject to public scrutiny.

Jayantha says that presidency and the president are two different status, and in the lead to the making of the final product, they merge into a single institution with the sanctity of the former surrendering its authenticity to the latter.

Liberal mix of fantasy and reality which are so intimately linked easily merges with the other and keeps the viewer engrossed in the transient nature of political goals. Both the candidate and the public live in a world of fantasy while their worldly existence is a world of reality.

Conflict of interest between fantasy and reality is the true nature of mundane satisfaction. In this confusion, the politicians thrive through intensified marketing devices meant to dent the intellect of the masses. The third dimension so created in them is fit only for the consumption of lunatics. In other words, Jayantha says, the world is 'mad'.

I think the filmmaker is inspired by what the Buddha said "Sabbe puthujjana unmantaka" (All non-enlightened folks are insane). To call this the reality is the illusion. The filmmaker's sarcastic, sardonic vision about these laymen widens with each frame unfolded.

Decision to spread gossips, fabrications and lies woven into tales to reach the voters, on the other hand, reflects the true mental composition of the masses. The robust photographic session which Gregory went through with the marketer to project himself to the people is symbolic of the vanity of political leadership of the country.

Parakramabahu was Gregory's idol and ideal without parallel, but, when he found there were nine of them, he was amused. He laughed at his own image-building and evident ignorance.

Thisara the marketer suffers from a degree of schizophrenia. He becomes a victim of his own marketing illusion which spawned somebody from nobody. It is finally the 'actor' in him, which means the unreality in Gregory that emerged as the candidate and won the election.

Thisara's firm professional commitment to market Gregory brings out the schizophrenic characteristics in him to warn him that he misleads, misinforms and misrepresents before reaching the climax of this conflict.

The climax of this duality in his mind is captured when he mounted an attack on Gregory with a pillow sprinkling cotton all over reminding that Thisara could spiritually break him into pieces and reduce him to nothing. The people who were swayed by his marketing mechanism were jubilant in Gregory's victory. What an illusion! They are all mad.

Marketable commodity
Thisara's wife Ranga too, is a marketable commodity. In today's social parlance wife is an exhibit with a marketable value. On the other hand, Suramya with whom he had an unfinished love affair, tender and deep, is not a commodity as his wife is, but a source of strength and inspiration that gave him mental relief.

Thus he brings in a distinction between the wife in business and the lover in business. Her presence itself was reality not leading to an illusion whereas the wife is the opposite of it.

Apart from the vivid gallant focus on a vital political issue, the film technique the filmmaker has used, is a bold invention of a form that suits the vigour of the content exuding a wholesome impact on the viewer.

Movement of images from fantasy to reality and vice versa is so well designed that the whole creation is a one compact product made easy to take grip of by sharp editing and the effective use of montage.

The whole film with loud sounding music, noises and voices make a din ideal to create an election atmosphere which is essentially vociferous and propagandist that pervades.

The sound technician deserves a word of praise for maintaining a well balanced vocal rhythm which sustains the high tempo infused into the film to the very end. Carefully crafted power-packed visual images and vocal renderings bring out the unit of rhythm and an exclusive presentation, a rarity in Sinhala cinema.

Scenes intersperse with traditional dance forms and folk songs; it is a penetration into the past which was already buried under modernist invasion. Suramya's father was a percussionist, but she was not.

It gives a fresh breath to the narrative and a sense of her character, and events being distantly rooted to the soil of which the fertility is washed off. What was culled from tradition magnificently brings out the change from emotional exhilaration to illusionary elation.

Jayantha is inimitably adventurous and boldly innovative in seeking and moulding an appropriate technique and a blend of form and content to address the viewer. To break the restrictions imposed on expression depending on what the filmmaker has got to say and how, technique and the structure should change with the perspective of the creator. Jayantha is very effective in his effort to bring the audience closer to the inner or the sub-text of his film.

Its impressive form in situational and character positions gains and gathers forceful portrayal. Complex interaction of personal and social issues that prevail is brought within an impressive third dimension.

Finally Jayantha suggests that all those who swallow the marketed political pills of image re-building are insane. It is a transition from simple charming pure recitals to a horrendous incompatible guerilla marketing a much mellowed version of guerilla fighting.

Like his teledramas each of which are of different format, the two films Jayantha Chandrasiri has made too, are structurally and thematically dissimilar. We hope his next will be another milestone in his directorial art.

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