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 Post subject: Sankara
 Post Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2007 12:50 am 
Sankara depicts communicative significance

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Dr. Senarath Tennakoon

Sankara marks the entry of resourceful and talented Prasanna Jayakody ably supported by Somaratne Dissanayake, Renuka Balasuriya, Palitha Perera, Priyanka Sirikumara and Nadika Guruge, into the Sri Lankan creative cinematic tradition. Sankara is a different film altogether from the contemporary Sri Lankan cinematic tradition, in respect of theme and plot, style and approach and focus of concern.

The most marked is the lack of sex, glamour, action, suspense and verbose dialogue. In essence, it is a visual journey into the psychological ramifications of the human mind. Prassanna has chosen a young Buddhist monk who has come to a rural temple to restore graffiti. The partly destroyed paintings represent the essence of a lesser known Jathaka Story, Thelapatha Jathakaya.

Distasteful trends
The jathaka is a fertile field of enquiry into the distasteful trends of sensual pleasure. The young monk works with diligence despite being distracted by the erotic scenes in the old paintings, those presented by the young pretty village girl’s advances and by his subconscious shadowy lay counterpart’s stirring.

The subconscious life stream of the young monk is reflected in the artistic expressions, environment changes, musings and symbolic presentations in this remarkable film.

The delicate female hair-clip, the female erotic features and the Preying Mantis, the violent story, the dripping sweat drops etc. are also symbolic in this film.

Two worlds
Human beings live in two worlds. One is essentially discursive in character and is a world of signs and symbols. The other is the physical/material world structured by causal processes. In Sankara the young Buddhist monk presents the disciplined emotional world while his shadowy lay counterpart presents the life exposed to emotions.

The Chief monk is prophetic and understands the emotional struggle of the young monk through wisdom and perhaps experience. Very few words are exchanged between and among the characters.

The visual medium strongly mellowed by the appropriate musical compositions is predominant in attracting the attention of the audience. But, who should be the apt audience of Sankara? The children, the youth and the ordinary folk may find out of place and taste.

The highly selective nature of the audience would be a limitation of the commercial as well as the cinematic success of Sankara. The saffron robe itself restricts the film’s entry into a wide world of lay life experience.

Sankara would not attract a local audience, but its potential to draw a global audience would be immense as it presents a different vision and philosophy. The slow moving style and the rather melancholy tenor in a fast moving economic world is quite unbelievable for those immersed in treasure hunting and profit making activities.

International community
Already, Sankara has won some prestigious international film awards. As such, the international community is aware of the potential of Prasanna and others in the creation of a film of this calibre and integrity. But, whether our local creative artists deviate from the chosen cinematic path is a question.

One would question Prasanna and others about the communicative significance of this film. Whether Sankara is successful in offering a moral vision or even a bit of experience that could enrich the lives of the audience remains a problem.


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