Thursday, November 06, 2014

With gun as motif

Thanha Rathi Raga was beautiful crafted, exquisitely executed, prodigious, extraordinary, remarkable cinema - suspenseful, joyous to watch, delightful to enjoy, the masterful command of the cinema being displayed in every frame, the narrative molded with loving hands.

The slow beginning, the establishing of context and character... the motifs and notes to the drama to come, carefully or (or craftily?) planted; working at multiple layers, each layer reveals, in succession, enjoyable cinema, suspenseful cinema, cinematic misfortune... cinematic revelation.... cinematic tragedy.... in varied cinematic facets as it addresses a range of emotions while drilling down to reveal, in every sense, a representation of the national tragedy that has enveloped the (Sinhala?) nation over the 30 years.

A nation which 'accidentally' found a 'gun' and did not know what to do with it, passing it from hand to hand until the country was engulfed. All that and more packed into 2 hours of thoughtful and eventually, heart wrenching ethos and pathos. The build up to a crescendo of the great human tragedy (of our nation?) that seemed without an end.

The story unfolded, leaving an echo of so much to think through, a tale told with warmth, love and understanding of the human condition, played by artistes, a gripping narrative structure built by the script writer/s (?) combining with texture and rendition of the visuals of a very high level of cinematographic consistency and skill and unlabored, smooth, editing - they all added their own special dose of skill and artistry to the blend.

The cinematography amazed me with its consistency of texture and craft, albeit with a few brief lapses. I have seen such evenness very rarely. An evenness which is testimony to a superb grasp of the craft of cinematography, contributing so much without intrusion. Editing bore hallmarks of Ravindra Guruge's consummate skill and again made his silent contribution to the blend. Heenatigala's art direction was meaningful: each location and site 'artfully' chosen and arranged. The opening credits, like the cover of a book, laid out tastefully, setting the mood.

A remarkable achievement, not only because it is a 'first' film but irrespective of a 'first' because it is wonderful cinema, with the stamp of a mature hand, with none of the stumbles of a 'first' film. All in all wonderful cinema, exquisitely rendered.

Sri Lanka needs this kind of cinema every kind of good cinema I suppose but certainly this cinema that is rare, occasional to be exceptional, because it is vision and insight translated into cinematic artistry of a high order. - Dr D B Nihalsinghe