Monday, June 9, 2008


When a young man (Thivanka) returns home to Sri Lanka, after many years in England he becomes enamored by a village girl named Anjalika. This puts Thivanka in a complicated predicament because Anjalika happens to be the daughter of a plantation caretaker employed by Thivanka's father. To make matters worse Thivanka's childhood friend Kavya harbors hopes of taking their relationship to a more intimate level. The inevitable clash of social classes results in the kidnapping and subsequent death of Anjalika. Thivanka still reeling from his grief decides to accompany a friend to Malaysia in order to clear his mind. While in Malaysia, Thivanka runs into a girl who looks identical to his deceased Anjalika. This revelation will lead Thivanka to the answers he desperately seeks.

ANJALIKA is the movie directorial debut of Channa Perera who is better known as a popular television actor. Perera has co-written the script with Mahesh Rathsara Maddumaarachchi. Perera also plays the male lead (Thivanka) and the title character of Anjalika is played by Pooja Umashankar, an Indian actress in her Sri Lankan film debut.
Anarkali Akarsha (Kavya), Rex Kodippili, Narada Bakmeewewa and Sanath Gunathilake (Thivanka's father) comprise the supporting cast.

If I had a rupee for every time I saw the storyline of "rich boy/girl falls in love with poor boy/girl, but rich boy's/girl's parents try to break them up" I'd be filthy rich. This plotline is probably the most overused in Sri Lankan Film/Television history and Channa Perera displays his lack of originality by regurgitating it. It is ridiculous that in this day and age, an educated and wealthy character such as Thivanka would fall head over heels in love with an immature, uneducated and socially opposite character like Anjalika. Perera breathes new life to the 'Cinderella Syndrome' where a new generation of female cinema-goers will dream and await the arrival of their future Prince Charmings. Numerous scenes of blatant immaturity on the part of the male and female leads prove that although we live in the 21st Century, Sri Lankan film plots are still stuck in the 1980's. I felt that Thivanka is merely infatuated by the outer appearance of Anjalika and doesn't take the time (not shown in any scene, either) to get to know the real girl.
The most significant plot twist in the entire film is unbelievably coincidental. By the end of the film I felt that if Thivanka's friend did not force him to come to Malaysia he (Thivanka) would never have found Anjalika, he would never have known the truth and he would never have married her. The plot seems to have been pieced together by using snippets of plot points from old Sri Lankan teledramas and Bollywood films.
'Childish' and 'Juvenile' are the only words that come to mind when describing the script. The dialogue between Thivanka and Anjalika insults the intelligence of even thirteen year olds. It is alarming that this story and script is the result of two screenwriters' efforts.

The cinematography is what makes this film tolerable. The crisp clear images are refreshing to the eyes, especially the shots where the scenic beauty of Sri Lanka is captured. But showcasing the flora and fauna of Sri Lanka has become a common ploy by many filmmakers to misdirect the audience from the miserable storyline. When will they realize that hypnotic shots of scenery are no substitute for a class plot?
Three out of the four veteran actors give a worthwhile performance to their respective roles, namely Sanath Gunathilake, Luxman Mendis and Maureen Charuni but Rex Kodippili is proof that a wealth of experience cannot replace natural acting ability.
His brand of "Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto" type acting is hilariously evident. TV Presenter turned actor Narada Bakmeewewa gives a forgettable performance as Thivanka's best friend, Pooja Umashankar is clearly out of her element as Anjalika and Channa Perera's acting is acceptable as Thivanka. But the award for the 'Worst Performance of the Film' goes to Miss Anarkali Akarsha, her babyish portrayal of Kavya is mind boggling. How and Why in the name of sanity does this "Alleged Actress" get hired? Her dialogue delivery is awkward and her mannerisms are retarded. Her performance alone makes the film appear silly.

The only person who can be held accountable for the travesty that is ANJALIKA is the co-writer/director Channa Perera. His first mistake was writing a generic story and screenplay, his second mistake was taking the production to Malaysia and shooting mundane exterior locations such as sidewalks, concrete parks and the center divides of public roads. Why not photograph more of Malaysia's natural scenery or even the world famous Petronas Twin Towers (not from a distance, though)? His third mistake was hiring Anarkali Akarsha and forth was casting himself as the lead actor and using it as a device to pose and strut-his-stuff like a model on the catwalk…on the catwalk…yeah on the catwalk!
The fifth mistake was the absurdly rushed climax of the film, the story moves from conspiracy, to incest, to confession and to happily ever after within a few minutes. This displays the director's lack of storytelling ability.
On the television interview show "Hard Talk" (MAX TV), Channa Perera was asked why he hired a South Indian actress for the title role of Anjalika? He answered "because I couldn't find a Sri Lankan actress suitable enough to play the role." And this brings us to his biggest error, why would you hire a foreign actress who cannot speak a word of Sinhala to play a Sinhalese village girl and then hire a Sri Lankan actress (Nadeesha Hemamali) to voice/dub the dialogue of the first actress? Basically Channa Perera hired one actress for her visual appeal and the other for her vocal appeal. I find this deed insulting to every struggling and unemployed young actress in Sri Lanka. The hiring of foreign actors or actresses simply disheartens local thespians not to mention weakens Sri Lankan Cinema in general. The 'role of Anjalika' should have been given to the 'voice of Anjalika' Nadeesha Hemamali, this would have alleviated a considerable expenditure in the budget and also would have improved the film entirely.

Rating: 1 COCONUT

S. V. Fernando


Trevindi said...

I totally agree with you.. This film sucks.. I regret watching it.. As usual they have copied from BOLLYWOOD!!

a bruised reed said...

You said "It is ridiculous that in this day and age, an educated and wealthy character such as Thivanka would fall head over heels in love with an immature, uneducated and socially opposite character like Anjalika."

A shameful remark!! If you are Sri Lankan it's even worse.