Paangshu to hit the screen soon | Sunday Observer

Paangshu to hit the screen soon

2 August, 2020

Visakesa Chandrasekaram’s second cinematic encounter Paangshu is all set to hit the screen by the end of August this year. The theme of the film marked a much needed shift in the Sinhala cinema, in the local as well as the International film festival arena by bringing ‘a much discussed’ story – the story about ‘disappearance’ rather the story about ‘post disappearance’.

During the second uprising of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) in the late 1980s, nearly 50,000 ethnic Sinhalese were killed. The Security Forces, police, paramilitary groups sponsored by the Government and the JVP should have taken responsibility for these extra judicial killings.

Although the insurgency that gripped the country in the period 1988/89 had affected the lives of almost every citizen who lived in the South, either directly or indirectly, unfortunately these atrocities that occurred in the south of the island were overshadowed by the violent conflict against terrorism.

In that sense the civilians in the South had been affected directly by the 1988/89 insurgency more than the 30-year conflict against terrorism in the North.

Nita Fernando, a one-time popular actress in Sinhala cinema plays Babanona - the key role in the film and the highly emphatic character she portrays is undoubtedly a major comeback for Nita’s cinematic life. She claimed that Babanona’s character was one of the most challenging ones she had ever played in her five-decade long career in acting.

The film was selected to represent many international and local film festivals last year, won many awards and was highly praised by the audience and juries.

Visakesa Chandrasekaram

Visakesa Chandrasekaram’s debut film Sayapethi Kusuma (Frangipani) was officially selected for more than 25 international film festivals winning several awards including the Best Foreign Film at the 2015 Rio LGBT Film Festival and Dr Lester James Peiris Award at the 2016 Sarasaviya Film Festival.

His second film Paangshu (Earth) was premiered at the 2018 Montreal World Film Festival followed by 14 more international festivals winning several awards including the Best Actress (Nice IFFF), Best supporting Actor (Golden Door IFF) and a special Jury Mention (Religions Today IFF). Visakesa has worked in Sri Lanka as a Human Rights lawyer and in Australia as a consultant for the NSW Government. He has received a doctorate from the Australian National University for his research on the use of confessionary evidence under counter-terrorism laws. He currently works as a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of Colombo.

In a one on one interview with the Sunday Observer last year, Visakesa recalled how the initial seed of Paangshu was planted in his mind a long time ago; because of a woman he met when he was attending court to observe proceedings as a just passed out Law graduate.

The woman, in her late fifties, haggard and looking toiled, clad in worn-out clothes and slippers – asked him Mahaththaya, where is the District Court library?

“That woman really changed the perception of my professional life I wanted to have as a career. I was thinking to myself, ‘how can a person who couldn’t afford a pair of Bata slippers, afford to pay for a lawyer’? How unjust would it be to expect such a person to pay a lump sum of money to obtain justice? That day I decided that this surely was not going to be my bread and butter.

And, very much later this woman was on my mind when I developed the character of Babanona for PaangshuVisakesa said.

The Paangshu cast consisted of Nadee Kammellaweera in the lead role along with Jagath Manuwarna and Nilmini Buwaneka and Savier Kanishka in supportive roles. Cinematography is by Kalinga Deshapriya and music composed by Chinthaka Jayakody.