Yasodhara Kariyawasam’s A Love Story | Sunday Observer

Yasodhara Kariyawasam’s A Love Story

10 January, 2021

On December 20-22, Agenda 14 held its 10th annual Short Film Festival, a platform for gifted, up and coming local filmmakers to showcase their hard work and to celebrate their achievements. Over hundreds of submissions were made despite this troubled and hectic year, out of which just 24 short films were chosen for the competition, far and away the standout film of the night was Ekthara Adara Kathawak, or A Love Story by Yasodhara Kariyawasam. Ekthara Adara Kathawak won the Best Editing, Best Script, two Best Performance awards and ultimately earned the Best Film Award.

In a brief interview with her, Yasodhara described her film as a bitter, raw and a natural depiction of love and what it means to different people. “It is difficult for someone to understand another person’s love language” she said, as a person’s unique love language is constantly changing, moulded by their personal experiences. It can take the form of something good, or something toxic, both of which the film ruminates on neutrally, portraying a morally grey perspective on love.

Realistic film

She commented on how her story was inspired by true stories of real women and friends who have shared their experiences, which she said helped her film to resonate with viewers who have gone through something similar, indirectly if not personally. This was explicitly the reaction she intended for her film, as she felt that a majority of stories that Sri Lankan audiences were accustomed to wereromanticised and unrealistic. “We wanted to make a realistic film that the audience would feel.” As a fan of film herself, Yasodhara feels that if a movie made her feel intensely, if it made her resonate with it; that would be a good film; an ideal she applied to her own works, to try and make her audience feel and reevaluate themselves.

Yasodhara said that this movie was primarily meant for traditional housewives who are not too exposed to the more liberal views on love, sex and marriage, to help them understand a new perspective. However, she also mentioned that its depiction of masculinity as being important for men as well. She felt that in our culture, men are taught a pernicious interpretation of masculinity which warps them and by shining a light on this effect, as she hopes she does through her film, media can help society to rethink its values.

In her personal experience, Yasodhara faced no true obstacles to get started, which she attributed to her encouraging support system that helped pursue her passion. Always having a had a talent for photography, she developed her skills as filmmaker making fashion films for the Colombo Fashion Week’s Fashion Film Festival. Eventually, with the help of friends and colleagues put together a film crew for her first short film, ThéKahata, which was also shortlisted for Agenda 14. After her first film, Deepthi Jayasinghe, who had acted in ThéKahata, brought ‘Yasodhara the screenplay that they would work on together to make Ekthara Adara Kathawak. Now, with two hard hitting woman centric short films under her belt, Yasodhara understands that she has this image of a feminist filmmaker, but she hopes to break out of that mould with her future work.

Unique perspectives

As a relatively new filmmaker, Yasodhara had unique perspectives to share on the Sri Lankan Film Industry. Though the industry has a long and prestigious history, with many talented filmmakers who helped shape it into what it is today and continues to do so to this day but in her opinion, we are in dire need of new blood. Though the industry has legends who carry Sri Lankan Cinema on their backs, they will not be around forever, and she feels newer filmmakers need to be ready to take on that weight.

To this end, she had some advice to impart to prospective local filmmakers, based on her admittedly limited experience. She insisted on the importance of having a screenplay ready before everything else. Having the right equipment, the locations, the crew, everything comes second to having the screenplay ready as it is the lifeblood of your film. There is a temptation to just start making the movie as soon as the logistics and equipment are secured, but without a proper screenplay, the best it can be is mediocre. Yasodhara also insists on the willingness to learn. At no point will you know enough and only by being open to researching, practising and experiencing new things will one grow as a filmmaker.