Royal – 140-year cadet at The Island

By Uditha Devaprya

(There is input from Dhananjaya Samarakoon)

In 1965, the Government of Sri Lanka published the findings of the Investigation Commission on the Film Industry. Filled with suggestions and expressions from prominent players in Ceylon cinemas, the Commission made some recommendations. The most important of these was the establishment of the National Film Archive. This did not happen until six years later, but the need for such a system was frequently emphasized by the commitment of the socialist government’s elections to a fair competition in the industry.

Among the people who represented the committee was the Ceylon Theater. Recognizing the issue of local cinemas, the organization argues that film producers “cannot escape the restrictions imposed by the audience,” whether state-funded or private-sector-funded. bottom. Distinguishing between film and other art, he added that painters, playwrights, novelists and sculptors could produce without much concern for the reaction of the masses, but the producers remained “slave of the audience”. ..

Perhaps the most important point the Commission pointed out was the link between the fate of the film and the country’s economic problems. The centre-left government, which took office in 1970, advocating greater intervention in this area, recognized the problem of allowing a small number of private players to “practically dominate the local film industry.” To that end, the new government sought to reduce the impact of monopoly factors on the market by regulating the production, distribution and screening of films. In search of superior production value and greater local output, we sought to give cinemas a new life lease.

In 1977, the controls enforced by the Sirimavo Bandaranaike administration were relaxed. The most direct result of the new policy is, on the one hand, “more access to American and Hong Kong works than ever before” and, on the other hand, “obstacles for new entrants to enter the field”. Was to be removed. In other words, the industry has transformed from a fair competition into a business venture. The introduction of television has had a significant impact on the subsequent decline in audience numbers, but commentators disagree on how much it has led to a decline in cinema audiences.

When examining the problems and dilemmas of Sri Lankan cinema, these historical developments and changes must be considered. Sri Lanka has delayed recognition of what should have been recognized long ago and officially classified film as an industry at the end of last year. This is too little and too late, but it is still appropriate for us to consider and ponder the problems facing this area today, both in terms of management and creativity. Of course, as always, the link between these issues and the country’s economic problems is as relevant as it was in 1965.

A glimpse into the history of Sri Lankan cinema since its founding in 1947 shows that the deterioration of creative standards is quite sharp and disastrous. Ironically, despite these descents, the filmmaking, acting, screenplay, and cinematography courses offered in this country today are endless. It can be concluded that the main contradiction here is always between a fertile talent reserve and a terrible lack of such talent opportunities. In other words, we have enough and talented people. But they lack the money, agencies, and access to get the most out of their talents.

Part of the reason local cinema critics rarely mention it is the lack of an industrial base in this sector. Not surprisingly, the peak of Sri Lankan cinema should have been in the 1960s and 1970s. These were the years when the prosperous artistic renaissance coincided with an insignificant industrial presence in the film sector. While state intervention became more prominent under the United Front administration, the existence of a thriving commercial base in the industry ensured a stable flow of works of art as well as mainstream.

Therefore, the Cultural Revolution, foretold in the 1956 general election, in which the Central Left alliance promoting the value of local art forms came to power, should peak in the last two decades. It is also appropriate that Lester James Perry’s, the undisputed diplomatic leader of a Sri Lankan cinema, is not only making two masterpieces in a row, but also a very literate person. Ganperaria (1964) And very experimental Delovak Athara (1966) – But then we’ll follow up on three more masterpieces. All this was done for the commercial player Ceylon Theater. Golhadawasa (1968), Akarapaha (1969), and Nidanaya (1970) – This time. These have been cultural experiments over the years, and experiments that have benefited from the cultural sector, especially cinema, have been linked to the industrial framework.

Conversely, the deterioration of a movie theater may be due to the deterioration of its industrial framework in the country. With the advice of the World Bank, Silane Iran Perma wrote that the country’s first government “recklessly wasted foreign exchange reserves while avoiding large-scale industrial investment.” By the 1960s, Iran Perma wrote that the terms of trade had begun to change irreparably, “because exports of commodities and raw materials could not sustain consumption of the country’s imported products.” This had no minor impact on the movie. By the late 1960s, it became clear that Ceylon’s films, which had long relied on the oligopoly of production companies, would collapse unless the state intervened. This issue was addressed by National Film Corporation when it was founded in 1971, as it did in the coming years.

Implementation of SwabashaDespite its obvious limitations, it also influenced the trajectory of movies since the 1950s. Despite being cursed by the English-speaking elite, the Sinhala-speaking middle-class empowerment created bilingual intelligence and paved the way for a bilingual cultural community. It was from this community that something like Dayananda Gunawaldena, which gave us the best adaptation of French theater, turned into a Sinhalese film, Bakuma HadijiWas welcomed. Declining creative and intellectual standards within the population should be acknowledged, but there is no doubt that during its heyday, Sri Lankan cinemas benefited from the thriving middle class.

Today, unfortunately, despite the presence of an up-and-coming, mostly Sinhalese central bourgeoisie, the outlook no longer seems to be good for local cinemas. In every country, it is the middle class that creates and breeds its cultural elite. However, in Sri Lanka, the community is retreating at so many levels, by all means, primarily due to worsening economic conditions. The declining standards in today’s film and television production are notable, rather than acting like screenplays and camerawork. You can also notice the desperate lack of imagination in movies and TV shows. From predictable stories to endless dialogues, we’ve been gloomy in so many ways.

I think the problem is related to the fact that we no longer explore new themes and problems through the film. In doing so, we always create trends that are imitated and reproduced by as many as 100 other filmmakers and screenwriters. Hogana Pokuna It was a spectacular and very good movie, but it set a precedent for stories about poor village schools and idealistic teachers that are still being filmed. Aroko Udapadi A sensational audience and critics, since its release five years ago, we have created a historic epic with a budget of Million Rupees that looks and feels hopelessly predictable.

Sure, these aren’t just cinema-specific issues. When was the cover song not last rounded online? Did you give the cover artist a temporary spotlight while popularizing the original song? When did the seemingly flooded mainstream television series fail to cut costs through static camera frames and endless descriptive dialogue? Art exhibitions, especially in Colombo, are limited to the intellectual upper crust, where rental costs can be paid in the city and the work is not only separated from the surrounding world, but also appears to be totally indifferent. It seems.

It must be admitted that there is no way to go to the cinema here unless our cultural industry is linked to the appropriate industrial framework. In the 1960s, the last peak of the three major production companies, Sri Lanka had serious terms of trade and structural protection by the state establishing film companies and setting high artistic and administrative standards. Faced with a crisis. This certainly didn’t always work, but it kept cinemas away during the difficult times of the 1970s. The liberalization of the industry since 1977 can hardly be thought of carefully, but in reality, the slowdown in film growth and its subsequent decline have been the economic and structural ones we have encountered since then. It is very related to the deadlock.

The truth of the matter is that without proper industrial policy and infrastructure, cinemas in no country can last long. From a creative or administrative point of view, a Sri Lankan cinema is far more valuable than what it received. But where are the policy makers and experts who can prescribe a radical solution and recommend an industrialization plan that can help our cinema take off? In the United States, China, and India, these problems have been and continue to be. In Sri Lanka, this doesn’t seem to be the case. It is deep and sincere regret.

(Uditha Devapriya can be contacted at and Dhananjaya Samarakoon can be contacted at Royal – 140-year cadet at The Island

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