- The latest movie that addresses the repercussions of the 30 year conflict and the post-war reality
By Shannon Jayawardena
The latest Sinhala movie directed by Asoka Handagama, Prasanna Vithanage and Vimukthi Jayasundara ‘Thundenek’ or ‘Her, Him, The other’ premiered on 19 February at the Tharanganee Film Hall, touching on the drastic repercussions of the Sri Lanka’s 30 year ethnic conflict.
The movie is divided into three short stories: ‘Her’ written and directed by Prasanna Vithanage, ‘Him’ written and directed by Vimukthi Jayasundara and ‘the Other’ written and directed by Asoka Handagama. All three are based on true stories that took place during the Sinhala-Tamil civil war.
The inspiration for the film arose in April 2016 in Jaffna by some aspiring young filmmakers with the aim of highlighting the violent outcry and traumatic effects of war which influenced the entire nation.
Parents burdened with heavy hearts at the loss of their children, loyal wives dutifully waiting for their husbands to return, sisters longing for the presence and affection of their brothers and children patiently waiting for their parents loving embrace, the constant fear of terrorist acts such as suicide bombings in public places are just some of the examples for the crosses carried by so many people during those terrible years of terrorism and war. Almost everyone in the country lost someone they were close to, loved or cared about over the course of those 30 years. This is especially true for those people who lived in the northern part of the country.
The first story features a Tamil videographer who recorded the happenings of the war only to discover a picture of a beautiful young woman and an unfinished note in the wallet of a deceased Sinhalese soldier and the story that unfolds thereafter. It is a striking film of how even faded dreams can be painted bright again if one has courage and a positive attitude.
The second narrative ‘Him’ takes place around the happenings of a Sinhalese teacher who travels to Jaffna to teach the mother language of Sinhala to Tamil children. This is a tale of how we all belong to one family despite race, culture or any ethnical background with the moral of faith and fate.
Finally, ‘The other’ is short film that shows the suffering of a mother who loses her child and the lifelong hope she carries to get at least a glimpse of him or by some miracle, embrace her son once again. The message of this story is that despite the suffering and pain caused by the war, hope still remains and people can still show love and compassion.
For nearly 30 years, the civil war in Sri Lanka caused significant hardships for the people, environment, economy and the country as a whole. With an estimated 60,000–100,000 people killed during its course, it took a devastating toll on our tiny island nation. And although there have been a great many analyses, books, debates and discussions over the course of the years regarding this conflict, only those of us that have experienced and survived it as a nation know the greater personal agonies and heartbreaks it caused.
The movie ‘Her, Him, The other’ therefore truly emphasises on some of the deeper sentiments by depicting the consequences of the war and its sad aftermath. The lives lost, the broken families, the broken hearts, the pain and suffering endured by so many people. And yet, despite it all, we are still a nation of freedom, filled with hope for a way forward to build a better and brighter future.
Pix by Gitika Talukdar