Friday, November 21, 2008

"Akasa Kusum" In New York

By Nimmi Harasgama

...It is the brushing away of a strand of hair, the fleeting look to the side that expresses so much more than words, the tears that fall, that made the entire audience feel the pain.

The first time I watched "Akasa Kusum" I was blown away by Malini Fonseka's performance!

Am I allowed to say that? Can I say good things about a film I am in? The first question I was asked during the Q and A session following the film's screening at the South Asian Film Festival in New York was what I thought of the film. And the first words that came to my mouth were " I was blown away by Malini Fonseka's performance. She is amazing!!!!"

So what I can say? I have to be honest and write from the heart!

It is a great privilege for me to work with Prasanna Vithanage again and I thank him from the bottom of my heart to be involved in a film with such strong female characters and strong actresses to take them on!!

In fact one of the questions from the audience was whether the screenplay to "Akasa Kusum" was written by a woman and if not then surely there must have been a female influence on the actual writing of it. They could not believe as another woman commented that a man had written with such sensitivity and understanding the pain and anguish, the happiness, the sexual subtleties of such a rich and varied ensemble of female characters. But as the credits state this Screen play was soley the work of Prasanna Vithanage. I wonder what reasoning we feminists can give for the commendation of a man's understanding of a woman's self? Do we put it down to the fact that it is 'someone's interpretation of 'woman' Or do we acknowlege as did the women in the audience at the SAIFF festival that he truly has captured a reality?

It was also interesting to note that the audience, which was made up of a varied group of people, found the themes more universal and empathasised with the central women in the film, although the themes and issues tackled by Akasa Kusum were localised to topics in Sri Lanka.

As the Q&A progressed, the audience were keen to learn more about Malini Fonseka's acting career, recognising her stunning beauty from the black and white films as the protagonist of the film. This twist, if you like in the film - the joining of the reality of the past celluloid to the present fiction - enticed the audience further into the depths of the film's darkness and then back again to the frail light that offers a sense of reality to the eventual out come that is "Akasa Kusum"...