Gini Veluma (Inferno): Film Review
by Tilak S. Fernando in London

Sri Lankan veteran journalist Arthur U. Amarasena's resolve to venture into the area of his wife Sriyani Amarasena's boundaries of film production and direction has paid him off in his maiden attempt by producing and directing the cine film, Gini Veluma (Inferno).The movie was shown in London as a premiere on 16 October 2003 to a full-house-audience at The Auditorium, University of Westminster, Harrow Campus in the presence of the Deputy High Commissioner for Sri Lanka, Mrs.Shenuka Seneviratne as chief guest.

Arthur U.Amarasena's broadened responsibility in this production included writing up of the story, adopting it as a film script, writing dialogues and finally running the accountabilility of directing a film for the first time.

The story was based on political thuggary and skulduggery by a Junior Minister in the government on an eminent medical heart surgeon to take revenge after losing his son following an open-heart surgery and secondary infection. The politician was enraged further upon hearing a tip-off given to the police by the Surgeon on three of the Minister's stooges, who had been involved in a multi-million-rupee bank robbery, which brought them to the book.

Emotionally devastated, Junior Minister approaches his Senior to complain and seek his blessings to put a vicious plan into action with a view to destroying the surgeon's life and the family. His subtle vindictive appeal gets a rebuff instead of a blessing from the Senior Minister pin pointing another aspect of Sri Lankan political life that one should not generalise and castigate all politicians with the same yard stick as a bunch of uncivilised power hungry lot who behave like incorrigible school kids at times!

However the Junior Minister in his own way succeeds in destroying the surgeon and his family by planting drugs in his car with the aid of a pretty nurse who works with the surgeon at the hospital with his financial and ministerial muscle power. Ultimately the innocent surgeon becomes a criminal in the eyes of the Law and is sent to jail for 15 years. Not having satisfied with brutality to such an extent, the Minister goes a further step ahead in 'doctoring' some x-rated photographs of the surgeon with the nurse and sending them to the surgeon's wife to poison her mind. During his jail term, through his sister who visits him, the surgeon finds that finally he has lost everything in life including his own wife and the family. Disappointed, frustrated and saddened by all these factors he loses interest in worldly affairs and becomes a Buddhist monk and seeks salvation by contemplating on meditation confined to an isolated retreat in a distant mountain.

Ravindra Randeniya, Sriyani Amarasena (surgeon's wife) and Cleetus Mendis (Senior Consultant), Wimal Alahakoon (Surgeon and Buddhist monk), Chaturika Peiris (nurse), Nilanthi Dias (sister), Gamini Jayalath (police officer) and Tilak Kumara Ratnayake (Minister) have all contributed their fair share in their individual performances to make the film a success. Tilak Kumara Ratnayake was quite effective in his role as the brutal Minister who abuses his power which makes him repulsive on screen. Wimal Alahakoon too comes equally effective in his new role as the surgeon turned Buddhist monk while he relates his unfortunate life story to a journalist friend who goes in search of him into the woods. This became evident from sobbing heard from the audience while several were seen wiping their silent tears as the gruesome behaviour of politics touched them very close to their hearts.

The bottom line of the story highlights the level of corruption and misdemeanour still prevalent in the Sri Lankan politics that has not faded out with the changing hues of all political parties over the decades! It also focuses on the vulnerability and susceptibility of ordinary law abiding citizens when caught up with the high and mighty political power bases.

The film also drives a point that no Sri Lankan is 'unpatriotic' to his/her motherland who has fed them intellectually and brought them up professionally, and the fact that today mother Lanka's mammary glands are producing blood instead of milk not because many of her loving children have abandoned her out of apathy but for the recurring corruption, injustice, political thuggary and interference that have become cancerous over the decades and appear to be still as the order of the day!

Morally too, it drives a subtle message that virtue is the essence of human life and education or professionalism is not worth a dime minus one's good character ! The film perhaps tries to illustrate the fact that the surgeon, being a happily married family man, could have avoided all the calamity had he only an iota of Will power to resist the frailties of human temptations which overcame in the presence of the pretty nurse.

Although the film attempts to balance the act by focussing on a Senior Minister as a law abiding, civilised and an reasonable politician, what it portrays on a broader sense is that although it is only a single rotten apple which becomes exposed, out of a collection, there may well be other apples in the same bunch which appear to be clean externally and promising yet are rotten within its very core !