by Tilak S. Fernando from London

On September 12, Sri Lankan Performance Artists League in the United Kingdom presented their second show in London at the Winston Churchill Hall, Ruislip, to a packed audience with H.E. the High Commissioner Faiz Musthapa and Mrs. Musthapa as chief guests. The proceeds of such presentations are said to be in aid of the inopportune creative artistes in Sri Lanka.

This was the premiere show of the Sinhala tele-film 'Hima Piyali (Snow flakes) produced by Rodney Widanapathirana and Latha Alahakoon. The story has been based on a cartoon story appeared and became very popular in Sri Lanka in the 'Tharunaya' Sinhala tabloid. Rodney Widanapathirane, who is the Editor-in-Chief of Tharunaya newspaper, also wrote the teleplay and did the direction.

This was a film version, condensed to two hours and forty five minutes, out of a seventeen episode tele-drama embracing social issues prevalent in the Sri Lankan society and depicting how love can deliver sledge hammer blows as much as contentment in a destined world.

Professor Asela Randeniya (Wimal Alahakoon) in London faces a domestic problem when his daughter becomes highly distressed at the death of her husband, suspected of a fowl play. To pacify her and give the daughter some time and space to heal her wounds, he decides to take the whole family (wife-Maureen Charuni, (son -Jagath Wimala), (daughter- Wasanthi Gunaratne) to one of his holiday resorts in a Sri Lankan tea plantation.

But in Sri Lanka things do not go the way he expected. As a bad omen the son falls from a waterfall and becomes hospitalised, during which he develops some amorous feelings towards the pretty nurse who looks after him at the hospital. Seemingly lives of Randeniya family become entangled and complex with compounding misfortunes, first, when it comes to light that the dead husband has had an affair with a girl in Sri Lanka, which makes the daughter's mental condition acute. Rubbing salt to injury, the daughter finds out that her brother was in love with the dead husband's lover who happens to be the nurse and she begins to despise both brother and the nurse. The Professor goes on a fact-finding journey to establish, though late, whether his son-in-law had actually committed bigamy. Having found out that the nurse had been only an innocent victim of a Casanova of a son-in-law, he sympathises with the nurse. Subsequently churning everyone's lives upside down and amidst unexpected and unbelievable occurrences the son ends up getting married to the nurse with the blessings of his parents but to the repugnance of the sister.

Taking viewers in a maze, the plot concentrates on various rumours spreading in a Sri Lankan village about a murder that took place in London, the suspect of which happens to be none other than young Randeniya, the very brother-in-law of the victim. A CID detective, who is shown in the teas plantation as a visiting friend of the young Randeniya is revealed only at the very end as a Sri Lankan police officer in-cognito working on the London murder case, who falls in love with his distressed sister and gets married to her at the end. Although the brother objects to her sister's involvement with 'his friend' at the beginning it later helps him to cloud his case altogether and be free from the Law as much as from an acute psychological guilty trauma he was developing. The story is meant to show how troubles, which started from London, got dissolved like snowflakes in Sri Lanka. The drama ends when the two young couples happily settle down in Sri Lanka after their marriage and Professor Randeniya returning back to London solo to his job bidding good-bye to his wife and the children.

Rodney Withanapathirana, who managed to earn a teledrama award for Hemantheye Wasanthayak as the Director of the film in which he helped Wimal Alahakoon to receive a Sri Lankan drama award on his second television appearance, has been successful this time too, in getting the maximum talent extracted out of the artistes, Wimal Alahakoon, Maureen Charuni, Jagath Chamila, Wasanthi Gunaratne, Jayantha Bopearachchi, Nadi Chandrasekera, Amarasiri Kalansuriya, Manel Wanaguru, Mauri Samarasinghe, Manjula Moragaha, Stanley Krishnaratne and Nilanthi Gunawardena.

The film has managed to capture some breath taking scenes from Ratnapura and Ingiriya but the sound track showed some weak areas especially at the beginning and at some places. According to the Director of the film this could not have been avoided as the film was ' blown up' from a tele drama format to a film version, especially to be shown in London. It's an impossible task to give the full effect of a plot when a seventeen-episode drama is condensed to two hours and forty-five minute film. In that respect some incongruencies, which puzzled the viewer, could be justified. The first half of the film appeared somewhat dragging but after the interval the story became clearer, actors and actresses vibrant and active and kept the audience spell bound till the very end.

It is always easy to look at an end product and comment, but if more care had been given to the film version, various scenes such as the Professor coming from London driving his own car to the tea estate; finally when things were sorted out leaving his wife in Sri Lanka and returning back to his base in England by himself; A London murder getting lubricated in the Sri Lankan gossip machine; the London based dead person having an affair with a girl in Sri Lanka; the murderer offering bribes to a servant in Sri Lanka to keep him quiet from spreading 'what he knew about the murder' which is supposed to have taken place in London, were seen as somewhat distorted because of careless vacuums left in editing the drama to a film version. Nevertheless the film was of entertainment quality and it's sure to appeal to tele drama audiences when it unveils in its full seventeen-episode version in Sri Lankan television.