Director Sumitra Peries flew to London from Paris for the screening, with her husband the well-respected film-guru in Sri Lanka, Lester James Peries. Sumitra Peries's return to the London Film Festival after a lapse of eight years brought Sri Lanka back to the world of cinema with a simple but tragic story by G.B.Senanayake.
The story of ' Mother Alone' is based on a young woman Thushari ( Sangeetha Weeraratne), who finds herself pregnant after an affair with an affluent boy friend Nandaseela ( Ranjan Ramanayake) who disclaims all knowledge. When her parents (Sriyani Amarasena and Tony Ranasinghe) find out and shame and stress ensue, Thushari attempts to lose her baby but meanwhile she is packed off to various relations all over the country. As she is passed from pillar to post to avoid bringing shame on the family, things fail to improve for either, as the problem she interjected into the lives of others causes mayhem as she witnesses and gets caught up in the sexual infidelity of her aunt (Vasanthi Chaturani) who is having an affair with her husband's best friend. Increasingly traumatised, Thushari is passed to the bosom of another loving aunt (Menike Attanayake). The retiring Thushari now becomes unwilling object of desire for young Seeladasa (Sanath Gunatilake) who is already spoken for by Thusahri's beautiful cousin Kusumi (Yasoda Wimaladharma). Jealousy and misunderstanding bring terrible consequences to Kusumi where she attempts to commit suicide by drinking kerosene oil from her room lamp. The film projects as an insightful portray of the lives of women locked away from a male world, and of traditional attitudes to pregnancy out of wedlock. Well edited, with some attractive cinematography the film flows to a dramatic finale where Thushari's father suddenly dies of a heart attack and her taking the new born baby to a Buddhist temple to release some birds from a cage - to signify her maturity and freedom after all her tragic sequences in life.
From a Western point of view the film may project a simple & feminist connotation, but whether every Westerner who is not aware of the gulf of difference between the post-independent Sri Lankan and Western cultures will understand what Sumitra Peries has attempted to portray (the trauma shame and stress of an innocent woman because of the deceit displayed by the male characters in the story) is yet another matter. >From a study of Sumitra Peries's previous 7-8 films, it is easy to understand a common theme she tries to hammer out, which is the suffering of women in the Sri Lankan society. In that sense a western eye's image of ' Mother Alone' ( Duwata Mawaka Misa ) as somewhat feminist could be justified.
Sumitra Peries, to her credit as the Director of the film, has gone
into a lot of minor details in getting an almost pre-independent
atmosphere into the film from the way actors and actresses dress, the
artefacts inside the houses, the motor cars used and even going into
such lengths of getting the matching curtains used in a
pre-independent Sri Lanka. In Western film making the Director has only
to mention what is needed for a particular era and they are created
without any problem as opposed to the Sri Lankan film industry where the
Director has to go into finer details and get completely immersed in to
the story & get the right set for the right period - in addition the
responsibilities of directing the film. In this respect Sumitra Peries
has achieved her goal to the full and has come out with a successful
creation of cinematography for the purpose it was intended.