The President, an exceedingly nice man, has been moved by the plight of a schoolgirl who stole some coconuts so that her class room could be painted brightly.
Kumbhakarna is deeply touched. We know that the President has not been pleased with the Judiciary lately, and this case surely gives him a terrific opportunity to point out the pig-headedness of judges and the inhumanity of our legal system in general. In short, a serious overhaul is in order, and the man has already moved firmly and forcefully in the right direction with the appointment of someone more humane to the position of Chief Justice. But the rot is obviously deep, going all the way down to the humble Magistrate Courts, and we expect to see many new appointments before long, setting the system right before it collapses under the weight of its well-rehearsed nastiness.
" What is needed is an intellectual debate on the matter, with the likes of Dr. Carlo Fonseka and Gunadasa Amarasekara weighing in. Of course, the film reveals nothing new, as seen from a modern, skeptical eye, about the life of the Buddha as a very young man. "
Nastiness exists in many other quarters as well. Looking for escapism, people are crowding the cinemas to see a film about Siddhartha Gauthama, now well on its way to making box office history. Prince Siddhartha and his wife Yasodhara are played by two Indian actors. Though national sentiments are definitely hurt by this insidious act, there have been no demonstrations of public protest, fasts unto death, etc, perhaps because of the overall piety of the occasion. Nonetheless, the question needs to ask: Aren’t Sri Lankan actors good enough to play Siddhartha and Yasodhara?
What is needed is an intellectual debate on the matter, with the likes of Dr. Carlo Fonseka and Gunadasa Amarasekara weighing in. Of course, the film reveals nothing new, as seen from a modern, skeptical eye, about the life of the Buddha as a very young man. We know that he got sick of life by viewing, among other things, nearly naked women day after day. Kumbhakarna recalls here that, in an altogether different context, Hollywood actor Richard Gere once remarked that, after watching a parade of nude women during a film audition, he couldn’t stand to see another one (for how long, one wonders). In both cases, it’s the fault of the system.
But forgive Kumbhakarna for digressing. There is of course no room any modernism, artistically speaking, in the life of the Buddha. Any story will have to unfold with the same pious predictability and monotony as, for example, the life, birth and death of Jesus Christ as shown on television during Christmas. One Sri Lankan who dared take a different view (slightly different, mind you, not daringly so) was hounded by the establishment forty years ago. That was novelist Martin Wickremasinghe, whose novel ‘Bava Tharanaya’ was dismissed by scandalised clergy and laymen as the obscene ramblings of a senile old man. Fortunately, no one set fire to his house, though that is likely the fate of anyone who dares to be different with religion nowadays. But the lesson has apparently been well learnt.
Finally, lest this has been misunderstood, there is no nudity whatsoever in the film. The dancers look more chaste than swimmers. In case the reader is wondering why Kumbharkarna has suddenly switched to the subject of swimmers, well, it’s because the annual two-mile swimming competition held at Mt. Lavinia entered a startling new phase this year. It held separate races for men and women for the first time in its history.
" But the rot is obviously deep, going all the way down to the humble Magistrate Courts, and we expect to see many new appointments before long, setting the system right before it collapses under the weight of its well-rehearsed nastiness "
The reason, one learns, is that female competitors have complained of sexual harassment by some male counterparts. People who can find the time to grope while swimming two miles as hard as they can deserve a pair of brass antlers (and a life time ban from competitive swimming) but the most obvious solution has clearly escaped the authorities –dress up the women (as it’s done in some countries) so that they will look less sexy when lying full-length on water, or we shall have segregated swimming pools in the not too distant future.