GUWAHATI: Sri Lankan celebrated filmmaker Prasanna Vithanage who was conferred the coveted Bhupen Hazarika award by the Asam Sahitya Sabha, apex literary body of Assam, was in Guwahati to receive the award. The Citizen spoke with the multiple award- winning filmmaker.


On censorship:

The duty of the censor board should be classification and not to ban the films. What it can do is to give ratings, say, according to the language a film has. In Sri Lanka, we are actually fighting for rating and classification system rather than putting a ban on the films. Even two of my films were banned. But later it got cleared.

On India and Indian cinema:

India has been my biggest source of inspiration – starting from Gautam Buddha to Mahatma Gandhi – they have showed the way. I mostly watch Indian regional cinema made by wonderful directors like Satyajit Rai, Ritwik Ghatak, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Guru Dutta and Jahnu Barua among others.

Jahnu Barua’s ‘Catastrophe’ (Halodhia Choraye Baodhan Khai) has changed my perception on cinema and life. The characters do not look like as they are acting. It’s so true. There’s no larger than life kind of thing here in the film. That’s how it changed my perception.

I think we should promote the regional cinema. The film promotion corporation of Sri Lanka and regional film corporations of India should have regular dialogues and a platform for promoting each other’s films.

On Sri Lanka:

More or less we face similar problems in the entire region. Already we have seen more than 35 years of time in insurgency and civil war in which more than 100 thousand people have lost their lives.

We must stand united as one Sri Lankan instead of Sinhalese or Tamil. Or I don’t see the future of Sri Lanka.

On his mother’s influence on films:

I think my mother has a great role to play in life like anyone of you. I have known womanhood from my mother. My mother has given me an atmosphere to grow intellectually. When you understand the womanhood, you learn to respect women.

That’s how it reflects in my films. Though we say, both men and women are equal in our society, it’s a long way to go.

On Cinema in digital age:

I’m not pessimistic on that. At the present age of digital world, the filmmakers have huge scope to present their films in the global arena with the mediums like Netflix and others.

People may not go to the theatres to watch a film, but they will watch a good film on the laptop or smart TV through Netflix. So, if a good film is made either in Assam or Sri Lanka, it has a global viewership. So, the future is bright.

On his cinema:

I try to depict the reality. What the war has snatched from humanity. War has robbed the dignity from humanity.