25 March, 2023


The Monk Who Left The Monastery

By Prajakta Hebbar – The Indian Express –

Hector Kumarasiri is short, with stooped shoulders, and uses a “walker” while stepping outdoors. With pearly white teeth and hair to match, the Sinhalese director speaks with a thick South Asian accent. “Almost 75 per cent of the population in Sri Lanka follows Buddhism, but half of them think Buddhism is some sort of a fashion trend,” he said.

The Sri Lankan filmmaker and theatre person was on a visit to India for the world premiere of his first film Abinikmana, screened as part of five-day “The Inner Path: A festival of Buddhist films, exhibitions, philosophy, performances” that concluded last week in Delhi. The 99-minute film deals with the dilemma of a Buddhist monk who is forced to forgo his spiritual ambitions as he still has worldly attachments.

Filmed in just 14 days and on a shoe-string budget of Rs 50 lakh, the film has Sudarshana Bandara and Joe Abeywickrama in lead roles. “My protagonist is a Buddhist monk who is forced to discontinue his spiritual journey when he discovers his parents are seriously indisposed,” he explained, adding, “But the struggle increases as his father passes away and he returns to the monastery.”

Working with theatre for 35 years now, and with more than 15 theatre productions under his belt, Kumarasiri, who himself practises Buddhism, said he is pleased at the response he got from Indian audiences in the Capital.

Adding that he plans to make a socio-political film next, Kumarasiri was set to take a flight back home. But before that, he wanted to meditate for some time, as is his custom. “Alas, today, I will have a lot of difficulty concentrating, since I’ve met so many beautiful women today,” he joked.


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