Review: ‘Surabi Dena’

Reviewed at Hawaii Intl. Film Festival, Nov. 11, 1993. Running time: 140 MIN.

Reviewed at Hawaii Intl. Film Festival, Nov. 11, 1993. Running time: 140 MIN.

Soma … Anoja Weerasinghe

Kirthi … Ravindra Randeniya

Sama … Somi Ratnayake

(Sinhalese dialogue; English subtitles)

This Sri Lankan soaper about a poor woman paid to carry a child for barren landowners may speak to class conflicts on the troubled isle. To Westerners, it will look as laughably out of date as old reruns of “Oprah.”

Lowly vegetable seller Soma initially resists the plan to bear a lucrative baby for self-important aristocrat Kirthi and his equally coldblooded, and sterile, wife, Sama. Her gruff husband, however, grabs for the money and drowns his qualms in drink with a local chorus of ne’er-do-wells.

Once everyone agrees, thingsreally turn sticky: Rich stud and peasant breeder are soon fogging up the master bedroom (chastely lensed, of course), while grim Sama vacuums the horribly decorated villa, and a mute butler smirks. Dutifully, the mismatched pair continue to “try,” even after Soma is declared pregnant.

Apart from this gimmicky, and increasingly implausible, plot device, “Womb” occasionally evinces the raw power of an oft-told folk tale, especially once Soma’s downtrodden hubby starts unraveling violently. As the sex-hungry big shot , Ravindra Randeniya hams it up with a lot of presumably romantic sniffing, while Anoja Weerasinghe (Sinhalese cinema’s leading lady) shows remarkable restraint in the main role — even if the in-your-face dubbing consistently over-amps all emotions.

Other tech credits are fairly rough (music, for example, is always chopped when a scene is), and it’s hard to support pic’s absurd 140 minutes.

Surabi Dena

(SRI LANKAN)

Production

A National Film Corp. of Sri Lanka (Colombo) production. Produced by Lakshman Jananatha. Directed, written by Chandraratne Mapitigama.

Crew

Camera (color), Andrew Jayamanna; editor, Elmo Halliday; music, Rohana Weerasinghe, Prof. Sunil Ariyaratne; sound, Edward Jayakody, Sriya Kariyawasam; assistant director, L.S. Chandrasekera.

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