Posted on March 12th, 2013

By The Angry Cinephile.

I don’t know why I keep going to see Sinhala films?  Every time I do, I come out feeling like the last one was the WORST I ever saw,”¦ yet in my eternal optimism I inevitably go see the next one hoping for the positive, only to end up having my expectations shattered by something even worse than before!

I don’t even know where to begin with this ABORTION of a FILM?  
Ok, so before getting to the horrendous directing and amateur cinematography complemented by CRAPTACULAR acting,”¦ lets begin with the story.

 The first thing that alerted me to the fact that this was going to be a painful experience was that when I went to the concession stand to order my usual stock of Carlsberg beer and popcorn (to enhance my movie going experience ofcourse), the pious sycophantic management of the theatre had decided to ban the sale of alcohol for this so-called “ƒ”¹…”Buddhist’ film”¦ Meaning to say, that I would have to sit through all eye-gouging 120 minutes in a full state of sobriety! 

 I guess that the self-righteous producers of the film thought that their masterpiece was so holy that watching it would be the equivalent of a Religious Experience, and thus it deserved the respect of being a non-alcoholic event?  Well sure”¦ in retrospect that Religious Experience turned out to be the equivalent of witnessing the activities of Sodom and Gomorrah, on a Friday night.

 So onto the story,”¦ Well to be frank, there is no story; this so-called epic film is nothing more than an over-priced Tele-Drama, with extremely bad make up.  Its a boring linear parochial narrative that has no build up of any scene, no plot points, no drama, and no excitement whatsoever.   And what bad Tele-Drama is complete without being adequately complimented with comically bad fight scenes that would embarrass even a children’s school play audience?  Rather than tell a story of the transformation of a mortal man into a God, it seems that Prince Siddartha throughout the film behaves as though he has already attained “ƒ”¹…”Buddhahood’ (yes, that’s a real word according to the Film).  He prances around his tiny palace with a mostly deadpan expression doing all the good things that the Buddha would have done, instead of acting like the spoiled extravagant prince that history speaks of prior to his enlightenment.    So this is not really a film about the transformation of Siddartha into the Buddha, but more about how Siddartha escapes his castle.  

Now being that no Sinhala actor could have pulled off being Siddartha without garnering a chorus of giggles and gaffaws; the producers wisely managed to sucker some relatively unknown handsome Indian TV actor named Gajan Malik to play the main role,”¦  poor guy, I bet he must be biting his nails in anxiety, hoping and praying this film does not make it across the sea to India, as I’m not sure his acting career will survive if this ever gets attached to his name over there. 
Now that being said, he was probably the best actor of the lot,”¦ the worst being  Ranjan “ƒ”¹…”One Shot’ Ramanayake as King Suddhodana,”¦ Oh lord why????  If I wasn’t so cynical I would almost say they were satirizing the King’s role by casting “ƒ”¹…”One Shot’ Ladies-Man Ranjan to play Siddartha’s father.  His performance was an exercise in disbelief and it was cringeworthy at best; and the Director managed to add insult to injury by depicting him age a full 30 years by growing a mustache – with no grey hairs!   

The rest of the actors performances were up to the usual rubbish standard that one comes to expect from a Sinhala film, but no one else really stood out in a good way, or bad. 

 Now onto the production itself,”¦ I don’t normally comment on the soundtrack or score of a movie because its really hard for the composer to do a less than OK job of it,”¦ but I have to say, this one was an exceptional cacophony to my ears!  Apart from it being just excessively loud and making you want to stab out your ear drums with a knife to make it stop, it was just inappropriately slathered across every scene.  Every spoken word by this cast was gate-crashed by some sort of blood curdling instrumental sound effect that was loud enough to wake the dead.  There was zero chance of me sleeping through this film, because the sound balancing was so badly done that even the voices in my head got drowned out!

The cinematography was outright lazy,”¦ Most camera shots were mid and extreme close ups of the actors heads.  There was no camera shot that did anything to enhance any scene or the production value of this film”¦ but in the Cameraman’s defence, there was not much that could be done to enhance the film in the way of camera angles or creative shots,”¦  This so called “ƒ”¹…”Epic’ film had nothing epic about it”¦ There was not a single wide shot to establish a scene, nor show us the scale of where and when this story took place in history.  The Kingdom of Kapilawatsu, as depicted in this film, was only a few ambiguous river shots, a few barren bush areas, and the mid shots of a small market place.  Instead of wasting so much money on gaudy bad costumes, the Producer should have invested a fraction of that cost in a wide angle lens.  

And finally, I don’t even know what to say about the Director of this utter cow-pat of a film, except these few words:  PLEASE DON’T DIRECT ANOTHER MOVIE!  You have made a mockery of Buddhism and have managed to turn its founder into a shaven-chested, stoic fag.  Shame on you!  I would not be surprised if a significant percentage of the Sri Lankan Buddhist audience unfortunate enough to view this visual monstrosity would end up being turned off Buddhism altogether. 
Your only solace is that Keanu Reeves’ horrendous performance in “ƒ”¹…”Little Buddha’ still holds the crown for the WORST Siddartha Film ever.  

 Siddartha Movie Trailer:


  1. Fran Diaz Says:

    Oi, Mr Popcorn & Beer !

    U were in the wrong cinema ! ‘Sin City’, ‘Jaws’ & ‘Diamonds are Forever’ were in another theatre. Wrong guy, wrong place.
    Keep trying … age is a great teacher !!!

  2. Devinda Fernando Says:

    *** Sin City’, ‘Jaws’ & ‘Diamonds are Forever ****

    I think Fran Diaz you are on the wrong column,… this is about a Sinhala film called Siddartha… not Western movies like the ones you mention?

  3. samaraweera Says:

    I have read several Reviews written to the Daily Papers praising the Film. This is the only Review written cricising the film. Obviously , written by an anti-Buddhist. No doubt about this. Otherwise why use a pseudonym? Catholic action at work !

  4. Asanga Says:

    I think Fran was being a little sarcastic :)!!

    Mr. Cinephile, looks as if you are a bit unfamiliar with Buddhism, so please let me point out a couple of errors in your ‘review’.
    1. History does not speak of Siddharta as a spoiled extravegant prince. True, his father did do his best to avoid his son from experiencing any sorrow,and had gone to great lengths to keep his life comfortable. But Siddharta himself is said to have been a compassionate young man who was kind towards the servants of the palace and an exemplary, obedient student to his teachers.

    2. You said ‘Rather than tell the story of the transformation of a man into a God’. As any Buddhist will tell you, he remained a human being after becoming the Buddha.

    The Buddhist Audience who would have viewed this movie would not, for the most part, as you have mentioned, be stupid enough to turn off from Buddhism altogether after having seen it. Give us at least a bit of credit for that!

    You are correct however, this is a movie that should never have been made, in my humble opinion. It is an insult as you have rightly pointed out not only because of the silliness of the production, but also due to the fact that it seeks to trivialise an event that has great meaning to Buddhists.

  5. Fran Diaz Says:


    I was responding to the TONE of Angry Cinephile’s write up. The remark by the author : “Meaning to say, that I would have to sit through all eye-gouging 120 minutes in a full state of sobriety !” The article is not a serious critique of the film, but a criticism for the sake of criticising something, anything, about the film. Btw, liquor is generally not allowed inside theaters – so why the surprised tone ?

    Perhaps some aspects of the film can be improved on. The Producer/Director of the film has made a film to suit the eastern palate of the ordinary masses, and not necessarily catered to the tastes of the western cinema goer. The film attempts to awaken us to question the directions we take in our life, to keep a sense of BALANCE in the mad rush of man made ideas on how to live life. It has at least attempted to address a need in Lanka’s society, though a film on the life of the Buddha is not an easy one to make. It does not mean that we have to become a nation of meditators only, withdrawing from life, if that is what non-Buddhists are afraid of.

    The Producer/Director of the film has stuck to the story of the Life of the Buddha the way it has been told for eons. The young Prince Siddartha saw emptiness in overdone sense pleasures, as well as the standard practices expected of a prince of those days – war, the hunt, were not to his taste. He looked for a permanent solution to the pain of life. What is wrong with that ? Jesus Christ did similar acts. He disappeared from society for a long period – presumably retreated to the east (India ?) and the dessert to practice Meditation. There is no other explanation to fit that period. Jesus broke up the money lenders stalls, trying to show the people that there was something more to life, beyond than just making money. He said to chose between ‘God & Mammon’. In modern times, the challenge to us all is to achieve a sense of BALANCE in our lives, between the material and the spiritual. At present, modern day Consumerism & the over importance given to money making, has upset a sense of balance in societies everywhere.

  6. Devinda Fernando Says:

    *** I have read several Reviews written to the Daily Papers praising the Film. This is the only Review written cricising the film. Obviously , written by an anti-Buddhist. No doubt about this. Otherwise why use a pseudonym? Catholic action at work ! ***

    Ofcourse you have… Why would anyone in the “Buddha praising media” not write glowing insincere articles praising the work of private producers who want to cash in on the Religious fervor in this country?

    ***Obviously , written by an anti-Buddhist.***

    Yes its so Obvious! LOL! Anyone who makes a crude Buddha Statue, or talentless Buddha painting, or a crappy movie about Buddhism has to automatically be praised as a Hero and a Talented Individual! And thus anyone who does not join the chorus of cheers must obviously be an Anti-Buddhist….? Great Logic! Great Standards! You’ll do well in life with that attitude.

  7. Fran Diaz Says:


    If liquor is allowed in Sri Lanka theaters, then this error must be corrected. The laws in Sri Lanka, in almost every quarter, must be updated. This is one of the great flaws in Lanka governance. That Lanka was governed by Colonists for some 500 yrs has something to do with this laxity. We also note that there was no liquor in Sri Lanka till the Portuguese brought that in. One and a half Million Tamils for labor in the tea & tobacco sectors were also brought in by the then Colonists, for which present day Lankans are paying dearly. There was law and order in the country till the ‘divide & rule’ policy was brought in by the Colonists.

    Devinda, you say, : “Bad Fictional movies masquerading as Religious Documentaries’ – that is not a truthful statement. In what way is the movie fictional ? The movie has actually REMOVED some of the myth attached to Buddhism and has attempted to tell the story as accurately as is possible.

    Please be fair in your criticisms.

  8. Fran Diaz Says:

    PS : I did not know that liquor was allowed in Lanka theaters as we (family & friends) never attempted to take the stuff into theaters. Repeat : high time for a law to stop this.

  9. Fran Diaz Says:


    You don’t have to follow my sense of right or wrong at all. If you find all the western ways so great, it is a western law that prohibits liquor in theaters.

    You are missing the point here. I am trying to say that Colonial rule brought in many problems and we have to recognize the roots of the problems here in order to solve them. I have said many times in these columns that whatever sensible brought in by the Colonists ought to be kept, and the rest thrown out.

    Also, prove to us that liquor existed in Lanka prior to advent of the Portuguese.

    As for tea earning Foreign Exchange (FE), FE is an invention of the west. The British & the Dutch brought in Tamils in huge numbers to work their tea & tobacco plantations, not to plump up our FE, which was non-existant at that time.

    The film is not ‘Crappie’ as you state. Your choice of language is sad, another imported cultural disadvantage here. If you cannot choose the right language to get your point across, let us stop this debate. Your choice of language is somewhat offensive, and you cannot even see that. A sure sign of the times.

    On my part, I don’t think it is worthwhile debating with you any more. Let us close this thread of exchange.

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