Love, indeed, is a very strange thing and people have been trying to define and understand what love is, in various forms of arts and literature. In this challenging task of deciphering love, people have come out with various interpretations and ideologies which uniquely contrast to one another on different degrees.

Jayantha Chandrasiri, one of the best filmmakers in Sri Lanka, takes the challenge of interpreting love in his film, Gharasarapa, which followed Samanala Sandwaniya, another masterpiece where he traces a different facet of love. However in Gharasarapa, he seems to demonstrate the power of love that can be held back by neither physical means nor supernatural means. Though the film was released few years back, it is still worthy to look into this portrayal of love by Chandrasiri, especially since we are living in a time which demands much love to battle through. 

If you haven’t watched the film yet, here’s the plot in a nutshell but I recommend you to find and watch the film as soon as possible. In a flashback to few decades back, Sandares, a Sinhalese youth, falls in love with Vidya, a Tamil girl who is possessed by Kalu Kumaraya (the evil devil prince who is said to possess girls and harass their spirits) as soon as they meet at a church where the priest heals those who are possessed. Yet they are separated as Vidya’s family migrates to Canada due to terrorism in Sri Lanka and later they proceed with their lives. At one point in the present day though, they are set to re-encounter to realise that the spark of love is still alive in their hearts.

Chandrasiri, being an artful director, presents his main theme, love, in various ways within the film. Primarily he confronts love with the supernatural element, Kalu Kumaraya who possesses Vidya, blending the surrealism into the film in a very elegant manner. So, once Vidya gets feelings for Sandares, her heart starts to fill with love, just nothing but love for Sandares, leaving no space for the evil spirit of Kalu Kumaraya to possess her over. In a way, Vidya’s whole spirit is exposed to love, making her immune to any dark power. The figureless voice of the devil prince, in one scene, curses Sandares for stealing his prey, depicting that the love of Sandares and Vidya is more powerful than his powers. This theory is proved further when the priest mentions that it’s not him who cured Vidya. If it wasn’t him, definitely it has to be ‘love’. In another scene after Vidya leaves for Canada, Kalu Kumaraya appears in a ‘Thovil’, village ceremony in which a priest and his helpers exorcise mental or physical illness, and pledges Sandares to make him Vidya, if she ever returns to Sri Lanka – it is this promise that connects the past and the present- establishing my suggestion; that even the supernatural elements bless true love. This might seem pretty superstitious to someone, but wait, once you dig deep into the plot you will notice the underlining gravity of this youthful love.

Though it is likely to be ignored easily, the fact that Sandares is Sinhalese and Vidya is Tamil is a crucial factor in the film. Chandrasiri hints the hope an assimilation of two ethnicities that have been set apart by extremism and politics, through this couple. Indeed, it shouldn’t have been a bed of roses for them to love amidst all the ethnic conflicts going on but their love doesn’t fail. The resilience of their love is beautifully manifested in the scene where the whole world freezes when Sandares and Vidya runs holding hands together-suggests that nothing is more powerful than love-while the song Hema Deyak Pene Eka Deyak Wage meaning ‘everything seems alike’ in English, plays in the background. There is one line in the song that I love the most which translates to English as ‘Even the black holes that swallow stars offer friendship [to those who love]’. It is something that I really believe in; that love heals anyone and connects everyone.

So, now as we all are battling through the toughest times we have witnessed as a country, we all need love above all. Everyone is facing battles we never know anything about and thus everyone needs a shoulder to lean on and collect strength. So let’s spread love, starting from our own selves to every single creature on this planet. Then our hearts will have no space for evil!

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

— Lao Tzu

By Induwara Athapattu