The state the country at the moment is indeed, a dire one. The stress, the uncertainty, and the financial difficulties have brought almost every citizen in the country to the brink of a breakdown.

If there was something to take the worry off people’s minds it’s cricket or a good movie.

Although the cinema industry is also suffering due to the trying times and many film producers and directors are happy to sit these turbulent times out to release their movies, mainly due to financial reasons, there are exceptions.

Young and daring director Suranga Alwis is trying to swim upstream by releasing his latest movie The Game. Fortune favours the brave, and the risk Alwis took has paid off. If I saw people lining up in queues for something other than fuel or gas, it was in cinemas to buy tickets to Alwis’ latest movie. The brave decision of Alwis is a risky one but a much-needed one to not only revive the cinema industry that has been on the decline as of late but also to provide people with some sort of entertainment during this dark time. The success The Game is experiencing goes to show that the cinema goers still has a good taste in entertainment and are willing to spend their precious time and money if the production is a worthy one.

Below is some words of praise for Alwis’ The Game and its successful run by a few prominent directors of Sinhala cinema.

Udayakantha Warnasooriya

Alwis’ decision to release his movie at a time like this is a brave one. As a result, quite a few movie theatres which were closed were opened and saw crowd coming in once again, which I see as a small victory of the industry in this difficult time.

It is observed that the movie is screening well despite the turbulent times we are facing. The Game is a progressive movie, filled with much entertainment from the start to the very end. I see it as a long-awaited drizzle to the dry and cracked land that is Sri Lankan cinema.

The Game isn’t a movie to be missed. At a time like this we should encourage the producer and the director. Therefore, if all cinema lovers can go to see the movie and show their support, I think it will be a huge strength to the film industry of the country.

Suneth Malinga Lokuhewa

I was lucky to have the opportunity to be at the premiere of Alwis’ movie, The Game and I was unable to express my take on the movie after the screening due to the commotion as everyone was so eager to express their views to the media.

It is one of the finest in Sri Lankan commercial cinema. Despite it ran for almost three hours the whole movie flew like a breeze. It has all the necessary ingredients a commercial movie should possess. There isn’t a scene in the movie that makes the viewer wonder whether it should have been done better or in a different way. All the actors give their 100 per cent to the movie, even the ones who are playing minor roles. Ranjan Ramanayake who plays the lead in the movie proves yet again that he and only he, is still the superstar of Sri Lankan cinema.

In first 20 -30 minutes of the film the viewer is hooked with simple entertainment and light comedy. However, the next 40 minutes gradually brings the viewer to the realisation that the movie is not as simple as they had thought it would be. The plot twist at the mid-point of the movie had almost everybody in the cinema gasping with disbelief. All this proves the talent of Alwis to keep the viewer tied to the movie and on the edge of their seats. If anything I have to say to Alwis it would be, “accept all the praise, remember all the constructive criticism, and discard all the hate that says the movie lacks art.”

Sunil Premarathne

It is pleasing to see that there are quite a few people who love cinema despite these trying times. Viewers go to a cinema to take their minds off their problems and to enjoy some entertainment. At a time when more and more are drawn towards Hollywood and Bollywood movies it is progressive to see the amount of crowds The Game has drawn. Also, I’m sure the fans were eagerly waiting to see their hero Ranjan Ramanayake back on the silver screen after a long time.

Dr. Kapila Sooriyaarachchi

I had the opportunity to see Alwis’ latest movie The Game and I’d like to thank the producer and the director for bringing us this experience at a time like this when an escape in the manner of entertainment is much-needed. The Game is a commercial movie but the quality of the movie is maintained with the incorporation of cinematic giants such as Ranjan Ramanayke. The popularity of Ramanayake has undoubtedly played a massive role in the success of the movie.

Sanjaya Nirmal

It is witnessed that Sri Lankan movie industry which considerably lacks qualities an industry should possess, is dying a slow death when compared with the world cinema industry. There are several reasons for this and many experts have spoken about them. At a time when making a movie is considered to be ‘wrong’ it is our duty to stand by creators such as Alwis who are to make movies to an industry which not really an industry, hoping that their creations will one day help Sri Lankan cinema to be a thriving industry.

Harsha Udakanda

With The Game I was able, after a long time, to witness a movie which can be enjoyed by all types of cinemagoers. The movie has something for all kinds of viewers and the technological and technical advancements of the movie are praiseworthy, for which the director and the producer should be commended.

Ranjan is a treasure of Sinhala cinema and Janith is a talented actor of the new generation. In The Game I saw the best acting performance of Janith. Musician Sarath de Alwis has done an exemplary job in making all the songs and scores of the movie enjoyable and filled with musical quality. I invite all to go and see this movie in the theatre.

Senesh Dissanayake Bandara

The Game is a real attempt at creating a ‘mainstream’ movie. Two main reasons why our cinema industry is facing its current demise is many attempting wrongfully label their below-par movies as mainstream movies and some mercilessly bashing any honest attempts at creating a mainstream movie. Alwis’ attempt can be seen as a try to fill the mainstream movie void in the industry. Every director and producer is free to create a movie to their liking.

Although anyone is free to criticise these attempts, what everyone needs to understand is that our viewers are a diverse bunch with varying tastes and that directors are not bound to create movies in the same ‘mould’ determined by some as the ‘correct’ way. Everyone who directly or indirectly linked to the cinema industry and depend on the success of the industry should support Alwis’ this attempt and see The Game in a cinema. We are passing a time that is different from COVID-19 times and the brave attempt of Alwis to release his film at a time like this shows courage and deserves respect. I wish all the success to Alwis for challenging himself and releasing his movie to save Sri Lankan cinema when the industry is more or less overtaken by big-budget Hollywood and Bollywood movies.

Sudesh Wasantha Peiris

Alwis’ The Game is being screened successfully at the moment and after watching the movie I can say that the content of the movie does real justice to the fare the viewer has to pay for the ticket. It is a successful commercial movie and shows the rue prowess of Alwis as a director. Breaking a long silence a Ranjan Ramanayake movie has finally come to local cinema and it is a great opportunity for Ranjan fans to witness their hero in action. One of the praiseworthy qualities of Alwis I saw through the movie is that he has done justice to each and every character, regardless how small it is. It is a welcome escape from the current hardships and I invite all the viewers to go and see The Game.

Nishantha Pradeep

When watching a movie I try to enjoy it in two ways; as a director and as a typical cinemagoer. As for The Game, my opinion is a very positive one as I enjoyed it both as a director and as a cinemagoer. First and foremost, the plot of the movie is a new one, based on true events that took place in the country recently. Secondly, the way the movie is presented is praiseworthy. As of late, cinema lovers are drawn towards Hindi, Malayalam, and Thelengu movies, not because they are different from Sinhala movies in terms of the plot and acting but mainly due to the way they are presented. Through The Game Alwis has managed to successfully present a movie in that same attractive way. I feel like Alwis is a director that should remain in Sinhala cinema and create more movies.

Mahesh Munasinghe

Following the Easter attacks, COVID-19 pandemic, and the economic crisis, there is a huge void in the local entertainment industry and a few young creators are trying to fill that void. At a time when releasing a movie is a huge challenge, Alwis releases his movie which is the last movie the local hero of the cinema, Ranjan Ramanayake. Due to the multiple crises, the director himself was unable to attend the premiere of his own movie. Despite the fuel crisis the movie is successfully being screened at multiple cinemas thanks to the tireless efforts of the director himself and a few other youths in the industry, as well as the eager cinemagoers. The Game is a successful commercial movie and as a fellow creator I’m happy for Alwis to have created a successful movie like The Game. I also think it the duty of everyone who is connected to the local cinema industry to go and see The Game in cinemas since it will undoubtedly encourage the creators to make more movies as well as to revive the local cinema industry which currently is on the decline.

(All the comments above are the personal views and opinions of the respective directors)

(Translated by Sanuj Hathurusinghe)

By Anton J. Fernando