Vehi Dawasa (“Rainy Day”) – A Review by Lokubanda Tillakaratne

Vehi Dawasa (“Rainy Day”)

Produced and Directed by Bhadraji Mahinda Jayatilaka

Story by Bhadraji Mahinda Jayatilaka; Screenplay by Hemantha Prasad

75 min.


Last week I found myself transported to Nuwara Eliya through the brilliant and imaginative storytelling in Bhadraji Mahinda Jayatilaka’s Vehi Dawasa (“Rainy Day”). On the strength of its versatile actors, equally complementary score, and the imagery created by none other than Donald Karunarathna (the dean of Sri Lankan cinematographers), Vehi Dawasa is sure to become a classic. Within its relatively short runtime of 75 minutes, the film transports the viewer to an astonishingly rich world full of harsh realities.


Vehi Dawasa shows the vicissitudes of daily life playing out in cruel harmony, ensconced in the majesty of Nuwara Eliya’s misty hills.  A colorful set of characters provides a window to this world.  There is the passionless marriage of the lazy quarry worker and his wife, who are burdened with the illness of their child.  In contrast, a young quarry worker and his wife are madly in love, and are happily expecting their first child.   Finally, there is the local doctor, played by Jayatilaka himself, who provides for the small hospital while having to deal with his elitist and narcissist wife.  On this day, a bus full of ebullient stage artists from Colombo descends on the town for a theatrical performance.  When tragedy strikes the community just before the start of the performance, their hypocrisy and selfishness are revealed.


Jayatilaka’s artistry brings us to tears when he maneuvers us to witness the beauty and the depth of the human heart in a subtle but crystallized incident in the din of the city’s Farmer’s Market.  He shows us the tragedy of trampled hope in the wilted white flags of the sad reality of the workers in this community.  Vehi Dawasa reminds us that the pastoral hills of the Tea Country are in contrite contrast to the wails of life unraveling in their rainy vista below.  His characters illustrate that the beauty and fun we embrace in a day’s visit to this enchanting city is not necessarily the measure of the true nature of travails of the lives stranded in it.  Donald Karunarathna employs his visual imagination without wasting a single frame.  The coda of Jayatilaka’s elegy is amplified by the cinematographer when he captures the moment when artists from the city riding a bus, songs and merriment in tow, pass through the somber neighborhood.  All in all, Vehi Dawasa is a must-see for anyone who will appreciate the kaleidoscopic assimilation of disparities in one single, multifaceted rainy day.


Lokubanda Tillakaratne

June 21, 2010

Los Angeles.