Last week I had the unique privilege of watching the first media screening of a Sinhalese movie Juli Hathai (ජුලි 7යි ) at the invitation of Music.lk (perks of being an Agency man), If you know me then you know it is very unlikely of me to use the words “privilege” and “Sinhalese movie” in the same sentence.
If anyone has watched a Sri Lankan comedy you would agree that it is more of an embarrassment than entertaining. Even the “adaptations” just make you want to hide your face and cry of embarrassment and cringe at the thought of it, maybe it’s because I’m comparing my entertainment experience to the big blockbusters, maybe some locals actually do enjoy them. What I’m trying to get at with all this complaining is: This was NOT like that, this was a totally new and different experience.
To give you some technical background about this piece: Juli Hathai is based on the script of Don’t Dress for Dinner, a two-act play by French playwright Marc Camoletti. The adaptation is set in the 1970’s and filmed in black and white, this is to draw the viewers focus on to the actors and not distract them with color. The acting method used to capture the story is Actor’s Art which to my understanding involves the actor’s body language, expressions and dialogue. The movie is shot within one angel and one set with constant props much like a cross between a stage play and a Charlie Chaplin movie.
The initial reaction when you hear the movie being black and white might be one of rather doubt and eyebrow raising, but in fact the when you actually watch it, the absence of color actually doesn’t make a difference (like when you watch a 3D movie and after a while it just feels like you’re watching on your normal screen), it actually enhances the enjoyability.
The story (spoilers not included) revolves around a married couple, thier best man, a mistress, a cook and her husband, bring the cast to a total of (only) six actors that ensure a hilarious encounter that will leave you utterly confused and hurting from laughing so much. Yes this movie is actually really funny! not the lame kinda funny where we end up laughing at the actors themselves but rather at the acting. By the end of the movie I had laughed so much that I just sat there smiling because I just couldn’t move my face anymore. honestly some of the best local comedy I have seen in a long long time.
The overarching message is brought in a very subtle yet obvious way, despite being set in the 70’s is a relevant one for us in the modern age.
I give this movie a 8.5/10 for its uniqueness, creativity and boldness to try something new. Juli Hathai (ජුලි 7යි) premieres in theaters on (wait-for-it) July 7th 2014. I urge and recommend you to go watch this movie with your friends and family. You will not regret it nor will you be disappointed, it is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud and really think about certain things we do.
UPDATE: The release date for this movie has been postponed indefinitely, will update once the dates are confirmed.