With You, Without You
Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka
Set in post-civil war Sri Lanka, this film tells the tale of lovers from opposite sides who are forced to confront a terrible past.
Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.
- Director-Screenwriter Prasanna Vithanage
- Producer Mohamed Adamaly, Lasantha Nawarathna
- With Anjali Patil, Shyam Fernando, Wasantha Moragoda
- Sri Lanka-India 2012
- 90 mins
- Production company Prasanna Vithanage Productions
Acclaimed Sri Lankan director Vithanage returns to the Festival with arguably his best work so far. Akin to The English Patient, it is set in the months after war and deftly explores the emotional fall-out of such trauma on the lives of ordinary people. Selvi is a beautiful but quiet Tamil refugee (powerfully played by Anjali Patil) who catches the eye of a middle-aged Buddhist pawnbroker when she comes to cash in her last jewellery. Immediately captivated, the pawnbroker follows her back to her temporary home. Discovering she is about to be wed for money to a very old man, he throws caution to the wind and offers to marry her instead. Selvi soon moves into his house and slowly falls in love with her saviour, but neither of them ever talk about their past; until an old army friend of the pawnbroker turns up, and a terrible secret emerges. Tightly scripted, with a wonderfully nuanced plot and haunting cinematography, this is Sri Lankan independent cinema at its best.
Why did I make With You, Without You? When I was reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novella The Meek One over and over again, two things plunged into my mind. One is its probe into masculinity and the second is questioning how consumerist values deprive people of human connection. When adapting this novella for film, I based it upon the biggest issue facing our country, which is the ethnic conflict. We live in a society which still has unhealed wounds from a war that lasted over 30 years, killing over tens of thousands of people. Confrontation between a man from the majority Sinhalese and a woman from the Tamil minority became the dramatic premise of my script. Their struggle with their own past for me was a metaphor for the struggles of the nation as a whole.
Born in 1962 in Panadura, a suburb outside Colombo in what was then Ceylon, he first became creatively involved in theatre, translating and directing the likes of Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man and Dario Fo’s Trumpets and Raspberries before taking the cinematic route to becoming one of Sri Lanka's most notable filmmakers. His seven features have won many awards, both local and international, since his 1992 debut Ice on Fire won nine OCIC (Sri Lanka) Awards including Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress. Four years later he adapted Leo Tolstoy’s last novel Resurrection as Dark Night of the Soul; and now he returns to the Russian inspiration by taking a Dostoyevsky novella as his template for With You, Without You.
1991 Sisila Gini Gani (Ice on Fire)
1996 Anantha Rathriya (Dark Night of the Soul)
1997 Purahanda Kaluwara (Death on a Full Moon Day); Pawru Walalu (Walls Within)
2004 Ira Madiyama (August Sun)
2008 Akasa Kusum (Flowers of the Sky)
2012 Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka (With You, Without You)