Peter Bogdanovich, 1939-2022

Several years ago, I thought of profiling the country’s actors, directors, scriptwriters, and cinematographers, not to mention playwrights and composers. It would have been a difficult project, and I have no doubt that it would have cost a lot. But in those idealistic days – I was not yet 21 – I felt I had… Continue reading Peter Bogdanovich, 1939-2022


From ritual to performance: The sociology of Kohomba Kankariya

Kohomba Kankariya: The Sociology of a Kandyan Ritual, by Sarath Amunugama Vijitha Yapa, 2021, 204 pages, Rs. 2,000 One of the oldest rituals in Sinhala culture, the Kohomba Kankariya is also the biggest. It is certainly the most expensive, requiring tremendous reserves of energy, effort, enthusiasm, and initiative. Bringing together a galaxy of deities and… Continue reading From ritual to performance: The sociology of Kohomba Kankariya

A literary survey of the Sinhala middle-class

Piyadasa Sirisena Amorphous and ambivalent, the Sinhala middle-class remains undefined and uncharted. It is difficult to pin them down to a particular conception of them. What are their tastes, interests, habits? What do they like? What do they believe? What do they want? The fundamental problem in trying to understand them is, I think, the… Continue reading A literary survey of the Sinhala middle-class

Notes on the Buddhist revival in early 20th century Sri Lanka

The colonial bourgeoisie in Sri Lanka did not form a monolithic class. They were divided horizontally as well as vertically: horizontally on the basis of income and inheritance, and vertically on the basis of primordial attachments such as caste ideology. Various factors, mainly economic, conspired as much to unify the this class as to divide… Continue reading Notes on the Buddhist revival in early 20th century Sri Lanka

The continuing relevance of Martin Wickramasinghe

I wonder how many people remember Tisara Prakashakayo. Long before Sarasavi and Vijitha Yapa, or even Godage, Surasa, and Visidunu, everybody bought books at Tisara. If offered a wide range of titles, authors, and genres to choose from, including not just history, but also social theory, cultural anthropology, and Rupa Saparamadu’s Sinhala Geheniya. It published… Continue reading The continuing relevance of Martin Wickramasinghe

A tribute: Sumana Aloka Bandara

Photo by Manusha Lakshan “That the man who wrote these plays wasn’t mentioned in the State Drama Advisory Board’s ‘Playwrights of the 60s’ baffles me even today.” (Sunil Mihindukula) Sunil Mihindukula was referring to Sumana Aloka Bandara. When my friend Chathura Pradeep broke news of Bandara’s passing away to me last Monday, I first wondered… Continue reading A tribute: Sumana Aloka Bandara