NIDHANAYA

(The Treasure, Sri Lanka, 1973) by Lester James Peries

Written by: Tissa Abeysekera; Adapted from a story by: G. B. Senanayake; Editing: Lester James Peries, Edwin Leetin, Gladwyn Fernando; Camera: M.S. Anandan; Art Direction: J.A. Vincent Perera; Music: Premasiri Khemadasa; Produced by: P.E.E. Anthonypillai for Ceylon Studios; Starring: Gamini Fonseka, Malani Fonseka, Saman Bokalawala, Francis Perera, Mapa Gunaratne, Shanthi Lekha, Trilicia Gunawardene, Thilakasiri Fernando, J.B.L. Fernando, Thalatha Gunasekera, Kumarasinghe Appuhamy, K.L. Coranelis Appuhamy, Barry Whittington, Wijeratne Warakagoda; Running Time: 108’, b/w; Country of Production: Sri Lanka; Language: Sinhala.

Restored in 2013 by the World Cinema Foundation at Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory. In association with the National Film Archive of India, the National Film Corporation of Sri Lanka and Cinemas Ltd. Special thanks to Lester James Peries and Sumitra Peries.

FILM SYNOPSIS

Nidhanaya is based on a dark tale by G.B. Senanayake and is considered a milestone film that people, even abroad, admire the most, albeit it is atypical of Lester James Peries’ customary family dramas. The story revolves around a psychotic killer yet is an underlying serious political study on the degradation of a class of society. In 1972 this film won the Silver Lion of St Mark at the 33th Venice International Film Festival and was selected as one of the outstanding films of the year, receiving a Diploma at the London Film Festival. It was also voted as the best film of the first 50 years of Sri Lankan cinema.

My most controversial film is Nidhanaya, which received a very positive reception at the Venice Film Festival. The most accurate critics highlighted that, despite its setting in 1911, this film holds a strong social and political value in denouncing the system. The character is trapped between two cultures: the Western/British one and his culture of origin—he is lost between two worlds. Unable to adapt to either one or the other, he absorbs the worse elements of the two cultures; the society changes and he goes insane.

- Lester James Peries

NOTES ON THE RESTORATION

The restoration of Nidhanaya was made possible through the use of two key elements: a 35mm positive print struck from the original camera negative and held by Degeto Film, and a combined dupe negative preserved at the National Film Archive of India.

The prints were scanned at 4K resolution. After scanning, the image was stabilized and cleaned, and all wear marks were eliminated. Image grading recovered the richness of the original cinematography.  The soundtrack was also digitally cleaned and background noise reduction was applied to reduce imperfections without losing the dynamic features of the original.  The digital restoration produced a new 35mm internegative.

The World Cinema Foundation would like to thank the following individuals and organizations for their support: G R Padmaraj and Cinemas Ltd, National Film Corporation of Sri Lanka, National Film Archive of India, Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, Ravindra and Sam Randeniya, and Hubert Niogret.

Special thanks to Lester James Peries and Sumitra Peries for facilitating the restoration process.