Review: Machan (2008)

Machan (2008)

Directed by: Uberto Pasolini | 109 minutes | comedy | Actors: Dharmapriya Dias, Gihan De Chickera, Dharshan Dharmaraj, Namal Jayasinghe, Sujeewa Priyalal, Mohamed Adamaly, Pubudu Chathuranga, Christian Ebert, Dayadewa Edirisinghe, Malini Fonseka, Theertham Muthiah Ganeshan, Sanjaya Hettiarajarakantatchchi, Lalith Janatiarakantatchchi, Kodituwakku, Dilip Kumara Koralage, Mangala Pradeep Kumara, Sitha Kumari, Ravi Kumar, Hemasiri Liyanage, Saumya Liyanage, Peer Martiny, Stefan Mehren, Ruwan Malith Peiris, Mahendra Perera, Chathurika Pieris, Pradeepan Puwabalasingham, Janaka Ranasinghas, Ronika Schonetelthes Pitchchei Selvaraj, S. Selvsekaran, Jayani Senanayake, Irangani Serasinghe, Kumara Thirimadura

The born Italian Uberto Pasolini had his finest hour as producer of the British comedy ‘The Full Monty’. In this hit film, a group of sympathetic losers have a short-lived career as a comic strip act. It will not be a coincidence that Pasolini harks back to this success formula for his directorial debut ‘Machan’. No English unemployed this time, but residents of a Sri Lankan slum. They don’t strip, but they have found a way to escape the misery: handball. Although they have no idea what handball is.

Once that mystery is unraveled, we follow the expanding team on their way to Germany. It produces a comedy whose strength is also its weakness. ‘Machan’ wants to be a feel-good movie above all else. So hardly any sharp jokes and no bitter humor, even though the subject does demand it. Anyone who is a little familiar with the often copied success formula of ‘The Full Monty’ will also encounter many well-known jokes.

Even more annoying is that you never feel the harrowing misery of the ordinary Sri Lankan. There is a lot of talk in ‘Machan’ about poverty and misery, but we don’t see it all. The main characters are well fed and dressed, and they are all able to scrounge up a plane ticket to Germany. Once at the airport, the members drag along bags and suitcases that you don’t associate with a bunch of paupers. The question therefore arises why they actually want to flee that country. Even if a character loses the roof over his house, it all stays cozy and cozy and the residents don’t take it too seriously. It is impossible to empathize, also because there are far too many characters walking around and not a single character is explored in depth.

What keeps ‘Machan’ alive then are the cheerful character, the attractive local color and a few strong jokes. It is also nice that some national idiosyncrasies (superstition, xenophobia) have been incorporated into the film, which increases the authenticity. As a result, this Sri Lankan export product scores far better than that handball team, but we will not discover a champion in ‘Machan’.

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