Women's Lives on Screen

The Reluctant Wife: Ginnen Upan Seethala and Gendering Revolution





Sri Lanka, Gender, Film, Revolution


This paper sets out to examine the politics of representation of the biographical film, Ginnen Upan Seethala (2018), which focuses on the life and times of Rohana Wijeweera, a rebel leader who led two failed insurrections in post-independence Sri Lanka. It argues that while the film seemingly exonerates the leader and the movement, through a discourse of domesticity, it simultaneously engages in a nuanced representation of Chithrangani Wijeweera, the wife of Rohana Wijeweera, a woman who has been positioned at the margins of the masculinized historical record of the JVP party. While such records have largely ignored testimony in which Chithrangani constructs herself as a reluctant wife who is subordinated to the dominant ideology of the party and its leader, the film provides her a more expansive and empathetic role and thereby bears witness to her tale of victimhood and survival, unraveling how patriarchal political conquest coopts women as strategic sites of political domination.

Author Biography

Kanchanakesi Warnapala, University of Sri Jayewardenepura

Kanchanakesi Warnapala graduated with honours from the Department of English, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka and subsequently obtained her Master’s Degree in English and Doctorate in English from Michigan State University, USA. She is at present a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka and has published her academic research in journals such as Interventions, Early Popular Visual Culture and Postcolonial Text.





Women's Lives on Screen