Steeped in hope, the 2014 film Frangipani questions tradition and opens new doorways for same sex love in otherwise strict Sri Lanka. The film follows two young boys and a girl, and the love triangle in which they are all entangled. Sarasi (played by Yashoda Rasanduni) has no interest in being married off in the traditional way, wanting instead to marry for love. She falls for a local boy named Chamath (Dasun Pathirana), unaware that Chamath is actually gay.
A fairly simplistic story, director Visakesa Chandraskaram uses vibrant and colorful imagery to craft a beautiful film. The film delivers a touching story of love and hope, set amidst a stunning backdrop.
Sarasi is disappointed when Chamath doesn’t reciprocate her feelings for him, but when a welder moves into the village to work on the local temple, Sarasi changes her focus. Nalin (Jehan Srikantha) begins to spend time with Sarasi and Chamath, and though Sarasi fancies him, Nalin begins to fall in love with Chamath.
However, in Sri Lanka homosexuality is generally frowned upon. Nalin wants to live a normal life, so he turns his back on Chamath and realizes that Sarasi is his gateway to a traditional marriage and a better life. Desperate to marry for love instead of falling into an arranged marriage, Sarasi agrees to marry Nalin and they go off, leaving Chamath alone.
Five years go by and the three are reunited. As they come together, hope is tarnished, as Sarasi and Nalin have clearly married for the wrong reasons and Chamath is perhaps Nalin’s true love.
Frangipani is a bold step in Sri Lankan film, entirely shot and produced in a country that often censors LGBT films. Despite its challenges at home, the film has garnered much applause from audiences worldwide. In many ways, Frangipani proves that gay relationships are often just as complicated as straight relationships, despite whatever the feelings of their surrounding society may be.