One Shot, starring Ranjan Ramanayake‘s biceps
Watched ‘One Shot’ tonight, in pleasant company. It is quite possibly the best Sri Lankan movie ever. There is an A/C bus getting hit by a train, ministers getting beat up, dancing, whiskey drinking, pants-wetting, attempted suicide, monks, and a crucifixion. This is a spoiler, but my favorite part was the last chase scene. It starts in Colombo and inexplicably ends in the Middle East. As he is escaping One Shot throws his love interest into a sand-dune and she is never heard from again. The movie is fun cause its all about abuse of power, conniving Ministers, and One Shot beating the crap out of them. The film plays off the Sri Lankan desire to punish corruption, while at the same time taking no personal responsibility.
The first scene is a great example. In order to pander votes, Minister A has provide an A/C bus for a school. The bus is happily going along, carrying 20 children. A rival Minister stops the bus on train tracks and locks one door. The adults on the bus make no attempt to break a window or escape. Ranjan spends 5 minutes rocking out to Enrique Eglesias and tossing his hair, then he kicks the window in and saves the kids. The adults immediately begin complaining. ‘Aney, we have no bus, what can we do, who will help us’. After getting caught in the crossfire between patrons, they can’t think of anything except finding another patron. Ranjan pulls like Rs 400,000 out of his friend’s sarong and everyone is happy. The point they miss is that if they raised Rs 1000 among themselves they get 20 seats on a bus and not depend on anybody.
Sri Lankans suffer from and complain about corruption like its their job. At the same time, they create conditions under which corruption is inevitable. People ask the government to house them, feed them, clothe them, and employ them. They want Ministers to come to their weddings, funerals, prize-givings, and to bring gifts. They demand money, goods, transportation, and land – and then they wonder why MPs need to take bribes. To pay you and give you all these ‘free’ services. People complain about a parasitic state, but they don’t really want to end it. They just want in on the spoils.
The perception is completely fucked. Sri Lankans seem to think that somebody else pays taxes, and that it’s just a magical present for them to spend. However, through VAT everyone pays tax – on petrol, milk, food, etc. Furthermore, every employer gets it up the ass – especially on cars – which keeps wages low. Further furthermore, because civil servants aren’t paid well, they all require bribes. And because people demand feudal patronage from Ministers, they too are corrupt. Everyone seems to think Ministers have access to some magical Happy Money Land, when it reality it’s their money.
Education, Health Care, etc all ‘feel’ free. When a MP gives you a wedding gift it ‘feels’ free. In reality it’s all your money. The government is spending and wasting the people’s money – on the Ceylon Electricity Board, broken Universities, insolvent banks, ten thousand tanks and assorted communist bullshit. It feels free – but at the same time you notice that Ministers drive Pajeros, their loser sons live above the law, and that you have to pay bribes to get your papers filed. You notice that you can’t get to work, can’t dream of buying a car, and cannot educate your kids, but people don’t put two and two together. They seem to think that some savior is going to turn the government from a Parasitic State to a Nanny State, but it never happens. Sri Lankans don’t want small government, they just want a different government. When the bus gets hit by a train no one learns their lesson, they just go looking for a new feudal lord – who they will inevitably corrupt.