A true life comedy of unemployed men trying to hang onto their self-esteem. Two young Sri Lankans discover that a world-wide invitation has been issued to take part in an international handball competition in Bavaria. They recruit a group of locals who pose as the national handball team.
A comic story of mismatched losers, who lift themselves out of the poverty trap by learning a new and surprising skill…… sounds familiar? It should. Uberto Pasolini, produced ‘The Full Monty’ and makes his directorial debut with this strikingly similar but true story of the first Sri Lankan National Handball Team. When their visa application is rejected, Stanley and Manoj seem destined to spend their lives hustling on the streets of Colombo until Stanley stumbles across a bizarre advert. The German Handball Association is seeking teams to attend the world championships in Bavaria. The only catch? No-one in Sri Lanka has heard of the game. With its twinkly underdog charm sugar-coating a surprisingly direct indictment of global immigration policy, ‘Machan’ seems eager to avoid the lazy feel good trap, but stumbles in the last act into sports-triumph territory.
Tom Huddleston, Time Out - 2009
The directorial debut of the producer of ‘The Full Monty’ is another story of unemployed or underemployed men, in this case, a true one. After being refused a visa to work in Germany, two young Sri Lankans discover that a worldwide invitation has been extended to take part in an international handball tournament in Bavaria. So, without knowing how the game is played, they form the Sri Lankan handball team, recruit other would-be illegal immigrants to make up the appropriate number and end up finding victory in defeat in Germany. It’s likeable, intelligent, but finally more sad than funny.
Philip French, The Observer – 2009
Pasolini’s direction gives the film a documentary-like realism that works well; he also gets extremely naturalistic performances from a terrific ensemble cast made up of non-professionals and first-time actors. De Chickera and Dias make a likeable central duo and there is strong support from Mahendra Perera as local crook Ruan, who comes up with a few last-minute solutions when everything seems lost. The script is excellent, balancing moments that are laugh-out-loud with poignant, moving and emotionally resonant scenes that touch on the themes of family, male pride and the men’s desperate hunger for the opportunity to work and support a family. ‘Machan’ is an enjoyable, well made and superbly acted comedy-drama that deserves to find an audience.
Matthew Turner, The ViewLondon – Nov 2009
Total Number of Responses: 77
Film Score (0-5): 4.22
Reactions to Machan with its overtones of The Full Monty and its narrative of a determination to break out of relentless and destructive poverty, were strongly favourable. Many of you commended the quality of the performances and the quick and detailed delineation of character and the structure of the film which invoked pathos , humour, sadness and social insight. The combination of these mixed feelings `complex, sad, funny’, `the very pathos melted into humour’, `the way the film swings between aspiration and delusion’, was in a number of responses, at the core of the film. You also enjoyed its `uplifting and positive attitude’, `the sharp observation of the difference between Sri Lanka and Germany, the morality reflected in the choices characters in the film make and the pervading sense of warmth and humanity despite sharp points of conflict. The film provoked an awareness of the brutality of elements of life in a third world society and a recognition of the good fortune to be born into a prosperous western democracy; for some in the audience this extended into a deeper sympathy for and understanding of the plight of illegal immigrants. There were some dissenting voices for whom the film was `mildly entertaining but very slow’ although the desperate poverty of Sri Lankan life was well depicted; `amusing but very lightweight in the light of the issues raised’ and `lacking an overall sustained impact’. One viewer felt `uneasy, laughing at others’ misfortunes, several others felt the film was far too long `a gleam of a stolen idea but too long getting to the point’ and finally `all too far-fetched’. In all though, from the power of the performances the sensitivity and pace of the direction, the sense of resilience and good humour, the diverting hilarity of some sequences (the two aunties and the roof), there was no doubt that this was an enjoyable and successful film for the majority of the audience.