Machan (2008 film)

Machan is a 2008 Italian-Sri Lankan comedy film written, directed, and produced by Uberto Pasolini[4] as his directorial debut about the made-up Sri Lankan National Handball Team that vanished in 2004.[5][6][7][8]

Machan theatrical poster.jpg
Machan theatrical poster
Directed byUberto Pasolini[1]
Produced byUberto Pasolini
Conchita Airoldi
Henning Molfenter
Prasanna Vithanage
Written byRuwanthie De Chickera
Uberto Pasolini
StarringDharmapriya Dias
Gihan De Chickera
Darshan Dharmaraj
Namal Jayasinghe
Sujeewa Priyalal
Mahendra Perera
Music byLakshman Joseph De Saram
Stephen Warbeck
CinematographyStefano Falivene
Edited byMasahiro Hirakubo
Redgrave Films
RAI Cinema
Baselberg Films
Shakthi Films
Distributed byUGC
Yume Pictures
CEL Theaters [2]
Release date
Running time
109 minutes
CountryItaly, Sri Lanka
English subtitles


Based upon a true story,[5] the film was shot on locations in Sri Lanka and Germany. The inspiration came from the actual case of the 2004 incident,[9] where a fake Sri Lankan national handball team tricked its way into a German tournament, lost all of their matches, and subsequently vanished.[6][10][11][12][13][14][15] Production spent several weeks speaking with people in the less fortunate areas of Colombo and used the people met through that research to create the backgrounds of the main characters.[16] When director Uberto Pasolini heard of the incident, he stated "I fell in love with the story so much that I decided to shoot it myself". Under the working title of Handball, the film was produced and financed by Redgrave Films (UK), RAI Cinema (Italy), Babelsberg Films (Germany), and Shakthi Films (Sri Lanka), and had its premiere at the Venice Film Festival in August 2008,[17] where it received a 10-minute standing ovation.[18]

After the film completed its rounds of film festivals, it had commercial theatrical debut in Italy in September 2009, and was then picked up by UGC for theatrical distribution in Germany, France, Switzerland, Canada, Belgium, Norway and Sweden,[18][19] and by Yume Pictures for theatrical release in the United Kingdom October 2009[20] and DVD distribution April 2010.[21]


Two friends, Manoj (Gihan De Chickera), a bartender, and Stanley (Dharmapriya Dias), a fruit vendor, wish to immigrate to the West to seek their fortune, but have difficulties getting their visa applications approved. They come across an application to a handball tournament in Bavaria, and not even knowing what the game is, they submit themselves and a group of friends as the "Sri Lanka National Handball Team". For appearance's sake, they begin minimal training and then seek travel visas from the German Embassy. Manoj leaves the group at the last moment, but the rest fly to Germany. Their plans to simply escape into the West upon arrival in Germany are thwarted by the quick appearance of the tournament organizers and an arena of fans eager to see the powers of the Sri Lanka National Handball Team.

After losing the first matches without any goals, the team finally shoots a goal, which makes them overjoyed. The next morning, the police arrives and ransacks the hotel, but could not find any trace of the Sri Lankan Handball team. Later, it is shown that each member goes on his own path to various different countries in Europe.

Partial castEdit


The Sunday Times, rated the film four out of five stars, and wrote "The story was inspired by real-life events, but Pasolini goes all out to turn it into a big-hearted comic drama. Gusto and underlying honesty make it a winner."[5]

The Guardian began their review by writing, "There is more ingenuity, guts and brilliance in the developing world as depicted in Uberto Pasolini's film than anything Hollywood can cobble together." The reviewer wrote that the film was "one of the most important films to come out of the developing world in recent years", and one of the best films about illegal immigration that he'd seen. He praised the film's sense of "genuine authenticity", in its "rendering the reality of Colombo street life in all its vivid squalor, frustration, humanity and comedy", and noted that Sri Lankans have taken the film "to their hearts and claimed entirely as their own." Noting the film as being based on an actual event, the reviewer wrote "There had never been a single handball team in the whole country, let alone a national side, and the scam has to go down as one of the most ingenious illegal immigration ploys ever undertaken.[6]

Awards and nominationsEdit


  1. ^ "I liked those small scripts of Machan - Pasolini". Sarasaviya. Archived from the original on 9 October 2017. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  2. ^ "'Machan' talks about illegal migration". Sunday Times. Retrieved 13 December 2019.
  3. ^ "'Machan marks debut in Venice'". Sunday Times. Retrieved 13 December 2019.
  4. ^ "Sri Lankan Screened Films". Sarasaviya. Archived from the original on 6 June 2017. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Edward Porter (22 November 2009). "Machan". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  6. ^ a b c Nirpal Dhaliwal (19 November 2009). "Machan is streets ahead of any Hollywood product". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  7. ^ Mahesh Abeyewardene (16 February 2010). "Machan: Story of mismatched Sri Lanka Handball Team at Toronto Film Festival". Sri Lanka Reporter. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  8. ^ "Oscar winning producer recreates 'Lankan Handball Team' fiasco". Sunday Times. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  9. ^ a b "'Machan' grabs major honours at Sarasaviya Film Awards". Sri Lanka Reporter. 16 February 2010. Archived from the original on 19 August 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  10. ^ Hannah Cleaver (16 September 2004). "Sri Lankans go missing in Germany after sports tour ruse". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  11. ^ Vincent Dowd (15 September 2004). "Sri Lanka handball team vanishes". BBC News. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  12. ^ Smriti Daniel (5 October 2008). "Making of 'Machan': From real life to reel life". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  13. ^ Mahesh Abeyewardene (16 February 2010). "Interview: Making 'Machan'". Sri Lanka Reporter. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  14. ^ Jay Weissberg (2 September 2008). "Machan". Variety. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  15. ^ a b Mairi Mackay (5 September 2008). "'Machan' wins Europa Cinemas prize at Venice". CNN. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  16. ^ Vincent Dowd (31 August 2008). "Machan in Venice Festival". BBC News. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  17. ^ Susitha R. Fernando (3 August 2008). "'Machan marks debut in Venice'". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  18. ^ a b ""Machan" picked up for distribution in seven countries". Lanka e News. 12 May 2009. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  19. ^ "'Machan' picked up for screening in seven countries". Sunday Times. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  20. ^ "MACHAN Classified 09 October, 2009". BBFC. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  21. ^ "MACHAN Classified 20 April 2010". BBFC. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  22. ^ "'Machan' wins Venice Days". Sunday Times. Retrieved 13 December 2019.
  23. ^ "'Machan' wins kudos at Kerala". Sunday Times. Retrieved 13 December 2019.

External linksEdit