Underpants Thief (Jangi Hora) is a 2018 Sri Lankan film directed by Somaratne Dissanayake, who is known for his socially relevant and critically acclaimed films. The film revolves around Sam, a young man who suffers from a mental disorder that makes him obsessed with women’s underpants. He steals them from his neighbors, touches them on the streets, and even wears them himself. His brother Mahesh and his wife Nayani live with him in his mansion, which they plan to convert into a hotel. They try to control Sam’s behavior and keep him away from society. However, things change when a psychiatrist suggests that Sam should get married, as it might cure his condition. Mahesh opposes this idea, as he fears losing his inheritance if Sam has a wife. Meanwhile, Sam falls in love with a girl named Nethmi, who works at a garment factory.
The film explores the themes of mental illness, sexuality, social stigma, family conflict, and human rights. It challenges the stereotypes and taboos surrounding mental health and sexual orientation in Sri Lankan society. It also portrays the struggles of women workers in the garment industry, who face exploitation and harassment. The film raises questions about the ethics of psychiatric treatment, the role of religion and culture in shaping sexuality, and the responsibility of family members towards their mentally ill relatives.
The film features Pubudu Chathuranga as Sam, Dilhani Ekanayake as Nayani, Chinthaka Kulathunga as Mahesh, Buddhi Randeniya as the psychiatrist, and Nadeesha Hemamali as Nethmi. The cinematography is by Vishva Balasuriya and the music is by Rohana Weerasinghe. The film won the Best Film award at the Cinema Across Borders section of the 5th Delhi International Film Festival in 2016. It was also screened at several other international film festivals such as Busan International Film Festival (South Korea), Osaka Asian Film Festival (Japan), Kerala International Film Festival (India), Dhaka International Film Festival (Bangladesh), Vesoul Asian Film Festival (France), etc.
The film received mixed reviews from critics and audiences alike. Some praised it for its boldness and originality while others criticized it for its sensationalism and vulgarity. Some also accused it of being insensitive towards mental illness and homosexuality. The film faced censorship issues in Sri Lanka due to its explicit content and controversial subject matter. It was released in Sri Lanka on December 23rd 2021 after several delays.
Underpants Thief is a film that provokes debate and discussion among viewers about various social issues that are often ignored or suppressed in mainstream cinema. It is not a film for everyone’s taste but it is definitely a film that deserves attention for its artistic merit and social relevance.