Synopsis by Mark Deming
Set in 1948, shortly before Sri Lanka gained independence from Great Britain, this drama concerns Guneris (Joe Abeywickrama), a laborer employed by a sapphire mining company. Guneris is mired in abject poverty, and when his baby is stricken with malaria, the village's doctor refuses to treat the child because Guneris will not be able to pay him. The child dies, and while Guneris and his spouse (Raviondra Randeniya) are digging a grave for the tiny coffin, they discover a large and very valuable jewel. Aware of the dishonesty of the local gem dealers, Guneris and his wife set out for another town, where they hope to get a fairer price for their find, but en route they're stopped by thugs under the employ of the sapphire mine's owner, who take it upon themselves to recover the precious jewel. Guneris' spouse is sexually assaulted during the altercation, and Guneris takes it upon himself to get revenge against the men who violated his wife. Aswesuma was the first theatrical feature from writer and director Bennett Rathnayake, who had previously distinguished himself with a variety of television projects.