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DateLine Wednesday, 30 January 2008

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Producer Chaminda Perera plans new:

Shooting in Canada

Chaminda Perera. Picture by Palitha Gunasena

Lapsing more than six decades is no easy task. Sinhala cinema marked its 61st anniversary recently. During this period many individuals contributed immensely towards its welfare.

New films joined the scene and the public were drawn back to the theatres just like in the golden age of the black and white screen.

Despite the changes taking place and new trends passing by how much of international success or recognition does the Sinhala film industry possess? Certain language and cultural barriers may exist but Bollywood had proven that cinema captures masses sans obstructions.

Chaminda Perera is one such personality striving to create a market for Sri Lankan movies in Canada. Together with the Canadian Film Institute and supported by the Sri Lankan High Commission in Canada Chaminda had put together two Sri Lankan film festivals in 2005 and 2007.

“We showcased films of good quality depicting Sri Lankan culture. Movies like Sisila Gini Gani, Pauvru Walalu, Pura Handa Kaluwara and Wakanda Walawwa were shown.

They were all well received and now there is an awareness for Sinhala cinema,”Chaminda said. Chaminda had been in Canada for the past 15 years. He was on a brief visit to prepare the ground work for a film.

This will be his second production, the first being Situ Kumariyo a film based on the picture story Hithata Wahal Weemi by Sarath Kaviratne which appeared on Siththara. Interestingly Situ Kumariyo was not only the first film for Perera but it was also the debut for many others.

Well known art director Lal Harendranath, scriptwriter Kumarasiri Abeykoon, Gamini Jayasinghe, Rasadari Fonseka and Jayanath Gunawardena all made their debut in the industry through the film. Veteran film actor, Sanath Gunatilaka was introduced to cinema through Situ Kumariyo.

Sanath Gunatilaka

“I was in a search for a new face which should not only have the ability to mesmerise the audience but someone with a good knowledge and background to cinema.

“Malini Fonseka, Vijaya Dharmasri and I held the interview at the Sudarshi. There was a large crowd but one young man caught our eye from the start. He possessed the charisma and intelligence of a star.

He was Sanath Gunatileke and even before the movie came out word went around and there was a great demand for him. Offers started pouring in but he had signed a contract with me not to devote himself for any other creation until my movie was released.

However I did not wish to keep him from his destiny. His first film to be released was Ganga Addara,” Chaminda recalled.

According to Chaminda it is the producer who should be the driving force behind a film.

“He is not merely the provider of funds but the whole creation is his more or less.

“He is the one who employs the cast and crew and is responsible for the final product,” he opined adding that many had believed and hoped that he would cast either Vijaya Kumaratunga, Gamini Fonseka or Ravindra Randeniya for the role.

“They were the dominating figures during the era but now I am glad I did not follow their advice. Sanath had become one of the most sought after actors of today and I am very pleased for him,” he said also adding that Vijaya Kumaratunga had stopped by at Sudarshi on his way to Katunayake and wished them well on their endeavour.

A scene from Situ Kumariyo

After the movie was completed the waiting began. There was a long line of movies set for release. Never a person to idle, Chaminda’s frustration grew with the passing of time.

“I was an ardent music lover ever since my school days at Royal College. So I turned my attention to music instead. I knew H.R. Jothipala had a bigger market so I produced his first cassette Siriyami Sara.

It was a sell out and then I also initiated his solo musical concert Jothi Rathriya. I also introduced songs based on popular picture stories and award winning vocalist Damayanthi Jayasuriya who made her debut to singing with a duet alongside Priya Sooriyasena called Priyadara Priya.

With his brief stay in Sri Lanka Chaminda had set the foundation on making a movie for which Sanath will be writing the script.

The story revolves around a love triangle and will be shot in Canada. They hope to introduce a new actress via the film.

“We met President Mahinda Rajapaksa recently to discuss on this matter. We also held discussion with the Chairman of the National Film Corporation, Jayantha Dharmadasa.

They are both keen on this and have responded positively,” he said also adding that he has plans to organise training sessions for those who hope to engage in the film industry.


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