India’s scariest movie filmed in :
Sri Lankan Landscapes
“I recently went location
hunting in Sigiriya. It was a
stunning stretch of wilderness.
I’ve never seen anything
so frightening in my life”
Indian film mogal, Ram Gopal Varma who had made many eye catching
creations like Satya, Sarkar Raj and Company chose the lush greenery of
the landscape at Sigiriya for his newest creation Agyaat (Unknown).
Ram Gopal Varma
Dubbed ‘India’s scariest movie’ the story is about an invisible
predator creating havoc among a group of people in an isolated backdrop.
It is scripted by Punet Varma and Hari.
The team visited the island and concluded shooting recently. The
movie will be given an ample dose of special effects in Mumbai before it
begins to roll on the wide screen. It will also be dubbed in Tamil and
Not surprisingly Sri Lanka’s producer/director Chandran Rutnam was
behind the scene of this project as he had guided many globally renowned
filmmakers to some of the finest locations in the country and had given
the much needed backup while shooting through his production service
company, Film Location Services (Pvt) Ltd.
Ratnam had organised the visit after Varma’s producer had contacted
him after reading one of Steven Spielberg’s speeches in the internet.
Ratnam had taken the Indian director to many wilderness areas like
Udawattha Kele and Kurunegala but in the end they had stumbled upon the
perfect location quite by chance.
The team had stopped by in Dambulla for lunch when Ratnam had
suggested exploring the surroundings of Sigiriya as an afterthought.
A quick glance at the background had been enough for the director to
decide that the location was perfect for his horror flick.
“I recently went location hunting there.
It was a stunning stretch of wilderness. I’ve never seen anything so
frightening in my life,” Varma commented on his choice of location.
He also added that he had always been a fan of the thriller genre
movies like Ridley Scott’s ‘Alien’, John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ or
‘Blair Witch Project’ in which the identity of the element which kills
the people is not revealed even at the finale.
Says Varma: “Many of these dubbed versions became popular among the
Indian audience but Indian filmmakers did not attempt to take up this
genre in a serious manner.
Agyaat is an attempt to on setting the thriller to the Hindi version
and a study of the emotional changes that overtake humans in situations
which trigger fear and horror.
It is a tale of undying will to fight against impossible odds.”
According to Varma the team in the story is a film crew who loses their
way in a jungle on one of their shooting ventures. Why a film crew?
“A film crew is like a walking office. There’s a narcissistic star, a
subservient spot boy, cameraman, a frustrated action director, an
assistant director who has a crush on the heroine, a self obsessed
actor, a producer who thinks the director is making a mess and a
director who thinks he’s the Steven Spielberg of India.
All of them have their own mindscape in the given hierarchy but the
moment they’re caught in terror situation their inherent humanism comes
to the surface,” he opined.
Though the movie has Nitin Reddy, an A-League Telugu star in the lead
Varma says that it is the stretch of the Sigiriya wilderness which is
the main character of the movie.
He had spent a considerable amount of time shooting the backdrop of
his set so that he can expand on the eeriness of the jungle. “Varma is
one of the most active directors I have ever known as he makes a number
of films each year. I was present when every shot was taken and I have
learnt a lot through him.
He was enthralled by the Sri Lankan landscapes and hopes to shoot
more movies in our country,” Chanran Ratnam reflected on his experience
working with the renowned film director.
His next project, Rann, involves a movie based on media war.
Throughout the years many prolific and award winning filmmakers have
visited Sri Lanka to capture the beauty of the island’s landscape on
Sir Carol Reed (Outcast of the Islands), Sir David Lean (Bridge on
the River Kwai) Steven Spielberg and George Lucas (Indiana Jones) have
all made memorable creations in Sri Lanka.
Now Ram Gopal Varma joines this leagues as Agyaat takes form towards
The movie rocking theatres :
Shiroshi and Dushyanth in a scene from the movie
It is a mixture of the real and fantasy. It is the story which formed
out of a true incident and the emergence and triumphs of hidden talent
of a host of individuals in the glamour scene.
What we saw as a competition on the mini screen takes form of an
inspiring tale in a wider screen. It is the much anticipated ‘Dancing
Star’ movie which sprung out of the finale of Sirasa TV’s reality
television program ‘Sirasa Dancing Stars’ (SDS) season one.
‘Dancing Stars’ the movie, is said to be the first film to be
initiated based on a reality program. It is also the first attempt by
the Sirasa group at making a movie and promises to deliver glamour and
excitement with a splash of foot tapping music and of course those
energetic dance moves by the artistes which you enjoyed without batting
The cast is headed by Shiroshi Romeshika, a new entrant to cinema
along with the versatile Dushyanth Weeraman, the SDS title holder for
season one, the charismatic presence of Roshan Ranawana and the graceful
moves of Nilanthi Dias will add spice to the tale.
Veteran actor Ravindra Randeniya and Sri Lanka’s leading actress
Malini Fonseka take up pivotal roles while Sanath Gunathilake, Srilal
Ahangama, Lakshman Mendia, Pubudu Chathuranga, Hashini Gonagala, Vishaka
Siriwardena, Sarath Kothalawala, Ramani Siriwardena, Nirosha Perera,
Paristha Nayani Dula, Priyantha Wijesinghe and Faizal Burah contribute
to the plot.
Rosie Senanayake and Sabeetha Perera portray their real life roles as
members of the jury in the competition.
Shiroshi, is a phenomenally talented young dancer emerging out of the
squalor of an impoverished urban neighborhood. Her journey from the
backwaters to the glitz and glamour of stardom takes many a twist and
turn. Directed by Sirasa TV channel head Susara Dinal, movie made its
appearance at CEL circuit cinemas. Aruna Jayawardena co-directed the
creation while Sumith Prasannalal is the director of photography.
Waruna Karunarathe is the assistant director, Jeewantha Devapriya is
the editor, Lalith Wasantha the audio designer, Doric Samarasundara the
art director and set designer, Viraj Weliwatte the production designer,
Malki Wijemanne the costume designer and Thushan Sanjeewa Karunaratne
the production manager.
Sisil Ratnayake, Prasanna Hewawasam and Senaka Karunaratne are the
graphic designers and Nimal Subainghe together with Saleem Mohammed
handled the make up department. The screen play is by Susara Dinal and
Aruna Jayawardane. Music duo Bathiya and Santhush handled the music
while Uresha Ravihari, Amila Perera, Shihan Mihiranga and Bathiya
Jayakody provided background vocals.
The audiography and DTS mix was done at (CHANDRU) Prasad studio,
The DI Colourist is Prashant Dhotre while the digital intermediate is
by EFX Mumbai. ‘Dancing Star’ is a MBC Networks (Pvt) Ltd. production.
Snatches from film clips at International Film Festivals
In International Film Festivals one is pushed to see only snatches of
some films due to time lags necessitating priority given to important
films. Here are some notes on seeing a few in parts last year.
As one of the presenters over the English Service of the Sri Lanka
Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), sometimes I play Bob Marley’s CDs, but
I do not particularly like renditions in the genre he is famous for -
yes, Reggae way back in 1977.
As most of our knowledgeable readers who listen to popular music know
Bob Marley is a Jamaican from the Caribbean who was forced to leave his
He went to England. His album ‘Exodus’ became famous mainly due to
the lyrics. Marley spoke of oppression and suppression. Anthony Wall had
made a documentary starring Bob Marley himself. This film includes his
songs and footage of his career.
Colours of Passion
This film by one of India’s frontline filmmakers in India, Ketan
Mehta, was shown in Colombo recently. The film is about the artistic and
private life of the great painter in the late 19th century Ravi Varma
who hailed from Kerala State in India. We earn that he won the first
prize at the Vienna Art Exhibition in 1873.
It is worth remembering he was the pioneer artist who imagined the
persona of Hindu Gods and Goddesses and drew figures of them in riotous
colour. While living in then Mumbai he earned Royal patronage but was
ignored after the demise of his patron. He fell in love Sugandha, a
temple courtesan and she became his Muse.
Although he was supposed to have revolutionized the traditional
Indian art, he was tried in court for his lust inspired connections with
his lover in depicting the deities and commercializing his art.
The film is artistic with fine cinematography by Rali Raltschev and
Christo Balov. Paresh Rawal and Nandana Sen play the leading roles.
Prasanna Vithanage’s tidy and well structured film ‘Flowers of the Sky’
in Sinhala is yet to be shown in Lanka.
And Malini Fonseka’s acting without visible acting combining her
experience as the prima donna of cinematic and theatrical playing earned
her as the best actress in a competition with other world films at the
IFFI in Goa last December.
The film is about the story of a falling female star, Sandhya Rani,
who ekes out her living by renting out one of her rooms in her furnished
little abode implicitly for quick intimacy of young lovers. Among the
amorous people is a young actress named Shalika who commits adultery.
The second part of the film reveals the hidden emotions of an
inhibited artiste. It’s here Malini Fonseka brings out her innate
talents as a serious actress. There is drama and social comment in the
21st death anniversary today:
Twenty-one years have passed since charismatic film star cum
politician Vijaya Kumaratunga was gunned down at Polhengoda on a day
He was one of a few in the forefront who lead the golden era of
He ruled the screen for more than 20 years acting alongside stalwarts
like Gamini Fonseka, Malini Fonseka, Joe Abeywickrama and many more.
Apart from his cinematic contribution, he is also remembered for his
role in trying to resolve the ethnic conflict in the country.
Though he faced the camera for the first time in a crowd scene in
Manamalayo in 1967, he soon got his break- through with the lead role in
Sugathapala Senarath Yapa’s Hanthane Kathawa. He had contributed to many
commercial hits as well as Classic Sinhala movies taking up diverse
roles in movies like Bambaru Evith, Eya Dan Loku Lamayek, Kristhu
Charithaya, Ganga Addara and Beddegama.
He bagged the most popular actor award for continuous years but
tragically it was only after his death that he was presented with the
award for his exceptional performance in Kedapathaka Chaaya.
Apart from acting he was also a talented vocalist and was probably
the only individual to have clinched the titles of best actor as well as
He had rendered his name to over 100 films and nearly 20 of them were
released in the first 10 years after his tragic death. Aeye Obata Baarai
was the last of his films to be released after his death.