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Projector

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 Telugu.

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.

Sigiriya

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.


Chandran Rutnam

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.

Mindscape

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.

Media war

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 their lens.

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 June.


‘Dancing Star’

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 an eyelid!

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.

Young dancer

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.

DTS mix

The audiography and DTS mix was done at (CHANDRU) Prasad studio, Chennai.

The DI Colourist is Prashant Dhotre while the digital intermediate is by EFX Mumbai. ‘Dancing Star’ is a MBC Networks (Pvt) Ltd. production.


Snippets:

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.

Bob Marley


Bob Marley

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 country.

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.

Akasa Kusum

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 film.

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21st death anniversary today:

Unforgettable Vijaya

Twenty-one years have passed since charismatic film star cum politician Vijaya Kumaratunga was gunned down at Polhengoda on a day like today.

He was one of a few in the forefront who lead the golden era of Sinhala cinema.

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 best singer.

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.

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