applications in film making
Boodi Kirthisena in a pensive mood
Director Boodee Keerthisena is looking to work with young filmmakers
and film lovers in his up and coming psychological thriller working
title Nimnayaka Hudakalawa (Children of a Silent Age). He is young and a
promising film maker who would upturn the conventional notion of film
making in Sri Lanka.
Sihina Deshayen would suffice to judge his application in the medium
of film and I would dare say his applications are radical and imposing
However, Mille Soya stands out as a unique creation where Lashman
Joseph de Saram created an immortal score of music against the back
unfolding story of daring escapade.
Milley Soya goes down in the annals of Sinhala films as a masterpiece
which explores the modern day plight of Sri Lankan youth who seek
greener pastures in European destinations.
His application in cinema is unique in the sense he explores into the
very limitations in structure, theme and context of the work at hand.
Scenes From the film Nimnayaka Hudakalawa
Q:When and how did the idea that inspired to make “Sihina Deshayen
(“From the dream land”) was conceived?
A: I was walking down the street. There were leaves catching the wind
and then I felt like a seed in the wind. It reminded me of “David
Bowie’s” version of Wild Is the Wind song... So with that thought in my
mind...I conceived the idea for “Sinhana Deshayen” or (A Transmission
from the dream land).
However I could not entirely translate the English title into Sinhala
because it was said to be an ill-omen. It was my first pretentious
movie. I was influenced by Derrick Jarman, Peter Greenaway and Andre
Tharkovesky. If someone asks how I got to “Sinhina Deshayen”, I would
say through Peter Brooks “Mahabharata” and Dereck Jarman’s “Jubilee”.
When I saw Mahabharata, for the first time, in New York City, it
influenced me a lot to think of the movie through a theatre group. By
that time I had also watched Angelo Theopolos’s (Greek Filmmaker) works
As a filmmaker, today I look back on Sihina Deshayen, I have grown
really out of that style to a different style when I came to Mille Soya.
Because it was more like an anthropological movie to me. By that I was
categorizing myself as an anthropological film maker while I was doing
Because, the film was between Sri Lanka, Italy and New York City.
Q:You made a name and fame out of the film “Mille Soya” which won
many awards. Did any event in real life influence you to make the movie?
A: When I was trying to make my next movie “How big was my country?”
my teacher Ramin Naiami (he is also an Iranian) told me to make “Mille
“How big my Country?” was a kind of a romantic comedy-taking place in
the future with Ravana, Rama and gods coming down from heaven. But Ramin
looked at me and asked “Don’t you have anything else? “ I told “I have
something called ‘Moths to the flame’. He said “Boodee, you go home and
make that one. This seems to be much more closer to your heart”.
“Moths to the Flame” became “Mille Soya”.
So I came home and started to do Mille Soya.
I tried to collaborate with Prasanna Vithanage and he wanted to write
the screenplay. But, somehow, it did not happen. Actually he did go with
me to every place since it is a very true experience of my life. In the
end Prasanna told me “Boodee now I understand your loneliness”.
One of the main reason for “Mille Soya” was, that most of the flight
from New York City to Colombo I flew, came via Middle East. At Middle
East, there were housemaids, people who have gone to work there. They
would come up to me on the airplane and would say either in Sinhala or
Tamil “Can you help us to fill out the landing cards?” So filled them
out for them and I listen to their stories. Some people have just come
They were taken into Middle East on the promise of jobs and they had
been locked up in a room. Some people were treated well and some people
were treated really badly. So my heart went out to them.
Then we were all standing in the line for immigration and when it
came to that woman, giving them landing cards, the officer at that desk
scolded her “You have not filled it properly?” (Meka Purola naha, yanava
gihilla purogena enava”.
I was thinking as Sri Lankans, we have only this place on earth to be
a home and every other country, they treat their people as number one
priority...and why in our country do we not treat our people as number
That was very disturbing for me. I wanted to investigate more into it
and thought of making a movie on this.
Then I realised I am so far away from Sahara and the Middle East, but
I was more close to Italy and Europe because all my childhood friends,
friends from my village, were ending up in Italy. Then I started talking
to them. By that time, they were caught up in between two countries.
They go to Italy and earn money and come back to build a house. They
buy the land and suddenly they find the money was over and they go again
and earn some more money and come back again to build the house.
They go again to Italy and earn money to buy interior furniture, then
to admit their children to Italian schools.
After a while they realise their children are learning and getting
adopted to the culture there and the house is also finished by now with
big wide gates. When they realise they will have to leave the house
closed and stay in Italy till the child’s education is done,
automatically they feel trapped in-between.
They become in-betweeners, that’s how I felt about them in some ways.
Like Michel Foucault talks about people without a land. Those days,
mentally retarded people were taken from the main land and dumped on
They did not have their original lands or neither did they belong to
the new lands. They were in-betweeners. So I thought I would make a
story about my friends.
Q:How long did you take to make the film ‘Milles Soya’?
A: Finally it took us about 90,000 dollars and four long years. I
thought we would do it before any foreigner comes and try to make a
movie in this region. We had problems with the cast. One of my actors
went to Jail. Then when we went to get visas, they said we can not have
visas at that time.
Finally When they were giving Visas, there was no snow in Italy.
Since we needed snow in the film, we waited. So it dragged on and on and
I got totally tired of making movies. My cinematographer from New York
City Moshe Ben-Yaish told me, “Boodee, you are trying to shoot a 4
Million Dollar movie in 100,000 Dollars. Its impossible.”
The team did not give up. I had people from eight different countries
working with me. German, Israeli, Polish, French, Italian, American, Sri
Lankan and with post-production in India, Indians too.
Finally it worked out well and we screened the movie in 2004. I think
it was a very historical and hysterical moment because I found out that
for the first time, film festival jury had resigned. I did not realise
why, but when the second jury came onboard and they (jury) gave me an
extra award for me.
The movie went on and people started to watch it. Most people did not
watch. Sri Lanka is a very interesting country when it comes to movie
Because, people would come up to you and congratulate and ask “Are
you going to make a new movie? “. Then I will ask “well, did you see my
old one? “, “Oh, no I didn’t? “. “So why should I make another one you
didn’t even watch my last movie”. So I did not make a movie for a long
Q:What is your latest movie?
A: When I got the urge to make one, it was ‘Pale Blue’, action
thriller. I wrote the script and then I realized it was also again an
Chinthana Dharmadasa came one day and asked “Boodee Ayya, you better
do a movie immediately”.
He is a founder member of The Young Film Makers but they have changed
their name into Guerrilla Film Makers. I thought it’s a great Idea to
make a movie with the Guerilla film makers, since I have a lots of
“Dogme” film making background. I always love the idea of collaborations
working with others. So myself and Chinthana wrote the screenplay in
just over three weeks. When I was writing I thought we were doing some
kind of David Lynch type movie. However, my editor to be read the
screenplay and said that it was a bit like David Connenberg’s “Naked
Lunch” the movie.