BERLIN is where Lakshman Joseph de Saram should have been on Friday, February 16 – to attend the world premiere of the Hollywood movie “Bel Ami”, for which he wrote the music. This was a red carpet event, at the Berlin International Film Festival, with some of the biggest names in cinema in attendance. Instead, the Sri Lankan musician and composer spent the day in Colombo, in his usual way – with his family, among fellow musicians and colleagues, including members of The Chamber Music Society of Colombo, of which he is founder and music director.
The road from Colombo to Hollywood, should you dare take it, has to be a long and winding one, with unavoidable surprise turns along the way, and no guarantee that you will reach your destination. For anyone who aspires to the glittering capital of the film world, Hollywood is a golden cinematic shimmer at the far end of an almost impossible dream.
How Joseph de Saram came to be involved in a major Hollywood production is a convoluted tale, in which hard work, a huge artistic talent, and chance determined the outcome.
Where to begin?
Let’s do this like a short film, story-boarding each scene in text. Scene 1 (Colombo, the early ’80s): A 14-year-old schoolboy is seen slipping out of the gates of a leading boys’ school in Colombo, at 10.00 am on a week day during school term. He makes his way up Flower Road, then down Turret Road, and arrives at the Liberty Cinema. He pauses in front of the movie poster at the cinema entrance and takes in the details – names of actors, director, producer, composer, and so on. He buys a Rs. 1.50 ticket and takes his seat inside. The film is a Clint Eastwood spaghetti Western, with music by the Italian composer, Ennio Morricone.