TV Times


Boodee speaks of times both bitter and sweet
By Susitha R. Fernando
As a child for young Vishwanath Buddhika Keerthisena, now better known as ‘Boodee’, films and theatres was nothing new. Son of a film producer and theatre owner, Boodee grew up in the surroundings of ‘Violet’ theatre owned by his father.

Having continued his relationship with the much-loved field he is a graduate of the Film and Video School of Visual Arts in New York and in addition is a successful filmmaker.

This gifted young filmmaker proved his class with his very fist film “Sihina Deshayen”-“The Veils of Maya” when it received 31 awards and seven of them were for himself as the director, production designer and co-music composer in 1997.

Boodee went to New York to learn film at School of Visual Arts after working with theatre groups in Sri Lanka. There he graduated in 1995 from the film department. When he started working at Tower records as a sales clerk, he met Steven Farber, later to become good friends Farber helped him to get another job.

There he was introduced to young opera composer John Moran and they became friends. Farber sometimes later asked him to do a documentary on “Late 20th Century Opera composers” which was co-produced by Farber and co-produced and directed by Boodee. After that he went to Manhattan at 21 and returned to Sri Lanka after eight years in Manhattan, (1987-1995) to do his debut feature film ‘The Veils of Maya’.

After the success of the maiden effort Boodee is now ready with his second direction ‘Milla Soya”-‘Boungiorno Italia’’which took him a long time to complete and give the Sri Lankan moviegoers a story with a novel theme. His latest screenplay which he started writing in 1993 was inspired by what he saw in his own village among his friends.

After nearly ten years of direction Boodee spoke to TV Times about his experiences which were both bitter and sweet. “Returning from New York each time I found more and more of my friends were missing. They had risked their lives to go to Europe and many of them illegally to Italy”, Boodee said.

And Boodee also could hear the grim stories of housemaids who worked in oil rich lands to ensure better lives for their families and whom he met during his transits in the Middle East countries on his journeys to New York. These experiences were the first seeds from which the young filmmaker got the idea for ‘Milla Soya’.

“With all these experiences I started to write the story. There were some others who joined me writing but none of them lasted till the end thus leaving me the task of completing the writing” Boodee said explaining his first steps towards direction.

“When the shooting started I did not want even a script or dialogue because what was important for me was how to express what was already in my mind” young Boodee said. “I fortunately got a very good cast and I could make the film exactly the way I wanted,” he added.

Speaking on the theme Boodee said, “This is about young Sri Lankans crossing the European borders in search of a better life. It is the grim realities of those who risked their lives in search of Lire now Euro, Marks, the Franc or Dollars. People have a beautiful picture about going abroad. I myself worked abroad and I know it very well.”

“Some people who had seen the film say it is too realistic but the fact is that real situation with regard to this issue is even harder than what is shown in my film,” Boodee described. Shooting both here and abroad-Naples in Italy-the film started as simple production but ‘Mille Soya’ became a universal production as his friends in the independent filmmaking sector of America and Europe and other part of the world joined him to complete his film working only for expenses.

Among them were the cinematographer, Moshe Ben Yaish, an American Institute graduate, the assistant cameraman Cyril Thomas, a French born New Yorker who assisted Deepa Mehta in doing the controversial film ‘Fire’ and some other technicians from Berlin and Poland and many other personal friends like the composer Lakshman Joseph De Saram in Sri Lanka.

“I started directing the film as a student and my cameraman estimated it as a US$ 4 million project but I could finish it with much less-finally the budget stood at US$ 100,000. I did it with few facilities and what was important for me was the quality of my film” Boodee said describing about the hardships he had to undergo while making the film.

When asked about the long time taken to release his film he said film making and releasing are two different arts and to put out the film he had to use completely a different approach. Speaking about the film making in general Boodee says “Our film going culture needs to be turn back the early times where people coming out of theatres were seen joyfully whistling their ears away”.

Boodee also talked about the filmmakers in this country and said, “We have film makers who have reached the highest position in international arena like Lester James Peiris. There were also directors like Wasantha Obeysekara and Dharmasiri Pathiraja in the past and to whom we could look up to Dharmasiri Bandaranayake was a great figure among the directors in our country.

Even though the circuit was not scheduled Mille Soya will be released from the beginning of next January and it is the first Sri Lankan film to be screened with DTS sound system.

Boodee also has made arrangements to release copies dubbed in Tamil. For more details about him and ‘Mille Soya’ visit and

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