speaks of times both bitter and sweet
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.
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.
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.
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
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’.
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.
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,”
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.”
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.
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.
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
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”.
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.
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.
has made arrangements to release copies dubbed in Tamil. For more
details about him and ‘Mille Soya’ visit www.cinemaboodee.com