Perfect paradox! | Daily News

Perfect paradox!

The Daily News was privy to a private screening of Boodee Keerthisena's latest and most ambitious film Nimnayaka Hudakalawa (Alone in a Valley) before it wends its way to bustling Japan for the Okinawa International Film Festival. Screened only once at the Colombo International Film Festival, Nimnayaka Hudakalawa is ambitious because, in the words of the director himself, "it is an extensive experiment in visual creation." Eight years in the making, the film contains classic Kafkan elements and Pynchonian undertones, and pays homage to his idol David Bowie, who smiles down at us from the walls surrounding the protagonist Vishva.

Central to the film is what in quantum physics is referred to as Everett's theory; the premise that multiple realities can unfold simultaneously, and the viewer is hard pressed to stay abreast of Boodee's masterful extrapolation of plot, in as much the same manner in which Vishva struggles to stay ahead of the sometimes hideous distortions to the fabric of his reality. With a cast that includes - among others, fellow film director Vimukthi Jayasundara, artiste Chandragupta Thenuwara and actress Sangeetha Weeraratne, Boodee's Nimnayaka Hudakalawa gives deep desperate life to an average man, submerged in the mundanity of living.

Q: Boodee, can you look back and pinpoint where the seed for this film sprang into your head?

A: That is difficult to explain but I will try. I was just chilling and doing nothing when two young filmmakers came up to me and said: "Boodee Aiyya, its time you make a film. It's been 10 years since Mille Soya." That was Chinthana Dharmadasa and Sumedha Jayawardane. I told them I didn't have the funding to make a film but they said they would help me make it. It was at that moment that I said I wanted to make a film about the unexplained. I wanted it to be a very subconscious film. I told them, as example, it is as if you were meeting someone, and while talking to you he does something strange, like shake his head fast, very fast, faster than a speeding car, a couple of times. It leaves you wondering -what just happened? Did I just see that or was that my imagination? I wanted the film to explore moments such as these, and that is what we did. In fact, Chinthana ended up becoming the co-writer of the screenplay.

Q:Who is the lead actor and why did you choose him? Do you think he has done a good job?

A: To tell you the truth, I wrote the screenplay with Peter De Almeida in mind. We are good friends and have for a long time wanted to work with each other. I had coffee a few times with him during the genesis of this film and he agreed to do it. We were constantly in touch over the phone and I wrote his part. But suddenly, he gracefully refused the part, saying something else had come up. I thought that was pretty funny - maybe someone said something to him that made him bail out. Whether that was true or not I don't know, but that was the excuse I made for him in my mind so that I could deal with his refusal. Then I saw Saumya Liyanage in 'Wala Patala' and thought he would be a perfect Vishva. I spoke to him and he accepted the role and came on board as my main talent.

Q: It is said you tend to work with people you consider friends. Is this true?

A: Yes, very true. It is easier for me to work with people I consider my friends. I know what sort of characterization would suit them, and I have the confidence that even if they are first timers, they will pull it off in the end.

Q: Eight years in the making is a long time. Did you feel any pressure to speed up production?

A: Well, seven to be exact. But the film was an editing nightmare. I knew even before shooting that it would be. Then a few months into it my co-writer left saying he had another movie called 'How I Wonder What You Are' to do. I begged him not to leave, but that gig offered him the role of co-director. It was a better deal for him. In the middle of this, I began work on my film 'Matha.' I had always wanted to do a war movie and was offered the opportunity and went with it, even while struggling to finish the work with this. But I think I produce better work under pressure.

Q: Is this movie the first of its kind in Sri Lanka?

A: I don't know if it is the first movie of its kind, but I do know it is the first digital Sinhala movie made in Sri Lanka.

Q: Are you satisfied with the results?

A: Have you ever heard of a filmmaker being satisfied?!

Q: Are you a perfectionist, or do you believe that art must reflect life in its imperfections?

A: You could say that I am a perfectionist... but at the same time, I am not a perfectionist! Because even while attempting mistakes and accidents in the art form, I would fix them in the end to make a perfect piece.

Q: When do you plan to release the film to the film circuits?

A: I don't know about releasing the film to circuits! I think I will have to beg borrow and steal from the theaters for timing and screen on limited engagement, like in the US.

I am hoping to release this year anytime before or by August.

Q: What other projects are you involved with at the moment?

A: Too many. There is the 'Adventures of Ricky Dean' that I am shooting on an iPhone. I am still looking for funding to complete that.

'Outsider' is another one - both films have Facebook pages under those names if anyone wants to know more about them!

Q: What is your general philosophy in life?

A: I don't know if I have a philosophy. But I try to live my life according to Buddha's philosophy.

Q: David Bowie passed away this year. How do you feel about your film having many references to Bowie, whom you cite as one of your greatest influences?

A: I still find it difficult to deal with the fact that he is not alive anymore.

But yes, Bowie's work greatly influences me and I am glad there are many references to him in the film. 

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