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Lankan Directs Hollywood Film

Jun 4, 2011 4:53:38 PM - thesundayleader.lk

By Jamila Najmuddin and Easwaran Rutnam

Scene from the film, Hollywood comes to Sri Lanka, Ben Cross and Local crew works on international production

A bomb disposal squad in Sri Lanka screeches past a police barricade followed by an ambulance and stops next to a police station. Officers rush into the police station followed by police sniffer dogs.
There is commotion inside the police station after policemen and policewomen realise that a bomb has been planted inside the premises by terrorists.
The scene is not another terrorist attack in Sri Lanka, two years after the war, but the set of what could be a blockbuster Hollywood movie directed by Sri Lanka’s very own Chandran Rutnam.
The movie titled A Common Man stars Oscar winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley and British actor Ben Cross and was shot entirely in Sri Lanka.
A co-production between Hollywood and Sri Lanka, the script of the movie was written by Chandran Rutnam, who in the past has worked with some big Hollywood names including Director Steven Spielberg.
The plot of the movie, Rutnam says, revolves around the character played by Kingsley, and an attempt by terrorists to blow up Colombo.
“The movie is about a man who has reached his limits. The idea is that everybody has a certain limit so he (Kingsley) has reached his own, and, is frustrated about the situation in the world with regards to terrorism and the eradication of terrorism so he takes matters into his own hands to make a statement,” Rutnam said on the final day of shooting the movie in Colombo.
Rutnam said that once he wrote the script for the movie he sent it to Hollywood and Sir Ben Kingsley, who has won several international awards including an Oscar for his portrayal of Gandhi. He liked the story and offered to play the lead role.
“The story is adapted from a concept that has been done before. But I have taken that concept and turned it around into a situation in Sri Lanka. This is a rare opportunity for Sri Lanka because this is the first time we are having the opportunity to direct Hollywood actors. We shot the whole picture within 27 days,” Rutnam added.
Among the locations used for the movie in Sri Lanka were Wesley College, Odel and Katukurunda where a plane was exploded for one of the scenes.
His company, Film Location Services, has in the past facilitated international movies being shot in Sri Lanka including Indiana Jones: The Temple of Doom, starring Harrison Ford. But this is the first time he or any Sri Lankan is directing a Hollywood movie.
Rutnam said that with the end of the war the doors have further opened for Sri Lanka to be used as a location for films and he expects an abundance of features to  be shot in Sri Lanka.
He also urged Sri Lankan film makers to look beyond just the domestic market and think of the international audience as well when making a local film.
“I think the time has come to show what we can do. We have been facilitating Hollywood productions so why can’t we facilitate our own production and address it to the international market. We must pick the subjects carefully and have the international audience in mind,” he said.
Rutnam recalled that his previous movie The Road from Elephant Pass  was based on the war in Sri Lanka at a time when the world was also focused on the conflict in the island and as a result there was a market for that film outside Sri Lanka.
Going back to his current movie, Rutnam says some local stars including Veena Jayakody and Sando Harris, are acting alongside Sir Ben Kingsley and Ben Cross. The local production will be sent to Hollywood before it is released to the market. (Courtesy News Now.lk)