Monday, December 31, 2007

Sweet, Sweet Fantasy

Director Prasanna Vithanage and his crew took their cameras to yet another film within a film sequence, featuring Udith, played by young television actor Pubudu Prabhath, and Shalika (Dilhani Asokamala) who are making their latest movie.
Shot at the 'Gal Bangalawa' in Piliyandala, the scene involved the two playing their roles in a commercial film in the present, with a film crew in the backdrop. The scenes that followed made revelations about the nature of their relationship, which leads them into the main body of action in the film.
The crew once again worked a dusk till dawn shift, making full use of the spacious waterfront garden of the location, next to the scenic Bolgoda Lake, shooting all the scenes. Dilhani was resplendent in an orange saree with golden dots courtesy of Saree Mandir, while Pubudu wore a smart black and orange Indian suit sponsored by Hameedias.
The productive last day in the first of three staggered schedules ended at 5 a.m. The crew takes a two week break before returning for another week's duty on 14 January 2008.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

"Akasa Kusum" in Pettah

"Akasa Kusum" continued its shoot for a fifth day today, shooting a few small interior scenes in the Old Town Hall in Pettah, a favoured urban location of many a film production. Director Prasanna Vithanage and his crew were on set by 7 a.m. for a few shots that would conclude the flashback scenes in the film.
Veteran actor and TV & radio personality Nadarajah Sivam played a brief supporting role of a big studio owner of yesteryear speaking with the father of Sandhya Rani. Young Sanduni Fonseka was at hand to play the young Sandhya for the last time in today's shoot.
The shoot was brisk, since it did not involve any great set ups, with Sivam using his experience to beautifully create the brusque, authoritative nature of an old time studio boss. As per schedule, shooting ended at lunch time, giving the crew an extra rest before a projected all-nighter the following day.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Hard Day at SPM

A 1970's era film studio set was resurrected at one of Sri Lanka's oldest movie houses, SPM Studios in Kandana, as "Akasa Kusum" re-created a film stage as part of its flashback scenes today. Taking its cue from the flashy, cliche-ridden, Indian carbon-copy films of the era, the scene featured a cool-for-his-time Suraj Mapa and a glitzy Upeksha Swarnamalini as the main players in this scene within a scene. Also playing were extras dressed as workers on the film set of that era, replete with antique props.
The scene takes place in an old film studio, where a young Sandhya Rani is taken to a shoot. Director Prasanna Vithanage said the scene would be told in flashback, with its characters only serving as minor players in a bigger plot. The song-and-dance scene staged for the scene borrowed from the many cliches that plagued the Sinhala cinema at the time, taking its cue from the HR Jothipala song 'Me Ware Mage' from the Gamini Fonseka-Sonia Disa starrer "Ohoma Hondada."
The shoot was a 13-hour one, beginning at 7 a.m. in Kandana. With lighting and rigging taking up most of the morning, filming began at around 11 a.m. with the film sequences receiving attention first. Though the lighting was not complex, time was taken to achieve the perfect balance and effect, with DOP Mahindapala fine tuning till he got the alchemy of light and shade just right. Following shooting of the crew sequences, shooting wrapped at 8 p.m.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

"Akasa Kusum" Takes Cameras to Railway Station, Slums

"Akasa Kusum" took its cameras to the urban heart of Colombo on its third day's shoot, to film sequences in the Slave Island railway station and the Stace Road slum dwellings. Both sequences were flashbacks involving faded film star Sandhya Rani's past life.
For the station shoot, the crews set up at the station well on time, being ready for the 10.40 train, which would serve at the locomotive that plays in the scene. The shoot, which was a straightforward scene to camera featuring no special rigging or setting up, went off without a hitch. Also playing were 10 extras playing people getting in and out of the train.
The morning's proceedings wound up by half past noon, with the evening shoot at the slum set to begin at 5 p.m.
The dusk/night time slum shots were mainly interior, with D. O. P. MD Mahindapala giving the small, frugal shell of a home a golden glow, using minimalist lighting and painting on shades in giving the home a paraffin lamp lit look in keeping with the characters' reality. After a brief shot beside the adjacent canal, shooting began around 6 p.m. The young Sanduni, neice of Malani Fonseka, playing a younger incarnation of the character played by her famous aunt. The day's shoot wrapped around 8 p.m.

Monday, December 24, 2007

"Akasa Kusum" Begins Principal Photography in Colombo

Work on "Akasa Kusum," the first film by Prasanna Vithanage in five years, began shooting its first scenes on R. A. De Mel Mawatha in the Heart of Colombo overnight on Sunday (23 Dec. 2007). The crew literally hit the ground running, as all the sequences shot were of moving vehicles and coversations inside them.
Stars Malani Fonseka and Dilhani Asokamala braved a 16-hour work schedule that saw wrap at 7 a.m. on Christmas Eve to shoot sequences that director Vithanage wanted to resonate emotionally, building up to the strong emotional core of his story.
Apart from a few fixable technical glitches, shooting went off smoothly, with camera rigs being erected on two trishaws and two cars, with the actresses travelling in both of them. The film will shoot in three staggered schedules that will see principal photography wrap in March. Director Vithanage hopes to have the film ready by mid-2008, and see a domestic release somewhere in early 2009.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

“Akasa Kusum” to Bloom in 2008

Sri Lankan acting legend Malani Fonseka will for the first time in her career play an actress in her upcoming film with director Prasanna Vithanage, titled “Akasa Kusum (Flowers in the Sky).” Shooting will begin in late December on the film, which will also star Nimmi Harasgama, Dilhani Asokamala, Damayanthi Fonseka and newcomer Shanika Samanali. Playing supporting roles in Vithanage’s latest film will be English theatre vet Mohamed Adamaly and up-and-comers Suraj Mapa, Tharindi Fonseka and Upeksha Swarnamalini. Anarkalli Akarsha will make a guest appearance playing herself in the film.

“Akasa Kusum” is set in contemporary times, and tells the story of an actress popular in the 70’s (Fonseka), who unexpectedly gets a second chance at fame. The movie explores how she faces an industry with changed values, more bent on commercialization, and more media crazy. “The film is a homage to all the actresses who have given something out of their lives to their craft,” says Vithanage about the film, adding that “it is an emotional journey of a woman who has lost her inner voice, and through what’s happening, tries to understand who she really is.”

The movie, co-produced by HD Premasiri for Sarasavi Cineru and Prasanna Vithanage in collaboration with A. Sreekar Prasad for Film Freaks India, will see its world premiere in September 2008. MD Mahindapala will work as Director of Photography, while Lakshman Joseph de Saram will compose a score for “Akasa Kusum.” Iranthi Abeysinghe will function as Line Producer and Daminda Madawala will be Vithanage’s First Assistant Director. Two Indian film industry veterans will also work with director Vitanage on the movie. A. Sreekar Prasad will edit and A. Laxminarayan will design the film’s sound. The producers hope to release “Akasa Kusum” into local theatres in early 2009.