Thursday, March 27, 2008

"Akasa Kusum" Wraps Up Principal Photography

The director and crew of "Akasa Kusum" wrapped up shooting on Prasanna Vithanage's new film at 2 a.m. this morning at a location in Battaramulla. Dilhani Ekanayake played in the scene as Shalika, while Mohamed 'Adam' Adamaly played opposite her as Eric. The crew landed at the location at around 7 p.m. last night, and began shooting around 9 p.m. after the setting-up process. The final scenes lensed before dawn today, were of Shalika getting off her car and being attended to by her servants.

Vithanage thanked all the cast and crew of the film, singling out First Assistant Director Daminda Madawela for his tight but unhurried schedule and all the cast and crew for working hard and putting in long hours to make the film a reality. He also joked that his biggest pleasure in directing the movie was that he had the chance to work with seven of the loveliest women in Sri Lanka!

Earlier yesterday, Malani Fonseka wrapped up her performance as Sandhya Rani with a sequence shot at the IDH, with Vithanage, who cites Robert Bresson as one of his major influences, took subtle, quiet shots that would set the mood and reveal to the audience the goings-on on the screen. Fonseka was caught totally by surprise when First Assistant Daminda Madawela announced to her she had finished playing her role, her gleeful, jubilant laughter making all in the crew and cast smile and share her joy.

Vithanage will now concentrate his energies on editing and marketing the film, with a tentative World Premiere in Toronto already slated. He will travel to Chennai next week to work extensively with editor A. Sreekar Prasad, following which he will return to the island in late April to dub the film. He goes back to Chennai soon after to design the film's soundscape with veteran Indian sound designer A. Laxminarayan, with whom Vithanage worked in "Ira Madiyama." He hopes to have "Akasa Kusum" ready for Sri Lankan theatres early next year.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Last Day of Shooting Today

Today marks the final day of principal photography on the movie. Scenes will be shot at IDH off Rajagiriya, featuring Malani Fonseka doing her final bit as Sandhya Rani in the film. Shooting on this scene is set to begin around 1:30 this afternoon, after which the last scene of the day - and the shoot will take place tonight.

This scene features Dilhani Ekanayake and Mohamed 'Adam' Adamaly as Shalika and Eric, and will be shot at a house close to the production offices of "Akasa Kusum". Following this, photography wraps up on the film.

Director Prasanna Vithanage will begin editing the film next week in Chennai with editor and co-producer A. Sreekar Prasad - with a view to begin sound dubbing in mid-April, following the Sinhala and Tamil New Year holidays. Vithanage hopes to have a finished cut of the movie ready by June. "Akasa Kusum" will have a world premiere in September.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Shooting Continues On The Last Few Scenes

Principal photography continued on "Akasa Kusum" in Pelawatte today, in scenes between Malani Fonseka and Dilhani Ekanayake. An element of glamour was present, as one of the scenes featured both actresses dressed in plush sarees, along with full accessories.

The day ended early, as the cast and crew completed filming by 5 p.m. Television and stage actor Anil K. Wijesinghe also played opposite Fonseka and Ekanayake in the scene, along with a few extras. Shooting takes place tomorrow in two locations - Nugegoda and the Stace Watta slums, with actresses Malani Fonseka and Samanalee Fonseka. The two Fonsekas will play opposite each other in the second of only two scenes they have together in the movie.

Final Lap of Shooting Begins

Cast and crew began the final lap of shooting this week, beginning with scenes lensed at the Maharagama Youth Centre over the weekend.

Saturday saw scenes at a TV station and dialogue between its employees, who were dealing with a minor crisis. Among the actors playing in the scene were Tharidi Fonseka, a niece of Malani Fonseka and the fourth Fonseka to have a role in the movie. On a relatively relaxed day, the scenes were shot both inside and outside a tape library.

Sunday saw the glamour return to the set, with Malani Fonseka playing opposite popular TV show host Nirosha Perera, who was guesting as herself. The scene was shot on Sunday afternoon, when Perera could free herself from her hectic TV schedule. Looking every bit the glamour queen of Sri Lankan TV, she essayed her scene with confidence, playing opposite Malani Fonseka's Sandhya Rani. Director Vithanage was wholly satisfied with the scene, describing Perera as "very professional."

The next few days shoot at various locations in and around Colombo as the filming nears completion. The shoot wraps on Wednesday, 26 March.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Shooting Completed At Principal Location

Shooting in the principal location - the home of Sandhya Rani - ended last week, with the last few scenes being lensed with Malani Fonseka, Dilhani Ekanayake, Kaushalya Fernando and a few other actors playing more limited roles in the film. Commenting on the shoot and its performances, director Prasanna Vithanage expressed satisfaction, saying "the characterizations have come through." He said the challenge now lay in editing the film with editor and co-producer A. Sreekar Prasad in Chennai, where he would refine, pace and tighten the film and its elements.

Also essaying roles on the final day of shooting were acclaimed theatre actors Dayadeva Edirisinghe and Mohamed 'Adam' Adamaly, a veteran of the English stage. Both played small roles, but were given attention by Vithanage, as their performances were honed out by the director.

After a well-deserved break on Friday, the crew gets back to its final lap of shooting the movie, on locations in and around Colombo, as the final pieces in the "Akasa Kusum" puzzle are made.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Director Prasanna Vithanage Probes Emotional Depths in "Akasa Kusum"

Kaushalya Fernando, Jayani Senanayake, Malani Fonseka and Dilhani Ekanayake fleshed out their roles as Prasanna Vithanage probed the depths of the characters they play, reaching deep into the emotional core of "Akasa Kusum."

Kaushalya Fernando, who braved incessant rain, an 8-hour road trip and divergent schedules to arrive on the Homagma location of "Akasa Kusum" to begin work on her role as Mallika, proved once again to be an actress of startling range and depth, delivering a subtle, nuanced performance. On her first day, Fernando arrived a tad late on the set, tired but determined to work after a trip from Habarana, where she was shooting on Vimukthi Jayasundara's sophomore film, "Fallen From The Sky." Although lighting conditions did not permit her to finish her scene on day one, she nailed it in one take on day two, and continued in much the same stride from there on.

Fonseka also proved she still had the acting chops to pull off a scene, delivering a tour de force as director Vithanage directed her in a powerful, emotionally demanding scene. Her scenes saw the emotional journey of Sandhya Rani given full flight, making her motivations and actions clearer. Dilhani Ekanayake too played her role as Shalika around the other characters populating Rani's house.

Jayani Senanayake played Leela, Rani's domestic helper, again with subtlety and great understanding, never once giving in to over-playing or scene stealing. Vithanage is directing her on film for the first time, having worked with her previously on his hit play, "Horu Samaga Heluwen". Commenting on one scene featuring Fonseka, Ekanayake and Fernando, director Vithanage said it was the finest scene he had the pleasure of directing in his career so far.

Shooting at the Homagama location concludes today, with the last scenes taking place at Rani's house being lensed by cast and crew. Joining the cast on the final day at Rani's house are Mohamed 'Adam' Adamaly, an acclaimed actor from the English Theatre, and the experienced Sinhala theatre actor Dayadeva Edirisinghe.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Young Lust in "Akasa Kusum"

Director Prasanna Vithanage yesterday filmed one of the more sensual scenes for "Akasa Kusum" - with young actors Ruchi Dissanayake and Nino Jayakody.

Jayakody and Dissanayake - both rising stars with television and commercial credits in their resumes, said their scenes were not as difficult as they had envisioned, managing to build the chemistry of a young couple in lust. Director Vithanage was happy with the takes, explaining that scene had the right balance of sensuality, tastefulness and lust to make it work. Also lensed were scenes of Sandhya Rani reading letters and an outdoor scene of with Fonseka and Ekanayake.

The evening took a lighter tone as Director Prasanna Vithanage - who celebrated his birthday yesterday - treated the crew to cake and drinks before they left after wraps. More scenes at Rani's house will be shot in the coming week.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Malani Fonseka Turns On The Glamour

A 40-year-veteran of over 150 films, Malani Fonseka last night turned on the glamour for the first time as the "Akasa Kusum" crew just stood by and watched her in her movie-star charisma and the effortless ease with which she carried it.

In the scene, Rani returns to her home following a television interview to find Shalika (Dilhani Ekanayake) on her doorstep, waiting to ask a favour of her. Looking resplendent in a brown printed saree, Fonseka looked every inch the glamourous movie star. Director Vithanage, while dwelling on her glamour also took time to sculpt every nuance in the scene, as Shalika and Rani speak of their near future and begin to react to the events taking place around them.

Shooting takes place in Homagama for a further week, during which all the scenes in Sandhya Rani's house will be completed.

Kaushalya Fernando Replaces Damayanthi Fonseka in "Akasa Kusum"

Award winning stage and screen actress Kaushalya Fernando ("Sulanga Enu Pinisa," "Bora Diya Pokuna") has joined the cast of "Akasa Kusum", playing Mallika, the sister of film star Sandhya Rani after Damayanthi Fonseka pulled out of the role. Damayanthi, sister of the film's main star Malani Fonseka and wife of director Prasanna Vithanage, said it would be "unethical" to comment on her reasons for walking out, saying she would not talk about projects she has rejected on principle. "Throughout my career as an actress I have rejected many scripts for plays, TV and films," she said. "I feel it is not right for me to speak of projects I have decided to not take part in." She also had no comment to reports about her personal life.
the incident had caused a rift in her relationship with her husband
Kaushalya Fernando, meanwhile, said she felt "elated" to be working with a director like Vithanage and called it a "rare opportunity" to bag a role in the film, adding that very few good movies are currently being made in Sri Lanka. Fernando comes into "Akasa Kusum" directly from the set of Cannes-award winning director Vimukthi Jayasundara's new movie, "Fallen From The Sky" which is currently shooting on location in Habarana.

Director Vithanage, commenting on the turn of events said he had spoken to Fernando and rehearsed and spoken with her about the role of Mallika, the 'ugly duckling' sister of Sandhya Rani. He also said the situation with his wife Damayanthi was 'unfortunate', but said he was currently concentrating on making the film.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Malani Fonseka returns to "Akasa Kusum"

Malani Fonseka returned to the set of "Akasa Kusum" this week, as the third shooting schedule of Prasanna Vithanage's new film continued on location in Homagama. Fonseka will be essaying the bulk of her scenes as the film's main protagonist, bygone film star Sandhya Rani.

Fonseka has just returned from a six-week tour of the US, where she was felicitated across six states by the Sri Lankan diaspora for her contribution to Sri Lankan film. Her tour kicked off in late January, where she appeared as chief guest for "Ranwan Reyak", a performance show in Los Angeles organized by the Sri Lanka America Foundation. The show featured US-based Lankans performing to tunes made popular in Sinhala films across half a decade of Sri Lankan cinema. Fonseka, who herself performed in the similar"Ridee Reyak" in Colombo several times, met with her fans and friends at the event, which also honoured her for 40 years in Sinhala cinema. She then travelled for a series of felicitation events in Pittsburgh, Ohio, New York, Boston and Washington DC. She returned to the island on Friday.

Director Vithanage took time to engage his actors in nuance and subtlety, with Dilhani Asokamala and Pubudu Prabath playing opposite Fonseka in scenes set in the house of Sandhya Rani. Samanalee Fonseka also featured in a scene with her famous aunt - where Bunty arrives unannounced to deliver a package to Rani. Shooting of crucial scenes in Rani's house continue this week.

Shooting on the third schedule will continue until the end of March, after which Vithanage will edit and oversee sound designing in India, and dub voices in Sri Lanka. He hopes to have a first cut of "Akasa Kusum" ready by June.

Friday, March 07, 2008

"Akasa Kusum" Begins Final Shooting Schedule

An old house in Homagama was the setting, as the crew of Prasanna Vithanage's "Akasa Kusum" began its final run of principal photography early Friday morning. The setting was the home of Sandhya Rani (Malani Fonseka), and the scenes shot involved Priya's (Nimmi Harasgama) final shots in the movie. Also playing in today's sequences were Shalika (Dilhani Asokamala) and Udith (Pubudu Prabhath), who featured in the film's outdoor sequences - some just outside Rani's house and others in scenic gravel road nearby. Also shot were a few more scenes featuring Harasgama.

Malani Fonseka will feature in tomorrow's scenes, having just returned from a five-week tour of the US. She will essay a bulk of her scenes as Sandhya Rani. Harasgama returns to London on Sunday, to begin rehearsals on a stage performance there. The third and final shooting schedule is set to continue till the end of March.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Director Prasanna Vithanage Begins Preliminary Voice Dubbing in Colombo

Director Prasanna Vithanage began the first phase of sound recording on "Akasa Kusum" with actress Nimmi Harasgama this week. Harasgama voiced her scenes as Priya, with Vithanage describing the first dubbing session as going 'perfectly well.' Harasgama recorded her voice tracks for the film early, since she departs to the UK next week. Recording took place at Sarasavi Film Studios in Kelaniya, with sound recordist and mixer Ruwan Sri Walpola manning the controls. Harasgama is scheduled to go into the studio for a final recording session before completing her work in the sound studio.

The third and final shooting schedule for "Akasa Kusum" will begin this Friday (07 March 2008) in Homagama, with Harasgama doing her final scene in the movie. The location is the home of faded film star Sandhya Rani (Malani Fonseka) and features Priya's only visit to Rani's home. Fonseka returns from a five-week tour of the US to complete shooting on the film. Vithanage hopes to complete the film by June for a possible world premiere in September 2008 before a Sri Lankan release in early 2009.