Entertainment

INTERVIEW: Making ‘Machan’

Tuesday, February 16, 2010
BY MAHESH ABEYEWARDENE
FLASHBACK 2008: Exclusive Interview with Director Uberto Posolini and Producer Prasanna Vithanage

Italian Director Uberto Posolini speaks during an interview in Toronto.

Italian Director Uberto Posolini speaks during an interview in Toronto.

 
Machan, a movie based on the missing Sri Lankan handball team had a North American premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in September. The film was well-received at a pre-screening in Colombo and won the best the European Film Award at the Venice Film Festival last month. Italian director Uberto Pasolini said his main success was to make a film that could be enjoyed by all Sri Lankans. The lead roles were played by relatively new actors and supported by a more experienced Sri Lankan cast.
“Prasanna Vithanage helped me in everything including the casting. We were very lucky with some of the smaller roles, which were played by very big Sri Lankan actors from Malini Fonseka to Iranganie Serasinghe,” Pasolini told The Sri Lanka Reporter in Toronto. Iranganie was fantastic to work with, absolutely wonderful, patient and very natural. She said it was the first time she was playing a working class role and it was there she took it very seriously and was very particular, even with the costume.”
Producer Prasanna Vithanage.

Producer Prasanna Vithanage.

  Pasolini decided to make the movie after he read a news bulletin in September 2004 about the missing Sri Lankan handball team. It happened suddenly after a large film he was producing with Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman in Australia collapsed before production.

   “The director and the star didn’t want to work together, so I had to fire a lot of people and I was very upset. On the very same day, I opened the paper in Sydney and read a tiny news flash about the Sri Lankan national handball team disappearing in Germany. I said this is a movie I can make, it was about real people and real issues,” he said.

  Pasolini sought the assistance of Sri Lankan playwright Ruwanthie de Chickera and talked to hundreds of people in Sri Lanka to come up with personal stories. The director said it was difficult to re-create the exact story since the original 23 members of handball team were still missing.

  “We had to create 23 people who were natural and the type of people who would go abroad for a range of reasons,” he said.

  The research eventually paid off, Vithanage believed the movie was a comedy that all Sri Lankans would enjoy. In fact, the producer said Machan was well received by an audience at a pre-screening in Colombo last month.

  “He [ a Negombo Fisherman] spent 3 months in Italy, he said it was cold, he hated the food and the women in Italy beat-up their husbands…I knew this was a line for the movie,” the director said.

“The audience was from a cross-section, from former President Chandrika Kumaratunga to young theater lovers and their drivers. The National Film Corporation theater was packed and from the beginning to the end there was roaring laughter,” Vithanage said.

  The Italian director made a natural movie script with the interviews he had with ordinary Lankans. During his research, a fisherman in Negombo told Pasolini how he illegally migrated to Italy and hated the country.

   “He spent 3 months in Italy, he said it was cold, he hated the food and the women in Italy beat-up their husbands…I knew this was a line for the movie,” the director said.

  The film will be released in Sri Lanka towards the end of October and around 19 theaters have already been booked including the Regal Cinema in Colombo.  The movie will likely be released in Canada next year.