'Cinema is a visual language'

'Cinema is a visual language'
There may be many reasons that inspire one to become a filmmaker but it was the urge to tell stories that prompted Chathra Weeraman from Sri Lanka to become one.

He made his debut as a director with ‘Aloko Udapadi’, a Sinhalese film. Chathra, who is armed with a master’s degree in animation and visual effects, prefers to lend his own flavour and twist to all his projects. ‘Aloko Udapadi’, which was screened at Biffes, was a proof on how he aesthetically  weaves graphics into an otherwise serious subject. In an interview with Nina C George, Chathra chats about his films and his journey so far.

What does ‘Aloko Udapadi’ mean and what is the film about? 

‘Aloko Udapadi’ literally means ‘light arose’. It throws light on an important milestone in the Buddhist timeline. We’ve tried to weave together a story that portrays human efforts to preserve the spiritual heritage of Buddhism for posterity.

Why did you choose to debut with an epic?

It is the tale of Sri Lankan monks who recorded the sacred work of Buddha in writing during war and famine. The film explores the life, contribution and folklore related to King Walagambha of Sri Lanka. He was instrumental in preserving the Buddhist teachings and inscribed the oral traditions on rocks. It is also a tribute to King Walagambha by giving him due credit to his work.

What kind of research went into the making of the film?

We spent a lot of time researching and pulling out old records and documents to cross-check the facts. We also worked on presenting the visuals in a unique way. I did a course in visual effects from Malaysia, so I’ve added a lot of VFX effects which enhance the visual experience. I believe that even historical films must be presented in a format that appeals to the new generation.

Who is your inspiration?

I knew I was cut out to be a filmmaker because of my father Saman Weeraman, a director and producer. I am not new to the craft of filmmaking but it was indeed a challenge because I didn’t want to blindly follow my father’s footsteps but create my own identity.

What kind of genre interests you?

Cinema is a visual language. I am always drawn towards subjects and themes that revolve around suspense and horror. I think these two genres do well to fire the imagination of not just a director but ordinary people as well.  

Tell us your experience at the Biffes.

I’ve lost count of the number of film festivals that I’ve been to. Having said that, I feel there’s a lot of buzz during the film festivals and I believe people of Bengaluru appreciate original work. Today, a lot of youngsters are looking at cinema and moviemaking from a global perspective. There’s no dearth of talent and ideas among young filmmakers in our country.
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