People make films for many reasons - to entertain, to make money, to clinch a few awards and most often for all of the above... Whatever else may have been the reason for Chandran Rutnam creating The Road from Elephant Pass, one reason stands out as the most significant.
This book says more about the country`s ethnic conflict than discussed in any peace conference, says Rutnam in his emphatic signature style. Wearing a camouflage cloth cap that reads `The Road from Elephant Pass`, well-known director and film maker Rutnam quotes sections from the award winning novel of the same title by the late Nihal de Silva, on which he has based the motion picture, which is also directed by him.
Five years ago, when I first read Nihal`s book The Road from Elephant Pass I thought it would make a wonderful movie, Rutnam recalls. I called Nihal and told him that I was interested in buying the rights to his book.
The original story
Running his fingers across the book Rutnam murmurs, Nihal was very happy that I wanted to make a movie of his book. He was very supportive. Unfortunately he died before I started doing the movie.
His eyes cloud over with sad memories of the late Nihal de Silva, whom Rutnam describes as a wonderful human being and a great author. I think it`s great that being a Sinhalese, Nihal had the ability to present both characters of this story in a fair and just manner.
He continues, When writing the screenplay I was careful not to inject any private philosophies into the storyline. When people come to see the movie they will want to see Nihal`s original story. The book was a best-seller. I did not mess with the original story. I did not make my own interpretation.
Isn`t it risky to do a film about the ethnic conflict especially given the present security situation in the country? Leaning forward for emphasis he says, Controversy is essential. I am no more interested in making the good old girl-meets-boy type of movies. I want to do something different and worth watching. And to achieve that I am willing to take any risk.
Asked about the difficulties he had to face creating a film that deals heavily with weapons, military operations and other aspects of conflict, Rutnam points out, I don`t want to discuss any of that at this point. If the film does well and is recognised, I will tell you how I did everything.
The film, produced by John Shiran Dissanayaka and Chandran Rutnam for ABC Films was shot in Kalpitiya, Puttlam, Maho and Udappu in sixty-eight days. Ratnam who also handled the screenplay, editing and direction of the film believes that the two newcomers who portray the main characters in the movie will be of significance to the film.