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Sharing story of Sri Lanka’s economic crisis with ‘Paradise’ gave me catharsis: Prasanna Vithanage

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Mumbai, Nov 3: Having witnessed the public anger during the economic crisis in Sri Lanka, director Prasanna Vithanage says his latest film “Paradise” became a potent vehicle for him to highlight its impact on people.
The film narrates the story of an Indian tourist couple, played by “Darlings” star Roshan Mathew and Darshana Rajendran of “Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey” fame, who arrive in the crisis-ridden country to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary as it costs less. But when things take an unexpected turn and the conflict deepens, cracks appear in their relationship.
Vithanage said he started developing the plot of “Paradise” in the middle of the meltdown in 2022 and shot the movie in January 2023. The unprecedented economic crisis that left millions struggling to buy food, medicine, fuel and other essentials, also sparked a political turmoil in the country.
“Many people were on the streets for different reasons during the crisis. Some were protesting, some queued up for gas or other things. They are suffering even now, the crisis is not resolved completely… I’ll say talking about it and sharing it with people has given me a catharsis as there are so many people who do not have a voice.
“When you see something happening around you, being an artist, it gives you an opportunity to say certain things objectively and subjectively. That’s why I like my job as a filmmaker,” he told PTI in an interview. Participating in protests himself, the filmmaker remembers how the economic collapse affected individuals of all classes and ethnicities.
“Sri Lanka was called paradise once. With all the troubles, paradise (the term) has become ironic. All we know is that it was not a paradise at the time. The title is to create an ironic image, like a counter to what happens in the film,” he said, adding that the film’s title was suggested by one of his producers.
“Everybody had to face shortages of food, gas, and power cuts. Even the rich who have generators at home have no diesel. Being from a middle-class (family), it is the same (problems) we all have gone through but people of Sri Lanka faced it and they were resilient about it,” he said.
The director said he purposely chose an Indian couple to tell the story of what was happening in his country.
“But the film doesn’t capture what we undergo. It is through the eyes of people who don’t have anything to do with the crisis… But even they get affected with it unwillingly is what the story is,” he added.
Not just Mathew and Rajendran, the film also has Indian cinematographer Rajeev Ravi, editor Sreekar Prasad, sound desinger Tapas Nayak and music director K. “Most of the talent in front of and behind the camera, I have worked with them before. Darshana and Roshan were amazing. I am grateful to Roshan for his openness to seek the grey areas of the character,” he said. “Paradise” is presented by filmmaker Mani Ratnam, who came on board after watching the movie preview in Chennai in August this year. (PTI)

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