The Sunday Leader

A Tale Of Love By Sumithra Rahubadda

  • ‘Kandak Sema’

by Michelle Alles

Kandak Sema’ is an award winning novel written by Sumithra Rahubadda. The story revolves around a young girl named Nupa from a lower middle class family in Sri Lanka who marries an elderly Japanese farmer, Masaya, and the life she experiences thereafter. The film, directed by Ashoka Athaudahetti, was shot in Japan and we spoke to the author, Sumithra Rahubadda and the actress playing the lead role of Nupa, Nirosha Perera,who graciously took time off their busy schedules to tell us more about their experiences filming the movie.


Q: Sumithra, Tell us more about ‘Kandak Sema’

A: ‘Kandak Sema’ is based on a novel written by me in 2009 and won all five awards in 2010 from five literary festivals in Sri Lanka, which is a record in Sri Lankan Literary history. Nupa is a Sri Lankan girl who marries an elderly Japanese man from Niigatha. She is a strong woman and manages to adapt to the society of her husband. But there are cultural differences between them and Masaya is a man who is not very eloquent and demonstrative in his affection. Nupa meets a man from Sri Lanka who is staying in Japan without a visa. This is a story of Masaya, Nupa and Sumal.


Q: What made you want to film this movie?

A: There was a demand from many readers of the novel. From 2009, 17 editions were printed. A Sri Lankan Professor from Japan wanted me to consider filming of the book and even Japanese Film Director Nasimotho Tao suggested I consider Professor Ashu Marasinghe’s request. Personally, I thought it would be a nice film with Japanese and Sri Lankan artists in a beautiful environment in Niigatha.


Q: What were the best and worst

aspects about filming this movie?

A: The best aspect is the unity of film team and working experience between two different nations. Working with Japanese artists Like Kobayashi Ayako (Oshin), Jun Etho and co-Director Tao Nasimotho, and Janaka Rajapakse was an interesting experience. The Director Asoka Athaudahetti, Cinematographer Ruwan Costa and the main actress Nirosha Perera’s work in this film is commendable. The worse aspect was the weather; outdoor shooting in a heavy winter with snow about two to three feet high is not the easiest! But the final result is more than worth it.


Q: Nirosha, what appealed to you about the role and the character of Nupa?

A: I believe that any film has its own destiny and it’s not the actor who chooses the role: it is the role that chooses the actor. What appealed to me about this role was that this character is very powerful and unique. There are many situations that Nupa goes through and her character evolves as the movie progresses.  She marries a man from a different culture with a wide age gap and that itself isn’t an easy situation to adjust to; she has to adapt to the culture and learn the language.

The character of Nupa is very different from me as a person and I had to put myself in her shoes. It was a challenge to adapt to her character, but I have always been the one to choose characters that aren’t like me in real life, otherwise there is no thrill of the challenge in playing the role! And when reading a script, I focus not only on my own role, but that of the supporting characters around me. And the supporting roles and the story should appeal to me as they shape my character too, which in this case, they did.


Q: Tell us about some of your experiences working on ‘Kandak Sema’

A: I darkened my skin for this role in order to fit into the character of Nupa better. It helped having knowledge of the Japanese language as Nupa speaks Japanese as the movie progresses, portraying adaption to the lifestyle and culture.It was also a plus point when dealing with the crew in Japan. My sister Irosha was an immense help as she is very proficient in Japanese and she translated the Japanese script for me.

Working on ‘Kandak Sema’ has been a very fascinating and rewarding experience for me. It was interesting to see how so many people from two different countries and cultures came together to make this movie and the success with which we all gelled together. I made new friends and we learned a lot from each other. The script has been great, the crew amazing and I’m looking forward to the release.




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