Talented child star Sarala will come to US in April
By Walter Jayawardhana
BUBBLY CHILD STAR SARALA OF HIGHLY ACCLAIMED CLASSIC, “WATER” WILL COME TO U.S. IN APRIL FOR HOUSTON FESTIVAL
“Sarala, the bubbly and mischievous child widow Chuliya in Deepa Mehta’s Water” will be in the United States when the classic Canadian Indian film that was filmed in Sri Lanka is entering the Houston International film festival in April, the Hindustan Times reported.
Indo-Canadian writer-director Deepa Mehta’s ‘Water’, a highly acclaimed story about the plight of Hindu widows in 1930s, failed to win the best foreign film Oscar losing out to Germany’s ‘The Lives of Others’.
The 11-year-old Sri Lankan child star’s father, Sarath Kariyawasam told the Colombo correspondent of Hindustan Times that his daughter will be going to the Houston festival somehow. He is also sure the film that made her daughter very famous would bag an award this time though it failed at the Oscars.
“Sarala will be there,” he told Hindustan Times emphatically, when asked if she and her family were disappointed that they could not attend the Oscar.
The family did not go because director Deepa Mehta could not wangle an invitation for her, he said.
” Deepa loves Sarala. She calls her every month and sends books and posters,” he said.
Salara, now 11, and in Grade 7 in a Sinhala medium school in the southern Sri Lankan town of Galle, was only 8 when she donned the white sari of an Indian widow and shaved the hair on her head for Water in 2004, the Hindustan Times said.
“Her mother, homemaker Bhawani, was initially against her acting in the film or any film for that matter. But she relented when Sarala showed a child-like enthusiasm.
Father Sarath, who works in an American oil company in Saudi Arabia, also fell in line. Bhawani said she was unhappy when Deepa told her that widows in India shaved their heads and that her daughter had to go in for a tonsure. But she gave in, again because of Sarala’s enthusiasm to be in the film. “I told Sarala she can’t do that. But she replied: It’s my hair!” Bhawani told HumanityAshore.com in a recent interview. And that was how the impish Sarala came to do the role in this classic in celluloid. The film bug has clearly bitten Sarala. She wants to be a doctor, but while acting in films,” The Hindustan Times report further said.
The industry newspaper The Hollywood Reporter mentioning about the film’s lush scenic beauty wrote: “The film itself was shut down by Hindu fanatics, who in 2000 rioted and destroyed sets in Benares. Production resumed several years later in Sri Lanka. Re-creating her story in that lush setting, Mehta and cinematographer Giles Nuttgens light and create images of startling beauty. Indeed the calm magnificence and spirituality of the landscape make a violent contrast to the oppression these widows in white saris suffer and the complacency of a society soon to be torn apart first by Gandhi and then by Partition.” The Hindu extremist group Parivar Sangh rioted against the film that delayed it about five years when Mehta filmed the story using sets built at the edge of Bolgoda Lake. That’s how Sarala had an oppportunity to become the child star of the movie.
Ron Ahluwalia writing in Planet Bollywood website said: “Sarala is the best part of Water. She´s cute, energetic and the perfect choice for the role. In real life, Sarala cannot speak a word of Hindi. Her work in Water is the complete memorization of lines and their phonetic regurgitation. This makes her performance even more profound. What an amazing actress!”
Award winning co-actress of Water, Seema Biswas told Calcutta’s Telegraph on Sarala: “Oh, Sarala is a very talented girl! She is a born artiste. She learnt Hindi and English in just a few weeks. She used to behave like a star on the sets (laughs). I am sure she will grow up to be a professional actress. Water was a wonderful experience for her and everyone on the sets with her.”