Saturday, 28 February 2009

Pitfalls of an Adaptation

At the height of hype and acclaim for the Slumdog Millionaire recently I got the chance to watch it, finally. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I mean what is all the fuss about? Its a feel good movie, yes, probably not meant to change someone's life. Sure in that respect it kinda works. Is it worthy of best picture? Hell NO! It's corny and conceited white man's view of India. Enough said about it I think.

I just read a great article by Salman Rushdie on the failures of adapting novels to films. Its well worth a read if you have the time. It got me thinking of the impending screen adaptation of Shantaram, one of the best books I've read in recent times. I really hope they don't mess it up, but what are the chances of that happening? It would be impossible to do the book justice but like Rushdie states the film will have to stand on its own, its own form of art, an interpretation of the essence of what the book is trying to convey.

My dad does a lot of translations from English to Sinhalese and vice versa. Everyone from Shakespeare to Chekhov and Chaucer and many more. He always speaks of it as 'Transcreation', the work reborn as something different in the new sphere, its not a copy, but a new creation holding the essence of the original. Like Rushdie says you may loose something in the process but you can also gain something.

I hope the in the same way Shantaram can come to be something altogether different on screen without loosing its core. Roberts(the author) is suppose to be writing the adaptation and Johnny Depp is suppose to be the main character... hmm not sure how that will go. I love Depp and he is perhaps the most versatile Hollywood actor there is today, so maybe it will all work out... Will just have to wait and see.

Sunday, 1 February 2009


At the end of our time in Sri Lanka we went to the Maldives for a bit of fun in the sun. We left Sri Lanka the day after Shivani and Dinesh's wedding and arrived in Male in the middle of the night. We were staying in an island resort called Bandos not far from Male. When we arrived at the Male airport we were greeted by some people from the resort and taken to the resort by a speed boat. It was exhilarating travelling so fast on the water in the dead of the night.

Bandos is an atoll about 500m in diameter and we stayed in a villa about 10m from the beach. The vegetation in the Maldives is much like parts of Sri Lanka, with tall coconut palms, beautiful tropical ferns and flowers. It also has white sandy beaches, gorgeous aqua blue water and is surrounded by a band of coral about 25 meters in width. The weather was perfectly balmy and the days long and bright a complete opposite to London at the moment.

We spent our time in the Maldives snorkeling and swimming in the ocean several times a day. The sea water was warm and inviting and full of a myriad of wonderful fish and sea life. The coral looked quite drab next to the colour and vibrancy of the fish which were friendly and unafraid of the awkward humans in their snorkeling gear. There were a lot of activities available for the resort guests including scuba diving, para gliding, kayaking, sailing, snorkeling as well as island hopping and night fishing. We took a trip out to snorkel around some other hot spots in the area and were happy to just swim around the island most other times.

As the sun sets at Bandos all the guests flock to the Sundowners bar, a deck out on the water with the sun setting majestically behind it. Waiters serve cocktails while a group of musicians entertain the guests with classic covers and some Maldivian numbers which sound remarkably a lot like some Sinhalese songs. As darkness encroaches guests head into Sand bar, the main bar in the resort.

Sand bar had a lot of Sri Lankans working behind the bar and it was nice to talk to them in Sinhalese and attempt to explain that we were born in Sri Lanka, from Australia but currently living in the UK. Every night Sand bar had something to entertain the resort guests. There was a Maldivian night with traditional singing and dancing and again I was taken aback by how similar the music was to Sri Lankan baila.

The food in the Maldives was awesome. Tuna is native to the area and is available in abundance. We had fish in all forms while we were there. We tried many Maldivian dishes which were similar to Sri Lankan food in many ways and gorgeously spicy. We had the best ever tuna sashimi while there, my mouth salivates just thinking about how soft and succulent it was.

Overall it was one of the most fun and relaxing holidays I've had in a very long time. While the Maldives is expensive I think its worth it. The people are very friendly and its great to experience some of their culture while enjoying the sea and sun. I definietly want to go back someday again.

Maldives from above.

Maldives from below.

Sri Lanka

We returned to Sri Lanka earlier this month after 2 years for Shivani & Dinesh's wedding. We went from sub zero temperatures & snow to 33 degrees and glorious sunshine. We arrived with the war in the north east raging forth and a highly militarised Lanka. Everywhere you looked there are posters of victorious soldiers. Security was high but I guess we were used to this. Though not much else had really changed in the time we were away one thing we did notice was the increase in the number of apartment complexes particularly around Colombo.

Our time in Lanka passed quickly in between fit-ons, shopping trips and visits to friends and family. It was great to see dad looking much healthier albeit a little thin. A lot my Sydney friends were also in Sri Lanka for Shivani & Dinesh's wedding and it was great to catch up with them, most of all my brother who stayed with us at Dehiwala. The wedding was to be at Mount Lavinia hotel an old hotel set by the sea with its own private beach. We had dinner in one of its restaurants called Seafood Cove on the beach. Dinner at Seafood Cove is simple but very fresh. All manner of fresh seafood is layed out in buffet style freshly caught on that day. Customers select what they like and instruct the chefs on how they wish it to be cooked. The fresh seafood is then cooked in front of you and brought to your table. We had devilled prawns, squid and fish deep fried, grilled as well as in a gorgeously spicy curry. These were accompanied by rice & salad. It was a divine experience, sipping cocktails, eating freshly cooked seafood with the sea breeze in our hair and sand beneath our feet. One that I will not forget soon.

The time passed quickly and before we knew it, it was the day of the wedding. It took place on the beach with the sun setting in the background. I was one of the bridesmaids along with 2 other friends. Shivani looked absolutely gorgeous and the wedding ceremony went well. It was great to have a lot of my friends and family there. Dad looked very handsome in his new suit and it was also great to see him having a good time. The send off for the newly married couple was in a done up 3 wheeler accompanied by a papparey band. We had the after party at bu bar just a few hundred meters away from the hotel on the beach.

We left Sri Lanka for the Maldives the next day... watch out for my next post about the Maldives...

See the lanka picture here.