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Funny Boy actress: It is sad film about Sri Lankan riots is still relevant today

It is set against the backdrop of massive anti-Tamil riots in Colombo known as Black July.

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Actress Nimmi Harasgama has spoken of her sadness that her latest film, set amidst the political tensions between the Sinhalese and Tamils in the years leading up to the 1983 uprisings in Sri Lanka, is still as relevant in the modern day.

The Good Karma Hospital star plays the mother of a young boy who falls in love with a male classmate in Funny Boy, based on Shyam Selvadurai’s novel of the same name.

Harasgama told the PA news agency: “It resonated so much with me because were here during the 83 riots, and our family was affected by it and I was very young but I still remember it.

“We actually hid people in our house and our neighbours who were Indian Tamil were hiding and we were renting the top part of a house and the lady who owned the house was Tamil.

“I remember they came to burn the house down and my dad stood on the balcony and I remember hiding behind the curtain of the windows to the balcony and listening and watching my dad and he was telling the thugs that this was his house and not to do it.

“These are experiences that aren’t just specific to Sri Lanka, they  are pretty universal, which is so sad, these are common situations that have happened throughout history and even to this day.”

The film, which is Canada’s official entry for the 93rd Academy Awards, follows a gay love story in a country where homosexuality is illegal and British-Sri Lankan actress Harasgama said: “We don’t know how it’s going to be received. I hope that people will look at it and learn,

“Seeing two beautiful brown men on screen, on a big online format, is great.

“Films have been made about gay love from India and Bangladesh etc, and this is another one of those films where we have two brown characters falling in love and I think that is a really important one.”

She continued: “We did get permission, we can’t film anything here without the censor board approving the script and as to how much was censored I don’t know, or whether it was, but it is controversial.

“I don’t know whether we will screen it here publicly, and I know there were actors that Deepa Mehta (the director) was interested in and who turned the film down for a lot of reasons to do with that as well, as their own safety and their own fear for their safety to do with being Tamil.

“This was set in the 70s and the 80s and yet how sad is it that it is still so relevant today, not just here but globally.”

Funny Boy will be released on Netflix on December 10.

Online Editors


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