According to Matthew a contemporary story | Sunday Observer

According to Matthew a contemporary story

30 December, 2018

This is a true story, which he never believed would drive him crazy enough to recreate the real characters on the silver screen. It is a story that is born out of the past which he lived in.

“Those days, I used to go to St. Paul’s Church, Borella where Father Matthew was in charge. We got to know each other over time,” said Chandran Rutnam the director of the movie, According to Matthew.

“Back then, some 25-years-ago, I came up with this script when Father Matthew wanted me to make a movie about him. But my mind and all the enthusiasm I had about the subject faded away when he wanted me to paint his character without guilt.”

It was this request of Matthew Peiris to Chandran Rutnam to wait till he appeals to get out of jail that made Rutnam not want to make a movie with real characters, yet with fake incidents. Rutnam says, “Through his appeal, he was able to get it commuted from ‘death by hanging’ to ‘life imprisonment’, but he still couldn’t get out, the court had made the decision, so I paused working on the movie then”.

“Artistes are eccentric, that I know well, we’re not normal and if someone says this to me, I’ll be happy to hear it. But still, I’m not that eccentric to be able to make a story that repeats history by altering what really happened, I didn’t want to paint a murderer as an innocent man".

When he feels like making a movie, he asks himself the question first, "Would you go and see this twice?" If his instincts say yes to that, then only will he make the movie.

He assumes the story is so contemporary, that it had to be told now. "The story is nothing new, everything is there in the court records" added Rutnam saying that he doesn’t ever feel bad about his movie, that he’s sure that he doesn’t malign or insult people. Of course, it’s just that he has portrayed the real dispositions of people, pouring out a great dose of his innovative wit, accepting the challenge of recreating a true story that is on record, without damaging the plot. "We didn’t get permission to shoot with the St. Paul’s Church setting. So we had to build our own church. It also took a long time for me to release the movie since there were objections from certain parties and from the clergy".

In a pensive mood he said, "These things happen all over the world today, so it’s very topical. I believe that this will have some effect throughout the world".

He wants teenagers also to go and see the movie, since it carries an influential and powerful message for both parents and teenagers. "It’s a message of being vigilant. People should not be so vulnerable to authority. Those days, parents used to bring their children to Matthew thinking that he can take the devil out of them, but if he could abuse the child, he did so. Character-wise, Matthew was more than just terrible," he said.

When bringing out the character and the personality of Matthew Peiris, Rutnam has had to handle his creativity with much care. He knew, from the very beginning, that Matthew had always been a powerful personality and a prominent figure even inside the jail. He had been the captain of the cricket team and since he was an exorcist, he was preaching to everybody.

"He had an amazing energy and charisma, whenever he walked in, he took control of the room," he said, recalling the days he saw the vigour of this character.

Regarding the choice he made to select the team and the cast, from actors and actresses to art directors and everyone behind the scenes, to represent the real characters and to support in creating them, for him, that has been pretty interesting.

"Alston Koch is my friend. I had to find someone who’s good with the Bible, and he did his part perfectly. He’s the one who suggested that Jacqueline Fernandez play Dalreen Ingram's role. She too did a wonderful job. People are very receptive, I’m very happy about it."

His face beamed when he said, "You know, making movies is the most collaborative art form in the world. My work gets so easy and exuberant when I’m surrounded by young people, they just give me the perfect vibrations. Every person is important to me, even the tea boy. Besides, we’ve to know a lot of ethics to deal with people and to respect them all."

I was interested to know who the masters of this inspiring, high-minded personality were, and even before my question popped up, he went on to tell the names; David Lean, Steven Spielberg, Sergio Leone, Clint Eastwood, George Lucas and Alfred Hitchcock, recalling how lucky he was to bump into them and to be by their side learning and experiencing what he always desired. As Rutnam said, his only ambition was to be a filmmaker, he seemed to know what the audience and the whole of society expected from him, that he knows he has to entertain people.

He wants to hear ‘great’ to his movie only from the people who have paid for the ticket and watched it. "Then only can they attack me, If I did something wrong, I want to make sure that I don’t do it again," he said.

While thanking him him for sharing his creative abilities with me, I wanted him to tell me what his message to his audience was. "I make films for the audience, not for the jury. My jury is the mass audience. The more they watch my film and love it, I will be the happiest. My message is that you should be consistent. Stick to a plan. Just don't be afraid to dial down the intensity or take a break if your body's telling you that you're doing too much too soon."