Based on Sri-Lankan author Shyam Selvadurai book of the same name, for which she first approached the writer 20 years back, Mehta insists that though first published in 1994, the novel is politically relevant even now.
"The oppression of minorities, the changes taking place globally -- especially in the US, and the depleting sense of humanity. To me, the novel speaks of humanity and embracing 'the other'. It is about acceptance and the importance of love. The Black Lives Matter movement and the pandemic happened, and nothing felt more right in these troubled times," says the filmmaker who plans to work on a horror film and the movie adaptation of Madhuri Vijay's award-winning 'The Far Field' once the vaccine rolls out and it's safer to shoot.
Though the film has not been released in Sri Lanka yet, the response from the few who have seen it during underground screenings has largely been positive. "Especially from those who had lived through the conflict in the 80s, for whom seeing their pain reflected on screen was a major moment, and from major Tamil activists like Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu. They also gave us notes on the dodgy Tamil, which we were already planning to fix. As a filmmaker, I know how important that is. Even in Water, Lisa's voice was dubbed. But finally what's important is the bigger picture."
Adding that it was a huge shock to her that no Sri Lankan Tamil director had ever approached Selvadurai to make 'Funny Boy', she feels that it is high time that more films were made around that conflict.
While the film was shot before the pandemic began, Covid stuck during the post-production phase. "The only way I can describe it is to use the word 'rollercoaster'. David and myself were editing with the incredible Teresa Font in Madrid, when we heard of an impending lockdown and managed to leave for Toronto on the last flight. Doing post-production reviews over Zoom calls and back and forth emails was quite frustrating. However, considering we were all in isolation, all our attention and focus was directed at making the film the best we could.
"In an ideal world, our plan was to go back to Sri Lanka to dub for the Indian actors and even had studios booked, but due to the pandemic we could not do so. We also missed out on celebrating the final film with the entire team, which is a sad reality of the circumstances we're living in today. We're still working on our release for South Asian markets," says the director who says she has always been driven by curiosity. "I do films on subjects that interest me, ones I would like to know more about," she concludes.