By Easwaran Rutnam
Wellawatte and Horana are abuzz as film crews move up and down creating sets for a Hollywood movie billed to be controversial for the character it portrays.
The movie ‘According To Matthew’ is about Father Mathew Peiris, a Christian priest who murdered his wife and the husband of his mistress.
Directed by Sri Lanka’s very own Chandran Rutnam the movie stars singer/songwriter Alston Koch as Father Mathew Peiris and former Miss Sri Lanka Jacqueline Fernandez as his mistress Dalreen Ingram.
Set for release internationally early next year, the film is based on court records in the murder case of the priest who was sentenced to death but was later freed in November 1997 under a general amnesty.
“This is one of the mot diabolical murder cases in history. A very unusual story but true story. This was the talk of the town in the 70s when he was arrested and tried for murder along with his mistress. I wanted to do this for a long time. I discussed the story once with father Mathew. But he had a different side to it. It was not practical so I stepped back from the project. But now I’m doing it based on court records and what I knew of father Peiris. He was my pastor at ST Paul’s Kingsley road. I’ve known him for a while. He also stayed with me in Los Angeles. There was a lot of good in the man as well as the deceit and arrogance that he displayed during his life which was unknown to us at that time and was revealed to the world during the trial,” Chandran Rutnam said while on the set of the movie.
Rutnam said that the priest, whether he was good or bad at the start, his dastardly acts were eventually detected and he was brought to justice.
Incidentally Rutnam had even once discussed the idea of making the film with father Peiris and the priest then insisted that he play the role himself.
“Obviously that was not possible,” Rutnam, the man who has already made it to Hollywood with his movie ‘A Common Man’ said.
Picking an actor to fit a character is not easy at times and after auditioning a few people Chandran says he picked Alston as he had that spark need to play the role.
Rutnam also said that he had the good fortune of having Jacqueline Fernandez to play the role of the mistress who aided Father Mathew in the murder plot.
“I found Jacqueline to be an excellent actress. She was serious about the role and always focused. I saw a great future for her as an international star and I hope this movie, which is a Hollywood, Australian, Sri Lankan co-production and shot in English will be her calling card to Hollywood,” he said.
Alston Koch says he was both happy grateful to Chandran on being picked to play the role of the priest in the controversial film.
“This is a very demanding role. A very difficult portrayal as it needed a lot of commitment from everyone involved to bring this to the screen. I am only working to the script as presented and this is awesome as we have in this film the doctor who was actually involved in the Court case in Dr. Weerasena playing himself and nurses and advisors who were attached to the parties concerned throughout the court hearings and the investigations,” he added.
Rutnam says there are a lot of positive vibes about the movie and he can’t wait for the project to be complete and go on screen.