The film, a dance drama, is the story of a mother and a son separated by war. The mother, a celebrated classical dancer, sends her young son, also a brilliant dancer, to the care of her brother in Sydney.
“My hope for ‘The Laugh of Lakshmi’ is to create a hybrid form of cinema founded on the principles of my community’s ancient art forms and practices – communal storytelling, a balanced mix of dialogue, music and dance, a feeling of the intimate alongside the epic. But which is then embellished with the best of western cinema – authentic, gripping character studies, cohesive in grounded worlds,” said Shakthidharan.
Shakthidharan’s play “Counting and Cracking” won seven 2019 Helpmann Awards including best play and best new Australian work and won best main stage production at the 2019 Sydney Theatre Awards.
The film is produced by veteran John Maynard at Felix Media (“Jirga”). Frames Per Second Films, Mumbai (“Iqbal & the Jewel of India”), revealed in Cannes their first venture with Australia to provide the production services in India, on the sidelines of the Indian incentives being announced.
Sri Lankan filmmaking doyen Prasanna Vithanage (Busan selection “Children of the Sun”), will advise Frames Per Second Films on the project.
Rakasree Basu, CEO of Frames Per Second Films, said: “I welcome the newly announced incentive for foreign film and television production by the government of India. This will certainly encourage and enrich all foreign productions planning to shoot in India with knowledgeable and proficient Indian cast and crew. This initiative will motivate foreign filmmakers to explore intercultural workspace, boost shared learning of filming practices and make India an attractive filming destination for international productions. It is indeed a good start for India as a country of honor in Cannes.”
Maynard is currently casting and financing the film in Sydney. A shoot in India is scheduled for Jan. 2023, followed by Sydney, and the film will be delivered to market in Jan. 2024.
Maynard said: “I’m working with a great new talent with writer-director S. Shakthidharan and welcome Sri Lankan director-writer-producer Prasanna Vithanage as part of the Frames Per Second Films team, sharing his deep experience in South Asia with our Australian creatives. [S. Shakthidharan] is a great collaborator, generous, mischievous and funny as well. And he has something to say.”
“The Laugh of Lakshmi” is supported by Screen Australia. “S. Shakthidharan is a powerful storyteller and we’re proud to support his debut feature film, with this unique and emotional drama shining a light on the Sri Lankan diaspora in Australia,” said Screen Australia’s head of content Grainne Brunsdon.