International Movies Filmed in Sri Lanka.


Movies are love.


At least for people like me who can't be bothered leaving the house and meeting actual people, they are. Which is why it brings me great pleasure to write this piece because honestly, who doesn't like writing about movies? So, without further ado, we present this list of international movies filmed here, in Sri Lanka.


Bombay Velvet, 2015

Bombay Velvet is an Indian movie, starring Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, and Karan Johar. Directed by Anurag Kashyap, it was filmed entirely here in Sri Lanka. The storyline is about Johnny Balraj, a streetfighter who is madly in love with a jazz singer (Rosie) and his attempt at gaining power in Bombay in the hopes of winning Rosie's heart. 

The majority of the scenes were filmed in Ranminitenna Mahinda Rajapaksa National Tele Cinema Park in Hambantota, while the rest was done in Fort Railway Station, Bentota bridge and Galle Fort. Building the set alone took 10 months because the entire city of Bombay during the 60's and 70's had to be recreated in it.

Elephant Walk, 1954 

Starring the iconic Elizabeth Taylor, Dana Andrews, and Peter Finch, Elephant Walk is a movie released in the 1940's. The plot is about a marriage between a colonial tea planter and his new wife, and their struggles whilst living in Ceylon. A few tea estates in Kandy area were used for its filming and the rest took place in a studio in Hollywood. 

Based on the book with the same title by Digby George Gerahty, the movie was initially meant to feature Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh as the husband and wife, but Olivier backed out due to his other theatrical commitments. Leigh withdrew a few days after filming began, as she was suffering from a bipolar disorder, which is why her character was replaced by Elizabeth Taylor. 

A Dangerous Life, 1988

A Dangerous Life is a movie about the Philipinian revolution which ran as a 6-hour mini TV series on HBO, but was later edited to just 162 minute TV movie in 1989. Directed by Robert Markowitz, this movie follows a story about an American journalist (Gary Busey) as he puts his life on the line to get the inside story of the Marcos regime. 

Although the film was predominantly filmed in the Philippines, filming had to be done in Sri Lanka due to legal and political pressure. 

Water, 2005

Directed by the controversial and acclaimed Indo-Canadian director Deepa Mehta, Water is the third and final piece to the Elements trilogy. The film depicts the unfortunate plight of women in India after being widowed with a backdrop of Gandhi's revolution which strove for women's rights. Nominated for over 25 awards, this movie was initially meant to be filmed in India but it was made impossible due to pressure from Hindu fundamentalists who were against the making of this movie.

Aside from John Abraham and Lisa Ray, the movie also showcases Sri Lankan talent in the form on Sarala Kariyawasam, Iranganie Serasinghe, and Buddhi Wickrema. 

The Purple Plain, 1954

Based on the novel by H.E Bates, The Purple Plain is a movie directed by Robert Parrish, and has Gregory Peck playing the role of a pilot from the Royal Canadian Air Force, who is battling with depression after losing his wife. This film which is set in the latter parts of the second world war tells us a story about three men (including Peck) after crashing in Burma and having to find safety while being on Japanese territory. 

The movie was mainly filmed in Sigiriya and Koggala and used several other locations which were later used in the making of The Bridge on The River Kwai. 

The Bridge on the River Kwai, 1957

The Bridge on the River Kwai is a British-American epic war film which uses the historical background of the building of the Burma Railway in 1942-43. Directed by David Lean and starring William Holden, Jack Hawkins, and Alec Guinness this movie was filmed in Kitulgala. 

Winning 7 Academy Awards, the movie identified as the 11th Greatest Film of the 20th Century. 

Mother Teresa: In the Name of God's Poor, 1997

Directed by Kevin Connor and starring Geraldine Chaplin (Charlie Chaplin's daughter), this movie is about Mother Teresa's journey in helping the poverty-stricken in Calcutta during her lifetime. 

It was mainly filmed in slums in Colombo and its environs, while employing Sri Lankan actors and actresses such as Nimmi Harasgama, Veena Jayakody and Yashoda Wimaladarma in it. 

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 1984

"If adventure has a name, it must be Indiana Jones."

Starring Harrison Ford and directed by the iconic Steven Spielberg, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was initially meant to be filmed in Rajasthan, India but was not due to permission being denied by the Indian government. Instead, its filming took place in Kandy, with matte paintings and scale models applied for the village, temple, and Pankot Palace

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is the prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark and chapter twenty-three in The Complete Works of Indiana Jones.

Midnight's Children, 2012 

Another movie directed by Deepa Mehta, Midnight's Children is based on the book with the same title by Salman Rushdie. As per usual, there was much controversy around the filming of the movie, even here in Sri Lanka. At last, the temporary ban was removed by the former President Mahinda Rajapakse, allowing Deepa Mehta and her team to continue working on the movie. 

The story revolves around two people born at the stroke of midnight, which is the same day India achieved independence and follows them through being switched at birth to adulthood.  Familiar locations and faces can be identified throughout the movie including the hallways of Lady Ridgeway Hospital, the chapel at St. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia and even the verandah of 80 Club. 

The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli and Baloo,1997

The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli and Baloo is an American adventure feature filmed right here in Sri Lanka in the hillside capital of Kandy. Jamie Williams plays the role of Mowgli and both Roddy MacDowall and Billy Campbell play supporting roles in the movie. 

Actors such as Wijeratne Warakagoda, Sunil Hettiarachchi, and Raja Sumanapala are some of the Sri Lankan aspects of the movie… well, aside from the set that is.

Tarzan the Ape Man,1981

The legend of Tarzan is something we have all grown up with and have loved since the beginning of time. Directed by John Derek and starring Bo Derek, Richard Harris, and Miles O'Keeffe this movie is a remake of the 1931 movie of the same name. Filming was done in various parts of our hill country.

It is loosely based on the novel, Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs and is done from Jane's point of view. The movie was nominated for a number of Raspberry awards including Worst Picture at the Hastings Bad Cinema Society's 4th Stinkers Bad Movie Awards in 1981. 

So, there you have it – 10 international movies filmed in Sri Lanka. Let us know in the comments section if we've missed any. 

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