Saturday, 6 July 2013 00:00
The Alliance Francaise in Sri Lanka and the Embassy of France recently launched ‘The Bonsoir Diaries’ by Kumar de Silva as part of its current month long French Spring Festival 2013.
Un-edited and un-plugged, The Bonsoir Diaries, a Samaranayake publication, is a cocktail of chapters, bursting at its seams with pithy asides, a trail of faux-pas, tit-bits from behind-the-scenes marinated with anecdotes and drizzled with nostalgia revealing everything you never saw on your favourite television show from the 80s ... through the 90s ... into 2000. On instant face value, ‘The Bonsoir Diaries’ is a graphical record of the glorious years of this highly watched television show. One will also realise that the author seamlessly goes beyond his original mandate and parallely makes this an unconscious record of Franco-Sri Lankan ties, bilateral, diplomatic and otherwise, spread over nearly three and a half centuries, going back to 1672, all of which are skillfully woven into the narrative.
The Bonsoir French Television Programme presented by the Embassy of France in Sri Lanka enthralled Sri Lankan television audiences since July 1985. It ran for twenty-five years and finally closed down in December 2010, leaving an indelible memory with the thousands who grew up with it. Barely three years after Bonsoir’s demise comes ‘The Bonsoir Diaries’ by Kumar de Silva, one of its pioneers, who, together with his erstwhile colleagues Yasmin Rajapakse and Chintananda Abeysekera, created magic on the little screen during those early days of television.
It was the pre-internet, pre-mobile phone, pre-computer and pre-cable TV era when radio held sway and television was still in its relative formative stage. With social media entertainment non-existent, Bonsoir enriched the local viewing experience and successfully played its pre-determined 360 degree role of bringing France into Sri Lankan sitting rooms.
Pix by Sameera Wijesinghe