French Embassy launches ‘Rendez-Vous with Yasmin and Kumar’

Monday, 3 May 2021

The Embassy of France in Sri Lanka and the Maldives last Friday (30 April) proudly launched ‘Rendez-Vous with Yasmin and Kumar’, a Franco-Sri Lankan talk show, on its YouTube channel.

Hosted monthly, this show, as its name suggests, will be a ‘meeting place’ and highlight Franco-Sri Lankan bilateral ties across the spheres of language, culture, literature, diplomacy, music, art and travel etc through Francophone personalities.

The maiden edition, last Friday, featured the current Ambassador for France in Sri Lanka H.E. Eric Lavertu who explored Franco-Sri Lankan bilateral ties over three centuries from Lieutenant Delanerolle, the French Ambassador to the Court of King Rajasinghe the 2nd, down the years to the French Vice Consul Monsieur Paul Grimblot in 1859, to the present day.

In the pipeline are chats with celebrated film maker and Sri Lanka’s former Ambassador to France the francophone Sumitra Peries who goes down Memory Lane and recalls watching Roger Vadim shooting ‘And God Created Woman’ on the streets of St Tropez in the late 1950s with an “unknown actress” named Brigitte Bardot.

She also recalls how, years later, on one of her many visits to France with husband Lester James, the couple were hosted at the family ‘chateau’ in Lyon, owned by the Lumiere Brothers, Auguste and Louis, the inventors of the Cinematograph.

A former teacher at the Alliance Francaise Sri Lanka in the 1980s, Bruno Duparc who returns to Colombo after more than three decades as the new Director General of the Alliance Francaise, recalls life in Colombo in the good old days and the current place of the French language in Sri Lanka.

Commenting on the show, Ambassador Lavertu said, “The Bonsoir French television programme, hosted by our Embassy, very successfully took France to all corners of Sri Lanka, both in English and in Sinhala, from the mid-1980s, the pre-internet era, to 2010. I’m surprised that even to this day, many people still talk about Bonsoir with great nostalgia. In fact the French cancan music is still popular in Sri Lankan minds and evokes memories of great “visits” to France through this programme. Rendez-Vous is a continuation of that journey but in a different form and in a different space. I’m happy to see Yasmin and Kumar continue on that journey. Long live Franco – Sri Lankan bilateral relations”.

Yasmin Rajapakse and Kumar de Silva need no introduction to the public of Sri Lanka. They first appeared together thirty five years ago, in 1986, on ‘Bonsoir’ which they co-hosted for fifteen unbroken years on ITN.

The Government of France has decorated the both of them as ‘Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters’ (Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres’) in recognition of their longstanding contribution to the propagation of the French language and culture in Sri Lanka.

“We are delighted to be back together all over again after a lapse of twenty years. We never actually left the French circuit. In fact we were also very happy to be a part of the Board of Directors of the Alliance Francaise de Kotte in Colombo. This show is yet another exciting avatar in our journey in the Franco-Sri Lankan landscape. Technology has changed dramatically, as have lifestyles and viewer tastes. Here we are back, older and greyer, and perhaps wiser, to bring France a little bit more close to Sri Lanka”, the duo chorus.