03 March 2014
Sanath Abeysekara turned a new page in the local cinema scene with his much talked about ‘Mahindagamanaya’ which brought the tale of how Buddhism came to Sri Lanka to light. He explored similar avenues with his second cinematic venture ‘Siri Daladagamanaya’.
The movie is set for release at Liberty cinema and Savoy 2 cinema on March 6. Produced by EAP Head Soma Edirisinghe the movie sheds light on how the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha came to Sri Lanka. Bringing the sacred tooth relic to the isle was not walk in the park. Many stories of how barriers fell across Princess Hemamala and Prince Dantha’s path have been recorded in history. Director Abeysekera has analyzed these facts and have separated truth from false before penning his script.
“Similar to ‘Mahindagamanaya’, the main theme of ‘Siri Daladagamanaya’ too is the growth of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The first step of this venture was brining the Sri Maha Bodhi to the country and that was projected in ‘Mahindagamanaya’. Later the Buddha’s left canine tooth was brought to the country. This has a major impact on the popularization of Buddhism. Therefore there is a link between the two films,” Abeysekara noted.
He notes that one of the challenges of the project was to find actors who have similar physique to those in the historic tale.
“There is a globally renowned portrait of them and their appearance has been etched in our mind according to that image. Even Ven Ellawala Medhananda Thera, the Maha Sangha and our sponsors, Ven Akaravita Sangananda Thera and EAP Chairperson Dr Soma Edirisinghe requested me to pay specific attention to this fact.
We even decided not to do the movie if we cannot find two people to suit these roles. Our Executive Producer Nihal Sanjaya presented a lot of youth to me and we finally came upon Prasadi Smarakoon whom we saw in one of Iraj’s video visuals. Heshan Manjula was selected out of around 300 who took part in our auditions,” he explained. .
“Shooting for ‘Siridaladagamanaya’ took place near Katukaliyawa Wewa in Mihintale. We constructed the biggest palace made for a movie in Sri Lankan cinema history.
We also made a replica of the Temple of the Tooth in India. Before embarking on this project I spent several months in India exploring the areas where these kings had ruled. Therefore I have not only read about the subject but I an eye witness to some of these details,” he added.
A star studded cast comprising Jewan Kumaranathunga, Geetha Kumarasinghe, Dilhani Ashokamala, Sriyantha Mendis, Hesan Manjula, Prasadi Smarakoon, Madumadawa Aravinda, Gayan Wickramathilaka, Anusha Damayanthi, Piumi Botheju, Chinthaka Kulathunga and many others have taken part in ‘Siri Daladagamanaya’.
Abeysekera’s debut cinematic production ‘Mahindagamanaya’ won the SLIM Nielsen Peoples Award for most popular film.