From Bimba Devi to Wijayaba Kollaya | Sunday Observer

From Bimba Devi to Wijayaba Kollaya

Dr. Sunil Ariyaratne’s new movie featuring the life of Princess Yashodhara will open in cinemas at the end of this month. Naturally, the post New Year pre Vesak season will be ideal for the Sri Lankan audience to embark on a journey with Prince Siddhartha’s wife, as Buddhists hold her to be of timeless perfection.

However, Dr. Ariyaratne is already prepared to undertake another journey after the screening of Bimba Devi nohoth Yashodara; it is the famous story of Wijayaba Kollaya written by W.A. Silva that will be made into a movie through the eyes and direction of Dr. Ariyaratne.

Speaking of the importance of the story and the book, Dr. Ariyaratne said, “Personally, I believe this is the greatest of his books.”

W.A. Silva is one of the most famous novelists of our time, only second to Piyadasa Sirisena. They are the people who created a set of readers for novels. Many of their novels were over time made into movies.

The first novel to be produced into a movie was Kele Handa by W.A. Silva in 1953, and his books continued to be made into movies, such as, Siriyalatha, Daivayogaya, Handapaana, and Hingana Kolla, which was the last of his books to be made into a movie back in 1979. Dr Ariyaratne’s production of Wijayaba Kollaya is the next in the long list, made 39 years after Hingana Kolla.

In a way, this is his dream project, the book he had been waiting to direct into a movie. “However, I had to wait because Buddhi Keerthisena had the cinema right of the book. With Tissa Abeysekara’s screenplay, Buddhi Keerthisena was to direct the movie. And I made my move because the movie didn’t get produced for 15 years. The other groups already involved in the project agreed, and Buddhi Keerthisena remained in the project as producer” Dr. Ariyaratne said.

The story is based on the 15th century Kotte Kingdom under the Portuguese rule, roughly around 1520-1525 BC. Recreating the Kotte Kingdom as well as Colombo, Welikada, Pamankada and other related areas featured in the book is the biggest challenge that Dr Ariyaratne faces.

The generation gap is the invisible but unavoidable wall that artistes of Sri Lanka have to deal with. “Of course, today’s younger generation hasn’t read it. Even if they have, it’s such a small number. The book itself is 80 years old, first published in 1938”.

Dr Ariyaratne believes, the movie will be appealing to viewers of all ages. “It’s a strong love story. It is the famous love triangle of our time, Neelamani, Nayanananda and Asanga. It has romance, betrayal, disappointments, getting their hearts broken, all woven into a powerful plot.

The 15th century element is only in the background as the love story takes prominence. Modern women can relate to the character of Neelamani. The male characters too are multi-dimensional.”

The first step of production is to take place soon by holding auditions to choose actors and then deciding locations; both a challenge of equal measure, he said. However, he counts shooting to begin in August this year.