The affairs of men and gods have always been a subject of interest in many cultures throughout history. The Greek gods and goddesses are some of the most well -known deities in history. These gods were known for their vengeance, hunger for power and lust for goddesses and mortal women.
Many know the outrageous exploits of Zeus, Poseidon and Hades very well, such as Poseidon’s greed for earthly kingdoms, his violation of Demeter and Hades’ abduction of Persephone. However, when it comes to the affairs of gods and men, one must tread very carefully, for it would be unwise to incur the wrath of gods and men.
Kadira Divyaraja is a 2023 fantasy film directed by Sunil Ariyaratne. Ariyaratne himself says that he had to be careful as the film deals with the affairs of Hindu Gods and goddesses, worshipped by Hindu devotees. The anecdotes about these Hindu Gods and Goddesses are fascinating, and no doubt this was the muse for Ariyaratne. For our Hindu brethren, these are not mere stories. It is part of their religion. Lord Kataragama is a powerful god in Hinduism. The turnout of filmgoers is nothing short of amazing. 750,000 film goers is the present tally.
As of now, the film has completed over 100 days of screening. Its success has been remarkable and meteoric. This was revealed to the Sunday Observer, at the Raigam Tele’es 2023, 20th anniversary press conference on Wednesday at Hotel Sapphire.
The nomination evening will be at the Waters-Edge, Sri Jayewardenepura on March 1, 2024 while the award ceremony will be at Shangri La, Colombo on March, 30, 2024.
Veterans, celebrities, channel heads and technical crews gather annually for fellowship, and also to recognise each other at their moment of triumph. The winners of the Raigam Tele’es will receive cash prizes (Sampath Mudal Thilina) and the total value of cash prizes has been increased to Rs. 3.3 million this year.
A wide range of cinema and television festivals is conducted at both domestic and international levels to uplift the quality and creativity of products through appreciation of good work done by the artists, producers and institutions, annually. This is the mission of the Raigam Tele’es.
A press release issued at Hotel Sapphire, stated that these festivals result in setting benchmarks for the industry. Sri Lankans experienced the first indigenous film festival, Sarasaviya Cinema Award Ceremony on May, 9 1964, and since then a few more award ceremonies have been introduced by the Government as well as non-governmental bodies, of which some are not visible regularly while a few others are not in existence today.
This is the 20th anniversary of Raigam Tele’es. In 2005, Raigam Tele’es was launched by the famous local business conglomerate in FMCG industry, the Raigam Group of Companies, filled the gap that had been created in conducting a regular award ceremony for the television industry due to the unstable situation in the country.
Today, Raigam Tele’es has become the most prominent television festival in Sri Lanka with the record of conducting such an event consecutively for 19 years. The highest quality standards maintain in the judging process, innovative presentation and broad coverage through all most all the television channels and social media are the success factors of the festival.
Raigam Tele’es has pioneered in introducing many features to the industry including announcement of nominations at a grand function prior to the main event. An independent non-commercial body under the name “Raigam Tele’es Secretariat” has been set up to conduct the event under the guidance of an eminent panel of artists and academics. The partnership of Sampath Bank, is the key pillar of sustainability of the festival.
Chairman / CEO of the Kingdom of Raigam, Dr. Ravi Liyanage said, “We appreciate the tremendous and unwavering support of Sampath Bank as the partner of Raigam Tele’es for the past 13 years, and we are also grateful to Dialog for their sponsorship for the nomination evening. Allianz Insurance’s unmatched insurance gift for our artists and the technical support of Imagine Entertainment is highly appreciated.”
“We are adding an Oscar touch, and an international flavour to Raigam Tele’es. This evening we are also celebrating the completion of over 100 days of screening of the popular and successful movie Kadira Divyaraja directed by Prof. Sunil Ariyaratne. The Raigam Tele’es is mega event held to honour distinguished individuals involved with the Sri Lanka’s television industry. We have with us an experienced and competent panel of judges,” he said.
Panel of judges
Raigam’s credibility depends on the credibility of the selection process of award winners.
Therefore, the RaigamTele’es Secretariat has appointed a renowned and experienced panel of judges consisting of well recognised academics, artists and critics in the field.
Buddadasa Galappatty – (Chairman)
Prof. Ajantha Hapuarachchi
Prof. Rohini Paranawithana
Dr. Hansamala Ritigahapola
B. H. Abdul Hameed
Application and selection process
Selection process commences with calling applications for awards by a public announcement and also an invitation to all television channels to participate in the festival with prospective entries.
All entries for awards must be certified by the Channel Heads, verifying that they were telecast on the channel during the relevant period. Repeat telecasts and programs telecast on paid channels are not eligible for awards.
Applications / Entries for Raigam Tele’es 2023 will be accepted until January 15, 2024.
Kadira Divyaraja came out quite well – Prof. Sunil Ariyaratne
Q: What was most challenging about directing Kadira Divyaraja?
A. The biggest challenge was the casting of Lord Kataragama/ Kartikeya and Princess Valli. In the end we decided on Sonakshi Rawat and Samar Virmani who came down from India, Mumbai. I felt we needed to cast an actor and actress that the Sri Lankan audience do not know. The language was an issue because they are conversant in Hindi and English. So we overcame that problem by writing the dialogue in Hindi. The Sinhalese words (dialogue), we wrote in Hindi letters. That was how they “delivered” the dialogue. After that we dubbed it. But it was a challenge because they had to pronounce these words correctly. But we overcame this challenge because both actor and actress pronounced these words clearly. The film came out really well.
Q: You wrote Kadira Divyaraja. Where did the inspiration come from?
A. The base of the story/movie is actually folklore. That was the base. Before I wrote the script there was no such story in mythology or history. But I picked up certain elements from here and there. These elements are in folklore. I took such material and wrote this story. But the biggest challenge for me was the character of Lord Katarama himself. He is a widely worshipped deity in Sri Lanka. So when making the movie I had to be sensitive. If something went wrong in my portrayal of him there could be a public backlash. I simply could not do any harm to his character. So the story was based on folklore.
Q: What was the reason for writing the story and directing the movie?
A. I wanted this to be the first in Sinhala Cinema, because this kind of story has not been produced or directed. I wanted to do a film on gods and goddesses. But why did I choose Lord Kataragama? There are so many other deities. There is Vishnu, Shiva and there is Ganesh. Why did I choose Lord Kataragama? There is a Lankan girl called Valli connected to this story. And this is a romance between Lord Kataragama and Valli. So Lord Kataragama comes to Sri Lanka, comes to Kataragama and a love story builds up. I felt that this was the God that I wanted to make a movie on. I felt this was a story our audiences could have a connection with.