The story begins 2100 years ago during the reign of King Walagamba. It was a time when the country was facing Chola invasion and a great famine. Buddhism was in grave danger and could not survive by oral tradition alone. Aloko Udapadi narrates the sequence of events that led to the great Dhamma being written and preserved in the Tripitika. It is a story of courage and national pride. Aloko Udapadi is the first movie production by Thusitha Wijayasena, Chairman of Kandy City Centre.
“Sri Lanka did a great service to the world by committing the teachings of the Buddha into writing,” explained Thusitha Wijayasena, Producer of Aloko Udapadi. It was this message that the Producer and his young team wanted to convey to the audience.
The film revolves around the period of King Walagamba. At the time of his ascension to the throne Sri Lanka was prosperous and peaceful where all lived in unity. However, with foreign invasion of the Chola and internal strife caused by Brahamin Theeya, the King and the royal family flee for safety. It was the venerable Buddhist monks that protected the King. Innocent villagers and the Buddhist monks were not spared by the invading forces in their quest to destroy the King. During this time Sri Lanka started to experience a severe drought that caused a famine. The story depicts the courage of the leading Buddhist Monks that enabled the true form of Buddhism to be preserved for posterity. It is also tale of a victorious king.
“We are not from the cinema industry, but we felt that there is a need for quality movie to be produced in the country,” said Thusitha Wijayasena. Working with Saman Weeraman, his long time friend and script writer of the movie, and Chathra Weeraman (Saman Weeraman’s son), the young director, Thusitha Wijayasena emphasized to his team that the movie had to be of the highest quality and standard. Therefore, no cost was deemed unnecessary. The pre-production phase spanned eight months where extensive research and studies were done on the subject.
The team worked with historians and experts to ensure the accuracy of all the detail. Filming locations, sets, costumes and colours, were all selected carefully. “We wanted to creates a movie that has never been seen before in Sri Lankan cinema”, he explained. The cast was decided by identifying actors that could present the story in its true form. The Producer stressed the aim of the movie was to give the message of the story to the audience and not glorify a single actor. Therefore, an in-depth analysis was done on each character and a preliminary sketch was drawn. Actors were selected on whether they could portray the character. Uddika Premarathne plays the role of Walagamba, Dilhani Ekanayake – Anula Devi, Nirosha Thalagala – Soma Devi, Roshan Ravindra – Brahmin Theeya, Menaka Pieris – Lady Brahmin Theeya and Dharshan Dharmaraj – a main Cholan invader. Yet, the Producer reaffirmed “the movie is different not because of the cast, but because of the story.”
The film is larger than life; with the various scenes filmed at different locations.“We have incorporated different settings to show the diversity and culture of our country. The movie was mainly filmed in Anuradhapura for a period of one month. Then in Teldeniya and Kandy for three weeks. The remaining scenes were filmed in Kalpitiya. Within these areas we filmed in 96 locations and had more than 20 sets,” he explained. The longest battle scene in Sri Lankan cinema is another feat of the movie.
The movie will be screened starting from January 20, 2017. This date was selected as it also marks the 70th Anniversary of Sri Lankan cinema. “We have already started distributing the movie to 41 countries. The movie will have English subtitles and will be dubbed in other languages include Chinese, Japanese and Thai”, explained Thusitha Wijayasena. Having already drawn international attention, Aloko Udapadi, ‘Light Arose’, is a movie that has been made with an unique perspective, it is to impart knowledge and wisdom...a movie that is a true epic.