Famous Indian director Mani Ratnam will paint his latest movie ‘Raavan’ based on Ramayana, epic of Asia holds the belief of millions, in which the most significant events have taken place in Lankapura – Sri Lanka.
Among the star studded cast, Abhishek Bachchan plays the role of Raavan, the King of Sri Lanka while rest of the cast include Aishwarya Rai, the famous South Indian Actor Vikram ,Prithviraj Sukumaran, Nikhil Trivedi, Govinda and Ravi Kishan.
The shooting of the film will start soon and Mani Ratman is planning to have some of the scenes to be shot on location in Sri Lanka. Shooting in Nuwara Eliya, Kandy and surrounding forest areas hasbeen marked as potential locations for this Epic. Mani Ratnam has shown his interest to project the locations where Ravana truely marked his legend.
However shooting has still not taken place in Sri Lanka and lets hope Mani Ratnam will have a chance to do so for his own interest, that will definitely attract the devotees of Ramayanaya.
He is said to have run into difficulties in shooting in areas declared by the Indian Government as eco-tourism centers. (Incidentally, only Raavana will probably have a scene with Aishwaraya without a single make for which she is reported to have been refusing).
The interest shown by the devotees and the travellers to visit Ramayana sites in Sri Lanka did not surface until recently because of the time taken for the research study to identify the locations and document them.
The locations have valid descriptions. They fall in line with the Ramayana episodes from the place of Seeta ‘s captivity to the battlefields where the armies from both sides clashed, and the last stage when Lord Rama shot Ravana to death. The ten - headed king is depicted by Abhishek in ‘ Raavan’ as the emblem of the movie.
Today, much work is being done but more work is envisaged to derive the true potential of the Asoka Wathika sites. Tourism Minister Milinda Moragoda, is among the personalities taking a personal interest to promote Ramayanaya sites much credit goes to S. Kalaiselvam of Tourism Development Authority for the gamut of activities undertaken from research to promotion.
As Kalaiselvam says, there is no need to re-establish the authenticity of the locations. People in the areas relate the epic. Seetha Devi’s ‘Agni Pariksha’ is still considered valid in villages. The soil of the ancient battlefield takes red in colour. Some areas look scorched following the setting of fire by Hanuman in search of Sita. Himalayan species can be found in Sri Lankan vegetation offering the veracity of Hanuman’s voyage carrying earth from Himalayan with life- saving herbs.
The runway of Ravana’s aircraft, Seetha Eliya, Sita Pokuna, Weragantota - Aircraft landing in Sinhala, Sita Kotuwa, aircraft repair centre – Gurulupotha, Dunuwila , the place Rama fired the Brahmastra at king Raavan.
In the light of this, it should be the Sri Lankans, more than the Indians, who could eagerly await the screening of Mani Ratnam’s Raavan in India. The developments after the discovery and documenting of 50 odd sites of Asoka Vatika in Sri Lanka would explain why.