A new teledrama is set for debut this week on Derana TV, vividly portraying the challenges of conflict and reconciliation in post-tsunami Sri Lanka.
‘The East is Calling’ is directed by renowned film maker Asoka Handagama and produced by Young Asia Television (YATV). It is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the US Embassy said in a statement yesterday.
On Monday, representatives of USAID, YATV, and Mr. Handagama gathered at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations to launch the series, which will debut in the Friday 9:30 slot in October, as the signature teledrama of the new Derana television network.
‘The East is Calling’ delivers a fundamental message that respect for one another’s feelings will lead to peaceful coexistence, in a dramatic and entertaining way,” said USAID Mission Director, Rebecca Cohn at the inauguration.“It takes an unflinching look at the challenges faced by Sri Lankan society that is sure to provoke discussion and dialogue leading toward reconciliation of these issues.”
As the 13-episode series begins, a recent medical graduate and some friends had travelled East on a beach trip. The doctor and a friend leave the group to purchase supplies. On the way, they receive a call from their friends who say the sea has strangely receded, before the line abruptly goes dead.
The tsunami has struck; taking away their friends and bringing longstanding inter-ethnic issues into sharp focus as survivors struggle to rebuild their shattered lives.
The doctor lends his medical skills to a makeshift camp at a nearby temple, where Sinhalese, Tamils, and Muslims have sought refuge, sharing the limited space and resources and coming to terms with the tragedy. The communities are united at first, but relations gradually become tense, leading to suspicion, mistrust and jealousies. In the end, community leaders emerge to ease the tension, and the series ends on a note of hope.
In 2004, USAID also funded the award-winning series “Take This Road,” another YATV production directed by Mr. Handagama, which was watched by nearly four million Sri Lankans.