Heily: Too alien for the small screen? | Daily News


Heily: Too alien for the small screen?

A sci-fi teledrama, Heily is the story centred around romantic and action thriller genres. It revolves around a fictional woman robot – Heily. This humanoid android is built as a project of making ultimate spy infiltrate any social level in the time of global turmoil of political dominance. However, the ship she was transporting was destroyed due to a power struggle to gain her technology and she was found by local photographer Vihen and his friend boat ride guide Kule while they were going to get ocean photography and saved. Team of her creators and the people who try to gain her technology clashes with these guys in attempts to gain her and her technology.

These attempts to kidnap her and gain her technology and the love that sparks between Vihen and Heily adds diversity and drive this teledrama forwards as the plot thickens.

Science fiction is an alien concept to the teledrama field. However, Dr Susitha Ruwan bucks the trend in writing a script and re-introducing the art of science fiction to the small screen.

Dr Susitha Ruwan has already gained grounds in the literary circles as a bestseller novelist. Professionally a medical practitioner, Dr Ruwan has shown equilibrium in literary endeavours. Of late, he has ventured into scriptwriting with Heily, a sci-fi teledrama now shown on the small screen.

“The humanoid-Android technology is nothing new. However, Director Dhanushka Ratnayaka was toying with this strange idea of syringing art into this concept. I was also interested in entering the scriptwriting following my brief stint in novel-writing. I was inspired because most of my readers noted that my novels are cinema-centric,” Dr Ruwan noted.

It is in this backdrop that Dhanushka Ratnayake commissions the novelist-turned scriptwriter to work on the concept of android technology.

Science fiction has gained prominence in the world cinema and tele world. But the response to the science fiction is comparatively low in the Sri Lankan context. Dr Ruwan was well aware of that phenomenon when he took over the task of scriptwriting Heily.

“The Lankan audience was more familiar with romance. Then they were inclined to Indian and Korean soap. We had to fight with this wave. We had no idea how the audience would take to this genre. So I had to make sure Heily is soft-science fiction.”

For Dr Susitha Ruwan and the rest of the industry, Heily appears an experiment. The real challenge occurs if someone were to execute a comparative study with international science fiction. There is a considerable gap between the local and foreign science fiction-based productions mostly because of the cost factor. The foreign science fiction productions are grounded on affluent sponsorships.

In the Sri Lankan background, the cost factor meant swimming against the tide for the scriptwriter Dr Susitha Ruwan, Director Dhanushka and Producer Gayan Dinesh Perera in terms of technology. But what they did not let go of was the team spirit. As one team, they gave the best shot of commitment.

“Someone has to take over this challenge. There might be criticism – constructive or otherwise. There might be comparisons too. However, if we take one single attempt, there will be better science fiction productions in future. We took the initial step.”

Most international science fiction comes out as action films. Heily is more into action type. Most action films can be popular science fiction genre.

“I think the best works come out of emotion-based productions. The best example is Steven Speilberg’s Artificial Intelligence. That is not an Action film. But it addresses a wider audience. I am always trying to keep that audience in mind. Here, we have to employ certain literary techniques, as well as romance and humour. That’s why writing a science fiction script is more challenging than a novel.”

Dr Susitha Ruwan faced numerous challenges during the task.

Although the fiction-writing has infinite freedom of imagination, the same cannot be applied to the scriptwriting. Dr Ruwan had to focus on simplifying scientific matters so that the general audience can understand, and write scenes with less 3D because of the cost factor. Dhanushka Ratnayaka offered his expertise in the scriptwriting.

“We had a comprehensive discussion before initiating the project. We had to consider our resources and the skill bank before sitting down to write the script. Our discussion was an ongoing one while writing the script considering the location and other factors.”

The biggest challenge was to challenge the ongoing tele industry. To get rid of the already-screening teleplays, you need to produce a similar kind.

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