For most Chinese people, Sri Lanka is best known for its tea and gemstones. But what is lesser known is that the South Asian country is one of the largest donors of corneas in the world.
This became an inspiration for the new 40-episode TV series, You Are Always With Me, the first coproduction of its kind between China and Sri Lanka.
Sarath Kongahage, media advisor to the Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, is a consultant for the TV series. And, Devinda Kongahage, a veteran television and film director, will serve as the executive director. The cast mainly consist of Chinese stars, including veteran actor Xu Yajun, pop idol Ma Ke, actresses Yue Hong and Ke Lan. The drama is scheduled to begin shooting on July 1 and due to wrap up by October.
Set between the early 2010s and the present, the drama centers around oculist Yao Kefan, played by Xu Yajun, who overcomes a string of hurdles to establish the first eye bank for restoring donated corneal tissue in the fictional Chinese province of Nanhai.
Ma, the 1990-born actor who shot to fame in the fantasy TV series The Journey of Flower (2014), plays a fashion designer who lost his vision due to a hereditary corneal disease.
The drama will be shot in locations as diverse as Shenzhen, Hong Kong and several Sri Lanka cities, including Colombo and Kandy. Sri Lankan President Hon. Maitripala Sirisena met the Chinese crew in May.