Iranganie Serasinghe: Mischievous young girl who turned a brilliant
STAR: As soon as I stepped into Iranganie Serasinghe's garden,
I was engulfed by the tranquil enchantment of it. With large trees of
various types and beautiful flowers scenting the air, it was the kind of
place no one would expect to see in the heart of Nawala town. The garden
itself was a reflection of Irangani's fervent bond with nature.
Dressed in a simple gown there she was. She greeted me with that
motherly smile, so familiar to us. Fifty years of brilliance and
passion- Iranganie Serasinghe- was seated in front of me. After seeing
her as the mother in the silver screen and the small screen as well it's
hard to imagine Iranganie as a little girl. So we started our
conversation from her childhood life.
MOTHERLY: Iranganie Serasinghe
"I lived in a quiet and lovely village near Ruwanwella. And I used to
go out to the paddy fields every evening to watch flocks of birds return
home. I used to sit on a rock amidst the field at sunset and watch them.
And then our caretaker would come running to the fields and ask me to
return home saying that girls should not stay out at the time of sunset.
I calmly asked her why they shouldn't.
Then she says that 'kalu kumaraya' is coming at that hour and I
should go in. The next day again I went to watch the birds at sunset,
and she rushes there and asks me what I was doing there even after her
explanation. I calmly replied 'waiting for kalu kumaraya to come'. And
then she would go bananas," Iranganie says with a mischievous glitter in
her eyes that surprisingly matches her motherly look. Iranganie goes
back to those days.
She recalls how she and her sisters would secretly get into the
little boat which took people and sailed across the river. "The
caretaker would discover us gone and come rushing to the shore screaming
for us to come back," she laughs like a playful little girl hiding her
face with her hands.
She has always been mischievous and a rebel. She was not one to go by
the traditional standards. Never one to take advices, how did Iranganie
play 'mother' so touchingly? "That I also don't understand. I started my
cinema carrier by playing mother in Lester James Peries' 'Rekawa' when I
was just 25. Since then most of the roles I have done were roles of the
Everytime I play mother and give advice to someone on screen, I
wonder what my mother would have said if she had seen me. Because I was
the last person to take advice, let alone give them," Iranganie says in
a light wing. Iranganie had won the best actress award for her very
first role in Rekawa, and since then the number of awards won by her
She had the rare opportunity of starring in about seven films by the
Doyen of Sinhala cinema - Lester James Peries out of which most were
motherly roles. Iranganie was the beloved 'Suduhamine' in 'Yashorawaya',
the innocent mother who silently bears all pains because of her
The classy mother of high society in 'Sathpuravesiyo', and the caring
mother and grandmother in 'Doo Daruwo'. No matter what kind of a mother
she played, people loved her from the bottom of their hearts. She
touched their hearts and souls for decades. What was her secret of
winning such deep and unwavering love of her fans? Iranganie smiles
"I think it's the roles I play. And the credit should be attributed
to the script writers for writing such nice words for me to speak. Maybe
that is why people like me," she says modestly. Her roles in 'Bakmaha
Deege and in 'Kinihiriya Mal' where she played the role of an ultra
modern lady who runs a brothel, was so different from her motherly
Iranganie says that the roles were challenges to her and that she
loved playing those roles as they were different from her usual ones. "I
was getting bored of the type cast roles I was getting. After all, which
performer would like to perform the same thing over and over? So I took
those roles gladly, and did my best," she says.
According to her, those had been two of her favourite roles. "The
role of a spy I played in Lester James Peries's 'Sandeshaya' is another
favourite of mine".
Iranganie has two inheritances from her little days - her
mischievousness and her love for nature. Whenever she has free time she
flees for the heavenly sanctuary of her estate in Belihuloya.
Iranganie's passion for mother nature has led her to take part in
various activities in saving the environment and wild life.
Having elephants at her house as a child, Iranganie is one who loves
them deeply. An Orchid flower had been named after her as a tribute to
her service in saving the environment. "I didn't see the flower yet, but
will be soon sent one when it blossoms," she says.
In spite of her motherly nature, the qualities of a young girl were
still prominent in her. Nearing 80 years now, Iranganie can still
understand what it feels like to be 20. That is why she is the best to
give some advice for the younger generation.
She laughs playfully at this. "I don't want to advise the youngsters,
because I know they won't take it. I was the last person to take advice
when I was young. But I'd like to request them to save nature. Because
if nature goes down we go down with it. Beautiful places like 'Hummanaya',
'Dunhinda' and 'Diyaluma' are being destroyed by people.
They go there and drink alcohol and smash the bottles there. No one
else can go and enjoy them afterwards. Please don't destroy nature, live
in harmony with it," the beloved mother pleaded.
Handagama's film 'Aksharaya' in crisis
FILM: Controversial film director Asoka Handagama claims he is
being discriminated and is clamouring for justice from the authorities
to ensure his latest film Aksharaya (Letter of Fire) is screened for the
cinema going public.
Asoka Handagama - controversial film director
"For the first time a local film is going to be banned after being
approved by the Public Performance Board (PPB). This defies reason,"
"Who is going to listen to my grievance? I have been a victim of a
grave injustice as my creation is facing the threat of being blacked out
to local viewers", laments Handagama who has directed several films
which were the subject of much debate in local cinema circles .
Starting his film career with "Chanda Kinnari" , he directed "Sanda
Dadayama", "Me Mage Sandai" and "Thani Thatuwen Piyabanna" which won
However Handagama's latest film "Aksharaya" (A Letter of Fire) has
now created a tug-of-war between the Public Performance Board (PPB) and
the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage.
According to Handagama, despite the approval granted to the film by
the PPB Chairman Prof. Somaratne Balasooriya on March 29, 2006, the
Minister of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage told the media that
he would not permit "Aksharaya" to be screened in Sri Lanka.
"Although there is no official ban yet on the film, there is an
attempt to do so by the authorities and I have received a letter from
the PPB, requesting me to hand back the approval letter they granted me.
What the authorities are doing now is taking steps to ban the film.
Not only that they have already started discriminating me too. For the
first time in the history, a film approved by the PPB is to be banned by
the Cultural Affairs Ministry with the support of the National Film
Corporation", claimed Handagama.
"This is in total violation of my right to freedom of expression in
the medium of cinema. The PPB granted their approval for the film under
the 'Adults only, category.
Then why is this fuss now? If there is an audience even one or two or
more to view the film, we cannot deprive them of this right to view the
film. It is up to the viewers to form their opinion on the film. That is
up to them and not to anyone else", Handagama pointed out.
The film "Aksharaya" was shot in 2004 and completed production in
The film was first screened at the St. Sebastian International Film
Festival held in Spain in October 2005. The second screening was at the
Tokyo International Film Festival in Japan in November 2005.
The film was screened for a limited audience for the first time in
Sri Lanka at the French Speaking Countries Film Festival held in
Colombo, March 19 at the Elphinstone Theatre. (A.G.)
Host of cultural events from Alliance Francaise
HAPPENINGS: The Alliance Francaise of Colombo has organized
several exciting cultural events in collaboration with the University of
Visual and Performing Arts and the Italian embassy, during the months of
May and June.
Their expectation is to promote arts and culture which will offer the
people a place to witness cultural diversity. Jean- Philippe Roy, the
Director of Alliance Francaise stated that this will open doors in terms
of cultural interaction and exchange between the French and Sri Lankans.
"The Music Day"(fete de la musique) which will be held on June 21 is
a celebration of live music which is open to both professionals and
amateurs. The first phase of the event will be in the form of a
competition between school choirs/singers/dancers, out of which the
winners will get to perform in the evening programme.
Live images of the celebrations in Sri Lanka will also be screened in
Paris. The event is entirely free of charge and anyone can take part as
a performer or a spectator. This will take place at New Town Hall,
Colombo 7 from 1 pm onwards.
Commencing on May 3, the Cine Club will screen Italian films starring
renowned French actors every Tuesday at 3 pm and every Wednesday at 6.30
pm at the Alliance Francaise.
Each film will be followed by a short discussion for "added cultural
value" according to Jean -Philippe Roy. The Cine Club is open to all and
is free of charge.
The play "Mr. & Mrs. O" will be performed on May 29 at the Bishop's
College auditorium. This play without speech includes mime, contemporary
dance, circus arts and even comic book arts.
This will be followed by the Franco-Sri Lankan mime workshop where
Sri Lankan and French actors will have the opportunity for a cultural
The Alliance Francaise, No. 11, Barnes Place, Colombo 7, can be
contacted for more details on this regard.
Ban on Handagama's film: lethal blow to freedom of expression
The news report that the Ministry of Cultural Affairs has threatened
to ban Asoka Handagama's latest film 'A Letter of Fire (Aksharaya) does
not augur well for the development of the national cinema.
In the first place, one always assumed that once the Public
Performances Board certified a film, as it has done in the case of
Handagama's film, no higher authority had the right to overturn the
decision of the Board on the universal premise that the Board, as in
other countries, enjoys complete autonomy.
I must confess that I am not sure of the legality of such a counter
ban, but if it is carried out it would deal a lethal blow to the freedom
of expression of serious artistes in the medium of the cinema.
Asoka Handagama's film is a serious work, powerful, disturbing (to
the fainthearted), a searing attack on all our 'Sacred Cows'. Critics
might find it difficult to read all the sub-texts which are sardonic
assaults on marital, sociological, cultural institutions in the
One may like or dislike the film - that is another matter. But surely
hasn't every adult the right to see the film once passed by the PPB? If
you don't like it, you have the luxury of walking out of the cinema.
On the other hand, to call it an obscene film is preposterous. It is
an attempt to introduce controversial new themes, exploring the darkest
recesses of the human psyche, expressed in compelling, often violent
images on the tragic consequences of incest, a theme as old as Greek
Every national cinema needs directors who will push the frontiers of
the medium both in terms of structure as well as the introduction of
controversial, even taboo subjects to prevent our cinema from being
stultified and moribund.
Why it should upset people who read stories of fathers raping
daughters in our daily newspapers is a mystery. One must also remember
that the film is predominantly in the English language, which adds to
the power of its "no holds barred" audio-visual assault.
'Crash' at Majestic
CINEMA: "Crash" - winner of three Oscar Awards in 2006 for
best picture, best original screenplay and best editing will be released
at the Majestic Cinema, Colombo from May 5.
"Crash" is imported and distributed here by the Cinema Entertainment
Pvt Ltd. (CEL).
Diving headlong into the diverse melting pot of post-9/11, Los
Angeles, Crash tracks the volatile intersections of a multi-ethnic cast
of characters struggling to overcome their fears as they career in and
out of one another lives.
In the gray area between black and white, victim and aggressor, there
are no easy answers.
A cultural cross-section of Los Angeles denizens are connected to
each other through crime, corruption, obligation, indignation and chance
over a two-day period.
The most powerful storyline features Matt Dillon and Ryan Phillippe
as beat cops, jaded and abusive, who pull over and harass a black yuppie
couple (Terrence Hoard and Thandie Newton) because the suv they're
driving vaguely fits the description of vehicle.
Similarly potent table-turning and judgment-testing events occur in
the lives of the actual carjackers (Larenz Tate and Rapper Ludacris) and
their victims (Brendan Fraser and Sandra Bullock).
These four are, in turn, connected through other events to a young
Hispanic Lockmith (Michael Pena) desperately trying to make a better
life for his 5-year-old daughter after moving out of a crime ridden
neighbourhood and to a struggling Iranian shopkeeper (Shaun Tub)
desperately seeking to lay blame for the vandalisation of his
convenience store, and to a pair of internal affairs detectives (Don
Cheadie and Jennifer Esposito), whose lives and jobs are complicated by
politics tested principles and personal secrets.
They all live in Los Angeles. And during the next 36 hours, they will
This is the directing debut of award-winning writer/producer Paul
Haggis (Million Dollar Baby) from a story by Paul Haggis and a
screenplay by Haggis and Bobby Moresco.
Produced by Catty Schulman, Don Cheadie, Bob Yari, Mark R. Harris,
Bobby Moresco and Paul haggis. Michael Muro as Director of Photography.
Editor is Hughes win borne and music is by Mark Isham.
'Lux' stars celebrate the diamond year!
EVENT: Lux celebrated its diamond year in glamorous style at
the Water's Edge, Battaramulla, recently. The night kicked off in
dazzling manner by a ravishing dance by Channa Wijeywardhana dance
Film stars Manjula Kumari, Kanchana Mendis, Sangeetha Weeraratne,
Yashodha Wimaladharma, Anarkali Akarsha and Marketing Manager
Surith Perera cutting the anniversary cake. Picture by Saliya
Stars Sangeetha Weeraratne, Kanchana Mendis, Yashodha Wimaladharma,
Anarkali Akarsha and Manjula Kumari sparkled the night with their
Renowned film star Sangeetha said that being a 'Lux star' was every
upcoming actresses' dream and that her association with lux would always
be treasured by her.
Two new brands of Lux were launched at the occasion, 'chocolate
seduction' with cocoa cream and 'aromatic glow' with lotus extract.
Also the new Lux TV commercial featuring Malani Fonseka, Sangeetha
Weeraratne, Chaturika Peries, Dilhani Ekanayake and Sabeetha Perera was
launched at the occasion.