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Government Gazette


Irangani Serasinghe:

A Shining Star striving to protect Planet Earth

CONTEMPLATIVE: Irangani Serasinghe
Picture by Mahinda Vithanachchi

She is, at times, the compassionate mother. At other times she is the acknowledgeable grandmother or the lovable wife. Then she is the dignified Walauwae Hamu.

She is many characters in one who has given many unforgettable roles to the cinema, theatre and the small screen. In other words, she is veteran film and tele star Irangani Roxana Serasinghe.

“I was born in a remote village near Ruwanwella. My father was J.H.B. Daniel. I was second in a family of four children. I was quite a mischievous child during my childhood and a defiant adolescent,” Serasinghe smiled as she recalled her past.

It all began with mimicking certain characters and incidents which she encountered in her daily life. She began schooling at St. Bridget’s Convent, Colombo, and then moved on to Bishop’s College where she completed her SSC.

Irangani sat her university entrance examination at Girls’ High School, Kandy, and entered the Colombo University in 1947 to follow a three-year general degree in the Arts stream. She took up History, English and Economics.

Throughout her school days and during her university period Irangani’s acting career blossomed. Her first public theatre performance was in Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” where she took up the role of Professor Higgins.

That was when she was still schooling at Girls’ High school. She was an active member of the University Drama Society organised a play each year. It was during this period that her unique talent for acting caught the eye of film director Lester James Peries.

Before long Irangani was invited to take part in Lester’s productions. Her first experience in front of the camera was in his “Be Safe or Be Sorry”, a Government documentary for traffic police. Then followed the legendary “Rekhawa” and from there her line of destiny was clear.

“My role in “Rekhawa” is unforgettable. I took up the role of a rural woman, a background which I was familiar with. In “Sandeshaya” I was given a different sort of role, the character of a spy.

I also enjoyed acting in “Bakmaha Deegaya” since the style of that film was entirely different from the ones I had acted in so far,” she confessed adding that her first occupation had been as a teacher at Musaeus College, Colombo, for a year.

Though she had acted in a number of award winning films and teledramas, most of which won her awards, Irangani admits that the stage is her first love.

Irangani married her first husband Dr. Dissanayake (later Professor of Dental Surgery, University of Peradeniya) and accompanied him to England where she followed a course in the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School for a year. Then she spent another year studying at the Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art in London.

Irangani worked for the Features Department of the Times of Ceylon for almost four years before stepping in to the post of English drama producer for a year at the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC). Next she was employed in the industry of tourism at Walkers’ Tours and Travels during the 1970s.

At the age of 30, Irangani wedded Winston Serasinghe whom she starred with in several theatre productions and films including Rekhawa.

They were blessed with two sons, Ravi and Ranjit.

“I never dreamed of becoming an actress and never thought of myself as one. My ambition was to get married and have babies,” she smiled. “My most cherished moment in life was the day I saw my first born. I have been longing for a child and it was like a miracle,” she exclaimed.

Being a celebrity for several decade, what kind of advice would she like to give debutantes to the field?

“You can take up any sort of career according to your choice but it all comes down to what kind of person you are and how you are going to progress in life. The truth is that a lot of people are hurting not only themselves but others as well. Young people brand elders as ‘Oldies’ and think that they don’t know what they are talking about but there are basics that never change,” she pointed out.

“When you are young, your whole life is before you. Though you think you are heading in the path of success you may be heading for disaster.

When someone tries to advise you, you brush it aside. You need a bit of wisdom to avoid such circumstances. Learn to respect yourself first.” Though she had starred in almost 50 local and international productions, Serasinghe’s heart lies in her environmental conservation work.

“Conservation of natural resources is immensely important for the survival of Sri Lanka as well as the world. We are so negligent about this fact,” she repents.

“Throughout the ages we have destroyed many things. The British

destroyed all the central hills to plant coffee and tea by burning acres and acres of land but when we took over we did the same thing. Even people in power have a hand in selling trees that have been cut down and are making money out of it.”

“I do wish that the younger generation would become aware of how important environment conservation is. Our people are undisciplined.

Buddhism encourages self discipline. Our country is blessed with beautiful places but people ruin the beauty through anti-social behaviour. There are enough rules and regulations to protect nature but no one obeys or enforces them. That is the tragedy of this country,” she observed.


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Villa Lavinia - Luxury Home for the Senior Generation

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