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Compiled by Ruwini Jayawardana


Monika blooms with Rosa Kele

Dhammika and Sanjaya bring another Indian actress to the Sri Lankan silver screen

Monika Maruthiraj had been a success story for South Indian cinema from her first step into the field. The charming young lady had faced a camera for the first time when she was three years at the sets of the acclaimed Tamil director, Bakhyraj's movie Avasara Police 100.

From then on her path was clear and her destiny was decided. She acted in a number of Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada film, churning hit after hit. She also displayed her exceptional acting skills in an English movie "The Prayer in the Angel".

After acting in nearly 35 movies she took a break to concentrate on her studies. She was invited to portray a role in a movie again in Alagi (beautiful girl) when she was in grade nine. She clinched the State Government Award for her performance in Sundarajan's En Aasai Machan (My sweet boyfriend) in 1996.

Many offers poured in from directors keen to engage the talented lass in their creations and she never ceased to fail them. She had already starred opposite many big names in the industry and was awarded the Filmfare award for best child actress twice for her contribution to En Aasai Machan and Suhasini and Mani Ratnam's film, Indra.

To star in a Sri Lankan movie when she hardly knew a word of the language had been a turning point in her career but a very pleasant experience as she reveals to the Daily News.

How did the chance to contribute to a Sri Lankan movie come your way?

The team came to Chennai searching for an Indian actress to take part in their latest production. They saw my picture and came to my home. After seeing me and having a chat the whole team decided that I was ideal for the role.

Why did you decide to accept the offer?

Firstly because I liked the role that I was offered and secondly because this is a heroine oriented film. Normally in Tamil movies the actresses are mostly brought in for glamour and the story is mainly focused on the hero and his exploits. Nimsara is very appealing and emotional. I felt that this story is very different from those I have taken part in over the years.

How different was the experience acting in a Sinhala movie?

It was very enjoyable and unforgettable as it is not easy to work using an unknown language. If you are thorough with the language then it is very easy to bring out the expressions that go along with the words. The director, Sanjaya Nirmal, helped me to prepare for the role in advance. I had the script in hand one month before shooting was scheduled.

The whole working environment was well planned. Our cameraman, Jayanath Gunawardena, knew what was expected of him and the director had taken everything into his heart. He had the capacity to bring out the best of our talent and within this set up I was able to relax and play my part naturally.

I was very happy to get the chance to work with Roshan Ranawana as he is a very lovable and friendly person. He did not possess the snobbish attitude of some film stars.

Were your dialogues dubbed?

The director was very specific about making it clear that we won't do any prompting. I would have to do the dialogues as well as act. They wrote the script in English and I by-hearted it. If I know any Sinhala, I know only the dialogues of Rosa Kele. (laughs)

Pictures by Saman Sri Wedage

What is your most cherished moment during the shooting of the film?

It was the first time that I worked with around 40 children onset.

Whenever we got off the sets we spent time together. They are a very talented group and we had lots of fun. I never felt that I came to do a job. It was more of a trip for me.

Would you like to take up more parts in Sinhala movies?

Yes, of course. I am waiting for a good script to come my way.

Tell us about your family.

My father is Erode Maruthiraj and my mother's name is Gracy. I am the only child in the family.

What are your up coming projects?

There are two films on the way. Ah Aah Eh Eeh by Sabapathi and Naga Venkatesh's Agaradhi.

What is your message to your fans?

They have seen me in Tamil movies so far but I would request them to watch the Sinhala movie.

I hope it would become a big hit since it was a very different script from my originals.

My stay in Sri Lanka has been very pleasant and feel very close to the country as it is very close to Kerala in temperature, food and many other aspects. I am looking forward to coming back to this beautiful country in the future.

Rosa Kele,a movie produced by Dhammika Siriwardena, will be screening at Savoy and EAP circuit cinemas islandwide from May 30.



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