One man, 14 personalities
Wilson Gunaratne on portraying diverse personas:
Seasoned actor Wilson Gunaratne of Charitha Hathak fame is all set to
embark on yet another great adventure in his career by portraying 14
diverse characters on screen. Named 'Neighbour in Trouble' this unique
television series will begin work shooting in locations in Colombo and
around the island soon.
Wilson Gunaratne in ‘Neighbour in Trouble’
It was mainly the success of Charitha Hathak which triggered the idea
for 'Wilson at the 80'. The thought took shape while the actor turned
director was at Sandeep Marwah Studio, Delhi, engaging in research.
"I was inspired by what I found. I worked hard to build up 14
characters, each very different from the other, to present them to the
art scene. This is the first time that an actor had attempted presenting
such a large number of characters in one series in Sri Lanka," he
explained adding that the fourteenth character will be unveiled at a
special event organized by the 80 Club of Colombo. Titled 'Wilson at the
80' the event will take place at the 80 Club House on September 26 at
7.30 p.m. The evening will also see Gunaratne taking to the stage with
music garnished with old hits and a considerable dose of comedy.
"'Neighbour in Trouble' is a humorous comedy based on cultural
conflict and language barriers. You can expect English and Sinhala
dialogues in the series. This consists of 12 different stories. The
story rotates around a team trying to run different types of projects
and organizations. None of the different settings are spared and you may
find traits of people whom you have met and worked with in these
characters," he explained.
According to Gunawardena some of the latest technological devices
will come to play in shooting the episodes where two or more roles
portrayed by him are present in the same scene.
He says, "At times the viewers will able to see me portraying all 14
characters in one frame. Nobody had tried it out before in any of the
local productions. It is a time consuming and expensive task but I
decided that as I might not get a chance to put the idea into practice
in around five years, I might as well take the plunge. I felt that I am
still up to it to take on this challenging task and do justice to the
project," he smiled.
He says that it is through practice and hard work that an actor is
able to shift into roles quite different from each other in a matter of
minutes. Continuous rehearsals help to prefect the loose ends and help
him essay his role up to his satisfaction.
The many faces of Gunaratne
"I was invited by the studio to shoot the production in India but I
preferred to engage in the process on local soil to enhance the dignity
of our Motherland," he stressed adding that each individual has a
responsibility towards upholding the value of the country.
An expert at imitating voices to suite the diverse roles, Gunaratne
said that he had already recorded and decided on 14 different voices for
the roles he hopes to bring to life. Two Indian actors will be joining
Gunaratne on the sets but the rest are local artistes.
"I also aim to star in 28 different roles for a film. I have already
composed 28 different voices for the project and hope to begin work on
it next year," he revealed. Gunaratne and G. Chandrathilak are working
on the script.
"The film will be based on the concept of totally rejecting terrorism
and I believe that the time has come for us to start finding the answers
to the problem which had been a canker in society for nearly three
decades. It is up to a Government body and other authorities to take
note and support this mission."
Speaking on his ability to portray diverse roles Gunaratne set Indian
actors Sivaji Ganesan portrayed nine roles in Navarathri and Kamal
Haasan playing 10 roles Dasahavatharam as examples.
"There are opportunities for actors to portray many roles in foreign
projects but here the maximum number of characters offered to an actor
is two. I got the opportunity to not only impersonate a number of
different characters but also act with the same characters in same
frame," he noted.
On his successful stage play Charitha Hathak he notes, "The play ran
for over nine years continuously even while the country was affected by
terrorism. The script was always updated with current issues being
included to cater to the needs of the public. People are still vying to
see the play. It was first staged on July 7, 2000, at 7.07 p.m. I play
seven different characters, as the title suggests, in the play. We need
to train youngsters to play characters which are completely different
from each other. If the authorities presents me with such an
opportunity, I am willing to take up the task," he concluded. You can
contact him on 0722251865.