Versatility at its best | Daily News

Versatility at its best

We live in deeds, not years, in thoughts, not breath
In feelings, not in figures on a dial
We could count time by heart-throbs, he most lives
Who thinks most- feel the noblest- acts the best
Philip James Bailey (1924- 1987)

Whenever we, as young writers, wanted to clear out the difficult matter on cinema, we used to approach a few cinema critics such as Reggie Siriwardane, Charles Abeysekara, Dr AJ Gunawardane and Dr Edwin Ariyadasa for consultation. Dr Ariyadasa was freely available at Lake House Editorial Department throughout the day. This was in the 70s and 80s. Rohana Wettasingha, now a Senior Journalist, and I were planning to publish the former’s original film script Sathara Diganthaya which would go to the record as the first film script in book form via the printed media. I helped him get a preface from Charles Abeysekara for the book.

Rohana wanted quotations on world cinema too. Ah! Here is the best expert… Rohana exclaimed: Dr Ariyadasa. Next day he brought the quotations written by Dr Ariyadasa.

When I compiled a book on the film musician maestro Sarath Dissanayake, I invited Professor Wimal Dissanayake (Emeritus at Hawaii University) to get a quotation on film music for the blurb. I requested Dr Edwin Ariyadasa to write a preface for the book. He quite willingly wrote it for me. Dr Ariyadasa was always helpful for scholarly projects of our generation.

We can remember the long hours of discussion at the Main Street Pagoda Hotel with Professor Chandrasiri Palliyaguru, filmmaker Amaranath Jayathilaka in the company of Dr Ariyadasa. I did the compilation and designing of Dr Ariyadasa's book The Liberation Speeches of American Presidents (Sinhala Translation: Vimukthi Prakasa) which may be a very useful reference for the present government's attempt for the proposed new constitution drafting.

The most important translation he did in 1972 was the Sinhala translation of Senior Journalist Philip Cooray's' The Lonely Artist, the biography of eminent filmmaker Dr Lester James Peries. Apart from that, he did some translations for the American Centre and some Sri Lankan writers’ books.

A pioneer of making Mass Communication in the Junior Universities during the Iriyagolle Educational Reforms, Dr Ariyadasa was always keen in the dissemination of knowledge for the entire country.

Time is now ripe to honour Dr Ariyadasa at least posthumously in recognition of his services rendered to mother Lanka! That is to pave way to trilingual scholars more and more of Dr Edwin Ariyadasa's calibre. He was a living example of an encyclopedia. We need such informed people, not really the so-called scholars with just paper qualifications!