In memory of the cinemasmith | Daily News
Gamini Fonseka commemoration

In memory of the cinemasmith

There is a rare breed of people in this world who have superhuman qualities. Whatever Endeavour they engage in they excel better than their peers and stand out from others. Gush of adrenaline in their bodies give them an extraordinary strength to be workaholics. They have in abundance talents galore. Gamini Fonseka is one such person.

We talk of Gamini's acting prowess and directorial marvels in cinema. Yet the question arises can we confine this person to celluloid world and describe him? The answer is a firm No.

Atmosphere in the cremation ceremony Of Gamini Fonseka at the Independent Square some years back if one could recall will bring on real memories of a true legend born in these soils. People from all social strata were flocking to pay last respects to a true son of mother Lanka. In the backdrop speeches made by the Deputy speaker Gamini Fonseka in the parliament were being played.

I for one took time to break from the rest to sit back and listen to one of those speeches. Instantly a shameful feeling engulfed me for reading Gamini only as an actor and a film director from my childhood. This man was talking of the separatist war that was in full blaze at the time and was stressing in his speech the need for humane solutions to bring an end to a bloody war.

These philosophical words of him we heard through the mouth of a loud speaker that day has become meaningful as at today. Gamini has been a foreseer or some kind or a visionary who had a wealth of knowledge and foreseeable abilities.


Bandu Samarasinghe.
Pictures by Sarath Peiris.

In his directorial debut Parasathumal Gamini as dejected Bonnie Mahattaya utters these words to Maggie. "Heta Ira Paayaida Kawda Danne Maggie..." (Who knows Maggie...whether we would see sunshine tomorrow...") In Mayurige Kathawa he writes the lyrics Sudo Mama Adarei... one of the most romantic lyrics in Sinhala cinema's lyric writing history. In Nidhanaya he sketches for real a beautiful damsel with birthmarks on her long neck.

Being a multi linguist he performed in Tamil and English productions too. Nadarajah in Sarungalae and the wealthy playboy in Rampage still linger in our minds making pleasant sensations. Authorities must take steps to screen films like Rampage, Sarungalae, Nobody is Perfect, The Crystal Book and Nidhanaya for the benefit of budding actors and filmmakers in our country. Dr Gamini Fonseka was commemorated on September 30 amongst a gamut of filmmakers, artistes and fans at the NFC. Gamini's beloved son Damith Fonseka spearheaded the program.

Prasanna Vithanage said at the event Gamini as an actor explored areas others dared to touch but filmmakers in our country failed to offer him with real challenges. He blasted Jayavilal Wilegoda the critic for trying to brand Gamini as an imitator of Marlon Brando.

"What is acting? Sanford Meisner the American acting teacher told this. The only way to deal with yourself as an actor is to follow the emotional truth of what you have to do under the imaginary circumstances or in other words to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances. Gamini did this with perfection. Truth is like blood in Art. A certain character must have credibility to make the audiences believe in it. Gamini with fine facial expressions induces more aspects to a certain character even the film director does not imagine. Jinadasa in Gamperaliya and Willie Abeynayake in Nidhanaya are perfect examples", said Vithanage.

Vithanage also said Gamini Fonseka was an individual who was ahead of time.

Now this is a golden saying. Sheer proof of this notion is found even in decades old films of Gamini. When we see them on TV now...we cannot help but to think Gamini has performed in these films only recently. This man called Gamini rubs shoulders with the fraternity of world renowned actors to project a universal style of acting.

Dr Sarath Amunugama said Gamini was a sober, punctual and technically masterful individual. "Gamini was a lover of humanity and not a socialist or a slogan lover" he said.

The legacy of Gamini Fonseka must be taken forward for the benefit of next generation, said the versatile actor Dr Ravindra Randeniya. He added Gamini has pioneered so many disciplines in the cinema sphere in this country.

At the felicitation ceremony of Gamini Fonseka held at BMICH few weeks prior to his demise, we got the rare opportunity to shake hands with this great personality who was bigger than life. Gamini was thronged by his fans at the lobby. He was beaming and looking like a prince. Approaching him to utter the words, "Sir...may I shake hands with you?" was one of the most memorable moments in my life. "Yes...you may!" said he with his manly voice, greeting me with the trademark smile which mesmerized millions of people through decades.

And then we shook hands. I felt the warmth in his heart and at that very moment. Chutte, Dhara, Bucket Harry, Willie Abeynayake and Bonnie Mahattaya came into my mind in a jiffy.

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