Dharmasiri Bandaranayake’s Far-reaching Impact on the Sinhala Theatre

Prasanna Cooray, in The Island, December 2022, where the ttile reads 

Speaking at a cremony to felicitate vetran filmmaker Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, at the Tharangani auditorium, National Film Corporation, Colombo 7, recently, Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda said Dharmasiri had changed the language of Sinhala cinema.

Dharmasiri Bandanaranayake receiving the Lifetime Medal by Prof. M. Nirmalan. Also in the picture Orlando Edwards, Country Director, British Council, Sri Lanka

At the event, titled “Rebel Creativity”, Bandaranayake received an honorary doctorate from the University of Ruhuna and the lifetime medal from the University of Manchester, UK for his outstanding contribution towards arts and peace in Sri Lanka.

Calling Dharmasiri as a post Bourgeois artist, Prof. Uyangoda noted a striking difference between his drama and cinema. “While his drama was high in post Bourgeois characteristics in cinema it was subtle”. Uyangoda said Dharmasiri’s “Hansa Vilak” was one fo the best Sri Lankan films.

Born in 1949 in Wadduwa, Dharmasiri Bandaranayake cut his teeth on stage drama in the early 70s and on the cinema in 1977. Apart from “Hansa vilak”, he created “Thunveni Yamaya”, “Bhava Duka” and “Bhava Karma”. His plays “Eka adipathi”, “Makarakshaya”, “Dhawala Beeshana” and “Trojan kanthawo” are famous for political satire and controversy.

Prof. Mahesan Nirmalan, deputy Dean, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, Manchester University, UK presented the lifetime medal to Dharmasiri on behalf of the Vice Chancellor of the university. Speaking of Dharmasiri’s contribution to art and peace in Sri Lanka, Prof. Nirmalan said, “Through art Dharmasiri brought the peace landscape of Sri Lanka to a different level”. Nirmalan said Dharmasiri had stood for what was right and championed ethnic harmony.

Prof. S. Mawnuguru, former Acting Vice Chancellor Eastern University spoke of Dharmasiri’s contribution towards taking the peace message through drama to the war-stricken north and east of the country. He identified Dharmasiri as a friend of Tamil people.

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