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Gamini Fonseka: “Maharajaneni” of Sinhala moviedom

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by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Gamini Fonseka, the uncrowned “Maharajaneni” or monarch of Sinhala moviedom passed away peacefully on September 30th in 2004. Though Gamini is no more most of his fans like this writer have not forgotten him. This article coinciding with Gamini’s fifth death anniversary today is a humble tribute to to the memory of a man who lives in the hearts of many.

Gamini Fonseka (March 21, 1936-Sep 30, 2004)

This article is to honour the memory of a man whom I loved as an actor, appreciated as a director, admired as a politician and above all respected as a decent human being. Gamini the actor on the Sinhala silver screen became an important part of life in childhood.

This is the kind of relationship one has with actors, singers, writers and sportsmen. The impact of films and film stars in the South Asian region is Phenomenal. Childhood impressions in that sense are indelible.


My formative years as a Sinhala film fan were heavily influenced and shaped by Gamini Fonseka. To me and millions of other like minded people Sinhala cinema was personified by Gamini Fonseka for a long, long time.

Notwithstanding the brilliant creators of our times who have elevated the standards of Sinhala films one is unable to imagine or visualise Sinhala cinema without thinking of Gamini Fonseka. Sinhala cinema was certainly not Gamini Fonseka but without Gamini Fonseka there was no Sinhala cinema either.

Belonging to a middle class Tamil family living then in Colombo I was drawn into the world of films at an early age. The staple diet of this film fascination was naturally Tamil-MG Ramachandran, Sivaji Ganesan, Gemini Ganeshan, SS Rajendran, Ranjan etc were the Tamil cine heroes who enthralled me then.

But I was indeed fortunate that despite my Tamilness I was equally attracted to Sinhala movies from an early age. This affinity for Tamil and Sinhala films itself was viewed as something unusual at St. Thomas’s Prep or STC Mt. Lavinia where I studied in the sixties.

Few Sinhala or Tamil kids saw Sinhala or Tamil films in those schools then. But then I was indeed lucky to savour Tamil, English and Sinhala movies from a very young age.


As children we were enamoured greatly of action movies. “Fighter” actors were relished as opposed to “character” actors. So MGR, Jaishnkar, Anandan, Ravishankar from Tamil movies along with Charlton Heston, John Wayne, Yul Brynner and later Clint Eastwood were my childhood favourites.

As far as Sinhala films were concerned there was only one and that of course was Gamini.

Gamini Fonseka entered my life when I was about eight years old. The place he did so was a movie theatre in Maradana bearing his own name Gamini. “Ran Muthu Duwa ” was my first Sinhala Movie.

The family went to see it for two reasons. One because it was the first Sinhala technicolour film. Secondly to see the famed underwater scenes made possible by Mike Wilson.

Gamini along with Jeevarani, Shane Gooneratne and Joe Abeywickrema starred in it. Gamini’s acting, dancing and fighting captivated me. I was well and truly hooked. I never ever recovered.

The song and dance sequence “Pipee pipee Renu Natana” remains fresh in memory even now. I still remember the melody and some of the poetic lines like “Apey watte mal pipila meemassen wikvela” and “Rana giraw Kumbura udin mal mal gamanak giya” etc.

My admiration and fondness for Gamini’s films grew over the years. Initially the attraction was mainly the fight scenes. Gamini brought a refreshing naturalness to those scenes as opposed to the artificiality in South Indian ones. It was later that one learned to appreciate the finer points of his acting.


There was hardly a Gamini Fonseka film that I missed in the sixties. This was due to a woman Mary Caroline who was then a domestic helper at our home. She stayed with the family for about seven years.

Mary was an avid Gamini fan. So I would accompany her every month to Sinhala films in general and Gamini Fonseka films in particular.

This was how I managed to see so many of his films in my childhood. “Chandiya”, “Soora Chowraya” and “Sorungeth Soru” were some of my favourites then.

This is how Gamini Fonseka became a permanent part of my childhood memories. He remains there forever.

A break with Sinhala movie going came in the early seventies when my family moved to Jaffna. I returned with a vengeance to “Sinhala chitrapati” after we shifted back to Kurunegala and then Colombo.

One recalls wistfully the hours of enjoyment at the Jupiter, Modern , New Imperial and New Cinema theatres in Kurunegala and the Roxy, Saphire, Elphinstone and Gamini theatres in Colombo.

Not only did I see new films but also several old ones when re-screened. Needless to say my favourite hero in Sinhala films was Gamini and I recall with nostalgia the pleasant hours spent viewing his films those days.


Sembuge Gamini Shelton Fonseka was born in Dehiwela on March 21st 1936 as the third child of William and Daisy Fonseka; After initial schooling at a Presbyterian institution he went to St. Thomas’s College, Mt.Lavinia.

He made his mark there not as a Thespian but as an artist of repute. He was capable of caricaturing school masters mercilessly.

Apart from art, young Gamini also excelled in Sinhala language and literature while at college. One of his proudest moments was when he won the Sinhala literature prize when he was in the upper fourth (grade 7).

He received his prize from old Thomian and first prime minister of Independent “Ceylon” DS Senanayake. Gamini was also a good cricketer.

Involved in many a schoolboy skirmish Gamini had to cut short his secondary education early.

He then entered the wonderful world of films in a technical capacity. He worked under the legendary David Lean for “Bridge on the river Kwai” and our own Lester James Peiris on “Rekawa”.

His association with Lester as an assistant director on “Rekawa” changed Gamini’s line of destiny forever. Gamini’s first screen appearance was in “Rekawa” as part of a crowd. The same man went on to become a crowd puller in later life.

Gamini then acted in an English television series about the antics of an “elephant boy” filmed in Sri Lanka. He was also production assistant.

His first big break in acting came with “Daiwa Yogaya” in 1959 where he played a secondary role. Senadheera Kuruppu and Rukmani Devi were in the lead roles.

Then came Lester’s “Sandesaya” where nominally Gamini played second fiddle to Ananda Jayaratna but stole the show from him with a stellar performance.

It was around this time that films like “Adata wediya Heta Hondai” Ranmuthuduwa” “Getawarayo” and “Dheevarayo” exploded on the screen and established Gamini as a box office draw.

However he proved that he was not a melodramatic actor-singing, dancing and fighting-alone by making his mark as a character actor in Lester’s “Gamperaliya” that won the Golden Peacock in New Delhi.

Once again Gamini was the “third” to Henry Jayasena and Punya Heendeniya but gave a performance par excellence as Jinadasa.


Titus Totawatte’s “Chandiya” was a milestone. This was perhaps the first anti-hero role of Sinhala cinema. Gamini breathed and lived the part of a tough guy. Titus had a sequel “Chutte”.

It was in a way art imitating life because Gamini was in every way a “Chandiya” in real life. Thomians of yesteryear speak volumes about his martial prowess. The benchmark of his fighting prowess was the “historic” encounter with Dehiwela’s “strongman” Karthelis the brother of S de S Jayasinghe.

A major reason for the naturalism in Gamini’s fighting scenes was the man himself. He was a fighter both orthodox and unorthodox. He often got into brawls but always for a good cause.

One such incident was at Embilipitiya Circuit bungalow when the caretaker and his cronies in an intoxicated state picked a fight with the film crew on location there.

Gamini pitched in with flying fists and proved that his macho image was not confined to celluloid alone. He then moved the entire crew at his own expense to Tissamaharama.

There was a time when film artistes and technicians were treated rather shabbily by the film makers. Gamini changed all that to a great extent.


He fought for their rights and dignity with the film makers, distributors, media , film corporation and government. Yet he was not complacent and remained continuously concerned about their plight.

He was unhappy about the way the various regimes treated and continued to treat the film industry. At his “Rajadakma” Gamini advised artistes to spurn politics and went on to observe “I have worked for both parties but no one has done any good for the film industry or artistes”.

Gamini himself was a misfit in politics. He was a Parliamentarian in 1989-1994 during the Premadasa regime. He also served as Deputy-Speaker. After Premadasa’s death he found himself uncomfortable in the UNP and crossed over.

He was however not appointed as a national list MP by the PA. Later Gamini was appointed Governor of the North-Eastern province by President Chandrika Kumaratunga. This was a move welcomed greatly by the Tamils and Muslims of the region.

But again he was not able to discharge his duties fairly due to “interference” by the Government on one side and the armed forces on the other. He quit in disgust.

Gamini reached the peak of his popularity in the late sixties and early seventies as romantic action hero.


When Sean Connery won over the western world as Ian Fleming’s James Bond in “Dr. No” and “from Russia With Love” Mike Wilson cashed in on the “OO7” craze with a Sri Lankan version. Enter our own man with a license to kill-Jamis Banda. Who else other than Gamini could do justice to the role in “Sorungeth Soru”.

There were other popular roles too with Sri Lankan versions of the famous Tamil “Vallava” film series starring Jaishankar and Manohar produced in Tamil Nadu by Ramasundaram of Modern Studios. Gamini was the mainstay of the “sooraya” film series in Sinhala.

Edath Sooraya Adath Sooraya

“Soorayangath Sooraya”, “Edath Sooraya Adath Sooraya” “Sooraya Soorayamai” “Hatharadenaama Sooraya” etc. The action films of old had a simple underlying thread that good triumphs over evil. So Gamini like MGR gave us a happy feeling and inspired all to greater heights.

Titus Thotawatte who made “Chandiya” and “Chutte” with Gamini was later working at “Rupavahini”. I used to run into him often those days at a restaurant in Bambalapitiya. He used to recount many stories concerning Gamini to me as I listened with rapt attention.

Lester Peiris as director, Willie Blake as cinematographer and Titus as Editor formed the pioneering trio that chartered a path-breaking course in Sinhala cinema. Gamini was involved in all these.

This success in action movies did not mean that Gamini was playing stereo -typed roles alone. Far from it! He played a variety of roles and proved his thespian skills in many.

Two memorable performances were in Lester’s “Nidhanaya” and “Yuganthaya” as Willie Abeynayake and Simon Kabalana. “Nidhanaya” Lester’s masterpiece is the only Sinhala film to be included in the 100 Best Movies of the World list.


There have been several actor-directors who failed when directing themselves. It was a case of either underplaying or overacting. One man who performed this dual role creditably was Hindi cinema’s Raj Kapoor (Awaraa, Barsat, Shri 420 etc) In Sinhala cinema Gamini was one man whose acting did not falter when directing.

Starting from “Parasathumal” to others like “Uthumaneni” “Sagarayak Medha” “Koti Waligaya” “Nomiyena Minissu” etc Gamini played his roles remarkably in those films. At the same time he stamped his arterial mark as director. One cannot place him in the class of an A plus director in Sinhala cinema. But an A minus director he certainly was.

Other noteworthy films where his histrionic skills were strikingly displayed were “Getawarayo” “Hulawali” “Oba Dutu Daa” “Sekaya” “Sanasuma Kothanada” “Weli Kathara” “Sana keliya”, “Deviyane Oba Kohedha?” , “Sekaya” and “Sarungale”. His performances in films directed by him were all fabulous.

“Sekaya” produced by SPM movies and directed by E. Rathinam was a remake of the Tamil classic “Deivapiravi”. Gamini, Rita Ratnayake and Tony Ranasinghe played the roles acted by Sivaji. Padmini and SS Rajendran in the original.Sivaji like MGR, SSR etc came to film from the stage. Gamini like Gemini Ganesh came straight to films.

Incidentally both Gamini and Sivaji were greatly influenced by Marlon Brando. Gamini combined shades of Sivaji Ganesan, Marlon Brando, Yul Brynner and Paul Newman.

His primary inspiration however was Brando. Though affected by Brando it must be said to Gamini’ s credit that he evolved his own “fusion” style and distinctive method.

Two English films starring Gamini Fonseka that I have sen are “Sitadevi” and “Rampage”. In Manik Sandrasagara’s “version” of the Ramayana Gamini played a modern Ravana to Bengali actress Mamta Shankar.

Rampage was a Moby Dick type of man vs beast saga with an elephant as protagonist. In this Gamini played a planter-hunter opposite Mary Tamm who also acted in Frederick Forsythe’s “The Odessa File”.


Gamini also acted in an Indian Tamil movie “Neelakkadalin Orathiley”. He had two heroines Radha Saluja the Hindi actress and Sri Priya the Tamil-Telugu star.

An Indian Tamil magazine review described Gamini as a “Koluk moluk Biscuit Pappa” look alike. What it meant was that Gamini had “babyish” looks like the child models in advertisements for biscuits. Radha Saluja became a close friend and used to correspond with him for a long time.

I also believe he acted in another Indo-Sri Lankan co-production along with Indian stars Thiyagarajan (father of actor Prashanth) and Swapna. Much of the shooting was done in Kotmale. SP Balasubramaniyam and SP Shailaja sang most songs. I am not sure but I think the film was not completed or released due to the 1983 July anti-Tamil violence.

Another opportunity that arose for Gamini to act in a Sri Lankan Tamil film too did not work out. . When reputed writer Senkai Aaliyaan’s “Vadaikaatru” (North Wind) was filmed Gamini was approached for the “Viruthasalam” character role. Ultimately KS Balachandran played the part.


But Gamini gave an astounding performance as a Tamil in Sunil Ariyaratne’s “Sarungale”. He played Nadarajah, the Jaffna Tamil clerk in a story that highlighted both the anti-Tamil communal violence as well as the caste contradictions among Tamils.

Among places that “Sarungale” was filmed in was Karaveddy my mothers ancestral village. The Tamil parts of the movie were filmed entirely in Karaveddy.Well-known broadcaster and writer Yoga Balachandran who is also from Karaveddy was involved with that venture.

Yoga wrote the Tamil dialogue for the film and also coached Gamini on his Tamil dialogue delivery. His diction was near perfect to the extent of even quoting a verse from “Thirukkural” (Anbitkum Undo Adaikkunthaal-Aarvalar punkanneer poosal tharum). Karaveddy residents acted for “free” in the film mainly due to the regard they had for him.

Gamini himself was very proud of his role in that movie. Once in a conversation before the film’s release he told me personally “any Sinhala man who sees this film will never lay hands on a Tamil again”. Alas! That was not to be and not many years later came Black July 1983.

But one thing that must be emphasised in the case of Gamini Fonseka that he was a man with absolutely no trace of communalism in him. I have had only about four or five conversations with him including an interview for the “Virakesari” in 1978.This is not enough to gauge a man but two lengthy conversations with him convinced me of his bona fides in this respect.

But there have been several people intimately knowledgeable of Gamini like his close friend Sivanandhan (now in Canada) who directed him in “Oba Dutu Daa” who vouch for the greatness of the man in this respect.


A notable feature of Sri Lankan films both Sinhala and Tamil is the multi-ethnic diversity of the industry. Sinhalese, Tamils both Sri Lankan and Indian. Muslims , Malays and Burghers have all contributed to this.

The contribution of Tamils to the Sinhala film industry is massive starting from that pioneer SM Nayagam producing “Kadawana Porunthuwa”.Many leading Producers, directors, cinematographers, technicians, studio owners and even some artistes have been Tamils.

Gamini acknowledged and appreciated this immense contribution by the minority communities to Sinhala cinema. He has not been afraid to state this publicly whenever the occasion arose.

He did so in the Golden Jubilee celebration and also in what was perhaps his last interview given to Prasad Gunewardene and Stanley Samarasinghe of “Daily News”.

One important reason among many for the decline in Sinhala cinema is related to the escalating ethnic conflict. The single greatest blow to Sinhala cinema was the burning of Vijaya Studios along with the film archives. Many Sinhala films including those of Gamini’s have been irretrievably lost.


In conversations with Gamini I have often heard him refer to many of the Country’s problems including the ethnic crisis as having been caused and exacerbated by “third grade politics” “dirty politics” etc. He has often uttered these words in some films too.

The more I read of what transpired in this Country in the Donoughmore era and the post-Independence years the more I am inclined to agree with Gamini. Contemporary politics of which I have enjoyed a ring side view as a journalist has only strengthened that viewpoint. Even now the selfish, irresponsible conduct of our so called leaders demonstrate that we are accelerating towards doomsday.

“Minisun Athara Minisek” (1979)-Gamini Fonseka and Veena Jayakody

He has acted opposite many actresses but the one with whose chemistry Gamini hit it off best was Malini Fonseka. Two others who paired well with Gamini were Jeevaranee Kurukulasooriya and Veena Jayakody.

According to Gamini, Sandhya Kumari was the most beautiful actress he interacted with while Malini was the best. The best actor according To Gamini was Joe Abeywickrema-not himself.

Gamini also had immense respect for Tony Ranasinghe as a character actor.The best director who brought out the best in Gamini as director was Lester and Gamini himself.


I remain to this day a firm Sinhala film aficionado not only of quality films but also of those masala movies. Lester, GDL, Nihalsinha, Siri Gunasinha, KAW, Pathiraja, Sumithra, Tissa, Vasantha , Dharmasiri , Parakrama, Prasanna and Vimukthi have today taken Sinhala cinema in a new direction away from shackles of Bombay and Madras.

But for sheer entertainment one cannot forget the “popular” films of Cinemas, Ceylon Theatres and people like Yasapalitha, Tampoe, Morais and Dev Anand etc too.

Gamini straddled both these worlds with ease. He was both an “arty” actor of powerful serious movies as well as a “melodramatic” star of popular cinema too. He was artistically appreciated and commercially valued.

For two decades and more Gamini was the uncrowned monarch of Sinhala cinema. He made his mark as both actor and director. In the process he helped liberate Sinhala cinema Indian constraints and gave it fresh perspective and dynamic direction.


Gamini elevated the standards of Sinhala cinema and provided it with integrity and self-respect. He fought for the upliftment of the industry and fellow artistes and technicians. Gamini Fonseka is inextricably intertwined with the evolution and growth of Sinhala cinema.

Gamini also acted in a number of tele-dramas and as usual performed with distinction. Unfortunately I am not very familiar with them. So I wont refer to any of those in this article.

SEPTEMBER 30th 2004

On the morning of September 30th 2004, Gamini Fonseka arose and exercised as usual. He was then 68 years old but regularly did weight-lifting. He was suffering from a cold but had a cold shower after exercising.

He had his breakfast and played with his two dogs for a while. Gamini then went upstairs to his bed room after instructing his domestic aide Jayalath to fetch his newspapers.

It was his habit to lie down in bed after breakfast and read the papers.When Jayalath placed the newspapers on the stool by the bed side Gamini lying on the bed said “Mmmmmmm). Those were his last sounds on earth.

The hours passed and it was now lunch time. The table was set but the usually punctual Gamini did not come down on time. After a while Jayalath went upstairs and found Gamini in “deep slumber”. The newspapers were untouched.

Jayalath called out to Gamini but there was no response. He then felt the master’s toes gingerly. They were icy cold.Agitated Jayalath telephoned Gamini’s son Damith Fonseka who got an emergency van to rush from a Private hospital. But it was too late. The movie maestro was no more.


The film reels have run their course. The projector has ceased humming. The curtain has rolled in. The “Gamini Fonseka show” ended five years ago.The lights are on again but the light has gone out of Sinhala cinema.

All that we have are fond memories of the past and copies of his available movies. The memory of this monarch of Sinhala movieland will never cease.

Thank You Gamini for innumerable hours of entertainment, pleasure and satisfaction.

Thank You again

(This article is a revised version of two earlier articles written a few years ago)

DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at dbsjeyaraj@yahoo.com

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  1. Mr. Jeyaraj

    Wonderful artical.

    I was sad that no English paper in Colombo had writen anything about Gamini Aiya and told it loudly to office workers. Suddenly one girl clicked on computer and said “here somebody called jayaraj has wrote one on gamini fonseka.

    She gave me a print and I read it with lots of happiness and sadness.

    I know you write on politics but this one on Gamini Aiya was super. Only someone who really loved Gamini Aiya can write like this with so much feeling

    I call him Gamini Aiya because he used to stay very near my house those days in Ratmalana

    I thank you very much for this one

  2. I remember Mr. Fonseka and crew coming to Karaveddy for shooting film Sarungalai. I think that means kite.

    I am also from Kilavithottam in Karaveddy and used to go daily to see shooting and help when necessary.

    Gamini Annan will smile at all and once I went near and talked. He talked with me a podian wearing shorts like a good friend laughing and chatting. When I called him Sir he stopped me and said ” Sir Illey Annan, Annan”. So I called him that.

    One time he wants to see the night market in Kovitsanthai. So a lot of us went walking with him. A big crowd followed. He bought kadalai, vadai, payithampaniyaram etc and shared with all

    He liked it very much telling “this is like Night bazaar in Colombo , no?.

    I and lots of others took him for bath in the Thamaraikulam lotus flower pond. He enjoyed.

    years later I and two friends went to see him in Colombo. He welcomed us gave tea and short eats and also some money

    What a great man.

    You brought back memories Jeyaraj. I am happy your mother from our village too

  3. Really good article on great film actor Gamini Fonseka by mr. DBS

    Everytime you write about politics but this one on film actor is very very nice.

    I also saw many films acted by Gamini Fonseka and enjoyed them

    Good to see a Tamil writing about Singhala actor and Muslim reader like me praising

    You must write more like this Mr.DBS and not on dirty politics and 3rd grade people

  4. Hi DBSJ

    Another good article like “Nagaisuvai Mannan” Nagesh’s, but no mention about Gamini’s family except a son.

    By the way who is the Tamil actor Ranjan . Can you mention some of his movies please?



    Ranjan was a swashbuckling hero of late forties and fifties. Those days Ranjan fans and MGR fans used to fight about who was the greatest. Ranjan acted in movies like Mangamma Sabatham, Chandralekha, Neelamalai Thirudan, Raja Malaya Sinhan, Minnal veeran,Mannan magal, Captain Ranjan etc. He acted in Hindi movies too

  5. Excellent tribute to a great man DBS. I watched the movie Sarungale several times. That was a masterpiece by the legend Gamini.

  6. DBS..You are at your element now. A wonderful tribute to a gifted artist. Just like you, I always went to see Gamini’s films. I can remember Ranmuthuduwa and Sandesaya very well. St Thomas College produced people of various walks of life. From Prime Ministers, to Film Artist to revolutionaries and Marxists. This was the beauty of this institution which many thought was an elitist school. We never ever thought in terms of Sinhalese, Tamil or Burger and all Thomians carried this trait right through out their lives. We were taught by Tamil, Sinhala and Burger teachers and we never found a difference. But when I went to University I found a Sinhala Buddhist group and Tamil Hindu group etc but to the Thomians, there was still no difference. We refused to look at life this way and treat people differently. Probably the Thomian way of life influenced Gamini who produced film’s like Sarungale and Koti Waligaya which pointed to the calamity of Srilankans thinking in terms of racist lines. The article also exposes your connections with St Thomas College and the Sinhala cinema which makes people like you well rounded. I always felt that if Prabakaren had Sinhala, Muslim and Burger friends he would not have gone in the same path he went. He may have ended up as a great Tamil Leader respected by the Sinhalese. Just like Black Obama who came to power thru white man’s votes.

  7. DBSJ
    Thanks for the response on # 4 . Heard about the movies, remember some songs from those movies but never seen any of those movies, memory recollects some popular songs in “mannan magal”.

    Many thanks for the info.

  8. Wonderful article. I was suprised to hear that you lived in kurunegala. just to mention that modern cinema hall is no more in operation. the building is in ruines today. Mr. Jeyaraj could you please tell where were you in kurunegala? and when ? i am so happy to hear that cause i am also from kurunegala.

    Thanks / K. Regards


    Rodeney, That’s a pity about Modern.

    My paternal grandfather was a lawyer in Kurunegala. The family stayed there in the 20’s,30’s and 40’s of the last century. They were on Dambulla road

    Later My father also a lawyer moved to Kurunegala in the 70’s. We were on Kandy road and later Odayar mawatte in Theliyagonna where my mother taught at Hizbullah MV. I shuttled between Colombo and K’negala when I was in Sri Lanka. My parents were there till 1998 after which they moved to Colombo.

    Where are/were you from there?

  9. I am ashamed to say that our family never watched Sinhala films when I was a kid.We saw only English movies. How I envy you DBS for being able to see films in English, Sinhala and Tamil as a kid. Childhood impressions of films are so different to the adult experience

  10. Dear DBSJ, I got a brainwave while reading this brilliant article. Here’s a permanent (and even enjoyable) solution to Sri Lanka’s ethnic divide: Make it mandatory for every Sri Lankan resident to watch at least one Sinhala movie and one Tamil movie every month. School children and government employees must be shown Tamil and Sinhala movies at schools and government offices. After all, your staple diet of Tamil and Sinhala movies made you a sane human being capable of rational thought and action, despite having lived amidst so much mayhem! What’s more, watching Tamil and Sinhala movies will make Tamils and Sinhalese conversant in the ‘other community’s language’. On a less flippant note, I’m surprised to hear that you didn’t get to see Sinhala movies in the Jaffna of the 1970s.

  11. Absolutely wonderful article from an all rounder,life experience,education and knowledge gathered over the years is priceless.This is what is expected from a learned man.Pass your invaluable experince and knowledge around and make people aware of everything around them.

    In years to come when people like you are gone would we able to fill the gap? Or is it going to be like the case of Principal Anandarajah man with a vision,education,life experience,knowledge and above all the unyielding commitment towards guiding students towards betterment of the society. ,

    We never managed to fill the gap or replace him with a similar person of his calibre.Loss is ours

    God bless you and keep up the good work

  12. Thank you DBSJ for another great tribute.
    You are a walking encyclopaedia. Don’t come to SL just yet
    as these stupid people do not appreciate people like you.

  13. Thanks DBS for yet another brilliant analysis, this one about Maestro Gamini Fonseka – the King of Sinhala Films.

    As a school boy at St. Anthony’s College in Kandy I had seen most of his earlier films, each one, at least more than five times, although I am a Tamil.

    Referring to Don’s comments:

    St. Anthony’s College Kandy is second to none, when it comes to leading schools in the Island, and for us as students, ethnicity and religion mattered only when it came to filling-up forms. These differences were the furthest from our minds. I am still in touch via email with many of my school friends from day one in College, mostly Sinhalese and Burghers, scattered in many parts of the world.

    Needless to say, Schools play a major role in moulding a student’s character, and Christian schools in particular have been in the forefront in promoting Unity in Diversity in Sri Lanka.

    Anton James

  14. Wonderful article DBS,
    Brought back lots of memories. For me his best was Welikathara or The Sandy Desert. His and Joe Abewickrama’s performances were simply unforgettable in that film. In 60s and 70s, he used to live close to my house down Templars Rd in Mount Lavinia. We as kids used to hang around his house sometimes to see if he would come out and talk to us. He never did. He was truly great man, one of a kind.

  15. Thank you for the article. Gamini is the only name I remember from Sinhala cinema.

    You have great memory to remember all the names, films and the dialogues.


  16. Dear Mr. Jeyaraj:
    Thanks for a wonderful article! I managed his election campaign in 1989 and worked as the Deputy Speaker’s private secretary until I migrated to the USA. I called him 3 days prior to his death and we planned on making a trip to India.
    I have so many wonderful memories of the great man and someday might write a book about him and also about the election campaign. He was my friend, mentor and over and above like a second father to me. (Ironically my father too passed away on September 30th, 25 years ago!) I am so happy that all his children are doing so well and he would be very proud of them!
    May he attain the bliss of Nibbhana!



    Good to hear from you. I would like to know more from you and discuss with you about what is being done to preserve and foster his legacy. Would you kindly send your e-mail to me at dbsjeyaraj@yahoo.com please?

    Thank You

  17. mr jayarajah your great man some time we angry about your that is in past now i realize who is the journalist thank u very much not fogating great people in srilanka when athers foget.

  18. But I was indeed fortunate that despite my Tamilness I was equally attracted to Sinhala movies from an early age.

    This applied to me as well. Sinhala films of that era had better dramatic content than the commercial Tamil movies. I had watched many of the maestros movies. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

  19. Dear DBS,

    I am a fan of your writings – unbiased, apolitical and insightful. This article about Gamini Fonseka shows what versatile writer and how passionable you are about what you write. I have seen some of Gamini’s phenomenal acting but not all mentioned in your article. Thanks for bringing us a glimpse of Sinhala Cinema of yester years. You must be a walking encyclopedia.

  20. I read every article in your blog with greed, but this one shocked me. Your knowledge on Sinhala cinema is astonishing. I feel ashamed that I have never watched his movies. Infact many of todays sinhalese youth do not get exposed to classic sinhala movies. Hindi films have overshadowed our own cinema.

  21. Dear DBSJ,
    You have wonderfully portrayed Gamins value in Lankan cinema. Above all, what I could see is that you are a marvel with immense experience in Lankan society (lot more than what we knew). There are no or very few people of your caliber found in our society now. Therefore, as your friend, Shanti prayed for you, I pray and wish you live long for keeping up your marvelous job; writing for us/people.

  22. I like him as a actor and director very very much.I believe he started going down as soon as he start politics,and i started loosing my respect as soon as he start politics.Sorry to say this but the truth.

  23. Dear Mr. Jayaraj,

    After reading your article I feel that we can still live together and admire each other. Please continue your work and educate young generation.

  24. Gamini is a good actor and a good man. But his acting as shown in movie Edath Sooraya Adath Sooraya in the above YouTube is no match to the original Hindi song scene. Sorry to say that it is a mockery. Why such good artists try to imitate not so standard Indian movies?

  25. Dear DBS,
    What an article. You are a genius and please continue your good work. God bless you!!
    I like what Vinod Joseph suggested and truely we should embrace each other’s culture starting with movies. Unfortunately we do not have a market for sinhala movies these days.

  26. 2. Shan

    I felt exactly the same.. me too from Karaveddy. “Sarungala” brought back the memories of the good old days.

    While I was working for Maharaja’s in Colomobo, Gaimini was the Directior for ICL. Great actor and great man.

    Thanks DBS.

    R Maran

  27. Thanks for another beautiful history lesson. Gamini always reminds me of Hindi Actor Rajesh Khanna.

    Are you sure this is a “history lesson”? My intention was different………DBSJ

  28. I have read and heard about Gamini Fonseka’s films and Lester James Peiris’s films who was compared to the great Bengali directors Rithvik Kadak and Sathya Jith Ray.. I wanted to see the films acted and directed by these giants but I never had.
    Do you know is there any place that I can get Gamini’s and Lester’s films in North America or Canada.

    I am not sure but I hope some reader who knows will let us know.I am also interested……DBSJ

  29. Gaminifonseka is the best actor insinhala cinama because he was able to act any character , there are other good actors too like joe abeywickrama ,Fredie silva,Siril Wickramge,Raveenda randeniya, but they had skills to act well some charactors only.
    But Gamini Think about this I dont explain anything
    Ranmuthuduwa, Soorachuraya, Parasathumal, Nidanaya,Chandiya, Htharadenamasooraya,walikathara,Sagarayakmada,can anyone else act this all charactors,no way

  30. Dear DBSJ ,
    Wonderful artical. Thanks a lot for reminding Gamini Annan at the right moment. My affiliation with him was one of the most precious time in my life. Because he was a good human being . Nearly two weeks the Sarungale unit was with us in Jaffna, particularly in my anchestral village Karaveddi. All your details are correct. The cooperation given by the people of Karaveddi was indeed marvelous. When Gamini was the Governor of the Eastern Province Province , we had some good idea of doing a followup of Sarungale and I met Gamini Annan at his office . However his plans were rejected by the Government . He was very sad over this and he told me “Yoga, truth shall win some day . Until such time let us be silent”. Jeyaraj, there is so much to tell about Gamini. However your contribution thrrough this article is very timely and great.


    Yoga Balachandran.

    Thank you very much. I heard you are in Canada now. I would like to talk to you if possible. Could you please send me your telephone number/s to dbsjeyaraj@yahoo.com………DBSJ

  31. That was a really nice personal story of a man who could have been a great politician as well if not for the “dirty politics”.

    DBSJ, why are there no Sri Lankan Tamil actors and Sri Lankan tamil movie stars when a lot of the Film companies, producers are Tamil Lankans? Would that have not helped the identity crisis of the Ceylon Tamils? Even today, why dont Lankans make Tamil movies for Sri Lankan tamils? and then dub them in the other languages for people to watch? All I see are Maharajah TV showing Indian Tamil movies with Indian stars of the south. Now we have Sinhalese and TAmils crazy over Hindi movies and Tamils crazy over S.Indian movies because they dont seem to be able to identify with local Tamil stars or heroes. Murali is the only national hero we all love and admire but why not in the movies?


    There were attempts to boost an indigenous Tamil cinema in Sri Lanka for years. Just as SM Nayagam a Tamil produced the first Sinhala film it was a Sinhalese Henry Chandrasena who produced the first Sri Lankan Tamil film “Samuthayam”.

    But the problem faced by Sri Lankan Tamil films was Tamil films from India. We could not compete with those movies. Financially we could not invest a great deal of money because the returns were meagre. So our films were unable to compete with Indian Tamil films. Also many of our films were cheap parodies of Indian Tamil movies. Some of the early pioneers had the interest but not the acumen or ability to make good films.

    If India allows our Tamil movies access to their vast market we can produce better films but that did not happen

    Interestingly Sri Lankan Tamil films had a “renaissance” during the UF govt of Mrs. Bandaranaike in 1970 – 77. Indian Tamil films were restricted. So more local films were produced. Both masala type as well as realistic types were produced.

    The arty ones were those like “Kuthuvilakku” “ponmani” (directed by Pathiraja) and “Vaadaikaatu”. Then there were relative commercial successes like “Komaligal””Emaligal” “Naan ungal Tholan””Puthiya kaatru” “naadu potra Vaalga” etc.

    When the UNP liberalised the economy in 1977 there were many Indo – Lanka co -productions. But these ultimately crushed the nascent Sri Lankan film industry. A journalist colleague on the “Virakesari” Anton Edward and myself realised that these joint ventures would ultimately destroy our local Tamil cinema and tried to start a campaign through the newspaper against it when “Pilot Premnath” was beig filmed in Sri Lanka. We were only 24 years old then and our campaign was ridiculed by most of the others

    We went to see Gamini Fonseka and asked for his support. He spoke to us for hours and gave an interview supportive of our stance. I can never forget the endearing way in which he treated us two “podiyans” and discussed the issue. Gamini also took it up with Premadasa then. Unfortunately Gamini had to go to UK shortly thereafter

    Meanwhile the pro – “Pilot Premnath” lobby got in touch with S. Thondaman (snr) and other prominent Indian Tamils. The Indian High commission also stepped in. The “Virakesari” management (Indian Tamil owned) told us to stop the campaign. Thondaman who knew us both personally requested us directly to call the campaign off as it was creating bitter , anti – Indian feelings. So reluctantly we called it off. Subsequently we were proved right but it was too late.

    With the 1983 jJuly violence life changed for Tamils. So many things were lost. The Tamil film industry was totally affected

    Now Tamils are picking up pieces again and getting on with life afresh and I do hope Local Tamil films will be made again. Ravindra Randeniya the presidential adviser on films is a good man in this respect. I do hope he will do something.

    Maybe Tamil expatriates can produce films in Lanka and market it abroad.

    But then Sinhala cinema itself is in crisis now mainly due to Hindi/Tamil movies from India.

    I once wrote an article on Sri Lankan Tamil cinema. If I trace it I will post it here I think

  32. Dear DBS . I really feel you are a great writer . Every time when i read your articals i lost my self. All are in great details . How come you get so much inforrmation and details on you reach article ?how much time you spend on it?
    really great!

    Thank you. I write because I love to write and because of readers like you…….DBSJ

  33. ?A Tamil writing about a Sinhalese actor?? wonders a blogger here. Fortunately, for us, Tamil and Sinhalese ? somes called?extremists? this great humane tradition is alive and kicking. And DBJS gives it poignant expression. No wonder a Sinhala brother complains none of the Sinhala Press have remembered Gamini while you have. A Tamil blogger here refers to Gamini as ?Annan? That should take care of those who think
    the path is closed for good. I met Gamini more than once with my good friend the late K. Gunaratnam (Cinemas) who considered Gamini more than a friend. What impressed me most was the degree of confidence he demonstrated ? in his political views, of Hollywood and many other and the cultured manner of his speech ? in English and Sinhala. He worked for the Sinhala and Tamil coming together openly.
    Mr Nadarajah he was every bit in ?Sarungale? But his finest was the one he doubled ? one as Felix Dias B.
    I forgot the name of the movie – in which he featured with Veena Jayakody. Mahinda Rajapkse was in that too, as I recall. By the way, In answering a question about Tamil actor Ranjan you listed a few of his films but missed perhaps his most famous ?Aboorva Sagotharagal? that he did with Radha, father of my
    Dentist in Madras – whenever I get there. Or am I in error?


    Ranjan did not act in that film. Gamini acted as “Felix” in Sagarayek Medha………..DBSJ

  34. 31. Keliyan

    Last week I picked up a DVD of Gamini’s directorial debut “Parasathumal” at FotoFast, which is near Warden and Lawrence in Toronto for $5.00. I have not watched it yet so I don’t know the quality of the copy. The cover says that the DVD has been issued under the approval of Gamini Fonseka Foundation.

  35. I have not watched a full my by GF, but I have known his name since he was so popular.

    Good to know his full life via an article like this;

  36. Mr Gamini Fonseka is the greatest all-rounder in Sinhala Cinema for ever. I do not think, for another 1,000 years, similar character with enormous ability along with eye catching personality would be born here in Sri Lanka. When you look at present film and teledrama actors you feel sorry when you compare them with great Gamini. I being a spectator of stage drama, theatre film and tale drama for last 45 years really miss that great idol Gamini Shelton Fonseka.

  37. DBSJ, let me tell you this. You are truly a true Srilankan . Not only you write about the unfortunate, you write about your friends and also artists. I wonder what you will write next. I am sure that your friend Shanthi must be having a slight smile as she remembers you. I like your scathing 3-4 word retorts on some comments that brings me a smile.I wonder what you look like in real life. I dont know much about you whether you have a family a wife kids?

    keep writing my friend whatever you write is readable and enjoyable ( and also brings out emotion when needed )

    God bless you

    Thank you Dilshan. If you go to Daily Mirror columns section on Saturdays you can see how I look like……..DBSJ

  38. DBS wrote:
    The arty ones were those like “Kuthuvilakku” “ponmani” (directed by Pathiraja) and “Vaadaikaatu”. Then there were relative commercial successes like “Komaligal””Emaligal” “Naan ungal Tholan””Puthiya kaatru” “naadu potra Vaalga” etc.

    Do you know if Mr.Nava Selladurai acted in any of the above films? He was writer and an actor.

  39. Being a Sinhalese, I was really ashamed of my self while I was reading this article. I usually read your articles on the web and never expected to see a article about Late king Gamini by you.

    Thank you very much Mr. Jeyaraj and there should be lots of journalists like you in Sri Lanka

  40. Most Sinhalese and Tamils admire and appreciate each others cultures.This article is an excellent example.

    Look at the Sinhalese flocking to Hindu temples during their festivals.Our young son who was in Toronto recently attended a Tamil Birthday party.He said everyone enjoyed the Baila sessions.

    I hope the Diasporians forget the past and move on to help build Srilanka as a peaceful and fun loving society where everyone has equal opportunities.

    If we achieve this our children and grand children will be grateful to us.

  41. Dear DBS,

    I have no words to express my admiration and appreciation for this wonderful piece since I too am an ardent Gamini fan plus admirer. Most of all, some of the comments by the readers brings a lump to my throat as I am emotionally moved, particularly to know that there are Sinhalese as well as Tamil friends who share common values. I am sure, people like you will contribute much to bridge the ‘divide’ between us. Thank You ! THANTRI

  42. You say; But I was indeed fortunate that despite my Tamilness I was equally attracted to Sinhala movies from an early age.

    Did you really feel any difference those days being a Tamil, and also as a Thora? I come from Royal, and I can’t think whether our Tamil guys felt some difference. I can’t say, for I’m not a Tamil, but all my good pals are Tamil from that time.

    I consider myself fortunate not to be in SL in the bad days of 1983 and the following years. Actually, I couldn’t be there as my son didn’t allow me to go. He was horrified by what he saw in the TV about SL and the boy was very small. He used to hold my pants and cry every time I wanted to visit SL those days. So, I waited till he grew up to come back.

    DBSJ, those were nice days, I mean our college days, even though we witnessed a riot in 1971. (after College for me)

    You know, you are a great guy for a Thora (or even a Royalist) see all Gamini’s films. I saw some, only because of my uncle being a friend of many actors those days, like Sandya Kumari, Rukmani Devi, etc, etc. All we anted to see was at the Liberty, Savoy or one that was at the ParK Avenue (now defunct).

    I really don’t know what you are doing in Canada, your place is in SL. Hope to see you at the Big Match one day. (I’ll be leaving to work in Europe again, so come at least within one or two years.) Do you think that someone might think of you as a Tamil writer or as a Sri Lankan writer?

    I am a Tamil Canadian of Sri Lankan origin writing in English nowadays who was denied the right of writing in the mother tongue by the LTTE and minions …………..DBSJ

  43. Sinhala movies brought a sense of reality on to the screen, without much pomp and glamour. Recently also I watched some of the scenes (on youtube) from ‘Welikatara’ , one of Gamini’s masterpieces.

    DBSJ, wasn’t “Vaadaikaatru” a Tamil version of
    ” Bambaru Avith?”

    Good work

    Not quite but there was a comon theme of outsiders arriving and upsetting equilibrium. “Bees” in Bambaru Avith and “Birds” in Vaadaikaatru………………..DBSJ

  44. The lesson we learn by a Tamil writer praising a Sinhalese movie star is that when you cross the race barrier everything becomes a thrilling experience. Gamini too crossed that barrier. I feel sorry for those who are adamant that we need to have a big fight and hurl insults to carve up a piece of land to live in dignity. I can tell a hundred stories about harmonious relationships between Tamils, Muslims, Sinhalese and Burgers. But some are blind. It reminds me of Buddha’s story about a frog telling a fish confined to a pond that there was a beautiful world outside the pond. Fish wasn’t convinced until one day a stork spotted the fish and carried him away for lunch. While flying high over the pond in his final minutes of life, trapped in the stork’s beak, fish saw the world frog was talking about but it was too late.

  45. The best artistic actor of Sri Lanka. His facial expression while acting is unmatchable & the best I have seen.

    Very much natural and amazing

    He is great


  46. Dear DBS,
    Your have proved your work and dedication again with this wonderful article. Your articles have always been an eye opener for the media and the people.
    Best wishes for your all your presentations and we expect much more in the future.

  47. Thanks for your inputs. Sadly, I am totally nauseated by the obsession both Sinhalese and Tamils have with Bollywood rubbish(not SlumDog Millionaire). Is it our inferiority complex as a nation ? We are all dark skinned and now look at all the stupid Indian commercials selling rubbish saying it will make us fair..

    I really agree with your factoid: Yes Mrs B stopped the rubbishy Indian movies or limited them; both Hindi and Tamil Indian movies. I wish someone could make a movie showing the suffering of people from war and the Tigers and the Army as well as a point of discussion. I think “Prabakaran” was a Sinhala movie that all Tigers need to watch but there should be movies about the ugly aspects of the war and initial excesses of the Army when it was still an unprofessional army and used to go berserk(in tjhe 1980s under JR who bragged his nephew Bull Weeratunge will finish the war in 6 months). Any i wish there will be serious thriller movies in Tamil and Sinhala talking about India’s dirty war and arming and training terrorists. Tamil or Sinhala Sri Lanka Islanders have a different identity and mentality than Indians.

  48. Dear DBSJ

    You are cool salve on painful wounds and a sturdy bridge to our common humanity.

    Brilliant article, and I would say defintely one of your best.

    The topics a writer chooses to cover is obviously his prerogative, but I personally hope to see more like this.

    thank you and keep it up.

  49. It is always good to read you articles. No doubt you are an awesome writer. Neutrality and undisputable supporting evidence in your writing, you deserver a credit.

    I have a personal request; can you clarify who is the native of the Island?
    Can you write a historical article of Sri Lanka? For my knowledge, Dravida-Tamils are the native of Sri Lanka. I strongly believe those Veedar/veeda/hunters are Dravida-Tamil descent, just because they settled in Southern jungles, they learned to speak Sinhala.

    Mr. Sarth Fonseka and many Sinhala larders have a myth that Singhalese are the native (first comers) of Sri Lanka and Tamils came after. Because they have the power, everyone (made to) think Tamils are not native.

    Even though Sinhalese claims that Sinhalese are Aryan decent, I believe they are just like Telugu/Kanada/Malayales. I believe Sinhala people root it Tamil and Tamil are native of the Island.

    I may be wrong, but can you prove if I am right or wrong with your undisputable amazing writing skills?


    Thanks but I dont have the knowledge to deal with this subject in detail. It is too complicated and difficult to explain to a people who believe in myths about their origins.

    We as a people must be able to understand the on going process of Sinhalaisation and Tamilisation and Muslimisation that has been going on in this Island.

    We as a people must also be ready to appreciate archaeology and anthropology without carrying our politicised baggage. Recent excavations suggest that this Island and what is South India now shared a common heritage

    DNA tests are demonstrating greater commonality between us & South Indians

    Even very recently there was a discovery in Anuradhapura area of traces of a civilisation that pre-dates Vijaya’s so – called arival by at least 3 centuries

    The Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim people are heavily infused with immigration from India. The up- country Tamils are of recent Indian origin. But others have been coming here from Kerala and Tamil Nadu for a long period

    Gen. Fonseka talks of the Sinhalese majority as rightful owners and the minority communities as outsiders. The irony is that Fonseka is of mixed caste parentage both Salagama and Karawe. Both these castes along with the Durawe community originated from South India. This does not make them any less “Sinhala” but simply lllustrates the process of Sinhalaisation

    We can also see that in the western coast where Tamil speaking catholics of the Bharatha community and Colombo Chetty community are metamorphosing into Sinhala due to medium of instruction being changed to Sinhala from Tamil in many Catholic schools in what was then the Chilaw Diocese under Bishop Edmund Peiris.

    The Bharathas of Pesalai and Vankalai in Mannar district remain Tamils while their counterparts are undergoing transformation of their ethnic identity

    For me it does not matter who came first or about undisputed historical evidence

    Even if the Sinhalese proved convincingly that they are the original inhabitants and others are johnnys come lately it does not mean the Tamils and Muslims have lesser rights or the Sinhalese have greater rights. Likewise if Tamils prove they are the original inhabitants and Sinhalese are interlopers it does not mean Tamils have greater rights and Sinhalese lesser rights.

    Sri Lanka is the country of all its people. All have equal rights . After 61 years of independence we have not evolved as an Island nation but remain an archipelago of ethnicities. We have to continue with the unfinished task of nation building

  50. 46. M.Thantrige

    Your name intrigues me. Are you by any chance related to Thantirige’s from Hikkaduwa?

  51. I had seen most of the Gamini movies specially his later works like “Koti Waligaya” and “Nomiyena Minissu” etc. And oldies like “Parasatu Mal” and “Nidhanaya” etc. I liked all those in different ways.
    But until I read your column it didnot occured to me how much important a man he was. I did not know that he had touched the Sri Lankan Tamil psyche like this. I was moved by your article than I was when I heard that he was dead. Infact I am ashamed that I was not sad enough at that time.It is now we need his artistic insight into the Sinhala Tamil debate more than ever. Unfortunately he is gone when he is needed most.
    Further you made my respect towards you increase in tenfolds by showing your true affection for this Sinhala Man.
    Thank you Jeyaraj.

  52. Thanks for you response. How to continue with the unfinished task of nation building? In your opinion, what do you think the best solution for the problem?

    I think the best solutions are: One Federal Solution: Two (or more) states. North-East combined as Eelam and the rest is Kandy/Ruhunu/Lanka… Both language are official, one is not higher than the other. All the Federal employees (including Federal politicians) must be fluent in both languages and respect both languages and culture. I would not say India because, Hindi is their national language. Best example is Canada.

    Second Unitary Solution: One country, same setup as now. Both languages are recognized equally important and English will be used for communication & business purposes. All government institution use English. Weather the school is located in Galle or Jaffna, everyone (Sinhalese/Tamil) must take both languages as a mandatory course/subject from grade one while studying all other course/subjects in English. Best example is Singapore.

    There are two other solutions that I hope will not happen, one is Separatation. This is practically not viable and will create long term confilicts like India/Pakistan or Israel/Palestine. Second one is Sinhalaisation. This is the ultimate solution and which is already in process and I think 75% successfully completed.

  53. Dear DBSJ
    felt sad and happy reading this. i was happy due to Tamil man writing about Sinhala actor and my mind went back to peacefull days in Sri Lanka. felt so sad about the current situation in Sri Lanka. I agree 100% with Gamini that dirty politics and dirty agendas have
    ruined the Sri Lanka.

    DB, Please keep writing articles like this. atleast younger generation living in Sri Lanka and abroad will
    get a chance to read that Srl Lanka is not a killing
    field always.

  54. Surya,
    Natives of this land are Veddahs. Sinhalas and Demales came later and now trying to find out who came first completely ignoring who were living then when they came.

    In North America, the native Indians were there when Coumbus came. Now French and English are disputing as to whom the land belongs.

    We both are theives and dispossed those to whom the land belongs. That is the bottom line

  55. Ranjan,
    Thanks for the info. I’ll check it out

    Vaadaikaatru film is based on Senkai Aaliyan’s novel Vaadaikaatru.

  56. Dear Keliyan,
    Thank you. I remember there were some similarities between VaadaiKaaatru & Bambaru Avith; this was ages ago. Probably Bambaru Avith followed the base story line of Vaadaikaatru.


  57. Dear DBSJ,

    Many thanks for this, and the many other unbiased, rich articles you always write.

    Some who have commented have asked about Mr. Fonseka’s family, and I did see a brief mention about a son.

    His daughter Dr. Thanuja Abeynaike is today providing an immense service to persons with serious back injuries, using unique, ayurveda-based healing methods. She is an angel sent to earth who has given a second lease of life to many who had lost all hope in their lives. She does this service in the same house that Mr. Gamini Fonseka lived at Kekatiya Place in Ratmalana. A great daughter of a great man.

  58. It is great that we can celebrate the lives of outstanding Sri Lankans irrespective of race, language or religon. May God give more strength to your hand and long life to guide us on the path of peace and reconciliation.

  59. I want to comeednd the person who compiled this could be the coy of the era for this kind of fantastic creations weldone to all may they be born again

  60. This is In response to Mr Surya’s(54) question re the original people of SL. If one were to consider the possibility that the lost continent of Lumeria once existed as an extension of the Indian subcontinent.,then it can concluded that the original inhabitants of the emerald isle were Dravidians. Whether they spoke Tamil or not is irrelevant as even in the heart of Tamil Nadu ,in the Nilgiri mountains exist today the Toda tribals whose language is alien to Tamil.But what is irrefutable is the later Aryan cultural influence on the Sinhalese speaking peoples.No race in the Pan Indian subcontinent(asuming Lumeria once existed) has borrowed as unabashedly from the Sanskrit language as the Sinhalese while christening their progeny.By far the my favourite is “Arjuna Ranatunge” the former swashbackling SL cricket captain.

    Narayanswamy sankaran

  61. I am a Tamil Canadian of Sri Lankan origin writing in English nowadays who was denied the right of writing in the mother tongue by the LTTE and minions …………..DBSJ

    DBSJ, I feel sorry to hear that, for me you are not a Tamil Canadian, but a Sri Lankan, and I don’t care what is the ethnicity, you are a Sri Lankan!

    You know in our times, we spoke mostly in English, and maybe that’s a problem. Some of my Tamil classmates studied Sinhala and become better than me in Sinhala! And as we didn’t study Tamil, we cannot read Tamil literature, which is a minus point. But we did watch MGR’s films without knowing what’s really happening.

    I’m sure you haven’t forgotten your mother tongue by being a Canadian, so maybe you should write in Tamil too. If of course, you’d write it in English too for us. (That’s me being selfish, though)

    I do hope you’d come back to Sri Lanka, and I’m sure you’d feel the magnet pulling you when you fly in. It happens to me always. I’m sure your place is in Sri Lanka and others agree with me too.

    Keep on writing and one day hope you’d publish a book!

    (Which year did you left College?)

  62. Great article and a great response to #54.

    Nation building by building the heart & mind of humans. changing their attitudes about superiority / inferiority as a race / language.

    I agree with the comment like the fish in a pond not seeing the bigger world around many perish in thier shortsightedness.

    Continue your good work to bridge the gaps.

  63. The only un disputed “Maharajaneni” of Sinhala moviedom is Mahinda Rajapaksa with his red showl and mustach.

  64. the local chandiya of the political scene, mervyn silva is going to build a massive statue of gamini in front of the elphinstone theatre, contributing 100000 rupees to a total cost of 600000 rupees.

    personally i welcome it because gamini richly deserves it for his contribution to the sinhala screen. i totally agree with DBSJ that his fight scenes were very realistic .

    the manner of his death is a bit puzzling. could it be the weight training at such an advanced age, or could it be gota.

  65. Thank you DBS for reliving my childhood memories. Gamini was my childhood hero : I too rated him in the same league as my two other heros Marlan Brando and Sean Connery.

  66. Dear DBS,
    Which year did you leave STC ?



    I left in 1968 when I was in the lower – sixth but I saw the 1969 big match where the Thomian last pair tried to put up a doughty defence but failed and also the Josephian ist innings in 1977 when SJC collapsed from 140 for 4 to 177 all out due to someone taking six or seven wickets


  67. Dear Mr. Jeyaraj.

    This and other articles show the depth of journalistic professionalism. Your artcles have always fascinated me.

    The last artcle about your young days at Jaffna College was really interseting.

    I was among the very few muslim students attended there.

  68. Dear DBS,
    Thanks for the reply. Yes, we tried our best but could not save the match! I left college in 1969. I too have seen all the films of late Mr.Gamini Fonseka and had the opportunity of meeting him on many occasions when he was the Governor of NE. A well written article . i think he was good boxer and a swimmer than a cricketer at STC!!!
    I would like to meet you when you are in CBO next.

    Thank you . Yes I do hope we can meet in Colombo very soon………..DBSJ

  69. One question for those who continence to say “national building”. How can you grow a tree or build a house in the air. There has to be solid foundation to grow/build anything… I am not going to blame Sri Lanka politicians; they all have been doing their job correctly. They know who they have to take care in order for them to be in power to make their money. Majority of Sinhalese and Buddhist put the blame on these poor politicians and make sure they are re-elected, so these guys don’t do anything to come up with a meaningful political solution. I believe majority of Sinhalese are not going to provide any meaningful solution to the problem.

    They could have eliminated all these bloodshed by providing a solution not just a long time ago but also many times in 60 years of independence. The victims were Tamils so they don’t care. They will continue to say unitary state; everyone has equal rights, everybody make mistakes, in the past we made mistake, forget the past and let’s build the nation….

    Based on what do we build the nation? Just look at the recent statement, ministers in power announced, there will be no political solution until the next election… What does that tell you, even if politician wants to provide a solution (due to international pressure, or even if they are too pity about poor Tamils or pressure from few hundreds good-hearted Sinhalese) they cannot if they want to be in power… That is the reality…

    Those who keep repeating forget the past and let’s continue the unfinished task to national building, first get the foundation build to assure the Tamils that they are going to be safe anywhere in the Island, they will have equal rights, there will be no discrimination etc by providing a solid political solution…

    Otherwise, just keep continue on saying “forget the past and let’s build the nation” to fool the international community until your ultimate goal of clearing the Tamils from the Island is accomplished. Gamini Fonseka and other very few good-hearted Sinhala people/legends are excellent tools for these people to tell international community “look the Sinhalese are treating Tamils equally and kindly”… Do you think unintentionally you may be also contributing to their task? I still respect your writings.

  70. Hi Jeyaraj,

    Great to read articles on my Mentor and Friend – Gamini .I have known him from 1981 and became close enough to have stayed with him a nemorus number of times from Udunuwara to Ja-Ela .

    E-mail me your number and I will call you to have a chat – I live in California .He made me take a major role in Kotiwaligaya – Inspector turned Koti ..I like to get this movie and am willing to spend money to release this for after all everyones Blood is the same – Sinhalese ,Tamil,Muslim or Burger – our blood color does not change .

    Take Care – keep writing .

    Snanth De Silva – e-mail me your contact – we would have crossed paths before .
    Best regards …Vijay

    Thank you. I will do so…………..DBSJ

  71. Comment # 75 from Surya

    I am not going to blame Sri Lanka politicians; they all have been doing their job correctly. They know who they have to take care in order for them to be in power to make their money.

    You should blame both Sinhalese and Tamil politicians. Politicians the world over want to get into power and retain that power as long as possible. Getting elected is an expensive business – no one wants to risk his own life savings to get elected and in third world countries where political parties may not have adequate funds to fund all its candidates in election campaigns, this can lead corruption. In multi-racial third world countries, the easiest way to get elected is to play the racial card and try and become a champion or hero for your race. The Sinhala Only Act and the Vaddukoddai resolution for example, are a direct result of politicians playing the racial card to try and attract votes.

    I believe majority of Sinhalese are not going to provide any meaningful solution to the problem.

    Not true. Sinhalese have in past elected to power Chandrika & Ranil, who when they first came into power, tired to negotiate peace and offer solutions, but the LTTE were never interested.

    Mr N. Sri Kantha of the TNA ( considered a proxy of the LTTE ) admits this. He says : There were number of opportunities, including the solid one offered by Ranil Wickremesinghe. So looking back, one can easily say that the LTTE should not have missed that opportunity. Even prior to Ranil Wickremesighe there were some opportunities, but it was very unfortunate that the LTTE failed to act wisely. That is the bane of our race. What else can I say?

    Even LTTE’s Anton Balasingham acknowledged that peace proposals put forward by GL Peiris & Neelan Thiruchelvam in 1995 under Chandrika, were acceptable. The relevant extract from the link below states:

    Meanwhile Anton Balasingham made a startling revelation on March 11, 2003 when he spoke at the ceremonial opening of an LTTE bank (vaippagam) at Kilinochchi. The speech was reported in full in the Jaffna based “ Uthayan” of March 13 2003. Here is the relevant excerpt –

    “1995 aam aandu Neelan Thiruchelvam arasamaipputh thirutha varaipu ondrai samarppithhaar. Athu sariyaana varaipu.Athu etkakkoodiyathu. Aanaal pinnar 2000 aam aandu antha varaipin adippadayil Chandrika oru thirutha varaipai samarppithaar.Antha varaipu Neelan Thiruchelvathin varaipin oru araikkuraiyaana oru thokuthiyaagum.”

    (Neelan Tiruchelvam presented in 1995 a draft amending the constitution. That was a correct draft. That was acceptable. But, later in 2000 Chandrika submitted an amended version based on that draft. This one was only a half-baked version of the earlier draft by Neelan Tiruchelvam)

    After vilifying Neelan as a traitor and the August 3rd 1995 devolution package as an act of treachery for years the LTTE was now acknowledging the merits of Neelan’s draft. After condemning the “GL-Neelan” package, Balasingham was now praising it. The wheel had turned full cycle.


    So Surya, do not put the blame on the majority of Sinhalese – they have in the past elected politicians who tried to provide meaningful solutions. It is when the LTTE consistently takes a hardline position, that the Sinhalese voted in a hardline president, and that too by a very slim majority. ( Ranil has recently claimed that he lost the last election because LTTE accepted bribes to prevent Tamils from voting ).

    Just look at the recent statement, ministers in power announced, there will be no political solution until the next election… What does that tell you…….

    MR won the last election by a very slim majority, and he cannot implement policies such the 13th Amendment plus without a 2/3 majority. If he tires to implement any radical polices to devolve power to the North & East, it will be shot down by his political opponents, not because they are Tamil racists but simply because they want win elections by giving the impression that they are heros of their communities. . To quote DBS : It has been the bane of Sri Lankan politics that parties in opposition engage in communal politics to obstruct the government.

    This is a very important point that few people can appreciate : the Sinhala politician who supports for example Sinhala Only Act or any pro-Sinhalese proposals or takes a hardline position on concessions to Tamils, does that simply to win votes and gain the power, money and prestige that election victories can bring. That is his number one priority – he may in fact not care one bit about the progress of the Sinhalese community or the nation. The same applies to the Tamil politicians who take hardline positions – they do so simply to win votes and not because they care about the Tamil community. You can see this very vividly in Tamil Nadu prior to elections – almost all Tamil Nadu politicians will try to portray themselves as champions of SL Tamils simply to win votes and forget about the SL Tamils after the election. Taking hardline positions inevitably flares tempers, and in third world countries which have a large percentage of less educated rural populations, many are easily influenced by the speeches of these politicians.


    …….first get the foundation build to assure the Tamils that they are going to be safe anywhere in the Island, they will have equal rights, there will be no discrimination etc by providing a solid political solution…

    Equal rights is certainly important, but it is important to remember that just as you say Tamils need the assurance that they are going to be safe anywhere in the Island, Sinhalese too need the assurance that will be safe without having to worry about LTTE bombs going-off or that attempts to create Tamil Eelam will not occur in future. A 30 year civil war has just ended about 4 months ago, frankly right now the trust between the communities is still not cemented. The army is still finding buried weapons and arresting LTTE cadres with explosives in Colombo, many in the diaspora ( including on this blog ) still demand Tamil Eelam, some politicians in Tamil Nadu still talk of sending the Indian army to create Tamil Eelam – all this does not help in building trust. Instead it creates fertile ground for hardline Sinhala politicians to exploit, especially in rural areas, to play on people’s fears, simply to win votes.

    Some Tamils will say give us a federal state and you will not have to worry about Tamil Eelam. But right now, just four months after the end of a 30 year civil war, the perception among many Sinhalese is that a federal state is a stepping stone to Tamil Eelam, simply because as I said earlier, the trust between the communities is still not cemented. In 10 or 20 years time, that perception may change.

  72. Hi Jeyaraj,
    Wonderful article which I came across accidentally. Most of the info is news to me even I have seen some of his films.
    He had dominated the silver screen for 50 years but haven’t seen GF live. You won’t see an actor like him for the next thousand years. As it says he was a gift to Sri Lanka.
    I watched ‘Gatavarayo’ much later an you realise the raw talents GF and Jo had there.
    I asked my mother whether she watched ‘Ranmutuduva’ but she hadn’t. I was too young when it was released and wanted to watch it some day, but unfortunately there was no copy preserved unlike Indian film archives. I am a bit unlucky in that sense.
    One of my late uncles used to take me for good films,but he was a Hollywood fan, not much focused for Sinhala films. There was a period themes of some Sinhala films were not viewable and unattractives to those who learnt in English medium before the independence.
    As you mentioned about Vijaya studio burnt down, I can remember GF said in an interview “our people destroy our own heritage”
    As you mentioned there were many Tamil persons were backing Sinhala film industry, I heard a name call Gnanum was he a producer or theartre owner?

    You are a national treasure for providing such valuable articles as a Sri Lankan. Another name comes to my mind who did his best to uplift the education in then Ceylon was Sir Arunachelam.
    Pl keep up the good work to inspire people to uplift Sri Lanka and extend the common decency which lacks in some quarters of the community.
    Best regards

    Thanks Lakshman. I think you are referring to “Cinemas” K. Gunaratnam a multiple theatre owner. studio owner and film producer……….DBSJ

  73. That man Mr. Gamini Fonseka…… what a LEGEND, He was…And his movies and looks will live in my heart for evermore.Thak you sir,for all the entertainment over the years. Rob Ratnayake

  74. Thank you Wesley (Comment # 77),

    1) Yes, that what I said, Politicians are politicians we cannot expect anything from them at all.
    2) I could not see the “Sinhala Only Act” was something a politicians playing racial card to attract votes. I see it as an initial step took by Sinhala chauvinist to clear up the Tamils with a bigger plan in mind, which is crystal clear now. Vaddukoddai resolution may be the same kind, but it was the only democratic option available at that time for the Tamils to try prevent the disaster that came up and bring it to the International community.
    3) Yes, Chandrika is little different and little better compare to other leaders but she had no power to make any solid decisions anyways. She could have relaxed or shed some lights not to LTTE but to the Tamil people as a whole that she is honestly into providing solution.
    Yes, Ranil also looks decent/westernized but he is a fox like his uncle JR. Otherwise, he would not have said open that he was response for splitting Karuna while talking peace with LTTE. I think Mahinda is much better and open/honest than Ranil.

    4) When we look at the reality, for internationally recognized state like Sri Lanka, if they loosen up the security the whole word will be behind to help them out. But if a Liberation Fighters relax their stand and fail, it will take decades for them to rebuild, because they have to do it themselves, no one going to provide any assistance. It was not practical to expect LTTE to compromise everything, even though I personally feel they could have comprised little. Yes, no doubt LTTE made many mistakes and many of their tactics were unacceptable. But their root claim is genuine and undeniable, which made them accepted by majority of the Tamils. If the root cause were/is addressed properly, there would be no LTTE or any one else.

    4) Of course Sinhalese too need the assurance; No one else can give that assurance other than Sinhalese themselves. Bombs would never go off anywhere in Sri Lanka if everyone treated equally. Even those went off outside the north east were mainly Military or Economic targets, unlike the indiscriminate SL forces bombing/shelling.

    5) I hope too but I don’t think the 30 year civil war has just ended as I still cannot see any sign of progress toward the political solution. I don’t understand the theory behind Mahinda’s 9 Stupas ceremony. Why not 9 Kovil/Mosque/Churses too? I still see many of the government posters only in Shinhala-only. It is not a big issue but kind of funny to see “Uthuru Vasanthava” even in Government & English media. Why not Vadaku/North, since it is mainly for Tamils and Northern people. When here the word “Uthuru Vasanthava”, the project sounds/feels it like the Northern Sinhala settlement or signalization is started.

    6) Until there is a solid political solution, Tamil Diasporas and TN politicians will talk like that, because no body can reject their claim, as Tamils are still being treated inhumanly in Sri Lanka. No body else is giving voice anyways, at lest they have to bring the atrocities to the light right?

    7) Yes, all the Tamil will say give a Federal State; you will not have to worry about Separation. As I said in Comment #57, separated countries will create long term border issues as will not let anyone live happy. It is also beneficial to be a one country for better growth for both. But this is only possible Tamil language and minorities are treated equally. But hey, after all North East is Tamils homeland, there is no one in the world can reject that including you and me. I don’t know why Tamils have to beg anyone for this.

  75. Thanks for the great article. I also admire Gamini’s talents in acting, film direction, and other areas of artistry; but mainly for his qualities as a great human being. His views on the ethnic issue in Sri Lanka epitomized that fact. I still remember “Sarungale’s Mr. Nadaraja”. How sad to hear what Gamini had said about harming the fellow countrymen for them just being Tamils would never be caused by people who had watched “Sarungale”, was not to happen in 83 July.

    However, with all due respect to the Late Gamini, my hero is Vijaya Kumaratunga. I think one reason behind this may be that I’m about in the generation of 15 years younger than yours. Although Gamini was still very popular in the late 70’s and 80’s, Vijaya was the most popular of them all. Although Vijaya does not have many films that used his acting talents, most of his films were toe typical Hero/Villain type, we were fortunate to see his talents in acting in Darmasena Pathiraja’s films, like “Ahas Gawwa”, “Para Dige”, and “Bambaru Awith”. It’s a pity that many directors didn’t use his immense talents, and it is pathetic that the country lost one of its most humane persons in sucha tragic way. It’s shame on people who did that, who ordered that and who facilitated that. Why I most really admire him is actually not because of his acting in films, but because, he’s one of the few people who had had the most progressive ideas about ethnic issue and who did try to do something about it.

    I know, your article was about Gamini, but I couldn’t help write about Vijaya when someone speaks about Sinhala films.

    I’m also from Kurunegala. It’s regretful to have known that Modern is no more there. That’s where I saw many of Gamini’s films, including, one ogf my favourites, “Hulawali”.


    Thank you for this comment. I think the best in terms of character prtrayal were/are DR Nanayakkara, Tony Ranasinghe and Joe Abeywickrema. Gamini was more popular. He was no mean actor. I agree that in later years Vijaya and even Sanath were popular. Nowadays Ranjan is very popular I think

    The torch passed from Gamini’s hand to Vijaya decades ago. In a sense the film Sana Keliya” where both Gamini & Vijaya acted in heralded this transition. Vijaya was more politically astute than Gamini. He was able to convert his screen popularity into political support more successfully than Gamini. Even on the ethnic question Vijaya’s vision was deeper and comprehensive than Gamini’s

    Still my favourite is Gamini Fonseka. One reason is that childhood impressions are more lasting. You are right about the generational difference. It’s the same like the affection one has for childhood heroes in Tamil films like MGR, Sivaji, Gemini & SSR

  76. Hi DBS J

    You must be gratitude about the article of GAMINI who our missing hero “not a cardboard one” a Real Hero Creative Actor / Director and a Very Good Man that found rarely.

    I just look for your site to find information on “Rampage” where even not in encyclopedia but fortunately got your article of GAMINI.

    Yes, he is the Unique Actor Great Mankind and a Real Hero whether he comes through “SAHANAYA or JAMIS BANDA” or on his very few but remarkable Lyrics or his only Tele Drama which directed by D B NIHALSINGHE (If I m correct).

    This short note is to appreciate your grateful job and I think we can meet further in same projects.

    Thank you very much you for keep us touch with memory of Late MR. GAMINI FONSEKA a hero of our time.

    Thank you. If possible please send your e-mail to dbsjeyaraj@yahoo.com……………DBSJ

  77. Hi, Sinhala Diasporian

    There was time when MS Fernando and Three sisters performed at ” Open Air Theater” in Jaffna and youth of North danced to the Baila tunes. Until county was torn apart by dirty politics.

  78. When koti valigaye was under production Gamini was brought in to my studio (where we had high tech digital animation and graphics to offer for film industry ) to plan on blast and explosion special effects for the film, even though Gamini was keen to adopt to the new Technics , the others was bit reluctant as to not knowing what results it would bring , so it was not done .

  79. Thanks a lot DBSJ for the very informative article about legendary Gamini.
    He was the greatest actor we ever had.

  80. Today is this Great aratist’s 75th Birthday anniversary. You still live in millions of harts !!

  81. Hi Jeyaraj

    Your writing about Gamini was wonderful. I am a Thomian too. I studied at S. Thomas’ College in Mount Lavinia from 1972 to 1983. I really liked his films. I saw lot of his films, but I’m very sad because I did not see his film “Chandiya”. I saw his film “Chandi Puttha”. It was very nice. Tears came to my eyes when the song in that film “Ammala dukganne puthun hadantai…Puthun rajun karantai…”. I guess you too would have seen this film. On most Friday evenings, the film club of s. Thomas’ used to show a Sinhala film, and I only went if the main star is Gamina Fonseka. I saw all the “Sooraya” series. The other actor and singer I love most is Elvis Presley, but I like Gamini more. Infact one time I thought of changing my face to match Gamini’s face through plastic surgery. I loved his sharp features, nice long nose, full lips and the extraordinary smile with his lips closed. He had the BEST face features out of all the Sinhala actors upto now.



    Nice to read this comment.I am glad to know that the Film clb shows Sinhala films on Fridays at College.Those days it was only English. Does the Film clb still function at College?Do you know?

    In my case I have missed seeing most of Gamini’s later films.

    In the case of Chandiya I also had the chance of talking to the Director Titus Totawatte in the eighties and discuss abot it


  82. Just a few words to say.. that “Chandiya” was THE BEST of Gamini Fonseka’s performance as an actor. I saw it 8 times..

  83. Anil

    I think welikathara was the best of his films.He was superb as the police officer.Maybe he was eclipsed by joe abeywickrema who was the best actor that sinhala cinema produced.I think a great director like nihalsinghe brings out the full acting abilities.I might have seen welikathara about 3 times.The photography also was superb,though it was a black and white film.

    Anyway taste differs.You might like a lot of fighting etc,but i like acting,good story and good director.

  84. On the contrary, with due respect to Joe, Gamini totally eclipsed Joe in “Welikatara” in every aspect of acting. The character Willie Abyenayae in “Nidanaya” is the pinnacle of Gamini’s acting career. In my opinion Gamini is the Best actor Sri Lanka has ever produced.


    My favourite Sinhala film actor was Gamini too and I share your sentiments in this but Gamini himself felt Joe Abeywickrema was the best actor of Sinhala cinema.

    He said so in an interview given to journalists Prasad Gunewardena (Gaminis nephew) and Stanley Samarasinghe

    In that interview Gamini hailed Malini Fonseka as the best actress and Sandhya Kumari as the most beautiful actress of Sinhala cinema

  85. Yes, I too read that article. According to Gamini, Tony Ranasingha is the best character based actor. Gamini would never ever say that he is the best actor in Sinhala cinema. He had been a superb human being as well.

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  87. Dear Mr.Jeyaraj,

    Thank you very much for this excellent article about my all-time favourite actor Gamini Fonseka. So sad that he is no more. No one can fill the vacuum created in Sinhala cinema upon his departure.

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  89. Dear Jeyaraj

    Thank you for writing about this great man /actor /hero. he was the best of the best Sinhala Cinema ever produced. I acted with him in Pawana Ralu Viya as his son and i have bundle of fond memories about this great man.

    Thank You once again


    You are most welcome………….DBSJ

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