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' Pata Pata Heenayak ' : 

A portrayal of humane principles

by Jayanthi Liyanage

A moment of happiness at campus - Sumedha (Dinindu) and Inoka (Anarkali).

What exactly are the sentiments that arouse the nostalgia for the seventies and the eighties, that make quite a few story tellers and film and tele drama makers of the '00s, pick themes from that period? Why is it that we seem to have an increasing tribe of re-inventors of the past, bringing up wisps of that "good old romantic" era, as they call it?

"Pata Pata Heenayak" (A many coloured dream), the newest teledrama in the making by director Mohan Niyaz and producer Sarath Namalgama, is one such flash back. On the sets of Pata Pata Heenayak, created among the beautiful flower patches and sprawling trees of the Peradeniya campus garden, circled by a bracelet of hills, one is apt to think that it could indeed be a many coloured dream, a dream which may or may not materialise in the eventual reality, to many of the drama's dream characters living in their many coloured worlds.

The tele drama, as Mohan Niyaz describes it, is an attempt to capture the humane ethics encapsuled in the hit picture serial of seventies by the same name, created by artist Janaka Ratnayaka, with faces emerging on the new frontiers of cinema and tele-screen. The serial when run in the weekly pictorial publication "Sathuta", created flutters among the then young generation and Janaka became almost a cult artist among the local youth.

Inoka and Nimali with other cast members. Pix: Courtesy - Sarath Namalgama

The drama exudes a universal appeal, lightly discussing aspects of youth norms and their relationships. "Making the tele drama has been my dream too, for quite some time," says Niyaz who hails from Peradeniya and shares a familiarity with the ethos of the story.

The lead cast is a threesome of new faces, "the cream of today's young talent," as Niyaz comments. They are Anarkali (16), the youngest local silver screen star to be cast in adult roles, tele-star Manjula Kumari (20) and Dinindu Jagoda (24) who pleasantly stirred critics with his debut performance in Sumithra Peiris' Sakman Maluwa.

"When I planned to do this tele-drama in 1992, Anarkali's father was to be producer and Sarath Namalgama, the current producer, was to play the role of 'Sumedha', in which Dinindu is cast now," said Niyaz.

"I felt so jealous that I was too young to get a role in my father's production," added Anarkali. "I am lucky that when finally the teledrama is being made, I have been cast as one of the main female leads - the city girl, Inoka."

A dream in the making - Nimali (Manjula) and Sumedha on the sets.

"And I am also Gehan, the tuition master who falls in love with the other female lead, the village girl, Nimali," joined in Namalgama, "Sumedha" turned producer and owner of SNT Productions (Pvt) Ltd. "Making this teledrama has been my dream too."

"I was told that as Nimali, my character would be the most emotional character in the story," says Manjula Kumari. "The one character which can produce a whole hearted love."

In a synopsis, the story begins when Sumedha, a university student, meets the freshers, Inoka and Nimali, during ragging, and a seeming love triangle begins to develop among the three. But who gets who in the end remains an enigma until the end, and perhaps, no one really gets to fulfil their love yearnings in actuality.

"Sumedha is a very humble character from a poverty-ridden background whose younger brother sacrifices schooling for work, to send Sumedha to the university.

In an age when we are often hearing of school students killing each other over girl friends, Pata Pata Heenayak sets an example of brotherly love, friendship and the sacrifice of what is precious to one for the happiness of the other. The teledrama is about humane principles."

Anarkali who grew up among the film sets with parents Jayantha and Indrani Jayatilaka being involved in the film industry, had her first small screen appearance at the age of nine, in the teledrama "Iti Pahan" based on the 1972 insurgency.

Since then, she has been cast in adult roles in both the local and the South Indian cinema. At 15, she played the lead in Sunil Soma Peiris' Pissu Trible following on to Eka Malaka Pethi by Niyaz.

She also played the female lead in the South Indian movie Chettinadu Tangam (House of Gold), with Raj Kiran playing the male lead. "I act opposite Ranjan Ramanayake in One Shot, the high budget local film by EAP Edirisinghe films," informs Anarkali, a confident and committed young actress who places great faith in directorial guidance to "mould an actor like clay."

Manjula says she was introduced to the small screen by Dr. Ariyaratne Athugala, in his teledrama Riddi Yagaya. Since then she has procured leads in Dr. Athugala's Samanala Kandavura, Dhammika Peiris' Andara Endiriya and Tikiri Ratnayake's Sanda Hiru Tharu. She has also been featured in Kumarika, Astra and Sunlight TV advertisements.

Niyaz who made his directorial prowess known to the local audiences by the teledrama Unmada Rathriya, also directed the movies Yasoma, Kalu Sudu Mal and Sanda Yahanata.

He is also the director of Gini Siluwa, produced by Namalgama, which is a film depicting the role of a woman athlete, which the Olympic Medallist sprinter Susanthika Jayasinghe has claimed to be her life story.

The director/producer duo is also due to begin another film called Rosa Kusuma Mage based on re-incarnation.

Suraj Mapa, Ajith Lokuge, Miyuri Samarasinghe, Daya Alwis and Ashoka Peiris are among the rest of the cast of Pata Pata Heenayak. Music is from Sanath Nandasiri while Deepthi Mangalasoma is the Art Director and Chandralal Manamendra handles the camera. Make-up is by Gayani Satharasinghe while Niyaz added a warm word of praise for the efficient assistant director, Aasiri Priyanika, "who comes to the shooting location at 4 a.m. and hauls out the crew and cast on to the sets before the hour of seven is gone."

The tele drama is due to be aired on Swarnavahini in March.

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