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A good mix of humour and patience

by Lakmal Welabada

"I cannot sing, I might be able to just read the words" laughs Samitha Prasanna Arachchige, prospective doctor cum TV announcer. His effusive humour will make you laugh until you fall. The witty doctor is gifted with this unique skill and personality.

What is more, his good humour, plus keen and clever wit is visible on TV shows like 'Nuga Sevena' on Wednesdays, 'Aayubovan' on Sundays and 'Yovun Sithata Daham Sisila' on Poya Days on Rupavahini.

Question: You passed out from the Colombo Medical College recently, and now awaiting for the internship. How do you manage your studies and also handle TV presentations?

Samitha: Well, I have to thank both my parents, my best friend Dr. Rohan Sampath Paris, our Consultants and the Rupavahini crowd. I get tremendous support from all of them. Rohan would break rest a whole night and repeat the lectures that I have missed.

And the Rupavahini crowd would adjust the programmes to go with my time. And of course I should be really grateful to my Consultants for tolerating my excuses. Once I had to announce over 'Yovun Sithata...', Poya Day programme with Rupavahini in Matale.

Generally Poya is a holiday for us so that I could attend to the programme continuously. But on this occasion our Consultant declared that all the medical students in our batch should come to the hospital to proceed with some practical that were to be held on Poya day.

The Consultant has been always very supportive. But that day she was not in her normal mood. However, I tried to excuse myself and get leave to attend the programme, but didn't succeed. I was disheartened and informed our TV group who were waiting in a temple at Matale for me to come on the following day. "I was relieved when they told me that they could manage with the other two announcers.

But around 8.00 pm that day, I got a surprise call from our Consultant. "Samitha if you want to go on leave tomorrow, you can go. The show that you are going to compere is a good TV show. I also watch it," she said. So I was able to go for the show. This was one of the most unforgettable incidents in my life.

Samitha was an all rounder at Gurukula Maha Vidyalaya, Kelaniya. He won the school Championship for the Discuss throw, potshot and javelin for four to five years at a stretch. He was at every school drama or 'Kala Ulela'. He remembers how he made a pandal for every Vesak in front of his house. Neighbours would come to see it.

Samitha announced and related the Jathaka story that was depicted on the pandal. This was the initiation to announcing. When celebrated announcers late Premakeerthi De Alwis, Palitha Perera and Kamal Deshapriya were on the small screen Samitha never took his eyes off them. "These announcers were really inspiring," he says. Gurukula Vidyalaya has produced many artistes for the country.

The morning news reading in school provided Samitha a great opportunity to improve his inborn talent.

After O/Ls Samitha got the chance to announce at the musical shows. Veterans who saw the amateur reading with such confidence called him to ITN, and he got an opportunity to read news. "First I was asked to read the three-minute news bulletin at 5 p.m. And in a month, I was given to read news live at 7 p.m. However, my line was not reading news. I always like to present a programme by addressing viewers" he explains.

'Upasakaya' is his nick name among his friends and Consultants in the medical field. His knowledge about Buddhism and philosophy is vast. Samitha has studied Buddhism upto 'Dharmachaarya'... The discipline he has got through the Sunday Daham Pasala at Sri Bimbaramaya, Kadawatha was a good training for him . He stresses that every child should get the Sunday School exposure and study their own religion well.

The announcer cum doctor is a good managing director too. He was also a teacher. After doing A/Ls, he started teaching Chemistry. 'Science Image', the tuition class he started at the corner of their dinning room, later became one of the popular tutory schools for children from grade one to A/Ls with twenty seven tutors at Kadawatha. He runs a small printing press too. "Some asks me how I could manage all that simultaneously.

If you have the will you have the way. I am very grateful to my father who shoulders most of my business work without a complain." says the doctor Samitha. He was not a bright student when he was a kid. He even failed his grade five scholarship and got only two Distinctions for O/Ls.

"The 'D's were for Science and Commerce. I was more interested in extra curricular activities and was thoroughly involved in many societies in school and at the Daham Pasala. The interest for science began to grow in my system when I started attending Mr. Srinath Jayasuriya's science class for O/Ls, and later, attending the A/L Chemistry class conducted by Dr. Gishantha Dassanayaka who was a medical student at that time.

So what I believe is that a child should have a balance life with studies and extra activities. It really helps his or her to build a better personality," he points out.

Question: You have such an enthralling personality. It's quite ironical when you say that you are still in search of the 'miss right'. Tell us your preferences in this regard?

Samitha: Well, well, my taste is for a simple, humble, down-to-earth traditional type of girl. When I meet her I would not hesitate to express my love to her. (laughs)

The twenty-eight-year old has been involved in many charitable works too. With the dawn of Vesak Poya on the coming Friday, Samitha will proceed to another location with the Rupavahini troupe to conduct another episode of 'Yovun Sithata Daham Sisila' along with Bandarawela Amithananda Thera and Dr. Chandana Jayaratne, Senior Lecturer of the Physical Science Division, University of Colombo.

He is thankful to many who have helped him in his past time.

Pic by Chinthaka Kumarasinghe

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