Half a century in the world of cinema | Sunday Observer

Half a century in the world of cinema

9 July, 2017

On June 26, many a notable personality from the sphere of the arts and letters in Sri Lanka, together with several significant figures of State, composed a stellar gathering at the National Film Corporation’s Tharanganie Hall to proffer their felicitations to one of the veterans of Sri Lankan cinema - Dr. Dharamsena Pathiraja. Born in 1943 as Pathiraja Navaratne Wanninayake Mudiyanselage Ranjith Dharmasena and better known as Dharmasena Pathiraja, he is fondly addressed and referred to by his colleagues and friends as “Pathi”. The felicitation ceremony marked the 50th year of Pathiraja’s advent to the world of cinema. The ceremony was organised by the Information Department of the government. The theme was “Pathita Panahai” (Pathi is Fifty). As a filmmaker who created works that have become hallmarks in the canon of Sinhala cinema, this felicitation to mark Pathiraja’s golden jubilee as a filmmaker was applauded by many there that evening, who felt it was well and truly deserved by Pathiraja.

The evening’s program consisted of the screening of a documentary which charted Pathiraja’s advent to cinema via his life in academia. Among the personalities who took the podium that evening was veteran Sri Lankan filmmaker Dharmasiri Bandaranaike who in his entertaining address mentioned how Pathiraja wrote the lyrics for the theme song of Bandaranaike’s film Hansa Vilak, in just under half an hour. That song is today, somewhat iconic and has made its mark in the spectrum of Sinhala cinema. The music for the song was composed by the late maestro Premasiri Khemadasa, and sung by T.M Jayaratne and the late Sunila Abeysekara. The song was performed that evening to the delight of all who were there.

The queen of Sri Lankan cinema Malini Fonseka, who also addressed the gathering to proffer her well wishes to Pathiraja mentioned how she was not able to take up the very first offer to act in one of Pathiraja’s films as she was engaged in stage drama work at the time. She spoke of her ardour for Pathiraja’s vision as a filmmaker and his humanness as a colleague who knew how to bring out the best of their talents.

The felicitation was attended by President Maithripala Sirisena, Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Ministers Rajitha Senaratne, and Gayantha Karunathilake, and also Deputy Minister Karunaratne Paranavithana.

The evening’s formal ceremony drew to a conclusion with the man of the hour - Dharmasena Pathiraja being invited to the podium to address the gathering. He expressed his thanks for the felicitation and recalled some moments from his life in the world of cinema. He expressed his desire that the present regime embrace principles and policies of secularism and make Sri Lanka a good ‘laukika rajya’ (a state for worldly desires) in his concluding remarks.