Koombiyo My first negative role in a teledrama | Sunday Observer

Koombiyo My first negative role in a teledrama

Thumindu Dodantenne
Thumindu Dodantenne

His is the face of the famous Jehan Fernando in Koombiyo. He says before Koombiyo he has never been offered a negative role and that he had to put his studies on hold for some time till they finished shooting Koombiyo. Thumindu Dodantenne started off as a stage actor. But now with his unique way of acting and also with his recently released tele dramas, Sahodaraya and Koombiyo is making people talk. This week, Young Voice thought of talking to Thumindu about the success, the responses received and his thoughts on his roles in tele dramas.

A lot of people have different ideas about your latest tele drama, Sahodaraya. As an actor, how do you read it?

It mainly talks of the terrible and horrific experiences an investigative journalist has to face. This can be seen in the world too and not just in our country. It has been there forever. Also it is something we see often. Rajiv’s character is about all those journalists. Not about a particular one.

While the drama speaks of the incidents faced by the journalist it also talks of the Sahodaraya - Rajiv’s friend. The term, Sahodaraya is not used in a political context. Sahodaraya is someone who knows everything about your life, every secret, someone who shares your sad and happy moments. That is Roshan’s character. He does not work for a particular political party but he thinks it is his duty and his responsibility to do something for another person. Because that is what he believes in. And such people are very rare.

Koombiyo is one of the most watched and appreciated dramas of the recent past. How happy are you about the decision you made to be a part of Koombiyo?

I am actually very happy about the decision. At first, I said no to the character since I was studying for my post graduate degree. I told Lakmal not to send the script to me too. Knowing that I will not be able to say no to him, after reading the script because I have heard that he is a good writer. He anyway sent it to me and I ended up doing the character and I had to put my post graduate studies on hold till the drama was done.

My character in the drama is of a con artiste. All this time I have not been offered negative roles. So I knew that I will get the space to do something different to which I have done in the past. Therefore I took up the challenge to try my luck doing this kind of a character. And it became a success. I always believe that an actor should explore and do characters of any nature. It will help you widen your potential and also improve your talents.

How do you differentiate the themes on which the tele dramas Koombiyo and Sahodaraya are based on?

It is of a different genre. But there are times I see a similarity between them. It is like two sides of the same coin. Our society can be compared to a one rupee coin actually. Koombiyo is a play with a different rhythm. It discusses widely about politics, society and people. The wonder of this drama is that you cannot guess what will happen next.

If I talk about my character, Jehan is just another person living in the society. But he sees things differently. He thinks differently. He does not think like the typical person. Jehan does not have a family and he does not want one. Jehan does not have a house and he does not have hopes of having one. His relationships are different to that of an ordinary man. His friends are different. He is someone who sees life in a very different perspective - thinking about it in a creative way.

Lakmal has ideas about doing a Koombiyo Part 2, but we have not done anything for that yet. Not even a script.

You are not an actor we get to see on screen often. Why is that?

I am a lecturer at Horana Sripali Campus and I teach Drama and Theatre. Since my full time job is lecturing I do not have much time to allocate for tele dramas. Also I am a bit selective when it comes to scripts. That is probably why people do not see me much. I prefer to give my focus to the stage.

Stage is where I started my career as an actor and that is still my priority over any other medium. It does take a lot of time and effort. If I gave this time for television then yes, I could have been more popular. But I prefer it this way and I do what I am mostly interested in. I like to be called as a theatre person. That is who I am. I do not get the happiness and the contentment that I get when I work as an actor, director or a writer in a stage drama.

What are your thoughts on the notion that the audiences of this country watch anything that comes their way and the fact that they do not know how to appreciate a work of art ?

I genuinely believe that our audience is very intelligent and they know what is good and what is bad. If they think our dramas are not up to their expectations then they will reject those. After Koombiyo got telecasted 98 out of 100 people who spoke to me said that although they had stopped watching TV a long time back, after Koombiyo they started to get interested in our tele dramas and they continue to watch it.

The audience of Koombiyo is quite different. I have not seen people talking about a work of art in such a way. They are very passionate, interested and critical of the drama. The attention, time and the effort they put to make memes and videos are really unbelievable and it has amazed us so much. It is such a joy to see people loving what we do. It gives us immense pleasure.

How has the response been for your tele dramas?

Well, it’s been great! A lot of people tell me that they are addicted to it and watch episodes at a stretch because they are actually very curious as to know what happens next. They also told me that they have not felt this way about a local drama. People who watch international TV series’ would know what I am talking about. Some watch the same episodes over and over again, especially because of the dialogues. Those are quite unique. The dialogues leave something for you to think about. Usually in most of the tele dramas the audience can actually guess the next dialogue because those are very predictable and are the same old ones. But in Koombiyo you can never guess that. It is very fresh and unique. I think that is one of the most special things about Koombiyo.