Menara – a rising movie star | Sunday Observer

Menara – a rising movie star

8 March, 2020

Many people are talking about Menara Wiratunga’s great performance in the movie Tsunami now being shown island-wide. It is directed by Dr. Somaratne Dissanayake and produced by his wife , Renuka Balasuriya. This twelve-year-old-girl has played the dual role of Prabha and Sashi and movie fans have nothing but admiration for her performance.

Menara is a student of Vidura College and studies in Grade seven. Junior Observer met Menara at her Kelaniya home to chat about her experiences in Tsunami. Menara was very confident during the interview and answered all our questions readily and clearly.

Q: Menara, nice to meet you and how did you come to take part in Tsunami ?

A: Well, it happened this way. When I was eight years I acted in a movie called Sarigama directed by Dr. Somarathna Dissanayake. It was the Sinhalese version of Sound of Music. I was one of the seven children and my name was Kumudu.

Because of Sarigama Some mama (Dr. Somaratne Dissanayake ) asked me to come for an audition for Tsunami.

Q: Did you feel nervous about the audition?

A: No. My Ammi and Thatthi asked me to do my best and that is what I did. Actually, my best was all I could do.

Q: Please, tell us about the audition.

A: There were about 100 children. Some were from TV shows. They tested us and brought the number down to five children and I was one of them. Then, we were given the script to read and we had to do some dialogues too. Finally, I was chosen.

Q: How did you feel when you were told that you had got the part?

A: I was very happy and made up my mind to do my best to play the part very well and help make the movie to be a good one.

Q: What is the story line of Tsunami?

A: It is about a little Tamil girl, Prabha, who gets lost in the December 26, 2004 tsunami. She was two-years old and was living in Trincomalee. Her parents, Kalyani and Selvam looked all over for her but did not find her. Another couple from Kandy, Sriyani and Kapila have also lost their baby daughter in the tsunami and go looking for her. They find Prabha and thinking it is their own baby, Sashi, they take her home and bring her up. Later, Prabha’s real mother and father hears about Sashi and they come to Kandy and find that Sashi is really Prabha.

They go to court and after a DNA test it was found that Sashi is really Prabha. So, she is given to her true parents but she is very unhappy. She misses her other parents very much and keeps falling ill often. Also, her younger sister Madhu is not very nice to her. In the end, she is returned to her Sinhala parents.

Q: Can you say something about the shooting or the making of the film?

A: It starts at the High Court in Colombo. The rest of the shooting takes place in Kuchchaveli, Trincomalee and Digana in Kandy. I also went to school in Kandy. It was also wonderful to see the simulation of the tsunami waves.

Q: An exciting moment during the shooting ?

A: As I was falling sick all the time they had a thovil ceremony for me. And I had to act as if I was possessed (avesha). I found that very exciting. I had to do some violent acting.

Q: Who were the others acting with you?

A: Aunty Himali Sayurangi was my Sinhala mother and her name was Sriyani. Uncle Bimal Jayakody was my Sinhala father Kapila.

My Tamil mother, Kalyani was played by Niranjani Shanmugarajah Akki and my Tamil father Selvam was played by uncle Dharshan Dharmaraj. My sister Madhu was played by Bernie and playing the parts of baby Prabha and baby Sashi was Swathaki nangi.

Q: How was it to act with these other well known actors?

A: It was great. Real fun. All the grown up actors and actresses really helped me as did Some mama. I want to thank all of them for all their help.

Q: When you saw Tsunami for the first time (premiere) and everyone was praising you how did you feel?

A: Very happy. I also felt proud of myself. But this is not the end. I have a lot more to learn about acting.

Q: How did you manage to balance your acting and studies?

A: Shooting was during the August holidays. I did not miss school because of that.

Q: What about the others who supported you?

A: My parents, Gehan and Purnima Wirathunga and sister Kenara were my biggest supporters. All my friends and relatives too encouraged me. I am very grateful to all of them.

In addition to acting, Menara is an athlete too and participates in the 100 metres and 200 metres as well as the long jump events.

She loves to read and wants to be a scientist when she grows up Menara’s younger sister, Kenara is the child star in the film Suparna.