Sunday, June 16, 2024

Ravindra Randeniya a colossus in Sinhala cinema

by jagath
June 9, 2024 1:09 am 0 comment 566 views

Words: Isuru Thambawita

The sun rose from the floor of the valley and cast its first ray of light upon the lush greenery.

With the tiny birds’ songs to the tune of the wind, the distant rustling of the thicket and the humming of the bees, a mischievous boy used to run across paddy fields in Sapugaskanda.

At that time, no one thought that this mischievous lad would burst on the Sri Lankan Sinhala cinema scene, bringing unforgettable memories to our hearts.

This piece is dedicated to Dr. Ravindra Randeniya who elevated the Sinhala film industry to a higher level.

The Youth Observer had a chat with this colossus of Sinhala cinema.

Boniface Walter Perera

With experience, multiple skills and profound knowledge, Boniface Walter Perera blossomed into the greatest actor known as Dr. Ravindra Randeniya in the Sinhala cinema, marking the beginning of a new era.

Let me unfold the era of Ravindra in two chapters. Born to L.P. Perera and Caroline Egodawatte in Dalugama, Kelaniya on June 5, 1945, Liyanage Boniface Walter Perera was the second child in the family of six siblings (one elder brother named Callistus and two younger brothers: Amal and Shantha and two younger sisters, Gertie and Helen).

Being an avid reader, Boniface spent his time reading books penned by great writers including Martin Wickremasinghe, Prof. Ediriweera Sarachchandra, Kumaratunga Munidasa, and Wimalaratne Kumaragama.

His bookshelf adorned by their literature works is a testament to his wide-spread knowledge and sensitivity to literature. Many know Ravindra Randeniya as an actor with a boundless capacity. Sadly, no one has recognized his writing prowess. When he was studying at St. Benedict College in Kotahena, he won first place at the school short story competition.

Upon realizing his writing skills, Anthony C. Perera’s brother Wilfred Perera introduced Boniface Walter to the world of literature.

Lionel Wendt Ranga Shilpa Shalika

Veteran dramatist Dhamma Jagoda deserves all credit for founding the first theatre school (Lionel Wendt Kala Kendra Ranga Shilpa Shalika) at Lionel Wendt Art Centre in 1970.

Ranga Shilpa Shalika served as a springboard launching many artistes into various paths. In 1969, Boniface Walter Perera joined Ranga Shilpa Shalika with curiosity drawn to stage plays, screenwriting, directing and stage decor.

However, his sensitive heart was drawn more towards acting, when he started attending the acting class conducted by Jagoda.

He received an opportunity to act in the student production ‘Mudu Puththu’ directed by Gallapaththi.

The doyen of the Sinhala cinema Dr. Lester James Peries and Manik Sandrasagara came to watch the stage play. This chance encounter between Dr. Lester and Boniface was the beginning of his acting journey.

Later, in the film ‘Kalu Diya Dahara’ (1970) directed by Manik Sandrasagara, Ravindra Randeniya played the role of a radical plantation worker. Two years later Dr. Lester James Peries cast him as a hermit in the film ‘Desa Nisa’.

My youth

“Going down memory lane, I studied at St. Benedict College in Kotahena. In the evening, I used to read books by great writers such as Martin Wickremasinghe, Prof. Ediriweera Sarachchandra, Kumaratunga Munidasa, and Wimalaratne Kumaragama. I was an avid reader. This is how I was able to learn about acting and other subjects. Not only reading, I have won first places at school short story competitions. My classmate was Vijaya Kumaratunge. Both of us had the same passion for art and literature. Indeed, they were memorable days.”

Challenges

“I was an energetic person at that time. I took up all challenges without avoiding them. Challenges create opportunities for you to showcase your talent. For instance, I had to jump off the roof of a moving train, when I acted in Siripala Saha Ran Menika. When I played the role of Saradiyel, I got shot on my back badly. Not only that, in one sequence of the film Bambara Petikki, I jumped off the Kalutara bridge. So, I did all my stunts myself. It was a big challenge at that time because we did not use cable or cardboard for those sequences like today. We did the maximum justice to the quality of films by ensuring the naturalism of sequences’’

Social media

“Today’s youth spend time scrolling up and down on Facebook. It is today’s trend. However, if you are addicted to anything, it is not good. Addiction always carries a negative meaning. However, we can use social media for positive and fruitful purposes.”

My message

“Acting is not easy. Anyone can enter the field of acting, but only a handful of talented artistes can stay in this field for decades. It is important to learn the art of acting.”

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