A group of well known artistes and veteran cartoonists have got together to revive once popular medium of art and flourishing business ‘Chitrakatha’ that had come to almost a standstill.
‘Chitrakatha’ or comic stories which stood as an independent art several decades ago, is an art that is almost unheard of by the present generation which is very much glued to the television or the computer games.
In order to reintroduce the art of Sinhala ‘Chitrakatha’, ‘Jathika Chitrakatha Padanama’ released ten cartoon books of well known cartoonists and writers recently.
Bandlula Harishchandra, Janaka Ratnayake, Anura Wijewardena, Anura Srinath, Ananda Dissanayake, Gunapala Jayalath, Deegoda Kumara, Janaka Illukkumbura, Sarath Kaviratne and Daya Rajapaksa, the popular names who created some of the everlasting cartoon characters through their pens, pencils and brushes were responsible for the writing and drawing of these books.
“The beginning of this art was in early 1950s and artists like Susil Perera drew stories that were similar to ‘Great Train robberies’. Then stories were influenced by western comic story books and characters like Red Cameron, Roy Rogers and Errol Flynn. At the same time from India we got stories like ‘Ramayana’,” said Daya Rajapaksa, the President of Jathika Chitrakatha Padanama.
“There was a time when printing comic story books was a thriving business and some of the press owners used to say it was like printing money,” said Rajapaksa with experience of more than forty years in the art. In some of the stories the contents were so rich that they were made into popular films and teleramas.
Rajapaksa’s stories all along had been used for 12 films among which were Gamini Fonseka’s ‘Hulawali’, ‘Thawalama’, ‘Bandura Mal’, ‘Sakvithi Suwaya’ and Malani Fonseka’s ‘Nirupamala’ and ‘Sasara Chethana’.
“One reason for the downfall of this art was that the artistes and the businessman who tried misuse it. Poor, low quality, cheap stories that filled the papers became boring for the readers and later the readers lost their interest with the introduction of television,” Rajapaksa said while explaining the forming of Jathika Chitrakala Padanama with more than 200 artists.
“However this art will never die as it plays a vital role in some of the national newspapers even today. There are readers who first turn to the comic stories when they get a newspaper,” Rajapaksa who at present works for ‘Irida Lankadeepa’ as a senior journalist and cartoonist said.