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7th June 1998

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Kala Corner

Boost for Sinhala cinema

Sinhala cinema, now in the doldrums, has got a much-needed booster with the news of Nita Fernando bagging the Best Actress Award at the recent Singapore International Film Festival. It was good news after a long while when the better films produced locally were being regularly sent to festivals abroad with no success of winning any awards.

Nita won the award for her role in Pavuru Valalu directed by an up and coming director Prasanna Vithanage. The film is yet to be released. It is stuck in the never-ending queue. The role she plays is that of a middle-aged woman, quite in contrast to the young wife's role she played in Vijaya Dharma Sri's Duhulu Malak way back in 1976. That was nearly ten years after her maiden role in Landaka Mahima.

Nita is the third actress to have won a top international award. First was Malini Fonseka in the Moscow Festival for her performance in Dharmasena Pathiraja's Eya Den Loku Lamayek released in 1977. Next was Anoja Weerasinghe who was selected Best Actress in the New Delhi Festival for her role in D B Nihalsingha's Maldeniye Simion (1986). The pattern seems to be that we collect an award once every ten years!

As for a best film it has been a long wait since the days of Gamperaliya which won the Golden Peacock in New Delhi in 1969.

Since the news of Nita's award reached Colombo a few weeks back, there is a sudden outburst on the need to 'save' the Sinhala cinema. The President summoned a meeting the other day to discuss the recommendations made by the Senaka Bandaranayake Committee on the film industry. Those in the industry are critical of the National Film Corporation's role. They say nothing is being done to improve the situation. Everybody is agreed that it's time to act - there has been enough talk over the past so many years.

And when do we get a chance of seeing Pavuru Walalu?

Felicitation across the seas

Novelist Bhadraji Mahinda Jayatilleka won the D R Wijewardena Award for his Pavuru Bandi Rajyaya, a story based on feudal China. Recently, he was felicitated for this work in far away Los Angeles where he is now domiciled. It's not often that a Sinhala novelist is felicitated across the seas.

The ceremony was organised on the initiative of publisher Dayawansa Jayakody who runs a branch of his publishing firm in Los Angeles. The venue was the Los Angeles Dharma Vijaya Vihara and the ceremony was held under the patronage of the Viharadhipati, Venerable Dr. Walpola Piyananda Nayaka Thero.

According to Dayawansa Jayakody who himself attended the ceremony, a large number turned up for the occasion which happened to be the Vesak weekend. The Sinhala community in Los Angeles picked up the latest publications from the book exhibition and sale organised at the Vihara.

Farewell to a pioneer

We bade good bye to a pioneer in Sinhala cinema recently. Premnath Moraes was a versatile artiste. He was a film director, actor, singer, lyric writer, screenplay writer and production executive.

Remember the popular number Obai Ape Rani - Lakdiva Lak Rani? It was Premnath who sang it along with Latha Walpola.

He acted in two early films, B. A. W. Jayamanne production Kapati Arakshakaya (1948) and Shanthi Kumar Seneviratne's Eda Re (1953) and several others in later years. He directed Sri 296 in 1959. In 1978 he directed a Tamil film, Vadai Katru for which he was acclaimed by OCIC.

A keen sportsman, Premnath was a sports journalist for many years. He was sports editor of the Daily Mirror at one time. In later years he served the advertising industry as a copy writer.

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