Mirror Magazine

Passionate about art
Ishani Ranasinghe speaks to Nimmi Harasgama who won a ‘Best Actress’ award at the Fifth International Film Festival of Las Palmas 2004, in Spain. Acting is her passion and is a part of a life in more ways than ever imaginable. “But that does not mean I am this acting freak,” stressed Nimmi Harasgama with a twinkle in her eye.

Nimmi is everything but that. Her sense of style and her charisma blended in with the confidence in what she does makes an impact on anyone who meets her.

“Theatre is my life,” Nimmi reiterates as she talks of how she first got into it at the age of six, as a “painfully shy” girl. So how did she manage to overcome this setback and get up on stage and act in films? “Even though I grew up in England I used to come down here for my summer holidays,” said Nimmi adding that during that time her mother enrolled her in a drama class taught by Nalini de Alwis. Finding the whole experience amazing she said she really got interested in acting because, “It was nice to be someone else.” She went on to doing a degree in theatre and become a part of the National Youth Theatre in England. It was there that she realised how competitive acting could be. Nimmi has also performed in plays, staged here in Sri Lanka, by the Joint Effort Theatre Company.

Broadening her horizons she moved from theatre to film, “I got a taste of film when I acted in a tele-film by Steve de Zilwa.” As her interest in film grew, she went to New York on a scholarship to study acting in film.

On her return she took on the role of Chamari in Prasanna Vithanage’s film Ira Mediyam (August Sun). Of her role Nimmi said she plays the role of a woman whose husband is missing in action. “Throughout the whole film I am looking for my husband,” she said adding that this was the first time she played a lead in a film. “It was hard but I must say this was one of the best experiences I have ever had.”

Her debut as a lead actress won her the ‘Best Actress’ award at the Fifth International Film Festival of Las Palmas 2004, in Spain. “When I won the award I didn’t really feel anything because I was a bit too shocked,” said Nimmi with a laugh explaining that she was not aware that she was in the running. After her award-winning performance, next in line for her is the film Mother Theresa for which the filming was done here in Sri Lanka and Italy. “I play the role of the nun who is now in charge of the Mother Theresa Home.”

Believing that acting has a lot to do with luck Nimmi considers herself really lucky that everything fell into place for her. A firm believer in, “whatever you study moulds you as a person,” she feels the maxim is applicable to her own life.

The death of her father, she said, had a great impact on her life because as she puts it, “I think this made me grow up.” Having had a lot of encouragement from him in everything she did, she said that when he passed away everything came to a standstill. However her passion for acting diminished only to grow again. She wanted to use what she knew to help others. “Theatre can be utilised for other things,” said Nimmi explaining that she once conducted a workshop in conflict management using theatre as a tool.

“I just love acting and I would love it if theatre was my life,” said Nimmi and it may seem as if she lives each day for theatre, but unfortunately that cannot be the case because, “after all you have to pay the rent!”

Moving away from her acting, she spoke of her stint as a presenter cum producer at YA TV, where learnt a lot about the technical side of TV. At present Nimmi is an editor of the magazine Adoh! Starting the magazine with her business partner Minoli Rathnayaka at a time when magazines were fledging here in Sri Lanka, Nimmi said they really wanted it to work.

Although her day is undoubtedly pretty hectic, “whenever I get some free time I read.” Naming a few books she read recently she added that if she was to choose one book as her all time favourite it would have to be ‘100 years solitude’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Looking to the future with a lot of hope she is afraid of one thing. “My scariest thought is that I would not be able to learn anymore,” she said laughing, maintaining firmly that, “In life you never stop learning.” There is so much more she wants to do… and by the looks of it she has the determination to get there.


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