100s of smiles that tell a story
The Sunday Times FT reporter Iromi Perera takes a look at an unusual exhibition - hundreds of smiling people - in Colombo recently. Here is her report:

As you walk into the Colombo Art Gallery, thousands and thousands of pictures of smiling people greet you. It is overwhelming yet infectious to see so many smiling people. One cannot help but smile while viewing the exhibition. Spontaneous pictures, of school children, of people at work, of people on the road, people from all walks of life from places as far as Diyathalawa, Welimada and Hanguranketha.

A specially designed "smile truck" travelled all over Sri Lanka, covering 48 towns and neighboring villages in 45 days as Signal set out to get into the Guinness Book of Records by photographing the famous 'Sri Lankan Smile'. By the end of the 45-day campaign, the team compromising of 13 people, including five photographers, had taken more than 32,000 photographs and captured more than 60,000 smiles.

Dinesh Thushara, one of the photographers who was involved in this campaign, said that it was a daunting yet wonderful experience. The team had sometimes worked more than 14 hours at a stretch. "A lot of effort went into this. It's not as easy as it looks. We sometimes walked two three kilometers, climbed rocks and even went into people's houses and workplaces in order to get the vast number of pictures. We had a target and plan for each day and the responsibility was on the five of us to fulfill it. It was not always very easy to convince people to pose for a picture.

Only 20 percent of the people agreed at once, others had to be convinced. People are more guarded about others (strangers) taking photographs of them, as they are aware of dangerous websites. We had a target to reach and we went all out to achieve it, even getting injured in the process!! I'm very happy to see all these pictures on display today," he said proudly.

"Every picture tells a story. The smiles have come from the heart. The feeling is just unbelievable. It's our people after all," was what an enthusiastic Sandya Salgado, CEO of Ogilvy Outreach had to say. Asked about what would happen to the photographs, Salgado said "We have suggested to Unilever that we do a website and to take this to at least a couple of towns. Where would people see this sort of thing? The world should see our smiles! We're so sad to throw them away; so much work has gone into it. Sri Lankans are known to be happy come what may and it shows from all these pictures." Unilever plans to enlarge at least 50 of the pictures and make a gallery. Plans are already being made to extend this campaign next year.

"It's really great. As a Sri Lankan I feel that it's not only Signal but that we did it as well. It's really great and I feel very proud," said Sharma Zahir, a mother who had come for the exhibition with her young daughter.

"It's brilliant!! You can't help smiling when you see the pictures. There are so many different people in all the pictures. Its such a great idea," said Radhini with Kushlani, nearby, nodding in excitement. Everyone who had come to view the pictures shared the same thoughts and was walking around discussing the pictures and pointing out their favorites. It was indeed a very heart warming experience to witness this exhibition, not just to see the photographs, but also to see the impact it had on the people who came to see them.

Guinness Book
Signal has broken a Guinness World Record for the most number of photographs. This record was previously held by Artaaj Events as part of the Dubai Shopping Festival with 18,000 - 19,000 photographs. There is no separate category for most number of smiles in the Guinness Book of Records and therefore the Signal 'Sina Bo Wewa' campaign would fall under the 'Largest photographic exhibition' category.

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