his dream of taking pictures
I was shocked to hear about Ralex’s
somewhat sudden demise. We were thick chums, apart from
being cousins. Along with his talented film star brother
Tony we were also schoolmates both at Mutwal and Kotahena.
Being neighbours, we were playmates too.
Ralex and I were altar servers at
St. John’s, and he liked to have a neat cassock
and a clean surplice and made sure that his hair was
well groomed, even at the altar. Ralex was Ranasingha
Hettiaratchige Mathew Alexander Silva, but like his
brother, he changed his name.
Ralex died a few days after his birthday
on September 21, the day of the feast of evangelist
St. Mathew, his patron saint.
During schooldays Ralex showed glimpses
of his artistic talents. He used to cut short stories
from the “Janatha” paper, and paste them
on to old exercise books. He was a Hindi film fan and
adored Dilip Kumar the heart throb of millions in the
sixties. He would buy film magazines like the “Filmfare”
and “Screen”. He used to imitate Dilip and
at times slapped his brother Tony the way Dilip did
on the silver screen.Tony, however, was not interested
in films those days and wasn’t amused and it eventually
ended up in a quarrel between the two brothers.
Earlier Ralex was in the seminary
and two people who influenced him later in life were
Rev. Fr. Ernest Poruthota and Hector Welgampola.
At school, Ralex dreamt of being a
film director and said he would name his film company
“Ralex Productions”. The female Hindi star
he liked most was Meena Kumari and he never missed a
film of hers. In fact he was interested in a girl who
resembled Meena Kumari. Ralex made it a point to travel
on the same schoolbus as she did.
Once Ralex and I cut school to stand
in the queue opposite the Regal, for more than five
hours, to catch a glimpse of Nargis who was to come
to that theatre that day.
On finishing school Ralex turned to
photography. He started it as a hobby but photography
became his career and he was employed as a photo journalist
at the Independent Newspapers where he made a name with
his unique photographs for the Weekend.
The last time I spoke to him he said
he was doing a few commercials and recalled the old
days. He wanted me to come over for a drink and chat,
but I never had the occasion to accept the invitation.
Ralex is no more but he has left enough
memories for posterity and no one will forget his contribution
to art and photography.
May he rest in peace.