What a consolation when one comes across a TV programme which is stimulating, inspiring and educational. In addition, when the presenter makes it so entertaining too, you can't ask for anything more. The mix is then just right!
I am not a great TV viewer. Apart from sports and news (latter CNN or BBC), I don't waste my time watching teledramas and the so called local reality shows. But I rarely miss the Saturday night DFCC 'Mindstar' quiz programme telecast over ITN. The well structured programme is presented in a most intelligent and entertaining manner by our topmost screen personality Ravindra Randeniya.
One recent 'Mindstar' was exceptional. Several participants fell back on the way but not before one won a mobile phone and another, a laptop. The latter went up to the penultimate question and won Rs. 500,000 but decided to move on to the next– the one million prize question. And he failed. There was a chance for another to try his luck.
A young lad – an 18-year-old Advanced Level student from Thurstan College walked in. Givantha Weerasinghe didn't show any signs of excitement though Ravindra felt his hand was cold, after his welcome handshake. He was calm and collected and waited for the question – the 'do or die' query. "Who was the last man to walk on the moon", I think was the multiple question. There were four answers and the young man ticked off the fourth. It was waiting time for the computer to check and indicate whether his answer was right or wrong. Ravindra began chatting to him. He explained why he thought he had clicked the right answer. Obviously he was a good reader.
The correct answer appeared on the computer screen. He had won. Ravindra was delighted. He used all possible adjectives to describe the victory of a lad who had sat out through the whole evening, just come in to answer the final question and was walking away with a million rupees.
The boy was unmoved. What a beautiful lesson he taught to all participants and the audience. The general reaction of a winner – even when he or she moves on to the second or third stage having answered the initial questions correctly – is to show his joy with gesticulations, waving at the audience, enjoying the cheers of the crowd. Here was a cool headed 18-year-old taking it in his stride. His mood was that of a calm and collected meditator. What an example!
Givantha thanked his school, his parents, his friends who had helped him in the last three or four days to brush up possible questions and of course, DFCC Vardhana Bank. As Ravindra handed over the briefcase full of notes, the audience clapped. We couldn't see the reactions of his parents or friends – the camera did not capture them.
Givantha acknowledged the cheers, walked down and joined the other participants. Ravindra announced that he had qualified for the next round.
It was certainly an evening to remember.
Ravindra's early days
Ravindra Randeniya is best known as a popular film actor who has shown great talent. I remember seeing Manik Sandarasagara's film 'Kalu Diya Dahara' way back in the mid-1970s. There we saw a new actor making his mark. Ravindra had by then followed Dhamma Jagoda's drama classes at the Lionel Wendt and showed signs of being a great actor with his performances on stage.
For Dr Lester James Peries to pick him for 'Desa Nisa' after seeing 'Kalu Diya Dahara', he must have really impressed. He was fortunate to get some fine characters to portray. They were varied. We saw him excelling in his acting and picking up awards. In the early days, after the romantic roles in 'Duhulu Malak' and 'Pembara Madhu', he impressed in totally different roles in 'Siripala saha Ranmenika', 'Yakadaya' and 'Veera Puran Appu'. The list is endless and I must confess I haven't seen most of his later films.
On to his new role in 'Mindstar', I am most impressed by his professionalism. Obviously he studies the subjects related to the questions thoroughly. He is quick to respond and in his chit chats with the participants he shows maturity. He puts the contestants at ease, jokes with them and makes the whole show so lively.
Most of the other 'professional' showmen have a lot to learn from Ravindrta.