14th November 1999
A well-deserved choice
In April this year, this column commented on a good teledrama being screened amidst much rubbish. Last week it won a well-deserved bagful of awards at the annual Sumathi Tele Awards, the only awards presentation for creative efforts on the small screen.
Nisala Vila was produced by Ananda Abeynayake, a quiet artiste devoting his time to providing good entertainment through polished productions. (The Poya day single-episode teledramas directed by him are a regular feature over Rupavahini and his latest serial teledrama, 'Nannadunanni' now being telecast has gained considerable popularity.)
Nisala Vila swept the boards with eight major awards, proving that a quality product gets the recognition it deserves. It would have been a comforting night for young director Prasanna Jayakody who handled an extremely sensitive theme, cleverly. The meditating monk in the village temple is accused of being immoral and the whole village turns against him. He is calm, steadfast and never loses his patience, typical qualities of a good monk progressing in his meditative habits. Prasanna well deserved the Best Director's Award, selected by a panel of judges led by Susil Siriwardena, a former top administrator.
The sensitive portrayal of the monk by superb character-actor Suminda Sirisena brought him the Best Actor's award. It was a step up the ladder for him, having won the Best Supporting Actor's award for his role as a blacksmith in 'Ransirige Sangramaya in 1997.Other nominees were Sriyantha Mendis in Akala Sandya (Sriyantha was selected the most popular actor through the Sumathi weekly, Lakbima, readers' votes along with Yasodha Wimaladharma as the most popular actress) and Indrajit Navinna in Bedde Gedera.
The Best Actress was also from Nisala Vila, with the award going to Chandani Seneviratne. This versatile actress is seen on the small screen ever so often, playing the role of Kamalawathie who was constantly concerned about the monk and carried on a lone battle against the machinations of fellow villagers. The late Trilicia Gunawardena (Bedde Gedera) and Vasanthi Chaturani (Maya) were the other contenders.
The Best Supporting Actor Hemasiri Liyanage had proven his talents on stage from the days he was a student of Vidyartha Vidya Peetaya, Horana many years ago and has many memorable roles to his credit. As Sandara Appu in Nisala Vila he did a perfect role as the monk's kepa karu (attendant). The girl who was responsible for the scandal, Ama Wijesekera (presently studying in Australia) was voted the Most Promising Actress. A newcomer to the music scene, Gayan Ganakadhara (Best Music Director) and Daya Punchihewa (Best Editor) were the others from Nisala Vila who won recognition.
With the National Youth Services Council as co-sponsor of the Sumathi Tele Awards, it's quite apt to select the best among the youth in the creative fields related to television. Bagging two awards (Direction and Screenplay) was Sudath Rohana for his efforts in Bedde Gedera, while Ruwan Costa won an award for photography in Yuga Vilakkuva (he was the winner last year too) and Navaratne Gamage for music.
The best youth production award went to Chamuditha Samarawickrema, producer of one of the most popular investigative TV programmes, Jana Handa.
Palitha Silva, best known for his acting capabilities (he was the most popular actor last year) emerged the winner for the best single-episode teledrama for his 'Ape Gamata Amutthek Evith.'
Two of Ananda Abeynayake's productions, Kohomba Yakku and Manamali were also nominees.
Ever since the Sumathi Tele Awards began five years ago, a special award has been given to pioneers in the film and tele industry for their contributions.
The first winner (1995) of the award titled 'U. W. Sumathipala Commemoration Award' was D. B. Nihalsingha, creator of the first ever teledrama, Dimuthu Muthu. The next two years saw Titus Totawatte for his pioneering role in dubbing popular programmes for the Sinhala screen (including 'Oshin'), and Gamini Fonseka being nominated.
Last year, two prominent personalities in the field of acting received the award. They were Hugo Fernando (popularly known as Hugo Master) and Denawaka Hamine. This year, two more pioneers were recognised — award winning actor Joe Abeywickrema and director K. A. W. Perera, the latter being an active figure as a director since the days he wrote the script for Rekawa.
Bates Strategic Alliance won the top award for the best TV commercial for their down-to-earth 'one and only' Sanstha cement advertisement. Runners-up were a Ruhunu soap advertisement (a rather surprise selection) and one done for a fund-raising project of the Cricket Foundation promoting cricket for the blind.
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