The lamp of the Sinhala cinema lit up by veteran film director the late Dr. Lester James Peries was ‘re-kindled by the renowned artiste’ the late Dr. Gamini Fonseka.
Born on March 21, 1936 in Dehiwala, Gamini began his career as an actor in 1956. The film titled “Rekava” – (The line of destiny) directed by Dr. Lester James Peries was the turning point in Gamini’s destiny.
It was S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia from which Gamini received his primary education. Having being taught by Kalasuri Arisen Ahubudu, he had a brilliant knowledge of Sinhala. Gamini, by imitating teachers and the staff members of the school, had gained a popularity among his school mates.
He used to watch stage dramas with his father and play those characters at home. It is said that the youth of the area had never missed the chance of watching little Gamini’s performances.
Gamini, being the most mischievous and talented boy in the classroom, was asked by his teacher to participate in the school concert. Unexpectedly, little Gamini who made the sound of Tabla by snapping fingers, could amaze the audience, engraving his name in everyone’s heart.
No doubt that Gamini less criticised and more praised by the critics had remained unshaken like a rock.
When young Gamini went to famous dramatist and film maker Wimalaweera to seek an opportunity for a film, he had disheartened Gamini saying that he is not gifted to perform. Fortunately as if through a miracle of destiny, Dr. Lester James Peries who had realised Gamini’s inborn skills, had cast him as a villager in the film “Rekawa.”
After Gamini worked as the second assistant director in the film titled “Bridge on the River Kwai” directed by one of the most renowned American film directors David Lean who had witnessed Gamini’s talents and capabilities, called him “The American actor.”
No one might have thought that Gamini whose name had been etched on our hearts as an actor, can be regarded as a poet. Among the songs and poems penned by this versatile artiste, these songs have stolen our hearts. “Sondura Numba Mata” sung by Victor Rathnayake, “Sudo Man adarey” sung by Sujatha Aththanayake and “Mihi pita agalak himi nethi minihek” sung by Pandit Amaradeva. “The dream woman” is an English song penned by Gamini.
No, doubt that the film titled “Nidhanaya” (the Treasure) directed by the late Dr. Peries had brought the Sinhala cinema to the international arena. In the film, Gamini played the role of a bankrupt businessman named Willy Abenayake who sacrificed his beloved wife Iren Abeynayake to gain a hidden treasure in a rock. The climax of the film is the last scene in which Willy Abeynayaka stabbed Iren Abeynayake to death.
The spectators whose eyes are glued to the screen, had been bewitched by the scene in which Gamini rolled his eyes back to portray that he was possessed by a devil. But sadly the legend of Sinhala cinema, Dr. Gamini who had dedicated his life to lead the rays of light to the Sri Lanka’s film industry breathed his last at 68.