Wijaya Nandasiri who created mirth among people and made them happy no more !

(Lanka-e-News -09.Aug.2016, 6.00PM) It is very rare that  an  artiste in the acting profession  gets an opportunity  to delight his audience until the final hour of his life. Wijaya Nandasiri was such a rare  artiste who was performing in the comedy drama  ‘Aluth horek oney’ of Ajith Mendis at the Wayambe provincial council auditorium , Kurunegala , yesterday evening(07) , a little while before his demise. Though he was somewhat sick, ignoring it , he continued to act with the objective of making the people happy and  enjoy his performance.

However when he returned home he developed a cardiac arrest and passed away. By the time he was taken to the Kalubowila hospital from his home at Kalapura, Mt. Lavinia he had breathed his last. He was 72 years old at the time of his death.  

Nandasiri was suffering from Diabetes over a long period of time, and owing to a wound  on  his leg , that leg  had to be amputated. From that point of time he was using an artificial leg. After adjusting himself to the artificial leg with great difficulty and without making a show of  that , he continued to delight his fans with his acting as though he was normal , and the public too enjoyed his dramatic performances – it is no easy task for an artiste to be engaged in his profession with such a handicap , and his courage therefore  cannot be underestimated. 

The writer who has experienced a similar fate is fully aware of the suffering faced by an individual who had all his limbs functioning ,and suddenly sees himself deprived of that ability. To an artiste who is  actively engaged in the profession , what a challenge to grapple with ? 

His children having completed their education abroad , Nandasiri could have easily led a relaxed retired life without continuing his acting with an artificial leg, yet he preferred the active life by continuing with his acting career with commitment . Being an artiste to whom keeping the people happy was the  goal , may be it was his belief without mirth  among the people there is nothing worthwhile in life.

Maname Kumaraya 

Ilukpitiya Mudiyanselage Wijeya Nandasiri was born in the year 1944 , and received his education at Maharagama Vidyakara Vidyalaya . Later, he  made his maiden appearance in 1966 on stage in the  drama ‘Vidura Diva’  produced  by  Amaradasa Jayathunga. Subsequently when he was working as a  waiter at Katunayake Airport , he was selected to act in the drama of Professor Sarachchandra in 1973 .

His acting career began to blossom Island  wide after he was selected to play the role of Maname Kumara in the drama ‘Maname’. The dream of the Maname Kumaraya in that role was to become a stage actor. It was a role that cannot be played by an ordinary young actor. That was because the one playing the role must of necessity be  able to sing most melodiously . He must be able to sing, dance and make gestures, that is, he must acquit himself well in all the three spheres. Without those skills , none can become a successful ‘Maname Kumaraya.’ (Prince of drama) . Unbelievably Wijaya Nandasiri played this role of Maname Kumaraya and made people happy for two generations. It  was Wijaya Nandasiri the skilled actor who for the longest period played  that role of  Maname Kumaraya.
His acting career lasted  for decades . He acted in a number of dramas including Sinhabahu and  Mahasara of Sarachchandra; ‘Naribena and Jasaya’ , and Lenchina of Dayananda Gunawardena . After playing a most special character in Rankanda drama , he played the role of chief minister in the drama Subha saha Yasa of Simon Nawagaththegama . He also acted in the drama Caucasian chalk circle (Hunuwataye kathawa) of Henry Jayasena .

Except   ‘Rankanda’ all the other dramas are still being staged , and have been staged over thousand times . Nandasiri until his death was acting in them .

Kusa Pabawathi, Wurshaba Raja, Shree Gajaba and Bahratha Rejina were his own productions in which he acted. These dramas have been staged numerous times until today . He had acted  in over 40 dramas. 

Bulto role 

In the recent past by playing the Bulto comedian role, Nandasiri became exceedingly popular , but the criticism that by playing light comedy  roles he dented  his ‘great acting talent’ cannot be deemed as  derogatory  of him because  the trend in the country welcomed that kind of role ,and as such , the actor had no option but to fall in line with that trend.  

The Bulto comedy roles of his in two penny half penny comedies ‘ethuma’, methuma’ ‘Nona weruni mahathweruni,’ Yes Boss’ ruined Nandasiri.  He acted  as a  politician , broker or ‘boss’  which were all of the same mould, meaning that there weren’t  any difference in his  acting performances.
This undesirable popularity made it difficult for him to acquit himself well in exclusively special  roles. The fans began to laugh whenever he mounted the stage being reminded of ‘ethuma’ or ‘methuma.’ In such circumstances he let down not ethuma or methuma but Maname. 

Nandasiri later turning into a comedy actor during the last decade and half  is a matter for deep regret .In films too he received an award for his role as a comedian  for his role of Kapuwa (broker)  in the film ‘Sikuru hathe.’
During the initial  period he was associated with films but without success. He was selected for several films of K.A.W .Perera.  May be because during that period , Nandasiri could not as a film actor go beyond film stars like Vijaya Kumaratunge, Gamini Fonseka and  Raveendra Randeniya,  that he got pushed into comedy roles later . 

When he became comedy role actor later , there were many local actors like Joe Abeywickrema who played special character roles , as well as  international actors . Was it fate that made  Nandasiri the artiste to do an about turn  in respect of his role? Or is it because his fans were unfortunate?  It will be worthwhile doing  an analysis on this.  

No matter what , Nandasiri was a professional actor who was dedicated to his career and raised its professional value. He charged Rs. 25000.00 per day for his performance, and was a actor who demanded  a high fee in Sri  Lanka .

A sterling quality … 

Throughout his acting career spanning over 40 years , Nandasiri was characterized  by a salient trait. He was one who never secured political positions. He was not enmeshed in political cravings. Hence he was sidelined in people’s campaigns. Moreover , unlike Jacksons who joined  ‘Jillsons’ with nefarious objectives ,Nandasiri never exploited his popularity in a manner that was detrimental to the nation. 

Besides , Nandasiri who had natural singing talent  did not make use of it  during his last phase of his life. His fans and followers must consider themselves unlucky on that account. Although Nandasiri had tremendous experience in the cinema, stage and teledrama spheres as a great artiste, those of the second generation did not get an opportunity to  gain  anything from his experience. 

The officials too did not have any need to invite him as a visiting lecturer of the University of performing and visual Arts. Neither did the media have any need. Even when interviewing him , the media asked ‘bibikang’ ( irrelevant) questions.  Naturally, therefore he kept silent after giving  ‘jujubes’ answers to those stupid journalists . That was due to no fault of his but because the country was  not fortunate enough.

All what we can say and sigh in conclusion is , the era of Wijaya Nandasiri has come to an end.   As far as we can perceive , no one  can  replace  Nandasiri the great artiste , or  fill the void created by his demise .
Lanka e news and its viewers mourn the demise of Wijaya Nandasiri along with  the members of his family and relatives in their bereavement . May he attain Nibbana!

Sandaruwan Senadheera
Translated by Jeff 

by     (2016-08-14 20:43:05)

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  1 discussion on this news

Very well written article. He is one of the talented actors produced by Sri Lanka. Unfortunately his talents were just wasted on the stage. Only Professor Sarathchandra made use of his talents for his masterpiece "Maname". If he had given a chance like Nihal Silva's role in "Punthila" he would have been the greatest actor in Lankan stage. He is the man with immense talents.
-- by JDS on 2016-08-10

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