21st  May,  2006  Volume 12, Issue 45

First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    


An artist inspired by rural surroundings

By Risidra Mendis

It is not very often that you come across a painter who engages in paintings and line drawings at the same time. But for Chandana Ranaweera, an artist with great talent, painting and line drawings have now become a part of his life. Ranaweera’s name is well known among art lovers who know the value and creativity involved in paintings and line drawings.

"Ranaweera has carved out a niche among art lovers for his individuality and characteristic painting. Inspired mostly by temple murals and cave art, he uses them as his main topic without wandering into other areas of which he is not familiar.

He is essentially an artist inspired by rural surroundings in his village situated at Alawwa," says Gwen Herat.

According to Herat, Ranaweera has spent the better part of his life in the corridors of temples if he was not teaching art at his village school. "Mythology has always been preoccupied with gods mounted on steeds and chariots. Using subtle colour as well as black and white he leaves his signature on them," Herat said.

"Surprisingly there is yet another side to his art which is line drawings. One has to have steady, strong fingers as well as the ingenuity to do so. One look at his sketches will arouse anyone’s curiosity. Geometrical figures and abstract language rolled into one has created improvisation that has impelled him. Flowing between the thick black lines he creates a supernatural depth that is truly celestial," explained Herat.

Ranaweera’s line drawings include a variety of subjects such as human figures, religious festivals, Buddhist monks and temples among others.

"Line drawings profoundly influence artists who express their thoughts from a dark and obsessed mind subconsciously and can affect the observer’s senses. Many carry a narrative in message, a sense confined only to the painter which summarises a situation why art lovers hesitate to patronise line drawings or even to study them. Line drawings are a distraction interfering with an artist’s spiritual responses. But the expressive potential in line drawings has not yet been discovered or accepted which makes an artist end up as a cartoonist," Herat said.

According to Herat some of the line drawings through the medium of stain glass on characters from the plays of Shakespeare at Stratford –upon-Avon express a more passionate view on the art of lines.

"At least a bold artist is convinced that lines too are a great asset to him. Ranaweera builds on lines with a bolder and stronger lineage. He will do it with time but for the present it is a struggle to draw the attention of art lovers to take a deep and penetrating look," says Herat.

"Stars should be humble"

By Chinthaka Fernando

She is the perfect granny of Sinhala cinema. Everyone used to call her "Sudu Aachchi" for her popular, compassionate role in the tele-drama Doo Daruwo. Veteran actress Irangani Serasinghe has the same kindness and simplicity in real life. Her main belief is that the actors shouldn’t try to live like stars but they should always mix with people and the closer they get, the better they become in their portrayals of ordinary people. "Our fame is a very temporary thing. We should keep our feet firmly on the ground and live humble lives," says senior actress Serasinghe.

She is also strictly against political intervention to curb creativity in the arts. Making special reference to the current controversy over Asoka Handagama’s film she said " politicians should try to address the problems that have been highlighted in this film instead of banning it."

How would you look at the current situation of Sinhala cinema?

"Actually Sinhala cinema is in a bad position at the moment. Especially our commercial cinema is deteriorating day by day. Today the ability to cover the cost of a production is uncertain. So no one would spend money on a film project if one cannot even cover one’s cost. This is not only applicable to film producing but to screening of films as well. Only few companies take the risk of screening a good film even if it is not lucrative. Special mention should be made about Regal Cinema, for they take that risk often.

"The main reason which had kept people from going to the cinema is the situation of the country. People have no peace of mind to go out and enjoy a film. Another reason is the plight of the present Sri Lankan family. Today, in most families, both parents are working or the mother has gone abroad as a housemaid. They are totally engrossed in increasing their earnings to match up with the highly commercialised world. Therefore they don’t have a time to go out with their family and enjoy a film."

How would you view the authorities interfering with cinema?

"That is actually a pathetic situation. The artiste will not be able to express his thinking. In most of the artworks the thinking of society as a whole has been expressed. Especially, cinema reflects what is happening in the country and people’s attitudes. Therefore it is very bad if someone is trying to suppress it. If politicians are trying to stop that, then that is a big loss for them because politicians do need honest feedback about society.

"Naturally politicians get cut off from the truth because of the henchman around them. They feed politicians only with what they like to hear. So art is one of the main mediums that will break that.

"But when a person is not acting according to the wishes of rulers then they are being labelled as traitors who are working with a hidden agenda."

What would you say about the situation that has arisen with Asoka Handagama’s latest film Aksharaya?

"First of all I should say that I haven’t seen it as yet. But it is actually a pity when people are trying to stop his self expression. Banning this kind of a film is not good for the people who are in power. They should try to address the problems that have been highlighted in this kind of film instead of banning them."

Do you see any differences between the conduct of artistes of the early days and present?

"Acting is not a lucrative profession in this country. We should reach out and somehow get into the international arena to make this industry a lucrative one. We can do some joint productions and that will be very good for artistes.

"Apart from that most of the young people do not behave properly as I’ve heard. I am telling this just based on hearsay. But a lot of people have complained to me, especially directors. According to them lot of young actors and actresses — but not all — have been inclined towards unethical behaviour. Directors say that they give a date for a particular shooting and then go for another one, putting a lot of people in trouble, which we never did in our time.

"Most importantly all stars should realise that we are not that great as we think, but are simple human beings whose feet should be firmly set on the ground."

How did being an actress influence you to be what you are today?

"First I should mention that fortunately my husband (late Vincent Serasinghe ) was also an actor and therefore I didn’t have problems being an actress. To be honest, I never wanted to be an actress. All I wanted was to have a family and live a simple life, closer to nature. Actually I became an actress without my knowing. I take acting as yet another profession. I don’t have that ‘star’ mindset. Our feet should be firmly on the ground. We should mix freely with the people. We can’t afford to put ‘airs’ because at the end of the day we have to portray the characters of ordinary people. So we must mix with them and must understand their feelings.

"Fame is not a permanent thing. Lord Buddha has taught us that . So I view fame like that. That is how we all should look at it."

What do you feel about life when you now look back?

"Well my life is a thousand times better than the lives of millions who are suffering daily. I don’t have big expectations about life. I have very little worries. My happiest moments are when I’m in a jungle. I love the wilderness. Apart from that I hate noise and I am a vegetarian. I’m quite contented with the peaceful life I lead.

"But lately I’m worried about what is happening in the country, especially about the ethnic issue. We don’t have any hatred towards Tamil people. Any Sinhala person would have a large number of Tamil friends here. It’s the corrupt politics that has made this a big issue. But now that rot has gone down to the whole system and the whole country is corrupted. If, at least, a half of society is honest then the country will flourish."

The stage between worlds

"There lies a stage in a hall by the sea, which is a gate-way. A gateway into another world. The world of Narnia. This magical portal, however, will only be open on May 25-29. This message is an invitation to all those who wish to partake of the blood, glory, and beauty that is Narnia. An invitation to all those who wish to witness the chronicles of her shaping."

The S. Thomas’ College Drama Society will stage The Chronicles Of Narnia — The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (A musical) from May 25-29 at the College hall. Tickets will be priced at Rs.350 and Rs.500. Also a limited amount of VIP tickets will be priced at Rs. 1500 — a package which includes the best seats in the house and dinner under the stars with the sound of the rolling sea in your ears at the Golden Mile Restaurant.

To all those who came to witness the last production, the Greek tragedy Antigone, you would have experienced the Drama Society’s keenness to pay attention to even the minutest of details when creating an authentic atmosphere. The Society is not merely producing The Chronicles of Narnia — they are creating a land called Narnia. For this purpose, major renovations and extensions have been made to the College Hall.

To make your evening a truly magical one, the play will be followed by a grand fireworks display. Face painting booths for those of you with children will be available, while you are serenaded by the Thomian orchestra, when having the dinner which you have picked out of the varied range. It is beyond us to describe in words all the details and intricacies going into the production, but one thing we assure you; from the moment you enter Narnia, to the moment you reluctantly tear yourself away from its spell, the magic we weave before your eyes will never die,"says the Drama Society.

Glimpse of former glory at the Colombo National Museum

Officially opened to the public on Janu-ary 1, 1877, the Colombo
National Museum is an impressive architectural structure. Stately and beautifully laid in an immense, landscaped property in the heart of Colombo city, the building was designed by James G. Smither in the late 1870s for the sole purpose of housing the museum; and was contracted to builders Perera and Marikkar — all this accomplished under the directive of Sir Henry William Gregory, then the Governor of Sri Lanka (or Ceylon, as it was then known).

The Colombo National Museum comprises galleries on both the primary and secondary kingdoms in the history of the country, displays the history of the masks, puppetry and costumes in the artistic theatre traditions of Sri Lanka, an extensive exhibition and history of musical instruments, coins of Sri Lanka, household objects, exquisite and intricate antique furniture and a skeleton of a blue whale, which is well over a century old.

Among these, the Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Transitional (Post-Polonnaruwa / Pre-Kandy) and Kandy galleries are some of the most important displays, containing artefacts from Sri Lanka’s most glorious kingdoms.

The year 2004 marked the beginning of several positive changes at the Colombo National Museum. HSBC, together with the Department of National Museums, undertook a project to completely revamp the Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa Post-Polonnaruwa/Pre-Kandy and Kandy galleries. While the two former galleries were completed early in 2005, the latter two were opened to the general public in November 2005. The bank has also started work on the stone gallery, which is expected to be open to the public later this year.

With work carried out by a capable team of experts, led by the highly renowned Sri Lankan historian, Prof. Leelananda Prematilleke, the revamped galleries have been designed to give visitors a more inspirational understanding of the era. Trilingual information panels and neatly arranged artefacts ensure that the visitor is able to experience the glory of the civilisation comprehensively. The new display systems and state-of-the-art lighting systems greatly enhance the beauty of the artefacts, and the galleries are innovative and visitor-friendly in layout and sophisticated in appearance.

The number of visitors to the Museum has increased significantly since the four galleries were opened to the general public and there has been positive feedback from many individuals applauding the venture to bring to life a glorious past that was fading into oblivion.

Thursday, May 18 was International Museum Day, which marks the start of Museum Week, until Wednesday, May 24. Why not take a walk through the annals of Sri Lankan history? Visit the Colombo National Museum and witness for yourself the glorious past of our nation.


English, wonderful English

Hi there,

CHEE Chee was busy with his pals who had come from Down Under. He was filling them in with his stories of yesteryear. Read on.

* * *


Chee Chee’s girl friend: "I’m one year elder than you....will it badly affect our marriage?"

Chee Chee : "No, not at all.....We’ll marry next year."

* * *

Hidden Cameras

Mrs.Chee Chee Corea caught Chee Chee searching high and low all around his living room.

Mrs. Corea: "What are you searching for?"

Mr. Chee Chee: "Hidden cameras!"

Mrs. Corea: "And what makes you think that there are hidden cameras here?"

Chee Chee: "That guy on TV knows exactly what I am doing. Every few minutes he keeps saying, ‘You are watching Rupavahini channel.’ How does he know that?"

* * *


Chee Chee was enjoying the sun at a beach in America.A lady came and asked him, "Are you relaxing?"

Chee Chee answered, "No, I am Corea." Another guy came and asked him the same question. Chee Chee answered, "No! No! Me Corea!" A third one came and asked him the same question again.

Chee Chee was totally annoyed and decided to shift his place.While walking he saw another Sri Lankan soaking in the sun.

He went up to him and asked,"Are you relaxing?"

The other man was a lot more educated and answered, "Yes, I am relaxing." Chee Chee slapped him on his face and said, "Stupid, idiot. Everyone is looking for you and you are sitting over here!"

* * *


Chee Chee died and went to heaven. When he got to the pearly gate Saint Peter told him that new rules are in effect due to the advances in education on earth. In order to gain admittance each soul must answer two simple questions:

1. Name two days of the week that begin with "T."

2. How many seconds are there in a year?

Chee Chee thought for a few minutes and answered.

1. The two days of the week that begin with "T" are today and tomorrow.

2. There are 12 seconds in a year.

Saint Peter said, "OK, I’ll buy the today and tomorrow answer, even though it’s not the answer I expected. But how did you get 12 seconds in a year?"

Chee Chee replied,

"Well, January 2nd, February 2nd, March 2nd, etc..."

Saint Peter opens the gate without another word.

* * *

The wash basin

Chee Chee goes to a hotel in Colombo and eats heartily. After eating he goes to wash his hands but starts washing the basin instead. The manager comes running and asks him,"Sir, what are you doing?"

Chee Chee replies, " Read this board here, it says "Wash Basin."

* * *

English Exam

Chee Chee finished his English exam and came out. His friends asked him how he did his exam. He replied "Exam was okay, but for the past tense of THINK, I thought, thought, and thought, at last I wrote THUNK!"

* * *

Answer the following questions in brief

Chee Chee is appearing for his university final examination.He takes his seat in the examination hall, stares at the question paper for five minutes, and then in a fit of inspiration takes his shoes off and throws them out of the window.

He then removes his shirt and throws it away as well, followed by his pants, socks and watch.

The invigilator, alarmed, approaches him and asks what is going on.

" I am only following the instructions here," he says, " it says here, "Answer the following questions in brief."

* * *

Coffee Shop

Chee Chee and his wife went to a coffee shop .

Chee Chee said… "Hurry up. Drink quickly.....!"

His wife asked "why...?"

Chee Chee said

"Hot coffee Rs. 5 and, iced coffee Rs 10."

* * *

Letter to his son

Chee Chee was writing something very slowly.

A friend who came by asks:

" Why are you writing so slowly?"

Chee Chee replies

" I’m writing to my six year old son,... he can’t read very fast."

Ta Ra and see you next week,

— Rabbada Aiya

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