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Aug 19, 2015
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 A tribute to TONY RANASINGHE 

The skies turned gloomy when I heard of the passing of my friend Tony Ranasinghe, the consummate actor, the playwright and translator of the classical literature of the masters.

The skies turned gloomy when I heard of the passing of my friend Tony Ranasinghe, the consummate actor, the playwright and translator of the classical literature of the masters.

More than all of the above, he was my friend. He acted in my first films Adara Kathawa and Janelaya. It was a wonderful experience working with him. He kept the set alive with his anecdotes.

Not known to many is that he worked in the AD's department on the Steven Spielberg / George Lucas film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Tony in his youth was the most intrinsic, vulnerable and sensitive presence on the local cinema screens. He was often compared to the great American actor Montgomery Clift. Our greatest film legend Gamini Fonseka considered Tony the best actor in Sri Lanka and remained his closest friend in the acting fraternity. That should be considered a great achievement since Fonseka suffered no fools.

My last conversation with him was regarding an original screenplay he wrote for me. A comedy about the Japanese bombing a paddy field during the last world war. It was a comedy that I had planned to direct with Tony and Joe Abeywickrema in the leading roles. He wanted to cast new talent and direct it himself. I agreed. Alas, it was not meant to be.

I was enriched by many facets of life, cinema, art, classical literature, humor and numerous other things by simply knowing him.
A man of honour, truth and sincerity...  Goodbye Tony, my friend.


Life on stage

At 26 years of age, Ranasinghe finally got the break in his much awaited career in becoming an iconic figure like his Hollywood and Bollywood idols, with his debut performance on stage by acting a role in Ran Thodu. His acting in this stage drama won him the Governor General's Award for Best Stage Actor in 1963. Since then Tony Ranasinghe went on to contribute to many stage performances such as Thattu Gewal, Harima Badu Hayak, Virupi Roopa, Nil Katrolu Mal, Waguru Bima, Julius Caesar and Doloswana Rathriya to name a few. He undeniably marked his presence on stage and uplifted the quality of acting in theatre.

Life on the silver screen

Ranasinghe's decades' long acting career on the silver screen commenced in 1958 with him acting in Sirisena Wimalaweera's film, Punchi Amma. Thereafter in 1962 he acted in Rodee Kella, but unfortunately both the films were not publicised due to Wimalaweera's untimely demise. However after the unsuccessful start in his career in film, Ranasinghe finally made the break in 1964 by debuting in Dr. Lester James Peiris' Gamperaliya. Subsequently he appeared in various films such as Ransalu starring in films such as Delovak Athara. Since then Ranasinghe has gone on to act in over one hundred films, bringing in excellence and raising the bar in acting in Sinhala cinema.


Life behind the scenes

An ardent lover of books, Ranasinghe was well read on current affairs and a multitude of other topics, thus being able to carry on a conversation with anyone. An avid reader of all things Shakespearean from the works to the life of the Bard, Ranasinghe was an instrumental figure in translating and dramatizing most of the Shakespearean work in the Sinhala theatre. Not only was he a playwright for the Sinhala theatre, but he also scripted for the silver screen. Thus in 1986 Ranasinghe scripted Koti Valigaya and Kelimadala in 1991 which were directed by Gamini Fonseka and D. B. Nihalsinghe respectively. He also wrote a number of scripts for teledrama. Ranasinghe went on to win many awards for his screenplays such as the Presidential Award for Best Script Writer for Koti Waligaya in 1986, the Sarasaviya Award for Best Script Writer for Keli Madala in 1995, Awaragira in 1995 and Pavuru Walalu.


For Ranasinghe, success came as a result of hard work, commitment and dedication. Today's generation of actor and actresses both in theatre and on the silver screen have a lot to learn from this great man's work. Though he is no longer with us, the great man that is Tony Ranasinghe, has left behind years' worth of wonders on screen for us to watch, appreciate and learn from! Therefore it is only right that I say Sri Lankan cinema and stage drama should continue to strive to reach better and greater heights so that we can offer our idols and great men, such as Tony Ranasinghe who have contributed throughout their lives for the betterment of the industry, due justice.


1963 - Gamperaliya
1964 - Getavarayo
1965 - Sekaya
1966 - Parasathu Mal
1966 - Senasuma Kothanada
1966 - Sihina Hathak
1966 - Delovak Athara
1966 - Kinkini Paada
1967 - Ransalu
1967 - Manamalayo
1967 - Sadol Kandulu
1967 - Wasanthi
1968 - Indunila
1968 - Dahasak Sithuvili
1968 - Adaravanthayo
1968 - Singithi Surathal
1968 - Hangi Hora
1969 - Naarilatha
1969 - Hari Maga
1969 - Hanthane Kathawa
1969 - Pravesam Vanna
1970 - Penawa Neda
1971 - Kalana Mithuro
1971 - Samanala Kumariyo samaga
Api Kawadath Soorayo
1972 - Adare Hithenawa Dakkama
1973 - Haddinnath Tharu
1973 - Sunethra
1973 - Gopalu Handa
1973 - Hodai Narakai
1974 - Dinum Kanuwa
1974 - Sheela
1974 - Sagarika
1974 - Vasthuwa
1975 - Kaliyuga Kale
1975 - Kokilayo
1975 - Hitha Hoda Minihek
1976 - Walmath Vuvoo
1976 - Looka Horu
1976 - Asha
1976 - Deyyange Theenduva
1976 - Mangala
1976 - Onna Maame Kella Panapi
1976 - Unnath Daahai Malath Daahai
1976 - Adarei Man Adarei
1976 - Hulavali
1976 - Saradiyelge Putha
1976 - Duhulu Malak
1977 - Sakunthala
1977 - Pembara Madu
1978 - Maduwanthi
1978 - Sithaka Suwanda
1978 - Sara
1978 - Ahasin Polovata
1978 - Hitha Mithura
1978 - Veera Puran Appu
1979 - Nuwan Renu
1979 - Subhani
1979 - Eka Hitha
1980 - Ganga Addara
1980 - Uthumaneni
1980 - Ektam ge
1981 - Sayuru Thera
1981 - Beddegama
1981 - Bandura Mal
1982 - Yahalu Yeheli
1982 - Malata Noena Bambaru
1983 - Samuganimi Ma Samiyani
1983 - Sandamali
1983 - Samanala Sihina
1983 - Kaliyugaya
1984 - Kokila
1984 - Maya
1985 - Sudu Mama
1986 - Koti Valigaya
– Actor/ Screen Play Writer
1987 - Janelaya
1987 - Sathyagrahanaya
1991 - Kelimadala
– Actor/ Screen Play Writer
1992 - Sisila Ginigani
1993 - Saptha Kanya
1995 - Avaragira
1997 - Duwata Mawaka Misa
1997 - Tharanaya
1997 - Savitrige Raththriya
1999 - Pawru Walalu
1999 - Kolompoor
2001 - Kinihiriya Mal
2001 - Anantha Rathriya
2002 - Salelu Warama
2003 - Le Kiri Kandulu
2004 - Diya Yata Gindara
2004 - Randiya Dahara
2006 - Ammavarune
2007 - Sikuru Hathe
2008 - Heart FM
2008 - Nil Diya Yahana


Awards and achievements

1963: Governor General's Award for Best Stage Actor - Ran Thodu
1966: Best Supporting Actor Sarasaviya Award - Parasathu Mal.
1969: Best Actor Award - Hanthane Kathawa
1976: Sarasavi Award for Best Actor Award - Duhulu Malak
1979: Best Actor Award - Ahasin Polawata
1980: Best Actor Award - Ganga Addara.
1993: Sarasaviya, Swarna Sanka, Presidential and OCIC Awards for
Best Actor - Saptha Kanya
1969: Best Actor Award - Hanthane Kathawa
1976: Best Actor Award - Duhulu Malak
1978: Presidential Award for Best Actor - Ahasin Polawata
1966: Sarasavi Award for Best Supporting Actor
- Parasathu Mal
1980: Ganga Addara, Saptha Kanya
1980: Pavuru Walalu
1993: Presidential Award for Supporting Actor


Source -Ceylongtoday -Saptha Kanya