Jun 05 2012. view 2138
Deepani Silva is undoubtedly one of Sri Lanka's immensely talented artistes who started acting via street dramas. Later she made inroads to the stage, tele dramas and films, earning a name for herself as a fine character actress.
Having played the unforgettable role of Siriyawathi in 'Ruwan Maliga; which ended recently, Deepani is now seen in the new series titled 'Thurya' on Sirasa TV.
How did you become an actress?
It was not a premeditated one. I started acting in 1975 when I joined Dhamma Jagoda's Ranga Shilpa Shalikawa. I was a schoolgirl at Buddhist Ladies College when I and a few friends went for this interview. The six month course was so interesting. Dr. Gamini Haththotuwegama was one of our teachers there and he had a street drama troupe. I then took part in two Easter plays called 'Akeekaru Puthraya' and 'Jesu Jerusalamata Pemine”. I made my maiden public performance in 'Wesmuhunu' when a cast member failed to turn up due to ill health.
Any family links to acting?
No, acting was alien to our family. My father D. Peter Silva is no more now. He was a trade union leader. He was one-time President of the Teachers Union too. My first outstation street drama performance came in Dambulla. It was 'Minisekuta Ella Merenna Behe'. Then we staged it in our village too. From then onwards my family gave me all the encouragement and even today I enjoy that freedom.
How has this experience helped you in life?
Despite the experience I gained as an actress for more than 35 years, I was also actively involved in social service and women oriented activities. The experience was tremendous and it has given me a lot of strength. When Dhamma Jagoda started a drama division at the inception of the Rupavahini, I got a chance of joining tele dramas like Hathpana, Lokke Mama and others. Later I acted in Abuddassa Kolama. Lucian Bulathsinhala offered me a role in 'Tharadevi'. That was my first serial tele drama in which I played a dumb character. From then onwards I acted in hundreds of creations like Dadabima, Kumarihami, Dandubasnamanaya, Ammai Thaththai, Du Daruwo, Nedeyo, Senehewanthayo, Itipahan and others.
What have gained so far as an actress?
The people’s love and affection are topmost. There are people belonging to all walks of life life among my fans – the young, old, armed forces personnel, teachers, doctors, lawyers and even the clergy. The new generation should also commit themselves and work hard to gain the goodwill of the people. Acting is not an painless profession. There is no place to study the art in our country. I feel the young generation should learn the art through the experience of their seniors.
How was the film experience?
I first acted in I. N. Hewawasam's 'Mee Haraka' and later in Anura Chandrasiri's 'Thunweni Ehe' in which I played the lead role as Wimalawathi. Later I acted in Ayoma, Dehena, Thisaravi, Oba Magema Wewa, Sudu Salu and others.
Can you tell us the difference you see in stage, tele dramas and films?
It's different and difficult unless you are dedicated to what you do. All three media and even street dramas vary in some areas. Street dramas take us closer to the people but I like stage plays because its so lively. I am grateful to the late Gamini Haththotuwegama and all the directors I've worked with so far. I am from Kalutara but for the past 20 years I live in this home at Boralesgamuwa. I thank all of them including Susantha Ariyaratne and Malika Ariyaratne. I am also grateful to my mother, sisters and brothers.
About mega tele dramas?
Honestly, I only consider about the character I play and not whether it is a mega or not. The attitudes of people change from time to time. I became stable as an actress after I acted in tele dramas. Acting is not viewed as a profession in this country. We can't even get a bank loan. We have no trade union rights.
I have won the best actress award twice for stage plays. I got a Raigam award for tele dramas and a merit award for acting in 'Thunweni Ehe'.
Deepani will be seen in more tele dramas unfolding soon and will also be seen in Devinda Kongahage's 'Bawa Tharana and Bawa Thanha' film and tele drama creations.
(By Vasantha Wimalasinghe)