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“Acting is what I live and breathe”

By Jayashika Padmasiri
According to popular actor Roger Seneviratne, acting is what he lives and breathes and he cannot imagine a life without it.
“Acting is life to me. You cannot hold an actor’s capacity in your hand. But you can give a clear idea through any character you perform. Acting is a vast subject. According to my knowledge, it is not materialistic. We give life to characters that we have never seen, known or written by ourselves. But those characters are alive, breathing and living somewhere. Acting is a philosophy,” said Roger in an interview with The Nation.
Talking about how his life in this arena began, Roger said, “I joined the theatre with Sugathapal de Silva in 1979 working back stage. In 1986, I worked at Rupavahini Corporation doing two documentaries, Ruwan Wassa and Diriya Duwa. Then I worked with Darmasena Pathiraga’s Nadunana Puthu, based on Dr. N.M. Perera’s life story. I consider this one of the turning points in my career. The stage drama I directed, Paswanna, the story of Caligula, is also a mile stone in my career for which I won a lot of awards.”

Giving life to art
As a performer he gives life to art – something that different people describe and perceive in different ways. So how does Roger feel about art? “Art to me is art. The art that I like should have everything according to the environment, according to the society we live in. We live in this world, so we have to do everything according to it. We cannot go beyond this world.”
Roger believes that he was born to become an actor and feels it deep inside him. In the event he did not get into acting, Roger is certain that he would have been involved in art in some manner.
We’ve seen Roger in many roles through the years, we’ve seen him bring to life varied characters, so how does he choose his characters and what kind of roles does he enjoy playing?

Philosophy
“There should be some sort of philosophy in the character that I’m going to act. I believe that every actor should find the philosophy of the characters that they are going to play, the history of the character, why the character is who he is and study it in detail before he chooses a certain role,” asserted Roger.
Roger does not confine himself to just the silver screen though it’s there we see him most – it all began on stage. But what does he favour most? “It is the theatre,” he says, with certainty.
Explaining his love for theatre, he went on to say, ““It is so alive. You can perform then and there. People will come and talk to you immediately and you can live and learn right at that moment. You are new every split second on the theater.”

Looking back, given the years of hard work and sleepless nights, Roger says he’s happy but not completely satisfied with what he has achieved so far since he believes he can do so much more in this field.
The industry today
Speaking about the industry today, Roger believes it is neither good or bad but that proper studying of roles should be done before an actor or actress accepts a role.
“They should always learn why they are playing that role, why such a character exists. I think universities should teach performing arts. Acting is something you can teach and learn all your life. Actors should do a lot of homework. There is a history and philosophy behind every character and I believe that anyone who is in this field or anyone who wants to enter this field should know this and study it. It is not only about looks; they should study the performing arts.”

Plans for the future
What about plans and dreams for the future? They don’t include just acting – Roger wants to direct as well!
“I have this idea about directing a film titled Dorakada Assna. It is about how the dorakada assna in our temple became political. It is a story based on the period of 1989. How everything in society is based on politics. I like to become an actor / director. Taking a break from acting and directing, Roger also indulges in something very unusual – roots!

“I like to collect roots. Roots are never corrupt and they run endlessly through walls and through sand. There is honesty and innocence in roots that any sort of corruption can never touch. A freedom and a strong will, but most of all an origin and a foundation, is symbolised through roots. So I like to collect roots,” he explained.
Speaking about influences and actors and actresses who have captured his attention over the years Roger said, “I like the film Dr. Zhivago a lot, and the performers, Marlon Brando, Geraldinde Chaplin and Mel Gibson.”

Speaking about his role in the tele-drama Batti which is presently being screened, in which he plays the role playing the role of the Hamu Mahaththaya, he said, “It is the role of a very innocent man. A man who tries to gain knowledge, a man with a kind heart who loves artistic things. I really enjoy playing that part.”
Roger believes that a good creation should consist of good things – based on education and knowledge. “Success depends on the audience. It is the audience that judges us. After all we are all performers and actors on this stage called life, we live and give life to our own roles, to our own lives.”
So how does he see life? “Life is life. It is beautiful and artistic. It is something that you have to enjoy and not suffer.”

****

“Wedamama” of “Muwanpalassa” dies

By Jayashika Padmasiri
Gemunu Wijesuriya, who made us smile for years through the roles played on the radio, television and the silver screen, died on March 19 at the age of 79. He died of a heart attack.
Wijesuriya entered the field with the radio show “Lama Pittiya”. His voice was familiar with listeners in radio dramas, especially “Muwanpalassa” in the roles of Pin Harmy, Wedamama and the Merchant.

He had the ability to perform many roles in many voices in the same drama. He also performed characters in the silver screen in films like “Dulika”, “Thunman Handiya”, “Hara Lakshaya”, “Hadaya” and “Binaramalee”. “Dostera Hoda Hitha” and “Hava hari hava” are two cartoons of his that became popular with children. Wijesuriya was a comedian in the silver screen. He made people laugh.
He was able to showcase his skills in acting regardless of whatever role he played. The highest accolade bestowed on him during his acting career was the respect he earned from film fans.

****

MAX launch at cinnamon Grand

Chairman JC Group of Company and MAX Radio & Television and NDTV Vice President P. Upendran signed the contract at the MAX TV & Radio official launch held last week. Sunil Edirisinghe performs at the event (right). Pix: Pradeep Nishantha Herath

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