There are only a limited number of talented artistes who have excelled in both acting and singing, reflecting the skills of the local cinema. Becoming an actor who establishes their presence in the industry by continuously winning over the audience is a very difficult task that requires a combination of skill and luck. If the question is raised about who the eternal lover of the silver screen is among the actors who have won the public’s favour, the answer that every person will give without a second thought is the name of Vijaya Kumaratunga, an indefatigable actor and singer.
It is with deep gratitude that we engage in a loving retrospective of this generous man who resides in the hearts of the people in the fields of acting, singing, politics, and above all, as a humanitarian. To provide insight into his artistic life, the beloved wife of this artist, former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, will join the Roo Sanda Roo program this year. She will share her memories of Vijaya Kumaratunga’s artistic journey as his wife. Additionally, the audience will have the opportunity to enjoy 14 of Vijaya Kumaratunga’s most popular songs for about two hours. PurakaPabasaraRohanaya here is Roo Sanda Re, directed by Ranga Premaratne.
Born on October 9, 1945, at Ragama General Hospital to Kovilage Benjamin Kumaratunga, a village headman, and Beatrice Kumaratunga, Kovilage Anton Vijaya Kumaratunga’s home consisted of three other siblings. He studied at Seeduwa Maha Vidyalaya, Kandana Mazenod Vidyalaya, and St. Benedict’s College Kotahena.
Impact on Cinema, Music, and Politics
Vijaya Kumarathunga, who slowly made his way into cinema, played the lead role in the film Hanthane Kathawa and became a sensation on the silver screen. Since then, he acted in films such as Eya Dhen lokulamayek, Ponmani, BambaruEwith, Ganga Addara, Baddegama, and Kristhu Charithaya, successfully establishing his popularity through these movies. His fame was such that from 1983 to 1988, the year he passed away, he continuously received the most popular actor award at the Sarasavi Awards ceremony.
Vijaya Kumaratunga also won the hearts of the audience as a singer with a lovely voice, performing more than 100 songs and releasing 10 cassette tapes, including Ganga Addhara, Kawuluwa Atharain, Vedhanaa, Dinkara Paaya, Vijaya Gee, Seetha Reyedee, Mangala Nekatha, and Sudu Duwa, among others. He was also honoured with the award for the best background singer twice, demonstrating his ability to please the public with his voice.
Vijaya Kumaratunga, who married Chandrika Bandaranaike, the daughter of Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike and Sirimavo Bandaranaike, on February 20, 1978, began his political journey as the candidate for the Katana electorate, representing the Sri Lanka Freedom Party in the 1977 general election. Vijaya Kumaratunga, who faced various challenges in his political career, visited the Northern region during the Tamil-Sinhalese crisis and engaged in discussions with the LTTE. He managed to return safely and became the most beloved politician among all Sri Lankans.
He was a leader who championed impartiality and social justice fearlessly, even during times of severe unrest. Unfortunately, his life was cut short when he was shot by a group of opponents who couldn’t bear to see his popularity. On February 16, 1988, around 12:20 pm, he was shot by two assailants on a motorcycle in front of his house, leaving a void that could never be filled, for a beloved speaker who will never fade in the field of art.
His funeral ceremony was held at Independence Square in Colombo, attended by a large crowd, and the event deeply moved the hearts of Sri Lankans to the extent that it became the first funeral ceremony to be broadcast live.
The musical program Sanda Roo Suyama, sponsored by Darley Butler Company Ltd.’s Bubble brand, is scheduled for Saturday, the 21st of this month at 9:30 p.m. in memory of Vijaya Kumaratunga, a beloved figure remembered for his roles as a politician, actor, and singer with a delightful voice. We invite those who love Vijaya’s voice to reminisce about old memories while enjoying his music.