Tribute to Chandra Kaluarachchi – Actress beyond conventional style – by Sunil Thenabadu
Veteran actress Chandra KankanamgeKaluarachchi, who made significant contributions to Sri Lankan arts, as a theatre, film and television actress, bade farewell with the final curtain call bidding adieu to the nation three months ago, on 1st November2019 at the age of 76 years after a prolonged illness. She was married to well-known musician cum actor Lakshman Wijesekara and was the mother of Ama Wijesekara and son.
Chandra Kaluarachchi multifaceted resourceful actress who fared admirably made her acting debut in RaththaranPuthaHeiyanmaru by Arnold Wickramasuriya in 1962 and before long she became one of the most sought- after character actresses in the country. She then acted in popular plays like BakmahaDeege, WahalakNethi Geyak, AmmaiAppai, Ibi Katta, Umathusang Warusawa, Rata Barai NumbataPuthe, AhasinWatunuMinissu, HunuwatayeKathawa, Kelani Palama, Maya Devi and many others.
Chandra who won several awards for her acting proficiency, started her film career with GDL Pereira’s DahasakSithuwili in 1968 and followed it in 40 Sinhalese movies like MokadaWune, Romeo Juliet, BakmahaDeege, Sidadiyen Hayak, Thung Mang Handiya, Welikathara, Nidhanaya, Gehenu Lamai most box office films and others. She had portrayed all roles in both the flamboyant and conventional styles in pragmatic drama to be firmly categorized as a unique artiste.
Born in Narahenpita in year 1943.She had shown her innate abilities pursuing acting as an artiste in the radio program Lamapitiya at the tender age of 9 years. Of many opportunities to act on stage was portraying a role in Wahalak Neti Geyak by dramatist Premaranjit Tilakaratne where she won the Best Actress award at the State Drama Festival in year 1964 which had given her immense inspiration at such a young age. Then in 1967 portrayed the role of a grandmother in Erabudu Mal Pipila.
Then in Gajaman Puwatha of Dayananda Gunawardena first in the genre of docudrama which was introduced to the Sinhala stage in 1975 where she portrayed the colourful figure of Ranchagoda Lamaya. She who was seen the 1975 production would note with nostalgia the fact that almost with the entire original cast was there in the new production, thirty-one long years later, still survived to retain the glow of the original production stormed into the Sinhala theatre in year 1968. Her last role was portrayed in the film Nisala Guru released in year 2007.
The writer had known late Chandra and Lakshman Wijesekera very closely before migration to Australia over five years ago having lived in the same neighbourhood. Both were very helpful, humble and down to earth personalities. It should be emphasized that Lakshman was always a very devoted husband who attended with dedication to all family activities particularly when Chandra was ill.
Chandra Kaluarachchi could be classified as perhaps the most versatile actress who had dominated abundantly in film, television, radio and stage in the annals of the history.
May she attain supreme bliss of Nirvana!