In 1978, one of the finest actors of India and a much-acclaimed star from Sri Lanka played the lead roles in a film that was shot in both countries.
Over three decades later, actor-turned-Parliamentarian Malani Fonseka — who played the female lead in Sivaji Ganesan’s ‘Pilot Premnath’ — is reaching out to counterparts in Tamil Nadu to visit Sri Lanka and assess the post-war situation.
The appeal comes in response to the fast observed by members of the Tamil film fraternity in Chennai earlier this month.
On Thursday, the artistes’ fraternity in Colombo will gather at Independence Square for a meeting in connection with this.
“The Sri Lankan film industry has borrowed many ideas, techniques and technicians from Tamil Nadu. The two film industries have had a very friendly and positive relationship from the 1950s onwards. We want that to continue,” Ms. Fonseka, who represent the ruling UPFA, told The Hindu.
Fondly recalling the experience of working with Sivaji Ganesan, she said: “It was a delight working with him. Sridevi played my daughter in that film, and Shivaji Ganesan played my husband. We had great respect for each other.”
Even now there is a fair amount of interaction and exchange between the two industries, according to actors here. Post-production work for many films produced in Sri Lanka, actors say, is done at Prasad Labs in Chennai.
“Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan are household names here and whenever we need good equipment or technology we always look up to Tamil Nadu. And that is why it is sad to see our friends making such allegations,” said senior actor Ravindra Randeniya.
The actors have extended an invitation to members of the Tamil film fraternity to visit Sri Lanka, travel to the north of the country, and derive their own conclusions. “They seem to be misguided by campaigns that have a hidden agenda. If they come here, they can see the actual situation,” said Mr. Randeniya, adding that actors from Sri Lanka would also be willing to travel to Tamil Nadu for a healthy dialogue with their counterparts.
Meanwhile, some fundamentalist groups have been urging the National Film Corporation of Sri Lanka to ban screening of Tamil films in local theatres. However, Mr. Randeniya emphasised that the Sri Lankan film fraternity would never support such a demand.
“Such a confrontational attitude will only hamper reconciliation. Both Tamils and Sinhalese enjoy watching Tamil films and no one should deprive viewers of good entertainment,” he said.