Tony, an Actor Gifted From Above

Published : 9:33 am  June 19, 2015 | No comments so far |  | 


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tony2Tony’s remains lie at the Art Gallery, Colombo for public viewing today, June 19 from 11 am to 2 pm and thereafter will be taken to Mahabage for a memorial service at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ church Mattumagala. Burial will be at the family burial grounds in Mahabage.     

Veteran award winning actor, script writer and author Tony Ranasinghe bid adieu after nearly five decades of service to Sri Lankan theatre, cinema and the miniscreen.

Tony has excelled as an actor on stage, on screen as well as the small screen. Tony showed his talent as a writer when he did the film script of ‘Koti Waligaya’ and this was followed by the Sinhala versions of William Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’, ‘Merchant of Venice’ and ‘Julius Caesar’ for the stage and many teledrama scripts.

Tony often said that “the noble profession of acting cannot be taught but was a gift from God”.
Second in the family of eight Ranasinghe Hettiarachchige Ignatius Tony Ranasinghe was brought up by his aunt and uncle who had no children. Tony studied at the De LaSalle College, Modera and as a schoolboy he was exceptionally  keen on watching movies, first Hindi and then Cowboy films. Leaving college, Tony started life as a public servant attached to the Ministry of Information.

Influenced by his brother Ralex Ranasinghe who was a staff photographer for the then Daily Mirror newspaper, Tony tried his luck in acting in cinema but the first two attempts failed. His first role was as a lead acter in Sirisena Wimalaweera’s ‘Punchi Amma’ in 1957 but the film was not completed. His second attempt to act in ‘Rodi Kella’ too became a failure.

Then he went to the giant of the Sri Lankan cinema Lester James Peries, who was then doing ‘Gamperaliya’ but returned almost empty handed as the casting was completed.

Tony often said that “the noble profession of acting cannot be taught but was a gift from God

In 1962 Ranasinghe received an invitation to join the stage by well-known dramatist Sugathapala de Silva, who was getting ready for his ‘Bodingkarayo’. It was this drama that gave Tony the much needed break to join the cinema. One day when they were rehearsing the play, Lester walked in and picked him for the role of Baladasa in Gamperaliya.  Since then Tony’s journey in Sri Lankan cinema  has become history.

Tony appeared in more than 100 films in his cinematic career while playing the lead in around 30 of them.  We could witness some of the outstanding performances of Tony in films like “Delowak Athara”, “Ransalu”, “Parasathu Mal”, “Hanthane Kathawa”, “Baddegama” and ‘Pawuru Walalu”. During this period he won a number of awards including the Presidential Award.

Tony was also an award winning script writer. On the invitation of Gamini Fonseka he started writing the script for ‘Angulimala’ based on the Jathaka story and this followed a script for “Sayuru Thera”. His thrust for writing became a success when he wrote the scripts for Gamini Fonseka’s “Koti Waligaya”. This was followed by Dr. Lester James Peries’ ‘Avaragira’, D. B. Nihalsinghe’s ‘Kelimadala’, Sumithra Peries’ and many more.