Achievers’ Night for artistes, students | Page 3 | Sunday Observer
Satharawa Deepani

Achievers’ Night for artistes, students

19 March, 2023
President Ranil Wickremesinghe presenting the award  to veteran actor Cyril Wickramage
President Ranil Wickremesinghe presenting the award to veteran actor Cyril Wickramage

The Satharawa Deepani felicitation ceremony was held on March 16 under the auspices of President Ranil Wickremesinghe at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH), Colombo. Artists who contributed to the productions of Transport, Highways and Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena were paid tribute at the event.

Accordingly, veteran artists such as Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, Parakrama Niriella, and Cyril Wickramage were awarded by President Wickremesinghe in recognition of their contributions while Prof. Ariyaratne Athugala, Kumara Thirimadura and Sarath Kothalawala were also appreciated for their contributions to the films Saho and The Newspaper.

Cyril Wickramage, now 91 years of age was the senior most artist to be felicitated at the event.

Family of artists

Wickramage hails from a family of artists especially talented in dance. He was trained in the art form despite his father’s reluctance and performed on stage for the first time when he was chosen to portray a character in a stage ballet titled ‘Ranathisara’ by veteran dancer Sri Jayana.

He went on to portray the lead character in a musical drama ‘Pahana Saha Ran Ethana’ by Ananda Samarakoon. He eventually took part in a stage play titled ‘Minis Gathiya’ by Felix Premawardana.

Witnessing his talents on stage, Gunasena Galappatti offered Wickramage a role in the ‘Muhudu Putta’ play which in turn made him a household name. He marked his film debut by acting in ‘Handapana’ but became immensely popular through portraying a young fisherman in the film ‘Sathsamudura’.

Prowess as an actor

Since then Wickramage has acted in many films and teledramas displaying his great prowess as an actor, the most recent being in the film Bandanaya released in 2017. He also ventured into film direction through the films ‘Sihina Lowak’ and ‘Karadiya Walalla’.

Wickramage was also once the Chairman of Ceylon Tea Company and the Director of the Tower Hall Foundation. He has won many awards including the prestigious President’s merit award for “Bambaru Awith” in 1979.

The presentation of scholarships to 251 A/L students under the “Pragna Bandu” scholarship scheme also took place at this event.

This scheme was commenced by Minister Dr. Gunawardena considering the lacunae that existed for the education of children from disadvantaged communities.

The welcome address was delivered by the former Dean of the Faculty of Accounting, University of Sri Jayewardenepura and Director (Finance) of ANCL Prof. Harendra Kariyawasam while the keynote address was delivered by cinema critic Gamini Weragama.


A book on Minister Dr. Gunawardena’s services to the cinema industry titled “Subandu Cinema Watha” written by veteran film journalists Prof. Praneeth Abhayasundara, A.D. Ranjith Kumara and Dinusha Kudagodage was also launched at the event.

Dr. Gunawardena’s cinematic journey, as recalled in this book, began with the acclaimed film “Thunveni Yamaya”. Later, he produced movies including Suddilage Kathawa, Saho, The Newspaper, Ayoma and Siri Medura.

Dignitaries such as former Presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena and Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay also graced the event. Several religious events were also held in connection with the Minister’s birthday which fell on the same day.

Pictures by Sulochana Gamage

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa presents a Satharawa Deepani scholarship to a student

President Ranil Wickremesinghe fetes veteran artist Parakrama Niriella

Prime Minster Dinesh Gunawardana presents a Satharawa Deepani scholarship to a student

Former President Maithripala Sirisena presents a Satharawa Deepani scholarship to a student

‘The Newspaper’ film’s Co-Director Kumara Thirimadura feted by Minister of Mass Media Dr. Bandula Gunawardena

Saho film director Prof. Ariyanthana Athugala receives an award from veteran actor Ravindra Randeniya

‘The Newspaper’ film’s Co-Director Sarath Kotalawela feted by Minister of Mass Media Dr. Bandula Gunawardena

The Maha Sangha consisting of Mahanayakas and Anunayakas

The Subandhu Cinema Watha, a book on Dr. Bandula Gunawardena’s film career, presented to the Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay

Veteran film critic Gamini Weragama delivering the keynote address

Former Head of Accounting Studies University of Jayewardenepura and Lake House Director of Finance, Prof. Harendra Kariyawasam delivers the inaugural speech

Chathura Gunawardena and Dewika Chathurani entertain the audience with a duet

Performance by the Channa Upuli Dance Academy

Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena receives blessings of the Triple Gem at the Gangaramaya Temple from Prof. Ven. Kirinde Assaji Thera

The Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong distributes dry rations to 200 low-income families at the Homagama Sri Sugathabimkarama Temple to mark Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena’s birthday

Dr. Bandula Gunawardena serves food to low-income families at the Gangaramaya Temple’s community kitchen