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Dr. Dharmasena Pathiraja, a revolutionary film director

The news of the passage of cinema’s stalwart Dr. Dharmasena Pathiraja impacted on most of us with a benumbing shock.

For some time now, he was ailing but when we heard of his farewell to life we could not help but be shaken, because of the seeming abruptness of the end.

The good part of his life, turning 74 years, was spent in making films and an illuminating people on media issues as a communication Don and a general style-setter. In the 71 year history of indigenous cinema, his contribution to the medium could very well claim a whole chapter.

For his cinematic debut title Sathuro (Enemies), a short film done in 1970, to his finale offering Swarupa of 2017, a film adapted from Kafka, Pathiraja has been a by-word for a revolutionary cinema creativity.

In most of his pioneering work as a film director he proved an articulate cinematic tongue, for the masses who have no public life. He primed his emerging communication talents at the Monash University, Australia.

In parallel to his film creations, he functioned as an old academic in cinema and related disciplines. He explored characters that inhabit the work-a-day world of the unemployed and those who earn precarious living at the edge of formal society.

His Ahas Gawwa, Bambaru Avith, Soldadu Unnehe, are all inspired by the living and pulsating reality of lives of those whose existence is always lest unsung and unrecognized.

His social consciousness is reflected in such works as Eya den loku lamayek (She is grown up now). The major work of his final stage of creativity his Sakkaran adapted from an impressive work of fiction by Chaminda Welagedara. The underline theme depicts Pathiraja’s philosophy which emphasizes the socially underprivileged.

He is perhaps the only Sinhala film director to create a Tamil language cinematic work titled ‘Ponmani’. It touches social areas that are acutely sensitive.

In Pathiraja, we had an exceptionally proliferate cinematic genius who had the daring to step out the beaten track and explore social areas that should receive mass attention.His body of cinematic creations as already won acclaim and accolade when we say farewell to him, all lovers of art and culture should make a pledge that we will not allow his praiseworthy contribution to pass away from mass memory in to a cynical limbo.

- Dr. Edwin Ariyadasa 


Film artistes and family members paying their last respects to veteran film director Dr.Dharmasena Pathiraja
who passed away at a private hospital in Kandy yesterday.The funeral was held at the Mahaiyawa cemetery
yesterday evening according to his wishes. Picture by Asela Kuruluwansha