Sydney Sri Lankans gather at Blue Elephant to felicitate Dr. Somaratna Dissanayake and Renuka Balasuriya

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On Friday, May 5th, over fifty Sri Lankans gathered at the Blue Elephant restaurant at Pennant Hills, Sydney, to meet and felicitate Dr. Dissanayake and Ms. Balasuriya on the great success of their recent film "SARIGAMA".

The restaurant was near to capacity when Dr. Somaratna and Renuka came in. The huge round of applause was spontaneous as Dr. Somaratna was no stranger to all of us. He was one the the Pioneers who founded the Sinhalese Cultural Forum in Sydney and prior to that served in many capacities in the Sri Lanka Association of NSW.

The film "SARIGAMA" is the first musical produced in Sri Lanka, and as Dr. Somaratna explained later, it was an inspiration from the story of the Family Von Trapp, which became the Sound of Music.

The film was Directed by Dr. Somaratna Dissanayake, Produced by Renuka Balasuriya with the music score by Dr. Rohana Weerasinghe.

The friends and well wishers who attended mixed freely with others and your webmaster took the opportunity to take as many photos as possible on this very happy occasion

Food was simple but excellent and the dessert was a very health conscious fresh fruit salad. Siva and his staff must be congratulated on the service and quality.

Live music was by Upul de Silva who sang evergreen hits from our motherland. Songs by C.T. Fernando, Sunil Shanta and Dharmadasa Walpola - to name but a few, were well received. The guest joined in the singing of many of these great hits.

Mrs. Priyani Ganewatta joined Upul and sang several beautiful melodies. She was later joined by her husband Dr. Palitha and the duets were romantic to say the least.

Mrs. Shirani Wijesena was coaxed into singing and her melodious voice was in perfect harmony with Upul's. Sadly one of the microphones decided to act in a recalcitrant manner, but that did not dampen the event an iota.

Jayantha gave the opening address and made many references to the old days when Dr. Somaratna, then a student, would lend his car to other Sri Lankans to help them out He recalled many funny anecdotes of the good times they all had with Dr. Somaratna and the strong bonds that kept them together to this very day.

Kitshiri Karunarantne and Jayantha Abeydeera must be thanked for organising this event at short notice. In his speech Kitshiri acknowledged the contribution to the Community that was made by Dr. Somaratna and he also took time to mention others at the event who have worked tirelessly for the community in some form or other.

Dr. Somaratna spoke in Sinhalese, acknowledging the language of our Motherland He mentioned that he was one of the pioneers in the cinema industry in Sri Lanka to bring in Australian cinematic methods and techniques. He noted that his thesis for his Masters in Cinema Art, at the University of Sydney was based on "Bringing novels to the silver screen" and "SARIGAMA" was a true reflection of this very thesis.

He further asked us all to consider investing monies, that would otherwise be taxed, into creating a film company in Australia, not just catering to the Sri Lankan market or diaspore, but to the other parts of the world as well. The many opportunities to produce films in Australia were ripe for the picking and the Australian Govt. actively encouraged this industry with lucrative tax benefits.

The event went on till nearly midnight. It was a wonderful tribute by the Community to Dr. Somaratna and Renuka- today the leading film production duo in Sri Lanka.

Click here and enjoy an album from the event by your Webmaster

Roy Grafix and SPG Mahanama shared their photos with us. You can enjoy that too album by clicking here.


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