Laksh-Man of Many Trades

By Priyangwada Perera | Published: 2:00 AM Nov 20 2021
Echo Laksh-Man of Many Trades

By Priyangwada Perera

“What tragedy is that the best human beings are called to early rest,” he sings in his soulful voice. All his songs are memorable. You hear these songs and are captured forever. If you saw him acting, he would definitely have left a mark. The tele-dramas are etched in my mind, songs I keep humming and singing. His handsome face has barely aged. But Lakshman Wijesekara is no more. In memory of that beloved artist, we spoke to some people who could tell us more about him. 

(Pix courtesy Kumara Kotelawela)

Chandralekha Perera

"I met Lucky for the first time in 1984 when acting in T.B. Nihalsinghe’s teledrama Rekha. Of course, I had seen him in the field but I too was a newcomer at the time. Rekha teledrama was a turning point in the lives of all three of us; Lakshman, Devika Mihirani and myself. Lucky was replacing Rohana Weerasinghe, who was the first choice for the actor. Lucky was a shy person. He was very reluctant at times. 

I remember him going to Nihalsinghe sir and trying to withdraw himself from this. But Nihalsinghe saw Lucky’s potential. He knew Lucky was just shy. So, Nihalsinghe spoke to him personally and from there emerged the great actor. From day one Lucky was such a gentle, conversant and loving person. He is very kind to everyone. I think I can safely say that he has lived all his years vibrating the same beauty. After the teledrama Rekha, I did not meet him often even though we would see each other at different functions and so on. 

"He had his own unique voice and personality. He was embraced by his fans. Lucky has many songs which were embraced by the listeners. But my song Delvu Pahan, sung with him, remains evergreen. I consider it a great privilege to have met him, to have sung with him and also to act with him. It was a great pleasure. I hold Lakshman Wijesekara very close to my heart."   

Kamal Addara Arachchi

In the unforgettable Ira Paya, where the title track is still popular Kamal Addara Arachchi acted with Samitha Mudunkotuwa and Lakshman Wijesekara. Speaking to us on the unforgettable days Addara Arachchi recalled how they acted together. “He was a senior artist in terms of music. But in this instance, I was more senior in terms of my acting profession,” Addararachchi said half laughing. “Lakshman was a bit senior to me but our age was not a barrier for us. Lakshman was like a young man, energetic and very compassionate. He was a true gentleman, would not get involved in gossiping and would always mind his own business,” Addara Arachchi spoke of Lakshman with much fondness.

Dr. Rohana Weerasinghe

“In the latter part of 1969, we met at the College of Fine Arts. Hundreds of youth came there for the interview and test. It is such a coincidence that the two of us had some sixth sense that we both spoke to each other. From there till now, we have been close, deeply connected friends. Whether it was programmes for amateur artists at Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), the test for Sarala Gee, or our bond at the College of Fine Arts as student leaders – Lucky as the Secretary and I the President – where have we not shared our lives? We went to India together to study, and we got our first teaching appointments together. I went to Nuwara Eliya and Lucky to Anuradhapura. Our souls were knit,” Weerasinghe reminisced. 

They were also a part of the chorus of Victor Rathnayake’s prestigious concert 'Sa'. Then they got together and started a music class called Kala Bhoomi.  “When I got the chance to act in Rekha, I knew Lucky was the most suitable person, not me. He had the good looks and the personality and also he had the love for acting. That is how he became an actor and our desire to see each other succeed was mutual. There is no end to his goodness,” Dr. Weerasinghe continued. 

“Lucky never ran after money. He was very open and an extremely good person. He was ever ready to dedicate himself to a good cause and went out of the way to help others. He helped people at his own personal expense. I can vouch for Lucky that he was someone who did not know what jealousy was. His family is the same. His children and mine are also like siblings. Lakshman is the same with my children,” Dr. Weerasinghe said. 

Being frank at all times, he added, “Lucky’s voice is much better than mine. People and the industry embraced it. The visual media, television and advertising, TV presenting; all sought his visual presence. But Lakshman never really cared about money or his economic wellbeing. He helped everyone but collected nothing,” he spoke with a lot of emotion. What he felt on the very first day he saw Lucky was some sansarik bond he believes and that he believes would stay.

Nishamani Wedagedara

Not many may remember Nishamani Wedagedara by name, since she gave up her career in acting many moons ago. However, those who saw her on TV are unlikely to forget her performances, acting in Wasantha Obesekara’s Thimira Pavuwa and co-starring with Roshan Pilapitiya in Sura Tharuva. In 1994, Nishamani became the Best Upcoming Actress for her performance as Anula in Wijesekara’s teledrama Vilambita. "Being a big fan of T.B. Ilangaratne’s novel Vilambita, I still remember my delight at seeing the perfect casting of the director Lakshman Wijesekara. The very Thilaka and Anula akka who were in my head were also in the teledrama." 

Nishamani made a perfect Anula akka. 

“I was chosen by Lakshman Sir, to play this role and he was such a kind director. I was very young and he looked after me so well. He would brief me about the story and what he expects, he designed everything perfectly. Lakshman sir never got angry. He was extremely patient. I remember being looked after very well.” 

She reminisced how, as a young girl, she was constantly encouraged by him. “He would tell me, ‘Nishamani you are going to be recognised', and that is exactly what happened." She recalled his charming personality. “His good looks and talents were never used in a wrong way. There wasn’t a word misused, not even a hint of misbehaviour, and no inappropriate jokes – nothing. He was a perfect gentleman. His brilliance so readily shared is reflecting on my award.” Nishamani was deeply saddened by the demise of the actor, who was nothing less than a mentor to her.

By Priyangwada Perera | Published: 2:00 AM Nov 20 2021

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