Why does it happen in Sri Lanka? Hypocrisy or something else? Where is Ranjan who speaks and fights for justice?
It is not a good thing that high class artists are getting involved in politics. This is because of several reasons. Among those reasons, the main point is that when actors and actresses or singers take to the stage of politicians, many of the audience who love them, will not like it and would have some grudges with them.
Voters in the blue party do not like their favorite artist to take the stage for the green party. Similarly, those who raise the flag for the green party do not like their favorite actors, actresses, or singers to take the stage for the blue party. For red or any other color and in a party, that fan’s preference and resentment is the same. There are many instances in Sri Lankan as well as in our neighboring Bollywood where many superstars have had their star attraction hindered by that fact of getting to the political stages.
Another unfortunate incident that happens there is the reprimanding pressure from the winning party to the artists who attracted the attention of the defeated party. It goes without saying that the matter becomes even more serious if the party leaders who sometimes get help from them are ignored.
Not only that, there is a very special story that should not be forgotten when talking about artists and politics . That story is more pathetic than all the phenomena mentioned above. That is very pathetic is severe enough to abandon art and go to the wild.
What is this about?
It is about the differences of their fellow artists, who feel worse than political sensibilities. To make it a little more clear, simply to explain more, this means that many artists who have to get imprisoned because of political revenge, or who are involved in unnecessary harassments, are severely abandoned by their fellow artists. You don’t have to go to neighboring Bollywood to find examples for that. If you look closely at the Sri Lankan , there are plenty of examples. There is no difference between men and women. Whether a singer or a actor or an actress is irrelevant.
To be honest, it’s very pathetic to talk about it. No matter how bitter and pathetic, but it should be talked about.
The reason for that?
Why is it happening, because of what kind of thing is it happening because our hearts are hurt with the feeling that it is happening.
Here we add three women to the story. They are Anoja Weerasinghe, Chandralekha Perera and Damita Abeyratne.
Anoja Weerasinghe and Damita Abeyratne are two talented actresses who have won awards at the international level. Chandralekha is a talented singer with a sweet voice who hails from Bellwood Village. This introduction is more than enough to mention abou these three artists in Sri Lanka.
Let’s get down to the story. Before that, it should be said that all these three veteran artists were subjected to various political persecutions. Before turning to Damita Abeyratne, we first recall Anoja Weerasinghe and Chandralekha Perera. This is because to he gloomy experiences they faced has a very ugly past witch goes back to decades political background at the same time, Anoja and Chandralekha are victims of the cruel revenge of politics during a same government.
Artists supported Chandrika Kumaratunga in the 1999 presidential election. I have not involve into politics in those days. Artists supported Chandrika for two reasons. One is because she is the wife of our beloved brother Vijaya. We all called her sister instead of madam. The other reason was that she had given a very strict promise to the artists that she would build Sinhala cinema which was collapsing. So everyone supported her. And won the election for her. But none of the promises made about the development of Sinhala cinema were fulfilled. Where there was no interest, the downfall of Sinhala cinema became more and more severe.
We marched for cinema. We joined all those demonstrations led by brother Ravi. We were chased. Many people escaped by sneaking into the houses near by. After that, Ranil Wickramasinghe promised to come with us in the general election. He promised to fulfill our promises. So we went. He got on the stage for three days to tell seven stories without getting even a penny. May be for my bad luck my stories became unnecessarily popular , got published in the media.
That is part of Anoja Weerasinghe’s past story. Anoja used the word “unfortunately” in that speech because Ranil Wickramasinghe’s promise for the advancement of Sinhala cinema led to the seven talks she held to burn her whole wealth to ashes. Chandrika Kumaratunga’s government ordered her to be raped and killed.
My home in Monaragala is as valuable as a museum to me. All my souvenirs were there. It was burnt to a pulp. Even after that, the revenge did not stop. None of the politicians I supported came for me. Not a single fellow artist who was close to me spoke a single word for me. Only Jackson brother, Dharmasiri Bandaranaike and Ravi brother were close to massify me. The fact that there was not even one female artist for me who did not take any political advantage brought me unbearable sadness. How can sensitive people like artists do that? I was really surprised…
Is What Anoja Weerasinghe said is definitely not the truth? How did our super actresses hide like that when they had to do something for a fellow artist? No matter what kind of crime she committed…as an artist, she could not do anything else to meet her fellow artist, why was it not possible for an actress who was engaged in Sinhala cinema or any other art to put her amulet on her shoulder and say some comforting words during Anoja’s tragedy?
Chandralekha was also treated the same way. Rukantha and Chandralekha were given a reprieve by the Chandrika government for going on stage to sing UNP songs for the 2000 election. A fellow artist had not come to Chandralekha to ask what kind of fear Chandralekha felt when her beautiful curly hair was blunted by the attacker’s scissors while her whole body was bathed in petrol.
Don’t cry. Everything is fine now. No artist came to comfort Chandralekha in that manner, who lost all her assets in the house, by touching her head on their shoulders. It was revealed orders to attach Chandraleka was given by a very famous actor during that era.
Why are our female artists abandoned by their fellow artists in a political crisis? Only for Anoja? Only for Chandralekha? No. The same tragic fate happened to Damita Abeyratne the other day. Not very far away. It happened a week and a half ago.
Damita went to jail for not making death threats to anyone. Not selling drugs. Not found guilty of any robbery. What she did was appear in the struggle. Unreasonably, not even one of her fellow actresses came to the prison to see her.
Only ordinary people who respected the struggle even put a post on their Facebook page saying ‘ Free Damita ‘.
Why does this happen every time an artist is in trouble?
Why is it happening in 2022 as it happened in 99 and 2000?
Well, let’s say this. No matter what political revenge Anoja, Chandralekha or Damita is subjected to, no matter what color or party they are there, on the whole, ‘they are artists…’ when faced with the predicament, that kinship alone is enough for other artists, especially women artists, to come close to them.
No matter what they do or what level they are at, just the feeling of being a fellow artist is enough to stand by them.
But it didn’t happen. But in our neighbor country in Bollywood, Juhi Chawla had gone to save Shah Rukh’s son who was in jail for possession of drugs.
Vidya Balan had gone with Shilpa Shetty to see Salman, who was jailed for poaching a rare deer.
Even in India such humanitarian acts happens but why is this not happening in Sri Lanka?
Why is it really happening then and now? It is almost certain that this will never be answered.
Finally, it must be said. It’s pathetic. Very rude.
Something else needs to be said here. It is about Ranjan Ramanayake. When Ranjan was unjustly imprisoned, several artists went to see him. But when Damita was taken to the police today, it is surprising at least even Ranjan, who was outside, did not say a word.
By Damayanthi Renuka Fernando