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The name  Ajith Jinadasa, was made popular by Nimal Hathurusinghe in “Gahanu Lamai”.    Ajith  Nowadays lives in Canada. We spoke to Ajith Jinadasa to find out  information about his present life AND experience in Canada

Please tell us your full name and basic back ground for our readers.

My full name is Wannaku ralalage Ajith Lakwije Jinadasa Nilame. I was born in Elapatha in Rathnapura. To be exact in the town of Otamulla. We are  rural folk. But my father sent us to the city, for education.  First I went to a Balika Vidyalaya in Ratnapura and then to St. Aloysius College in Ratnapura. In Grade 7 I sat for a Scholarship test called “Jathika Nawodaya”, and I obtained sufficient marks to be admitted to Ananda College in Colombo.  My youth in 1960’s, was spent as a regular child.   According to my friends, I was a bright and, smart person.  While I was in Ananda College I  was chosen to play the main role of the film Madolduwa.

Ajith 2

How did that situation come about? 

At that time there was a school book named Nawamanga, which had a part of the Madolduwa story. I had  read that and it was etched  in my mind.  During that time I  saw  an advertisement in a news paper that  Modolduwa book will  be filmed  and the film maker was looking for child actors  for  audition . So I sent an application and totally forget about it.

Which class were you in at that time?

I  was In Grade 11 and in the College Hostel.  One day in my mail I found a typed letter.  That was for the audition. I had completely forgotten about the application.  I went to the audition and  there were  more than 300 kids.  They only chose about four or five for the film, and I was chosen as the lead actor.

We like to hear some special highlights in your artistic life after  Madolduwa.

Madolduwa became very popular and my name flew with it.   Then I was selected for  another film named  “Gahanu Lamai”  by Mrs. Sumithra Peris  and the biggest  shock  was I was chosen for the main role: Nimal Hathurusinghe’s  character. The main actress was Ms.Wasanthi Chathurani. Soon after I received seven other productions consecutively, and I gained fame.

Stage Theatre is another page of my permanent acting career.  In 70s I joined popular drama group which included Mr.Jayalath Manoratna. It’s fair to say that together we started a long theatrical journey.

Was that situation a hindrance to your education?

If  not  for  that, I would have continued my higher education.  I was a scholarship student, right?  But on the other hand at that  time it was  not easy  to get in to a university in Sri Lanka, specially from a school in Colombo District.  Even though, I missed obtaining diplomas and credentials,  I continued  to gain  knowledge by reading books, magazines, or newspapers. Even if I pick up  a piece of newspaper from the ground, I would read it, and learn something from it.  Art, Music, Film are my main subjects.

As an adult, can  you   think  of  your past or childhood happy?

Hm… yes. ….My childhood was not a fairy tale.  Even though, I was an actor,  a politician and  today I am living in a western country, still I recall my past and feel happy and proud.  We did not have a luxury life.  We did not have electricity  or tap water facilities at that time.  One day my father  had to bring water to my home from very far. The next  day I had to do that.  Yet we grew up with full of life experiences.  After 12 years,  I  went  to Sri Lanka last year  and met lots of my village friends. Though  they   called  me Ajith Mahaththaya,  I still felt  they were my old friends  and  called them the  same as before,  “Machan.”    I like  the place where I grew up and the people with whom  I  grew up.

Did you partake in  any acting courses or workshops, around that period? I am talking about the 70s?

At that time we did not have that  kind  of facilities.  We  did  self studies, and sacrificed a lot to reach this position.  Then  I wanted to develop my abilities to script writing, producing Tele dramas, and some stage dramas. “Daha ata adiriya” was a very successful  Tele drama I produced.  Also, I did some Single episode  teledramas.

Being someone who won a place in the  Sri Lankan Film Industry, you had the chance to make an influence in international Cinema. Why did you join politics in Sri Lanka?

I entered that world with awareness  to serve the people. I was trying not to be an actor, when I was doing Politics. Our popular actors, namely  late Mr. Vijaya Kumaranathunga, and Mr. Gamini Fonseka  had  the same view.  The ones  in power  are ignorant of what  the people around them  are doing.  Anyhow it was Mr Vijaya Kumarathunga’s death which  propelled me towards it. When Vijay was  killed by shooting,  that party wanted a leader. Nobody came forward. When he was alive we cheered for him and for the party. As a honest person how could  I stay silently, when nobody presented himself  as a leader to run the party? So I  volunteered  to  lead the party. I could not hide in fear. I  debated  with  myself and joined  the Parliament. Then  the situation made me  realize that was not for me. That created  a desire in me to come to Canada.

How do you evaluate your mother land?

Sri-Lanka is great.  We  value  Sri-Lanka. It is of value to us too. But unfortunately people in general, are lacking in good morals.   But we always love Sri-Lanka.

Why did you leave Sri-Lanka and come to Canada?  

Due  to political and social changes.  While learning new lessons  about the political society, I became a  bit disheartened. I am talking about the situation in 1982. Everything revolved around money. I did not want to be someone’s pawn.  I wanted to live like a normal regular man. So I decided to move from there to Canada.

Why did you choose Canada? Is  there any special reasons?

No I did not have a specific  reason  to choose Canada. I knew a bit about Canada.  I  wanted a place where I could lead  a comfortable  life . I realized that Canada was  good to migrate.

But at  the beginning  starting  life in Canada was not that easy.

As an immigrant and as an artist how do you view Canada?

The Canadian Government puts a huge effort to develop the Canadian Cinema. They are trying to build the Industry to the level of Hollywood Cinema.  In  my opinion if Sri Lanka joined the Bollywood industry it could probably thrive more.

What can you say about your life spent in Canada?

In Canada, everyone has  equality. They can discuss their rights, and responsibilities. That is the beauty of the Canadian life. We are safe and comfortable. That has been my experience. We have to work. We have to respect the society and laws. That is understandable. We can see the clear path. It is not confusing.

Tell us something about your current occupation.

Definitely I am not working as an artist. I am working in another field.

Did you take all these transitions as difficulties  or challenges?

Well, I was never someone to  back  down.   I take everything as a challenge in a  positive way. That is  life  and  we have to face  it.

Do you miss Arts and being  unable to use your artistic talents?

Yes. there is a shadow of sadness. If one is able to do  what he or she loves, there is  joy.

Now you are in a western country. Do you not have a desire  to make use of these opportunities for your success?

Of course and I am still researching on it. If I do something, it would  have to be  for the entire world.  I am a person with lots of life experiences, so I can spread that knowledge to my viewers. We should look at  life with an  open  mind.  When a baby is born the baby has no label. It is the way of  shaping that baby since birth, which takes away the beauty of the human. People are  restricted  by these things.  Look at  the entire world as a human being, not as a Buddhist, or Catholic, or Sinhalese.

If we ignore these issues and values, how can we have a culture in a country?

How did  these things help to build a good culture in a society?  People turn cruel with these boundaries.  We cannot stop the  world changing.  Technology and science drives it forward. See the new generation today.  They  think  wisely, broadly.  They may be bit emotional but they are deep thinkers, even in Sri Lanka.

Finally, how long  you have been in Canada?  What are your future goals?

About 14 years. When I came to Canada, my son was small . Now he is studying in a University in Canada. These days I am planning to do more  artistic pursuits, because I have more time.  I have no big dreams about being a rich man. Getting wealth is good. I push forward as I can. I would like to add this thought. The earth is for every single creature. It is not right we cause pain to one another.    Such things  should  be eradicated  slowly. At least  we must try to help to remove them.

I thanked Mr Ajith Jinadasa for spending his valuable time with us and thought of him this way:

For the last 14 years living in Canada, I knew him as a stage star, announcer, and a producer.  But after doing this interview, I realized  that he is a very good hearted, wise and moderate person. Someone who has faced life with a strong personality. He has wonderful characteristics and he is an authentic person. We love you Ajith!

Discussed and prepared by Deepa Hettige

Assisted by Prabhadi Manjarie

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