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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2672

Maha Kalasuri Dr. Lester J. Pieris

By Alfred F Senevirtne

America’s Hollywood records Cecil B. De Mel as its greatest MovieDr. Lester J. PierisDr. Lester J. Pieris Director, England recorded as David Lean, India presented Satyajith Ray while Sri Lanka crowned Dr. Lester J. Pieris carving their great names in golden letters as greatest Noblemen of World Cinema; as worthy glorifying men’s contribution in recorded history of Cinema.

Cecil B. De Mel extended an invitation to Dr. L.J. Pieris to Hollywood to be present at world’s highest viewed TV presentation:- Academy Awards. Having seeing "Gamperaliya," Sathyajith Ray developed a close relationship with Dr. Pieris; corresponding letters regularly as two dear friends. His treasured collection of over 50 letters by Director Ray, was borrowed by a Lake House reporter who never returned. Dr. Pieris nursed a great respect for Director Ray’s "Pathar Panchali" and it’s the first trilogy of Indian Cinema. Only a few Film Directors ever made their Cinemas into a Trilogy. The most recent is Steven Spielberg who created "Indiana Jones." To this category "Gamperaliy" carved the first Trilogy of Sri Lanka by Dr. L.J. Pieris.

Perhaps most have forgotten the lengthy list of credits that whole heartedly bestowed on our Crowned King of Sinhala Cinema. Asides the numerous worthy recognized awards and all other credits uprooted from rest of the world like water flowing from a well projected fountain. Kalasuri Martin Wicremasinghe’s "Gamperaliya" - crushing down the cobwebbed decayed ‘mahagedera’ received "The Silver Peacock" from the Greatest Democracy of the World – Great India: - as the Best Film and Director to our Lester J. Pieris; followed by many awards from the rest of the world for this Great Director of Cinema. All the above Film Directors are sadly no longer with us now. Sri Lankans Bless our Great Icon of Sinhala Cinema with the Blessings of the Most Sacred Triple Gem. All Sri Lankan’s Memorable Celebration of this venerable Icon’s Birthday brings glory to our Country.Sri Lanka President Greeting Dr. Lester James Pieris (File Photo)Sri Lanka President Greeting Dr. Lester James Pieris (File Photo)

Yes, Dr. L.J. Pieris and his beloved spouse did sell their valuable properties to make movies. Both sold their private residences outside Colombo along with productive estates. Where they live now is a rented house. Honestly at times I see this “Pieris Madura” just as the residence of "Mahagedera" of Martin Wickremasinghe’s "Gamperaliya." Suggestions of buying this historical residence from then to present day; is no interest. His sole interest is to pour the available cash in making a movie for the sake of Cinema and certainly not a roof over their closely knit family along with their loyal house assistants and the lovable cat and tall standing dog. Front room occupies its computer, printer, fax and telephones with all important film documents that had been appeared on the silver screen and perhaps future ones too in the process of making depending on availability of finance. I always expressed my life long desire in making a movie and asked his help. His firm advice is, "If you are a good friend of mine, I always discourage in making a movie; but if are an enemy, I will encourage." Periodically I expressed greatest desire in making a movie. Yet his ready made fixed answer never changed. Finally I never raised this preposition.

Dr. L .J. Pieris and Madam Sumitra Pieris always has a great respect to our most popular President Mahinda Rajapakse and Family. Perhaps President may pay surprising visit to equally popular Cinema’s great craftsman on his 90th Birthday. Well, it was President Mahinda Rajapakse who was responsible in renaming Dickmand’s Rd. to Dr. Lester James Pieris Mawatha who is very thankful to the Country’s President. Prior to this few postage stamps were issued depicting the portrait of Dr. L.J. Pieris’. Most of these stamps never appeared on mailed covers, but remained as memorable collections with the people of the Country. Celebrating April 5th there is no Party as such. Nevertheless Cinema crowd pours one after the other. Hence eatables and various drinks are being organized for all who enter No. 24 by receiving the large gathering. Striking absentee for the last decade was a loyal member of Cinema family; - a devoted friend of LJP – Late Gamini Fonseka.

Trade marks of LJP movies - Mother rocking the cradle, placing baby to sleep accompanying the melodious voice of Rumania Devi; entertaining the whole family. Young ones playing with marbles, throwing balls, swinging ropes hung on trees, swimming in waters by side canals and lakes, flying kites and tall wooded legged man at high levels, calling ‘Borukakul’.(Rekawa.) Stepping off land for under water photography, dived into water to create “Ranmuthu Duwa’; depicting colourful schools of fish dancing to the orchestration of sea weed and plants brought to our eyes without jumping to the waters. First English movie to be shot entirely in English, with award winning English and American actors, supported by our local talents, of royal costume drama was none other than ‘God King’. This historical movie’s Director was Lester James Pieris; King of Sinhala Cinema. All these happen to be the precious pearls of our Kala Sura; - gracefully woven and worthy to be garland around his neck.

Leaving studio settings of artificial tungsten lights to outdoors with natural settings; embracing the power of sun light, to nature - "Wewai, Kumburai , Dagabai" is the life blood of Sinhalayas; making all proud of farming along with the path of morality of guiding Sanga at Viharas. This landscape of LJP Cinema, narrated the crowning glory of our ‘God King.’ Genre of Cinema craftsman wedded to the performance as he tenderly steers all his charters towards acceptance and enlightenment right royally with distinctive qualities.

Most artists from LPJ Productions became great and highly successful, mastering the right path of Cinema. This is why every performer clamoring to get even a bit part in his movies, knowing well that he being the craftsman who groom any amateur to a professional. He dedicates every moment attentively and mindfully on each and every coming scene and how it would appear through the lens. This is his meditation of ‘mind and matter.’ Vippassana Meditation it narrates as ‘Mind over Matter.’ Knowing well Dr. Pieris placing himself a great deal of faith in monuments and symbols of Sinhala Cinema, I asked to be present on his then production of his last ‘Trilogy’ of equally famed author Martin Wickremasinghe’s native Galle. It’s worth noting that the movie was shot in sequence, which brings an affirming continuity and credibility to the spectacular geography through which our King of Cinema glides. In conclusive this is his approaches with the breathless wonder of a religious zealot, only to learn it has no special significance for him –though he does get to kiss it. Lost in the village he hooks up with a wondering pixie-eyed nymph with flawless directions. The power of this magical, genius, event evaporates next morning just as the brilliant sun confronting the flow of the reel, as the camera records.

Lester James Pieris Films: the world editorial writes: “LJP lives in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, endorsing after such a splendid journey, seems ‘de trop.’ Experiences to give courage to face his own “Mauer Pankha”. Approaching the natural adventures notwithstanding, the movie’s real strength comes from three sources – the understated craft in performance as he tenderly steers his character toward enlightenment and acceptance; the distractive qualities of the Sri Lankan landscape, and the third-person narrative provided by each character of the plot. His eloquent, conversational commentary provides both a deeper understanding of our pilgrim’s progress and the bigger-picture wisdom of a seasoned observer of life’s mysteries large and small that present us in 3D for years to come.

Sri Lankans unanimously bringing both palms together with tilted heads bow this brilliant and creditable genius of Sinhala Cinema the unforgettable God King that originally bestowed worth credits and super publicity to Our Lanka Matha. I am sure when he step on public platforms, everyone honouring him “Namo, Namo our Sri Lankan Hero” for standing ovation! This is our Golden Memories of the Greatest.

Suba Upan Dinayak Wewa! Uthumano!!

- Asian Tribune -

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