Nation bid adieu to cinematic icon Sumithra Peries | Daily News

Nation bid adieu to cinematic icon Sumithra Peries

Sri Lankan film maker Sumithra Peries’ funeral was held on Saturday at the Independence Square in splendid fashion attended by a legion of admirers. It was held with much grandeur. Even though the day was one of great sorrow and grief, the outpouring of love and respect was amazing and incredible to see. The Daily News attended the event, where so many dignitaries spoke about how much Peries’ meant to Sri Lanka and how she has left us with such wonderful memories. She will be remembered forever. A goddess of Sri Lanka cinema.

No doubt if she had lived for many more years, there would have been more projects she would have undertaken. According to many reputable sources, she had great plans for future films. But unfortunately, life being impermanent, all her plans were cut short. She was a woman with a big heart. She was bold and ambitious. There is no need to ponder about what she could have done in the future. What she has achieved so far is enough. Of her films the more popular ones are Gehenu Lamai, Ganga Addara and Yahaluvo.

Though President Ranil Wickremesinghe could not attend the event, he sent a message that was delivered by Minister of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs, Vidura Wickramanayaka, where he, the President, expressed his deep affection and respect for Sumithra Peries, who was a heroine for Sri Lankan women and inspired a generation with her great leadership as a Sri Lankan film maker. She was a powerful voice in Sri Lankan society.

“Sumithra Peries’ is a great light that has left the world, but still shines from above. She was a creative genius. She will be remembered with much love and will be sorely missed,” said Wickramanayaka.

The President stated that Sumithra has done so much for our society. “Sumithra’s contribution to Sri Lankan film, arts and culture is commendable. She has left her mark because of her talent and her selfless devotion to cinema. Words cannot express what both Sumitra and Dr. Lester James Peries have done for the Sri Lankan film industry. The entire Sri Lankan film industry is grateful to what these two gentle giants or colossus have done for it. They worked hard with so much commitment and passion for the field they loved. Sumithra is an icon. I too am a great lover of her films and those of her husband. Of Sumithra’s films, my favourite is Ganga Addara. It was a masterpiece,” said Wickremesinghe.

Dr. Peries did not go after fame. Fame came to her. Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena stated that the nation mourns this great woman.

“Dr. Peries was a filmmaker and a leader. Her family mourns her. The nation mourns her. We can say proudly that she was a Sri Lankan. We can tell the world proudly that she was a citizen of our country. She had such will power, determination and charisma. She has done a lot for us. She was someone who guided so many. She had her education at Visakha Vidyalaya. From her youth she was adventurous and relished a challenge. For her every challenge was an opportunity. She was a role model to women. She was able to capture a side of Sri Lankan society, and its reality, that is testimony to her creative genius. She was sensitive and perceptive. She was awarded innumerable titles both political and those related to cinema such as the title of Kala Keerthi by the Government of Sri Lanka in 2005 and The Order of the Rising Sun, Goldand Silver Rays by the Government of Japan in 2021. She has won innumerable awards such as SarasaviyaFilm Awards and Presidential awards during her heyday,” said the Prime Minister.

Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena, stated that Dr. Peries has certainly contributed to transforming the cinema culture in Sri Lanka through her untiring efforts.

“As the Minister of Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister, I would like to express my sorrow and grief at the passing of one of Sri Lanka’s greatest daughters. She was an educated woman who chose to excel in the field of Cinema. We are fortunate that she made this choice. Had she not made this choice, we would have lost the services of one of the greatest filmmakers in history. She was Dr. Lester James Peries’ soul mate. She was a gifted film maker who was behind the creation of cinematic masterpieces that have not only won her local fame but international fame as well. She has won international acclaim. She was the beloved wife and helper of Dr. Lester James Peries. We call her Dr. Lester James Peries’ shadow. She is the queen of our hearts. The queen of people’s hearts. At both international and local film festivals her genius has been recognized. There is no doubt about this,” added Dr. Gunawardena.

He stated that right to the very end, she was dedicated to her work. Dr. Sumithra Peries had no enemies. She made no enemies. All who met her were impressed by her love for humanity.

Sumithra has now achieved immortality. She was above all, a woman of great deeds. Her intelligence and discernment as a film maker has endeared her to so many of her fans. Sri Lankan scholar, film director, Sunil Ariyaratne, pointed out that Sumithra enjoyed life and enjoyed being next to the love of her life - Dr. Lester James Peries. For her life was indeed beautiful.

Actress Vasanthi Chathurani, said that for their love, Lester and Sumithra would do anything for each other. “We all loved Sumithra. We will always cherish the memories. This is a day of great sorrow and grief for all of us. This is a great loss to all of us. She was a mother to all of us. She was a woman of noble character. She was able to reach into our hearts and minds through her skill and gifts and move us to tears and provide us with such happiness. I will always have that intimate connection with Sumitra. The memories we have of her will always be unforgettable. She is unequalled in Sri Lanka. She and Lester taught us so many things,” said Chathurani.

Vice Chancellor, University of Kelaniya, Prof. Nilanthi De Silva, stated that Sumithra was a great lady who brought honour to the country.

De Silva further stated that in early 2021, there was a proposal that the university should award an honourary doctorate to this great lady for her outstanding contribution to Sri Lankan cinema. The senate of the university endorsed this proposal without hesitation. In January 2022, they were able to award Dr. Peries an honourary Doctor of Literature Degree to her in person.

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