By Ramesh Uvais
The first death anniversary of ace comedian, dramatist, filmmaker and inimitable actor Tennyson Cooray falls today, September 28.
The family of the award winning actor has organized a virtual memorial service on zoom at 7 pm today (28). It will be telecast live on Tennyson Cooray Youtube Channel and Tennyson Cooray Facebook page too.
Tennyson Cooray whose amazing performances drew crowds to theatres, was 68 at the time of death.
Born in Moratuwa on April 30, 1952, Tennyson was a known name in the Moratuwa area before he made it big on stage and cinema.
In 1972 he wrote and directed a short film called ‘Hada Bandi Siththam’ but he was unable to complete it due to various constraints. But that did not deter his passion for theatre and acting.
Having played a small role in Hemasiri Sellapperuma’s ‘Jeewanthi’, Tennyson got his biggest film break when his childhood Moratuwa friend Dinesh Priyasad offered him the main role in his maiden film ‘Nommara Ekai’ together with Bandu Samarasinghe. This paved the way for the ‘Tenny-Bandu’ combination to ignite the silver screen.
On stage, Tenny was popular as an actor in his hometown Moratuwa, but he got his maiden break at national level via Sisil Gunasekara’s ‘Guwan Karanam’ in 1981. From then onwards Tennyson was the biggest crowd-puller be it theatre or films.
On the surface though one might appreciate the role played by Tennyson as a comedian and his plays filled with humorous content, Tenny was thoughtful in using serious themes in his plays.
Most of his popular plays highlighted the perils of drug addiction among the youth, child abuse, corruption and other socially relevant topics.
He also brought back the 115-year old Tower Hall play ‘Sivamma Dhanapala’ as a new production not only rekindling memories of a bygone era, but also by donating part of the proceeds from this play for the welfare of aged Tower Hall artistes.
“This is a new concept to draw huge crowds to watch my play which depicts the hazards of drug addiction. A country may reach the peak in terms of development, but will it mean anything if the people are not developed mentally and physically. It is so disturbing to note that the young generation including school children are now prone to drug addiction. We will have to act right now to eradicate this menace,” Tennyson told me during one of our meetings a couple years ago.
He always believed that one need not be a politician to serve the people.
File pix: Location / Costumes – Nilhan Seneviratne