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Fans : 2 Baptist Fernando - බැප්ටිස් ප්‍රනාන්දු

Known As : Baptist Fernando
Real Name : Baptist Fernando
First Released : Perakadoru Bena 1955
Latest Released : Cheriyo Darling

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 It is said old is Gold. We could also say old is credible and solid. There was a Star in the 70’s decade in Sinhala Cinema, who dreaded filmgoers with his portrayal of the villain. He eventually became a much-loved Hero on the Silver Screen. Further, he expanded his horizons as a producer and a director. He is non other than the Evergreen Baptist Fernando. These are excerpts of a very recent interview, Daily News had with Baptist Fernando.

Waranakularuisya Maha Lekamge John Baptist Fernando’s Alma Mater was Joseph Vas College in Wennappuwa. He had been a sports enthusiast and his favourite sport was wrestling. When Baptist was in Senior Level class, he practiced wrestling with the then heavyweight champion, Basil Rodrigo.
Baptist’s good friend S.A. Fernando had noticed not only the macho body of his buddy, but also the photogenic qualities he possessed.
Thus he had taken few photographs of Baptist at a Church feast and posted them to the late B. A.W. Jayamanne (Eddie Jayamanne’s elder brother). This had led to calling for a screen test for Baptist at ‘Jaya Ruk’ (Eddie and Rukmani’s home). The film was ‘Perakadoru Bana’.
Baptist was selected for the main villain’s role and flew to India for shooting. He was still in the senior level class in College and had to say ‘adios’ to his alma mater, while flying to India.
The film was screened in 1955. Baptist had bitter experiences in the sets of his first film itself. Young Baptist silently made a pledge to him self; that he will produce and play the main role in his own film one day.
Baptist did ‘Purasha Ratnaya’(1959) with Prem Jayanath, which had he evergreen song ‘Aiyata Mae Raja Gae Malli Hadala’.
He played as the villain firstly in ‘Sithaka Mahima’ (1964). The cast was, Prem Jayanth, Rita Ratnayake, Ashoka Ponnamperuma and the alluring Sandhya Kumari. Gamini Fonseka chose Baptist to play the villain in ‘Ohoma Hondada’. Filmgoers in 70’s decade would still recall the popular song ‘Rajakam Keruwath... kalakam pala dae’ which Gamini sang, while pounding Baptist with a whip.
Baptist recalls, “I have had many fight scenes with Gamini. I always told Gamini to hit me hard to give credibility to the fight scene.
Even the film directors at that time thought, I was the best match for Gamini as the villain. Indian directors at that time who directed Sinhala films had been very professional, serious and corporative.”
‘Satha Panaha’ (1965) is another film in which Baptist played villain apposite Gamini. Baptist’s portrayal of villain was different.
Though he was soft spoken, his evil acts on the screen dreaded many. Baptist went on to say, laughingly, “Even Malani Fonseka had told me once that she was scared even to look at me even outside the set.”
Baptist played villain in Satha Panaha, Ohoma Hondada, Sahanaya (1972) Kawada Raja (1972) and Thushara (1972). Thushara was the last film which projected Baptist as villain. In the new version of ‘Thushara,’ Sahan Wijesinghe plays the role originally played by Baptist. “Sahan has done justice to my role” says Baptist.
Baptist and Jenita Samaraweera in Tikira
Baptist formed ‘Seven Arts’ with Prem Jayanath and produced ‘Sahanaya’ jointly in 1972. “Eventually, I got fed up by playing villain” says Baptist. “I wanted my fans to love me as a hero, although at that time, film goers loved the hero and villain alike”, he says.
Thus Baptist produced his own film ‘Duppathage Hithawatha’ amidst many warnings and objections from peers. “People in the film trade never thought I could project the image of the hero on silver screen, since I was branded as most dreadful villain”, Baptist says smilingly.
The film became a box office hit. This phenomenal achievement, led Baptist to produce a gamut of films with himself in the lead role, Tikira, Eka diga Kathawak, Namal Renu, Sudu Aiya to name a few. ‘Eka diga Kathawak’ was dubbed in Tamil as ‘Oru Thalei Kadal’ to be screened in Jaffna.
Significance in Baptist’s own productions was, none of the actors, actresses or technicians signing agreements. He was a ‘Pay Master’ and his colleagues knew that. Baptist was a good businessman too. What he earned from his businesses was invested in producing films with a view to rejuvenating the dying Sinhala film industry in the 80’s which was a just cause. (Introduction of colour TV had hit the Sinahala film industry hard at that time.)
He was once the Treasurer of ‘Nalu Nili Sangamaya’ and had done a great deal of justice to his post.
Baptist used to fight against injustice in real life too. His film ‘Tikira’ was deprived of screening in Lido, Zainstan led film halls.
Authorities wanted to screen ‘Weera Puran Appu’ instead in this circuit. Baptist took a court order against this decision, which led the authorities to introduce a new circuit called ‘5th Circuit’ to screen ‘Weera Puran Appu’. ‘Tikira’ became a box office hit. The back and forth summersault (‘Balti’) Baptist introduced in Tikira became very popular among his fans.
Baptist produced and directed the Epic film ‘Angulimala’ (1998) with Ravindra Randeniya and Joe Abeywickrama in leading roles. He further produced/ directed ‘Raja Kello’ with Sithara Priyadharshani (1991).
Baptist pronounces 70’s decade as the golden era of Sinhala Cinema. “The industry in 70’s had a good range at actors, directors, technicians and also script writers and producers.
“The plot in a particular film was so strong that the hero’s character as well ass the villain’s character got highlighted,” says Baptist. He has a regard for late H.D. Kulatunga who played villain in ‘Chandiya.’
Photo Gallery
No Year Name Character Director
1 ) 1974 Duppathage Hithawatha S.V. Chandran
2 ) 1977 Vanagatha Kella Henry Chandrawansa
3 ) 1978 Tikira Sherly P.Wijerathna
4 ) 1990 Walavuve Hamu Gamini Nawarathna
5 ) 1973 Thushara Yasapalitha Nanayakkara
6 ) 1976 Kauda Rajaa J. Selvarathnam
7 ) 1978 Sally Syril P. Abeyrathna
8 ) 1996 Cheriyo Darling Roy De Silva
9 ) 1972 Sahanaya J. Selvarathnam
10 ) 1964 Sithaka Mahima M.S. Anandan
11 ) 1976 Pradeepe Ma Weva Yasapalitha Nanayakkara
12 ) 1955 Perakadoru Bena A.B. Raja
13 ) 1959 Awishwasaya T. Somasekaran
14 ) 1959 Purusha Rathnaya A.S. Nagarajan
15 ) 1965 Sepatha Soya Ahamad Kamur
16 ) 1965 Satha Panaha M.S. Anandan
17 ) 1966 Athulveema Thahanam M.S. Anandan
18 ) 1966 Sigiri Kashyapa Bandu Gunasekara
19 ) 1967 Ranrasa P. Ratnam
20 ) 1969 Oba Nethi Nam M.V. Balan
21 ) 1970 Ohoma Hodada J. Selvarathnam
22 ) 1973 Hondata Hondai J. Selvarathnam
23 ) 1990 Kristhu Charithaya Sunil Ariyarathna
24 ) 1978 Mage Ran Putha M.V. Balan
25 ) 1996 Sabe Mithura Sherly P.Wijerathna
26 ) 1977 Chin Chin Nona J. Selvarathnam
27 ) 1977 Deviyani Oba Koheda Aruna Shanthi
28 ) 1977 Ege Adara Kathawa Yasapalitha Nanayakkara
29 ) 1979 Raja Kollo Gunasiri Senanayaka
30 ) 1979 Subhani S.V. Chandran
31 ) 1989 Mamai Raja Sunil Soma Peiris
32 ) 1989 Shakthiya Obai Amme Ranga Wijendra
33 ) 1987 Ahinsa Malani Fonseka
34 ) 1988 Angulimala Baptist Fernando
35 ) 1996 Sihina Vimane Raja Kumari Upali Piyarathna
36 ) 1994 Shakthi Sherly P.Wijerathna
37 ) 1991 Raja Kello Shirley P. Wijeratne
38 ) 1984 Namal Renu E. Rathnam
39 ) 1982 Eika Diga Kathawak Sri Nihal Jayasingha
40 ) 1982 Sudu Ayya S.V. Chandran
41 ) 1975 Siril Malli Joe Micheal
No Year Name Character Director
1 ) 1988 Angulimala Baptist Fernando
No Year Name Character Director
1 ) 1967 Sarana Ashoka David
2 ) 1972 Sahanaya J. Selvarathnam
3 ) 1974 Duppathage Hithawatha S.V. Chandran
4 ) 1978 Tikira Sherly P.Wijerathna
5 ) 1982 Eika Diga Kathawak Sri Nihal Jayasingha
6 ) 1982 Sudu Ayya S.V. Chandran
7 ) 1984 Namal Renu E. Rathnam
8 ) 1988 Angulimala Baptist Fernando
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Baptist Fernando
Reviewed by on 2017-09-22 .
Rating: 3
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