Kamal Addararachchi is an award-winning actor, singer and a presenter, who has conquered the hearts of thousands of his fans since the Gamini Fonseka era. Kamal’s name has been in the limelight for decades and two of his most famous songs ‘Unmadawoo’ and ‘Thun Sitha Dehan Gathawena’ have created wonders in the Sri Lankan music industry. After a long break, Kamal is yet to take another giant step and in a candid interview with the Dailymirror , he shared his ideas about this next move and expressed his views on the current political situation and the situation of artistes in the country.
After you hosted Sirasa Superstar we didn’t see you on television for a while. Why were you inactive for so long?
Sirasa Superstar was an accident. That was not the professional side of me. It was a moment where my ability to express ideas and my style of projection was recognised by Nilendra Deshapriya who was an assistant film director at the time. These capabilities have impressed them and because of that they asked me to host it. I am an artiste who can do much more than that. For the last so many years I have dedicated myself as an artiste who has worked with the best of the creations. Running around trees for cheap commercial type movies is not my thing. Art is something you can use to destroy virtues of people by corrupting their minds and destroying their standard of appreciation. It is capable of creating a cheap sensation. So I never wanted to be a part of this game. My aspiration has always been to set up standards and give guidance for the betterment of the people’s way of life. As of today there aren’t many productions created for intellectual approach. All what you see on television are mega teledrama series that kill valuable time along with advertisements. So, there is no quality or intellectual standards maintained in all our TV productions. So, within this situation there is no scope or hope for cinema or the TV industry. The future is ruined with current catastrophic conditions. So I live with my past. We have a very bleak future and I have become a victim of this present scenario.
How would you describe an artiste?
An artiste is a person who lives in the hearts of people and who is also respected by them. An artiste doesn’t have to be a hero. He is an exemplary person who will teach ethics and moral values to the people. What our people lack is common sense. Once someone becomes an artiste he/she has a great responsibility for the people. He manipulates with the intellectual value and feelings. Art is a way to identify virtues, ethics and a way of appreciating all good things like humanity.
Veterans in the industry like Gamini Fonseka and Vijay Kumaratunga ended up in politics, setting up a trend for the amateurs. Do you think an artiste should enter politics?
I believe that an artiste should never get involved in active politics. Even the clergy don’t need to get into politics provided that there are true leaders to rule a country. If there are no true leaders and things won’t happen with a vision then there is a vacuum being made. Therefore artisets and the clergy will have to turn around to do politics. They see that the country is having a problem and it’s their responsibility to step out. However, this has a disadvantage for an artiste because there will be a division among their own fans. It’s always a battle between two sides. Sri Lanka has never been talking politics other than mud-slinging and defaming each other. In the case of Gamini Fonseka, he was a man of wisdom and associated with so many people. He probably would have thought that his voice was needed somewhere. Unfortunately for him he couldn’t make much of an impact and it is the same for Vijay. So all in all I won’t say that artistes should not get involved; if it’s necessary then they should go out and voice their opinions.
There are rumours going round that you will be entering politics. Are they true?
If I get a chance to be a part of a party where I can work towards the development of the country, then I will make a go. Development shouldn’t come on papers, project plans and so on. Development should come in terms of working together with people and winning confidence towards changing the mindsets of people to make them the main component of this development. This country has been taken into an era where the people have become selfish. If possible they will even blast a rainforest or destroy our heritage to make money. In fact living has become tough day by day and everybody has to do something to survive. People only think about passing an exam, making a living and moving on in life without having any professional qualification. Everybody wants a white collar job. When it comes to vocational training it is not properly guided through and so is the educational system. My kind of vision is to make an impact on the people and help the leaders to rule a country with the right people.
In that case, which party will you support and how do you wish to contribute?
Ethical thinking, patriotism and other moral values need to be looked at in greater depth in any party. Right now I haven’t decided where I am going to contest but I have shown my objectives and I want the leaders to understand. We have managed to create the necessity of establishing an important era to develop the democracy in our country as means of good governance. Now we need to get people to think in the right direction. For this people will have to unite and it is high time to stop living as a fragmented society. Unfortunately or fortunately we are born with a religion and it is our responsibility to use these doctrines and use them for humanity and the betterment of the society. That is the basic requirement for all of us. Then only can we talk about good governance. Good governance cannot be applied to a society of corrupted people. Right now we have to look at strengthening the hands of Ranil Wickremesinghe if we want to have a peaceful country since he is the one who has the blessings to be the next PM. He is the only leader with a capacity and a reputation as a human being. He doesn’t have any records of corruption. So we need to take all these into account and must support his party to give a clear mandate. I have only shown my interest and at this particular moment I will work for the United National Party (UNP) in their islandwide campaign supporting all candidates.
During the recent campaigns for the Presidential elections many young artistes formed certain groups to show their support for the candidates. But as of late they have been rather inactive. How do you see this?
I think groups such as Puravasi Balaya did a great job. I did the same a couple of years back. When it came to the last elections people were feeling the most adverse effects of dictatorship. In fact this thing called ‘arts’ was also getting corrupted. Artistes should be involved in artistic work. They took so much of effort, had the strength and courage to voice their opinions because they wanted to see a change in the era. You cannot expect a miracle to happen within the 100-days and now groups such as Puravasi Balaya have nothing much to say. They got what they fought for and if they have anything to say that will be on the shortcomings they see in this present government. Also I would like to mention the fact that JVP supporters too are doing a great job in their capacities. They are consistently pressurising the government to serve justice to those who have been corrupt.
Many young artistes now believe that acting is a bridge to enter politics. Do you think it’s fair to think of arts in this way? What is the message you would like to give them?
If you need to get into politics you don’t need to be an actor. You have to get involved with the people. If you want to work with the people you can always make at least a toilet for a poor family, give them some clothes, a shelter to live in and give them a hand in numerous ways. These will give them a lot of blessings. This way you can get support from the people. In this way if you work for 365 days, there will be 10,000 people around you, so in five years you will have 50,000 people or at least 25,000 of them. People are not foolish enough to vote for actors anymore.
Pix by Nisal Baduge
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