Iranganie Serasinghe

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Iranganie Serasinghe
අයිරාංගනී සේරසිංහ
Iranganie Roxanna Meedeniya

(1927-06-09) 9 June 1927 (age 95) [1]
Ruwanwella, British Ceylon
Nationality Sri Lankan
OccupationTeacher (Musaeus college)
Journalist (Times, SLBC) [2]
Film, Television and Stage actress
Years active1950
  • Prof. S.B. Dissanayake (Div.)
  • Winston Serasinghe
Relatives J. H. Meedeniya (grandfather)
D. R. Wijewardena (uncle)
Francis Molamure (uncle)
Tissa Vitharana (brother-in-law)
Ranil Wickramasinghe (cousin son)
AwardsKala Keerthi, [3] Sri Lankan of the year

Kala Keerthi Iranganie Roxanna Meedeniya, (born 9 June 1927 [1] ), popularly as Iranganie Serasinghe, is an actress in Sri Lankan cinema, theater and television. [4] Since her debut in Rekava , Serasinghe has become recognized for playing motherly figures in various films and television serials. [5] She is the aunt of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe. [6]


Early life and education

She was born on 9 June 1927 in Mudungomuwa, Ruwanwella, Sri Lanka to Joseph Hercules Meedeniya, Rate Mahatmaya of Ratnapura and Violet Ellawela. Her paternal grandfather was J. H. Meedeniya Adigar was elected unopposed to the Ruwanwella seat in the State Council and her uncles included D. R. Wijewardena and Sir Francis Molamure. Her mother was the sister of Nanda Ellawala's father who was a Member of Parliament for Ratnapura. She had three siblings, Indrani Meedeniya, Kamani Vitharana who married Professor Tissa Vitharana and Mahinda Meedeniya. [6]

Her early touches with nature later led her to become an environmental activist. While attending Bishop's College she played in several end-of-term plays; at Girls' High School, Kandy whilst pursuing a HSC; Meedeniya took a leading role in Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion . Against her father a Rate Mahatthaya's wishes, Meedeniya entered the University of Ceylon in 1947 with the support of her cousins. He died in her first year away at a time when Marxist ideas were the norm. She immersed herself in the Ceylon theater scene while there under the guidance of Professor E. F. C. Ludowyk; she also became a proficient dancer with lessons from Chitrasena.

She was the first student to study drama at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and The Bristol Old Vic Theate School under the guidance of Professor Ludowyk. [6] She eventually graduated with an Arts degree and traveled to London with letters of recommendation from Ludowyk following a marriage to Professor Dissanayake (they divorced some time later). There with the help of actresses Flora Robson and Sybil Thorndike, Meedeniya attended Bristol Old Vic Theatre School for a year and the London School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art for two years. [7]

She was first married to a contemporary student at the university and later became a specialist dentist, Professor S. B. Dissanayake. That marriage did not last long. She was then married to fellow actor Winston Serasinghe, during playing English stage plays. There was a 17 year age gap between the two. Winston had appeared in Rekava and some other productions with her. The couple had two sons: Ravi & Ranjit. Her son Ravi died by an accident at the age of 31. Her husband Winston died in 1999. [6]


Returning to Sri Lanka, Meedeniya met up with Ludowyk and Austrian Jew director Neuman Jubal and got back into theater. The Lionel Wendt Art Centre theater portion of the center opened on 12 December 1953 with the production of Maxim Gorky's "The Lower Depths", starring Iranganie Serasinghe and produced by Neuman Jubal. Doing mainly English roles at first, she started playing in Sinhala theater in Henry Jayasena's Apata Puthe Magak Nethe and followed with roles in Damma Jagoda's Sinhala version of A Streetcar Named Desire , Ves Muhunu, and Porisadaya. The following years saw Meedeniya in constantly changing settings–teaching briefly at Musaeus College, working for The Times of Ceylon after returning from London, doing a stint at the SLBC and handling a post in the tourist trade working as a junior executive and guide of Walkers Tours and Travels (Pvt)Ltd. Accordingly, Serasinghe is the first Sri Lankan actress to have received an academic training in acting. [6]

Meedeniya started her career in cinema in Lester James Peries "Be Safe or Be Sorry" for the Government Film Unit. Peries subsequently cast her in his debut feature film Rekava as a mother, 'Kathirinahamy'. [8] In 1956, she won the Deepashikha Award for Best Actress for her debut performance in the film. With the new surname, Iranganie Serasinghe achieved fame as an actress appearing in many of Peries' early works. [9] Later she won the Sarasaviya Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the film Sagarayak Meda in 1982. Her next notable character came through the film Sudu Sewaneli directed by Sunil Ariyaratne where she played the character of a poor old mother. In 2000, she won the Presidential Award for Best Supporting Actress for this role. [6] In 2021, she was honored with lifetime achievement award during the ceremony held for 21 artists who made an invaluable contribution to Sinhala cinema in the early decades of Sinhala Cinema. [10]

Beyond Drama

Prior to entering the film industry, she was the editor-in-chief of the Times of Ceylon. As a revolutionary political figure, Iranganie was a communist militant at university. As a result, Peter Kehnemann, Bernard Zoysa, and Doric de Souza became active in politics at a time when Colvin R. De Silva has repeatedly invited her to contest a seat from the Lanka Sama Samaja Party. [6]

National Awards



Film [15]

1956 Rekava Karthina
1960 Sandesaya Female Spy
1966 Delovak Athara Nissanka's mother
1967 The Yellow Dress
1969 Bakmaha Deege Kumarihami
1969 Romeo Juliet Kathawak [16]
1970 Thewatha
1970 Priyanga
1974 The God King Varuni
1981 Sagarayak Meda
1982 Deveni Gamana Saman's mother
1984 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Village Woman
1984 Dadayama Brothel owner [17]
1984 Avurududa Malani's Mother
1985 Adara Kathawa )Kanthi's mother
1990 Awaragira Dingiri Menike
1996 Loku Duwa Punna's Mother [18]
1998Iqbal (Italy)Nonna
2001 Poronduwa Mrs. Rambukwella [19]
2001 Kinihiriya Mal Sylvia Madam [20]
2002 Sudu Sevanali
2002 Mansion by the Lake Aunt Catherine
2003 Sakman Maluwa Tissa;s mother
2003 Irasma Ima's granny
2005 Pawana Ralu Viya Mrs. Weerasinghe
2005 Sudu Kalu Saha Alu Nogo Nonna
2005 Water Mother in Law
2007 Nisala Gira Radha's mother-in-law
2007 Samaara Indu's paternal granny [21]
2008 Heart FM Shakya's granny
2008 Rosa Kale Akalanka's granny
2013 Abhinikmana Buddhadasa's mother
2013 It’s a Matter of Love [22] Chathuri's granny
2014 Kalpanthe Sihinayak Menu's elder mother
2017 Paha Samath [23] Vinura's granny
2018 Vaishnavee Osanda's granny
2018 Kalu Hima [24] Chunda's granny
2019 Sulanga Apa Ragena Yavi [25] Granny
2022 CineMa [26]
TBDTheja [27]
TBD Guththila [28]
TBD Gaadi Bulathgama Disawe's mother


1980s Yashorawaya (යශෝරාවය)Suduhamine
1990–1995 Doo Daruwo (දූ දරුවෝ)Dulsey/Sudu aachchi
1988 Village by the Sea-Gamperaliya
1996–1997 Nadayo
1997 Ammai Thaththai (අම්මයි තාත්තයි)
1999–2001 Sathpuravesiyo (සත්පුරවැසියෝ)
2000Smarana Samapthi [29]
2001Suseta Mayam [30]
2003/04Paaradeesaya [31]
2004Vihanga Geethaya [32]
2004Jeewithayata Idadenna [33]
2004Nonimi Yathra [34]
2005Dangayanta Pamanai [35]
2006Mage Kaviya Mata Denna [36]
2006Veeduru Mal [37]
2007Samanala Wasanthaya [38]
2007Weten Eha [39]
2009Sudu Hansayo [40]
2008–2009 Muthu Kirilli
2010Doratu Rakinno [41]
2010–2011 Amanda granny
2012Duwaru [42]
2018ThaththaPrison officer's step mother
2020SihiniA rich bed-ridden old lady - isolated by her children

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