Unheard of stories of Lester James Peries who could not speak a word of Sinhala initially …
but later carries Sinhala culture to the world
Lester was born to a rich family in Dehiwala, Colombo. He spent his time in a mansion during his childhood in a land spanning 5 acres. This mansion named ‘Sihagiri’ had been built with the aid of Lester’s grandfather Philip Francis who was once a businessman. Since those of Lester’s ancestry had a one-of-a-kind liking for the recreation of cricket, there was once a huge cricket floor too in this plot of land. In reality Sihagiri was once located on a beautiful
background via the sea.
Lester’s father was Francis. He was a medical doctor trained in Scotland. Mother was once Ann Gertrude Winifred Jayasuriya. She had her training at St. Bridget’s Convent and having exceeded with flying colours, grew to be a housewife all the same. He was the 2nd in Lester Peries’ household and there have been 4 sons and daughters such as him. Just like Lester’s father, the brothers too had their education at St. Peter’s College. The solely sister attended St. Paul’s Convent. Lester’s father came about to be of the Negombo Kurukulasuriya ancestry. The mom was once from Moratuwa. They were heavily inclined towards Catholic religion. Though Lester’s father was once a medical doctor of medicine, Lester himself admits that he made no have an effect on to uplift their schooling as such. He says that it was his mom who encouraged him to pursue his research and when wondered as to what he would like to be someday, he recalls how he was once greeted with a snort when he answered announcing that he wished to be ‘pope’.
Lester’s father had calculated the time-period when horse-racing would take area and had additionally been a cricket fanatic. It is learned that he had shown a desire towards the game of cricket than the difficulty of medicine. It is understood that his want was once to see his children turn out to be cricketers some day. Lester had recalled that he was punished only once in his lifetime and that it was due to the fact he had been electrocuted one day when attempting to attach two wires of the radio. He smilingly says that, that too was simply through twisting his ear and being reprimanded. Lester has additionally remarked that each his mom and father never spoke even a single phrase in Sinhala even at home or outside either and because Lester’s father’s mom spoke Sinhala, she had obtained a expertise of Sinhala words when at home and accordingly earlier than embarking on the field of cinema he has had to learn about Sinhala all over.
Though Catholic, Lester’s father had taken steps to put together a horoscope for Lester. The astrologer Clifford Perera of Borella who went via small Lester’s horoscope has cited that the proprietor of the horoscope would some day would flip out to be a cinematographer, Lester recalled at a later date. At that time there had been small Kodac gadgets on sale in Colombo. It was once in reality a hand-manipulated projector with the resource of which eight mm. films should be viewed. Lester cannot consider whether he had asked his father for it. In any case his father had introduced a Kodac Cope computer home. Lester had been able to see Charlie Chaplin movies for the first time from that projector.
It used to be he and his younger brother, Ivan who had been inclined towards the arts. Lester’s interest in truth used to be drawn to literature, songs and the cinema. On the other hand Lester’s youthful brother, Ivan’s hobby developed closer to art. Lester had been to Plaza at Wellawatta and Capitol cinema in Panchikawatta in the corporation of his parents. At domestic he had listened to his mother playing the piano. A piano had been ordered from England for her. However, playing the piano used to be a forbidden field for Lester. The reason for this prohibition used to be that it had been classified as a feminine instrument by way of his mother. In order to familiarise Lester’s hand at the violin which was once a masculine instrument, he was once despatched to the Danish teacher called Richard Wagen. But Lester did now not exhibit a liking to the violin as such. He of path had attended the violin class; but had damaged strings of the violin barring the notice of the teacher. What the trainer did was once to change those strings and proceed educating Lester to play the violin till Lester obtained via two exams. In the manner considering that this instructor occurred to marry the pleasing lady pupil in the violin type and hence depart the town, Lester’s first lesson in music came to an quit as a result.
Lester’s subsequent music instructor used to be one Mrs. Silva who had a tough character. The moment an mistaken word was once played, she had the habit of beating Lester’s finger-joints with the footruler. Asa result he took it up as a nuisance and left that type too. The renowned Lionel Wendt at that time gave Lester’s father some advice: ‘Let Lester do what he likes’ was once the advice. Once the Ordinary Level examination used to be over, Lester gave up the whole thing and set off to London Times as a correspondent of Times of Ceylon. two While engaged in writing to the Times of Ceylon newspaper, he also compiled articles to London Daily Express, Evening Standard and London Times as well. Thus eight years exceeded by. What he notion was to continue in journalism right along.
However he acquired the opportunity of studying arts in England. After that trip he started to boost an activity in the cinema. For competency in skills displayed, he was awarded that award at Great Britain Amateur Research Film Producers’ Festival. Subsequently he created the short movie ‘Farewell to Childhood’ based totally on a short story written with the aid of himself. It was once at some stage in this time that he had to show up for an interview with Ralph Keene on behalf of the London Times newspaper. After coming to Sri Lanka he was once take up an appointment at the Sri Lanka Government Film Unit.
Ralph Keene who arrived in the island then began to write letters over and over once more to Lester. Finally he got here and having joined the Government Film Unit functioned as a co-director of videos such as ‘Nelumgama — Sri Lanka’s heritage’. During taking pictures of ‘Nelumgama’ what struck Lester’s mind used to be that many matters ought to be executed taking the cine-camera out of the studio. He in reality made a thorough study of Sinhala tradition and the language. So Lester brushed aside values of excessive echelons of the upper strata and resolved to make the cinema his career. Lester then came out from Government Film Unit with Willie Blake and Titus Thotawatta with the reason of producing ‘Rekhava’, difficult the new era of colonialism in 1956 and the political revolution that accompanied and there emerged some other revolution which was once unknown upto then in the field of culture. In 1956 he produced the ‘Maname’ drama. The outstanding creator Martin Wickremasingha wrote ‘Viragaya’ and Lester James Peries gave delivery to the historical ‘Rekhava’.
This then portrayed his trip of shifting into the village from the studio armed with the cine-camera in the process. Though ‘Rekhava’ did no longer appeal to plenty of a speak as a profitable advent in the early stages, as time exceeded with the aid of anyone came to comprehend that it incidentally was once what modified the growth of the cinema in Sri Lanka. Several of his creations surely won acclaim the world over. The award secured over the victory he gained thru the film ‘Nidhanaya’ has in no way been acquired through any different movie producer in the island.
Lester used to be any person who did not like interviews. Most human beings noticed his achievements thru achievements he made. ‘Madol Doowa’ received success because of the electricity of Martin Wickremasingha’s novel. Baddegama done difference due to the fact of Joe’s acting, and ‘Yuganthaya’ carried out that fame due to the fact of Tissa Abeysekera … he would say. Lester was now not the type of personality would boast about himself however as a substitute quote the identify of some different man or woman involved in the film concerned. He was someone who never accumulated cash from the cinema. In fact till the moment of his loss of life he happened to stay in rented houses. The solely request he made from something authorities it is was, used to be to simply erect an archive for the cinema.