Vijaya Kumaratunga

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Kovilage Anton Vijaya Kumaranatunga (Sinhala: කොවිලගේ ඇන්ටන් විජය කුමාරණතුංග; Tamil: விஜய_குமாரணதுங்க; 9 October 1945 – 16 February 1988), popularly known as Vijaya Kumaratunga, was a Sri Lankan film actor, playback singer and a politician.[1] Regarded as one of the most popular icons in Sri Lankan cinema of all time. He was married to former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaranatunga from 1978 until his assassination in 1988. He was the Founder of Sri Lanka Mahajana Party.[2]

Vijaya Kumaratunga
විජය කුමාරතුංග
விஜய குமாரதுங்க
Vijaya Kumaranatunga (1945-1988).jpg
Kovilage Anton Vijaya Kumaranatunga

(1945-10-09)9 October 1945
Died16 February 1988(1988-02-16) (aged 42)
Other namesVijey
Alma materSt. Benedict's College De Mazenod College
Occupation(s)Film Actor, Playback Singer, Politician
Years active1969–1988
Height5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Political partySri Lanka Mahajana Party
(m. 1978)
ChildrenYashodhara Kumaranatunga
Vimukthi Kumaranatunga
  • Benjamin Kumaranatunga (father)
  • Beatrice Perera (mother)
RelativesS. W. R. D. Bandaranaike
Sirimavo Bandaranaike
Anura Bandaranaike
Sunethra Bandaranaike
Jeewan Kumaranatunga
Ranjan Ramanayake
Carlo Fonseka
AwardsSarasaviya Most Popular Actor Award (1983-1988)
Signature of Vijaya Kumaratunga.svg

Early lifeEdit

He was born on October 9, 1945, at the government hospital in Ragama to Roman Catholic parents.[3] His father was Kovilage Benjamin Kumaratunga, a village headmen and mother was Clara Beatrice Perera. Vijaya had three brothers and sisters: Sydney Kumaratunga, Vivian Kumaratunga and Rupa Kumaratunga. He received his primary education at Seeduwa Davisamara Maha Vidyalaya, secondary education at St. Benedict's College, Kotahena and De Mazenod College, Kandana. During his school days, he excelled at singing, drama and oratory.[4] Following his schooling, Kumaratunga joined the Ceylon Police Force as a Sub Inspector, but left soon after.

Film careerEdit

He first appears in a lead role as a university student named Bandu in the 1969 blockbuster Hanthane Kathawa directed by Sugathapala Senarath Yapa. But according to local film historians, the first time he acted in front of a camera was in the film Manamalayo three years ago. Although a Romeo and Juliet story was made in 1969, he was not the lead actor.[5]

In a career that spanned nearly two decades, he contributed to more than 120 films, 114 of which starred the protagonist. Some of the most popular films include Ahas Gauwa (1974), Eya Den Loku Lamayek (1975), Ponmani (1977), Bambaru Avith (1977), Ganga Addara (1980), Baddegama (1980), Paradige (1980), Maha Gedara (1980), Kedapathaka Chaya (1989), and Kristhu Charithaya (1990). He acted in one English-language film, The God King, and one Tamil film, Nanguram. Meanwhile, the Vijaya-Malini era also came to the fore when he became the dream boy in the 1980s Sinhala cinema. According to the critic Gamini Weragama, Vijaya's performance in the film Maruwa Samaga Wase is close to Toshiro Mifune's supernatural role in Rashomon.[5]

He also performed as a playback singer in several films; recorded more than 100 songs;[6] and produced two films, Waradata Danduwam and Samawa which was released after his death. From 1983 to 1988 (once after the assassination) he was a consistently popular actor at six Sarasaviya Award Ceremonies. But he received the award for the Best Actor only for the role in Kedapathaka Chaya at the OCIC and the Swarna Sankha Festival in 1989, but he was not fortunate enough to see it. After two years of demise, he won the Sarasaviya Award for Best Playback singer for his song 'Walakulak Gena Muwa Karumu Hiru' for Saharawe Sihiniya and his song 'Sara Guwana Vida Neguna' for the Dolos Mahe Pahana. The only proof that he turned to singing as well as songwriting is the song 'Mulu Hadinma Oba Hata Adarei'.[5]

Political careerEdit

In 1974, Kumaratunga started his political career in the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP). He later joined the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and became its first national organizer.

In 1977, he ran unsuccessfully for the Katana seat in Parliament.[7] Five years later, he was active in the 1982 presidential campaign of Hector Kobbekaduwa. After the election, he was accused of being a Naxalite and jailed under the emergency regulations of President J. R. Jayewardene, but he was never charged.

He ran as the SLFP candidate in a by-election in Mahara in 1983 and was threatened by United National Party (UNP) supporters. An attempt was made on his life, and one of his friends was killed. Kumaratunga won the first vote count, and a recount was ordered. At that point, a blackout occurred at the counting centre. By the time electricity was restored, the UNP candidate had recorded a victory by a few votes. The opposition alleged that someone had "eaten some of Vijaya's votes to ensure UNP victory".[8]

He founded the Sri Lanka Mahajana Party (SLMP), which campaigned for peace in the Sri Lankan Civil War. Under his new party, he contested a Minneriya by-election and finished second, behind the UNP candidate—relegating his old party, SLFP, to third place.[9] The SLMP went on to contest several other by-elections, including in Kundasale and Habaraduwa, but did not live up to expectations.[9]

in 1986, Kumaranatunga visited Jaffna, then controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). He visited the Nallur Murugan Temple and met with local Tamil civilians, as well as several LTTE youth leaders.

In his final public address, to a large crowd in Colombo's Campbell Park on 28 January 1988, Kumaratunga lashed out at the UNP, SLFP, and Janatha Vimuthki Peramuna (JVP) parties for failing to address the needs of the hour. He also voiced concerns about the SLFP's links with the JVP, a Marxist–Leninist party involved in two armed uprisings against the Sri Lankan government.[10]

In 1988, the SLMP reached an agreement with several other left-wing parties—including the LSSP, Nava Sama Samaja Party (NSSP), Sri Lanka Communist Party, and Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF)—to form the United Socialist Alliance (USA). A few days prior to the establishment of the new alliance, Kumaranatunga was assassinated. The agreement was signed by party leaders at his funeral.

The USA won a large number of seats in the newly formed provincial councils in an election boycotted by the main opposition SLFP. However, in the 1988 presidential election, the USA candidate, Ossie Abeygunasekera, finished in last place. In the 1989 parliamentary elections, USA candidates won three seats, but none of the winners represented the SLMP.[11]

Personal lifeEdit

On 20 February 1978, Kumaratunga married Chandrika Bandaranaike, with whom he had two children. Bandaranaike was the daughter of two former prime ministers, S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike and Sirimavo Bandaranaike, and would later become president of Sri Lanka.

Death and legacyEdit

Kumaratunga was shot in the head with a Type 56 assault rifle outside his home on the outskirts of Colombo on 16 February 1988 by Lionel Ranasinghe, alias Gamini. Ranasinghe confessed to the murder under questioning by the Criminal Investigation Department. In a 141-page statement, he said he had been carrying out orders given to him by the Deshapremi Janatha Viyaparaya (Patriotic People's Movement), the military arm of the JVP, which was responsible for multiple assassinations in the late 1980s.[12] After Chandrika Kumaratunga became President in 1994, she appointed a Presidential Commission of Inquiry which inquired in to the assassination, its report alleged that President Ranasinghe Premadasa of the UNP and two government ministers were behind the Kumaranatunga assassination without any direct evidence.[13]

Kumaratunga's funeral, on 21 February 1988, attracted huge crowds and was the first funeral to be broadcast live on Sri Lankan television (by the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation). It was held at Independence Square in Colombo as a state funeral, even though he represented the opposition to the UNP government. The day of his assassination is widely known as "The Horrible Tuesday" or "The Darkest Tuesday in Sri Lankan History" (He was assassinated on a Tuesday).[citation needed] His death is still mourned by many people in Sri Lanka.[14]


Year Film Role Notes
1967 Manamalayo Party Guest Acting debut
1969 Romio Juliet Kathawak [15]
Hanthane Kathawa Bandu [16]
1970 Priyanga
1971 Ran Onchilla Wickrama [17]
Kesara Sinhayo Gamini
Hathara Denama Surayo Vijey [18]
Samanala Kumariyo Samaga Api Kawadath Soorayo
Bindunu Hadawath Also film's producer
1972 Me Desa Kumatada Vijaya Kumaratunga
Edath Sooraya Adath Sooraya
Vana Raja
Adare Hithenawa Dakkama Premkumara [19]
1973 Thushara Sampath [20]
Hathdinnath Tharu
Dahakin Ekek
Hondama Welawa
1974 Susee Laurie Mahaththaya [21]
Ahas Gauwa
Duleeka Sumith [22]
Sanakeliya Rohitha Radalage [23]
The God King Lalith English-language film
1975 Pem Kurullo
Sikuruliya Paala [24]
Lassana Dawasak
Sangeetha Wimal, Vijaya (Two births) [25]
1976 Pradeepe Ma Wewa
Diyamanthi [26]
Unnath Dahai Malath Dahai
Adarei Man Adarei
1977 Sakunthala
Hithuvoth Hithuvamai Manju, Mohan, Chukki [27]
Maruwa Samaga Wase Maru Sira
Hariyanakota Ohoma Thamai
Eya Den Loku Lamayek Village Officer
Pembara Madhu Senaka [28][29]
1978 Vishmaya
Kundala Keshi Saththuka
Sandawata Ran Tharu
Anupama Asitha [30]
Selinge Walawuwa
Bambaru Awith Victor
Kumara Kumariyo Sagara
Ahasin Polowata
1979 Gahaniyak
Podi Malli Gunapala aka Peter
Hingana Kolla Saiya aka Morris Abeysiriwardena [31]
Monarathenna Piyasoma [32]
Eka Hitha
Nangooram Tamil film
Akke Mata Awasara Ajith
1980 Raja Dawasak
Ganga Addara Dr. Sarath Pathirana
Karumakkarayo Wilison [33]
Kinduru Kumari Podde [34]
Para Dige Chandare
Tak Tik Tuk Sarath
Kanchana Ajith
1981 Beddegama [35] Babun Based on Leonard Wolf's Baddegama [36]
Geethika Sampath
Anjana Saliya [37]
Suriyakantha Hemantha
Valampuri Heen Banda
1982 Yasa Isuru ASP Mahesh Gunasekara [38]
Mihidum Sihina Vijitha
Kiri Suwanda Meril
Rahasak Nathi Rahasak
Maha Gedara Nandana / His father [39]
Kadawunu Poronduwa (New) Samson
Newatha Hamuwemu Dual-role
Paramitha Lassana
Bicykale Ajith
1983 Samanala Sihina
Sivu Rangasena
Pasa Mithuro Guest Appearance
1984 Kokila
Jaya Sikurui Vijey
Binaree Saha Sudu Banda Sudu Banda
Welle Thenu Maliga Christopher
Rana Derana Ranasinghe Arachchi
1986 Devuduwa Anton
Peralikarayo Vijey/Samson Dual role
Jaya Apitai Sooryaa
Gimhane Gee Naade
1987 Yugayen Yugayata
Yukthiyada Shakthiyada
Raja Wedakarayo Inspector Ramesh
Ran Damwel
Obatai Priye Adare Ravi
Ahinsa Guest Appearance
1989 Mamai Raja Sampath
Kadapathaka Chaya Dhanarathna [40]
Badulu Kochchiya
Nommara 17 Vijey aka Nommara 17
Varadata Danduvam Also film's producer
Randenigala Sinhaya As additional Cameraman (Uncredited)
(Only film as a Cameraman)
1990 Dese Mal Pipila Vijey
Thanha Asha Mahesh
Veera Udara Guest appearance
Madu Sihina Mr. Sandagala
Christhu Charithaya Jesus [41]
Saharawe Sihinaya Sarasaviya Award for Best Playback Singer[citation needed]
1991 Madhusamaya Jagath
1993 Soorayan Athara Veeraya Sarath
1994 Vijaya Geetha
1995 Hitha Honda Soorayo
1998 Aya Obata Barai

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The story of the bullet that pierced Vijay's chest". Lankadeepa. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  2. ^ "The story of the bullet that pierced Vijay's chest". Lankadeepa. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  3. ^ "Vijaya – Sri Lankan film actor, playback singer and politician".
  4. ^ "Evergreen memories of actor-politician Vijaya Kumaratunga". The Financial Times. 17 February 2018. Retrieved 3 October 2021.
  5. ^ a b c "Is death such a wonderful victory?: Tomorrow is Vijaya Kumaratunga's 75th birthday". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  6. ^ "විජය මියුරු ගී". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  7. ^ Malalgoda Banduthillka.Sri Lanka Methiwarana Ithihasaya
  8. ^ in these wild buffaloes. Tuesday 18 December 2007. Available online.
  9. ^ a b Malalgoda Banduthillaka.Sri Lankawe Methiwarana Ithihasaya.
  10. ^ Bloody betrayal, by Dilrukshi Handunnetti (The Sunday Leader, 22 February 2004)
  11. ^ Malalgoda Banduthillaka.Sri Lankawe Methiwarana Ithihasaya
  12. ^ Confessions of Vijaya's killer by Sunday Leader -Frederica Jansz (Virtual Library SL Web)
  13. ^ Vijaya Kumaratunga assassination was a UNP conspiracy: Gamini Lokuge's gun alleged death weapon (Sunday Observer, 21 March 2004) Archived 24 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Devolution only solution – CBK (Vijaya's 20th Death Anniversary)". BBC News. 19 February 2008.
  15. ^ "Romeo Juliet Kathawak". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  16. ^ "All about Hanthane Kathawa". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  17. ^ "All about Ran Onchilla". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  18. ^ "Hadata Wadata Hari Soorayo: Hathara Denama Soorayo film". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  19. ^ "Obata Thiyena Adare". sarasaviya. Retrieved 23 January 2021.
  20. ^ "All about film Thushara". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  21. ^ "All about the film Susee". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  22. ^ "All about the film "Duleeka"". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  23. ^ "All about Senakeliya". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  24. ^ "He left me: Sikuruliya". sarasaviya. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  25. ^ "All about Sangeetha". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  26. ^ "All about Diyamanthi". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  27. ^ "All about "Hithuwoth Hithuwamai"". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 23 January 2021.
  28. ^ "Rupavahini shows 'Pembara Madu'". Sunday Times. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  29. ^ "All about "Pembara Madhu"". sarasaviya. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  30. ^ "All about the film "Anupama"". sarasaviya. Retrieved 11 January 2021.
  31. ^ "All about the film "Hingana Kolla"". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 23 January 2021.
  32. ^ "All about Monarathanna". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  33. ^ "All about the film "Karumakkarayo"". sarasaviya. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  34. ^ "පෙම් සිහින තොටින් 'කිඳුරු කුමාරි'". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  35. ^ "Lester-Sumithra cinema on mini-screen". Sunday Times. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  36. ^ "All about Beddegama". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  37. ^ "All about the film "Anjana"". sarasaviya. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  38. ^ "All about 'Yasa Isuru'". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  39. ^ "All about Maha Gedara". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  40. ^ "All about Kedapathaka Chaya". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  41. ^ "All about Kristhu Charithaya". Sarasaviya. Retrieved 22 February 2020.

External linksEdit