Author: Susitha R. Fernando
Source: The Sunday Times
I met Muthumina who is famous for his astrological predictions recently. The meeting was not at his sweetheart Revathi's house but at Nugegoda Rotary where he teaches Drama and Theatre.
Jayalal Rohana who cames out with a memorable role on home screens discussed at length his latest role as an astrologer, who is madly in love with Revathi, the daughter of his landlord.
Talking about the plight of the today's teledrama industry Rohana said that today many teledramas are dished out from cheap low quality novels. Most of these teledramas are done from novels that are fit only for the waste paper basket.
There is also another set of teledramas which are tragedies. They are tragedies from the beginning to the end of the story. It was in this background I got the opportunity to play in Isuru Yogaya. Here is a teledrama that I really enjoyed playing a role with which I had real empathy. On the other hand the reason for the success of this teledrama is the cast. When you play with such an experienced cast you bring out the best in you unconsciously.
Explaining how he became Muthumina the astrologer Jayalal Rohana says, "I had to study astrology before I attempted the role".
It was very easy because the director's family knew this subject and director Susiran de Silva's brother R. G. Ranjan de Silva is a professional astrologer. Discussion on the shoot for the day started as early as 3 am and had to adhere strictly to the script almost as if it was of one Shakespeare's plays. This was because Astrology is a highly technical subject. Changing a single word could give a completely different meaning. So I had to memorise every word, and at the same time I was not willing to make a fool of myself as there were professionals on the subject. I am happy that I have not made any mistakes on the subject of astrology. As I was leaving Jayalal Rohana I thought to myself he will be able to foretell my future if I bring my horoscope to him.
Rohana's journey to Isuru Yogaya was motivated and encouraged by his father in the field of drama and arts. In 1976 while at school, Ananda Shasthralaya, Kotte he won the award for the best actor in Soma Perera's 'Muhudu Giya' in the All Island Interschool Drama Competition. He was fortunate to be introduced to drama and arts by an experienced drama teacher Gunasena Galappaththi of Muhudud Puththu fame.
Possessing a degree in Arts from the Peradeniya University and Masters degrees in Sociology and Philosophy from Kelaniya University, at the moment he is reading for his Masters in Drama and Theatre.
He says that he remembers with gratitude his gurus Simon Navagaththegama and Sugathapala who guided him during the course of his career. A winner of many awards of Youth Drama Festivals, Jayalal says that "Loka" was his prime achievement where he received almost all the awards in 1987 except for the Script and Best Actor. Jayalal says working under Simon Navagaththegama he was fortunate to gain experience as a scriptwriter. Jayalal Rohana says with acceptable pride that he served in the same jury ten years later and it shows his progress in drama and theatre.
Speaking of the vast store house of knowledge that he gained from various institutions offering diplomas and degrees he says that 1982 OCIC diploma course conducted by Fr. Ernest Poruthota was one of the best that he attended. Jayalal Rohana speaking of Mr. Andrew Jayamanne says he taught the subject thoroughly giving all his love and knowledge to his students and as such he is an honoured 'Guru' for all time. Jayalal Rohana wishing to widen his horizon studied Western theatre under teachers like Prof. Rudy Corrence from Belgium and A. G. Gunawardena and Trilicia Gunawardena.
In Sinhala theatre the production is economy conscious and acting ability and casting takes second place where as in Western Theatre funds are no question the focus is on talent, creativity and acting ability.
Jayalal Roahan joined television in 1986 and he contributed to one episodic teleplay as well as many miniplays. He gained popularity with his role in 'Isuru Yogaya' now being telecast on Rupavahini at 8.30 pm every Sunday.
Although he has a busy schedule in the acting field shooting on location and directing plays Jayalal says that what gives him satisfaction is the sense of responsibility he has towards arts and drama. He makes it his vision to teach and mould young minds in his many classes, Rotary-Nugegoda, Montana-Gampaha and Aurex-Anuradhapura.
Jayalal not only teaches the young but lends a hand in teaching many under graduates at Rajarata university with the hope of building up many budding artistes to the world of theatre.