Colombo, October 12 (newsin.asia): Up and coming Sri Lankan actress Michelle Dilhara is well into the glitz and glamour of the world of popular Sri Lankan tele-dramas. And like every denizen of the tinsel world, young Michelle seeks name, fame and immortality.
But the “immortality” that the spiritually inclined Michelle is aspiring for, is not of the common or garden variety, which is nothing but selfish personal glory. She seeks it for the sake of the betterment of others in society.
“I seek immortality for others‘ sake. I want my life and work to inspire and make changes in the lives of others,” the budding 21 year old actress told Ishara Jayawardane of Daily News.
“I don’t want to just die, leaving nothing of substance behind. I want to be someone who will be remembered even after death,” she added.
For Michelle, acting is not just a profession. It is a deeply spiritual experience in as much as the actor enters the mind, soul, and body of another person.
As she put it:“ the actor is a person who can separate the soul from her vessel and combine it with another soul.”
Describing her own experience, Michelle says: “When acting, I am able to step into the skin of a totally different persona. It is like seeing life through the eyes of another, sharing the mind of someone else.”
“ I’m truly ‘Preethiwa’ to the ‘Sal Sapuna’ audience,” she said, referring to the popular teledrama on Sirasa TV.
It’s Tough Going
Making movies is not an easy task, nor is it a one person show.
“There are so many obstacles to overcome. Filming starts with a writer who conceives a fictional entity and then there is a producer who believes in it. Filming is a process where a team of individuals convert a fictional phenomena or a story, into a motion picture,” Michelle says putting things in perspective.
“Starting from the script and processing till the premier of the film, it’s a hard process. Communication, understanding and stress levels of the team are the controlling factors of filming. With the right combination of people, and a powerful concept combined with a good marketing plan, you can produce a box-office hit,” she assures.
And one needs to be committed, irrespective of the obstacles, which are aplenty, she stresses.
“Great directors don’t give up, no matter how hard it is or how stressful it is. This is because of the passion they have. For example if we take James Cameron, he faced big challenges in reproducing the box office hit Titanic. He was the director, producer and script writer for this film. With the co-ordination and support of the rest of the crew and their team spirit, he successfully produced Titanic, which represents the biggest roll of the dice in film history,” Michelle said.
Film making is a rapidly developing industry ,she pointed out and said: “You need to update yourself in every possible way because you can’t afford to miss opportunities.”
Cinema and TV need a willingness to adjust to realities and to face challenges, Michelle said.
“The cost of shooting is increasing day by day, and new actors and actresses are arriving into the industry. So if your ratings are down, it is very difficult to remain in the industry.,” she says, disabusing people of the impression that the tinsel world is all fun and frolic.
Talking of her favorites, Michelle said that the tele-drama Sal Sapuna, which had one of the highest LMRB ratings, as one. She plays the role of Preethiwa in it. It was directed by a legendary Director Nalan Mendis. Emy is another favorite tele-drama of her’s. It was directed by an international award winning Director Sanjaya Nirmal. She was cast for the character “Emy”, which was her first “leading” role.
“Nalan Mendis is a Director who can make you believe that you are not watching a teledrama, but a real life situation. I think it is called folk psychology in cognitive science, where you can predict the behavior and the mental state of other people and get into their inner being,” Michelle said.
“It has been a decade since Doo Daruwo was made and Mendis is still in the field with Sal Sapuna. He is my all-time favorite director,” Michelle said admiringly.
Michelle has been training and mastering martial arts- Karate Do Shitokai under sensei Rohan P. Udayakumar from her tender age. Having participated in a number of local and international championships and winning medals, Michelle still continues Karate as a hobby and way to become an all rounder.
“I studied martial arts for self defense and also as an added qualification for my acting career,” says Michelle about her plans for future. Added to Karate is long hours of transcendental and Buddhist meditations and yoga which is a part of her daily routine.
Training With Veterans
Her first acting teacher was the veteran actress Anoja Weerasinghe.
“I was a very boring and shy person but I loved to be an actress. It was very difficult in the beginning,” Michelle recalled. But Anoja turned her around.
“ She had a very special way of teaching me how to overcome fear and shyness in the presence of an audience. She taught me the basic principles of acting based on Buddhist meditation. Meditation enables one to emote because through meditation you can imbibe the emotions of the character you are playing. So when I deliver my dialogues in tele-dramas, I don’t need to imagine the emotions because those emotions are already within me,” the intellectually-inclined actress said.
Michelle’s second teacher was Ujjwal Singha, an Indian theatre artist and Director. She was sent to Ujjwal by Randika Wimalasooriya for advanced studies.
“ Ujjwal’s method was to develop an emotional and cognitive understanding of the role by using previous experiences. He helped me get in to a realistic mode in every scene I performed,” Michelle acknowledged.
Sensitive And Caring Personality
Before becoming an actress Michelle was a teacher. She taught English as a volunteer in an orphanage. But as a sensitive and caring personality she was appalled by what she saw and experienced in the orphanage.
“It was like looking at zombies. The orphans were like robots living according to a timetable. They had most of the essentials, but the system produced depressed individuals. It looked as it they had no soul. They hadn’t seen the world outside and had no relationship with society.”
“ All of them lived in one big room for protection. But they had no privacy. So when these depressed kids faced O/L exams, most of them failed. These children are unable to compete with the outside world because of these issues.”
(The featured image at the top is that of actress Michelle Dilhara)