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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Failures cannot be aLttributed to anyone

Instant fame: order of the day

Failures cannot be aLttributed to anyone:

Jackson Anthony

Henry Jayasena
Failure is not by the present generation

More power and more responsibility towards society

A representative of the best of values, traditions and assets

Present generation running after temporary instant fame


Artistes play important roles in the history making revolutions, leading the nations. We all believe they are very sensitive yet vibrant set of people. Do we have such strong, influential set of artistes at present? This is the focus of today’s ‘Face 2 Face’. Remember, Shakespeare had said “The world is a stage and we are all just actors.”


What is the role of an artiste?

Jackson Anthony:

An artiste is a member of this society. Every member of the society has a role to play. Yet the role played by an artiste goes beyond the responsibility levels of a normal person. He should be an exemplary figure. People like him, they love him. He has a huge preference from the people. This preference does not come through a technique as if in politics. People tend to accept their views. So, there is a deep sense of responsibility lying on the artist. He should be sensitive towards the trends and needs of that particular era.

Henry Jayasena:

An Artiste is a representative of the very best values, traditions and best assets of the country. But I see that depending on the activities taking place in the field these people find it difficult to make a living.Some have chosen the TV but that is also short lived. An artiste has a social responsibility. In our generation we didn’t create just for the sake of being popular. Veterans like Prof. Sarachchandra, Dayananda Gunawardane and even myself, we made dramas that first inspired us and then inspired others.There were habitual writers but of very high quality. An artiste should maintain the standards of our culture.

How does it apply it in the present context?

Jackson Anthony:

Today artistes should be able to take our nationality to international level. They should be able to bring a valuable membership to our nationality in the global arena. And it should not be dragging away our nationality from international levels. Basically, the international level won’t exist without nationals since the word itself means a relationship among nationals.Countries like India, Japan, USA and England have not given up their nationality though they mingle freely internationally.

Henry Jayasena:

Now the simplicity of life is lost. Because of that to earn a better income artistes also went into popular subjects that can bring cheap humour and bring instant satisfaction. Later generation went into fantasy. With the open economy we lost that great restraint we used to have previously.This post-open economy generation found ways and means of making money. This instant popularity they are going after is not good.

How do you compare the past and the present?

Jackson Anthony:

I believe the survival of the present generation of artistes is very unscientific. A society or a philosophy grows step by step, successors depending on the predecessors. It is also the relationship between a teacher and a student. The 80s grow depending on the 70s and that on 60s and so on. The present generation produces a future generation while the predecessors get deep rooted. With the social changes that follow the entry of a disorganized open economy this link broke. Hence, after the 80s you find an unusual child growing without firm roots. He gets less nourishment hence becomes weak. He loses the national heritage, cultural genes he should have received from rich cultures existed before, dating back to the times of the kings. He lost the flow of knowledge from his predecessors. They became isolated.

Henry Jayasena:

During our time creations were made very carefully, and the artiste himself was inspired by his own creation. And then only we believed we can inspire the audience. But today, as I said earlier, many new artistes go after instant fame. This is not very stable. One may can be a star over a night but lasting in the field is not certain. We were inspired by our historical literature. I still can remember how I was inspired to write the script for the drama, ‘Kuweni’ from what I heard the ‘Kuweni Asna’ many years ago. My thoughts circulated in my mind for years and only after that the drama was created. We were very sensitive to social issues. This made us do our work to make this a better place. Artistes like Prof. Sarachchandra, Dayananda Gunawardane tried to lead the society those days and think the impact still can be felt.

Do you mean to say, it is their failure that was the main cause for this overall collapse we presently experience in the field?

Jackson Anthony:

I would never ever consider it as a failure of the present generation. I entered the field in the 80s - the transit period. I was able to witness my previous generation as well as the next generation. I saw the calamities of both the parties and I got involved. Knowing all these factors I can not solely put the blame on the present generation. These kids got entangled in a shortsighted political agenda. They were experimented by various people and these youth became nothing but some lab rats. Even my generation could not give the inspiration my predecessors gave to the society. The Main reason I see is the mammoth drifts of the two societies.

Henry Jayasena:

It is not the failure of the present generation. It is the set up they are in. Can you inspire the present generation to read a book, watch a classic movie? Everyone is running after easy money. They become addicted to instant fame. This is American culture. We have a rich and solid culture to be proud of. Whatever said and done even an artiste cannot escape the realities of the world.

Can artistes lead a nation? Do you consider it as their duty?

Jackson Anthony:

Yes. I believe an artiste survives on love, affection and acceptance of the people. This likeliness is a heartfelt feeling and not something received through a mechanism like election. It is natural. So, I personally believe an artiste has more power and more responsibility towards the society than a Government. But both these fields are far apart.

Henry Jayasena:

It should start from the top. From there it should start valuing our culture and all those good things. I can cite many instances where top people of the society who should lay a good example acted very irresponsibly at certain points. Why does the world like to come and visit our land? Isn’t it our culture, heritage, wildlife, nature and the people they are interested? The top class tourists come in looking for those. We have long solid history.

Are you satisfied with the present situation?

Jackson Anthony:

The present system does not support creating such leading figures. People, irrespective of their social status, seem to be severely isolated. This happens to the artist as well. It works as persons and not as a society. As I see, today artistes do not use the power they have appropriately and I do not see them getting any power to perform their role in the society.

Henry Jayasena:

Not really. But the present situation can not create another Sarachchandra or another Dayananda Gunawardane. Surely a lesser character may come up.

07. What are the failures that would have caused the present break down?

Jackson Anthony:

An artiste should be able to precisely see the weaknesses and failures of the society. They should make an effort to rectify these. Today artistes are more confined in creating pieces to give sheer enjoyment putting out only the self expression. If arts is for the society then there should be some high level of responsibility in their creations. The power within the arts field is much more than what we see today.

Henry Jayasena:

Present generation has no inspiration. They do not have a tradition to read books. Yet I do not feel that it is the fault of the present generation. Social and economical changes caused the drawback.

What is you point of view on the input by the present generation of artistes?

Jackson Anthony:

I have a great deal of respect towards their creativity. But this generation was an innocent, isolated and helpless one. My mammoth love towards these innocent kids makes me feel sorry for them. It is painful to know that their creativity is not a deep rooted one. Their existence is shaky. I was able to learn from Prof. Ediriweera Sarachchandra. He had that opportunity from his guru, Gunasena master. But to whom am I going to teach? As Prof. Sarachchandra found me how can I find one from the present generation?

But as I see that this young generation is very optimistic. They have the available time to learn their history, their roots. This was proved to me while I was doing my film. The youth which hated Sinhala films came flowing into cinema halls to watch the movie. So the barrier imposed by the previous generations must be removed and we should help the youth to become strong.

Henry Jayasena:

I cannot be happy about it. They are running after instant fame.

They may come and go. But many of them are unable to create something that would last. Even the audience has gone down. One may find a considerable sized audience only in the main cities. When we go to other areas there is no audience. In this backdrop survival of an artiste again falls into a question.

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