The Hon. Dr. (Ms) Malani Fonseka, is widely regarded as the “Queen of Sri Lankan Cinema” and in 2010 she was appointed as a Member of the Sri Lankan Parliament. This year she is celebrating 50 years of her acting career in theatre and cinema.
Starting out in stage productions, Dr. Fonseka made her feature film debut with Tissa Liyansuriya’s Punchi Baba (The Little Baby, 1968). She has acted in more than 150 feature films to date, not including her many television and stage appearances. In 1985 she was conferred with the Kala Suri, the national honour for special contributions to the development of the arts by the Sri Lankan President. Then in 1996 the Sri Lankan President awarded her the Wishwa Prasadini Appreciation award for services rendered to the Sri Lankan cinema industry. Dr. Fonseka received the Presidential Awards for Best Actress for her roles in Bambaru Avith (The Wasps Are Here, 1978), Wasanthaye Dawasak (One Day in the Spring, 1979) and Aradhana (Invitation, 1981).
Dr. Fonseka has been awarded more than a dozen Signis (OCIC) Awards and Sarasaviya Film Awards, and many other national awards including an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Visual and Performing Arts, Colombo. Having worked with Sri Lanka’s finest directors, she has won accolades both locally and internationally. For one of her most recent films, Akasa Kusum (Flowers of the Sky), she was awarded the Silver Peacock for Best Actress at the 39thInternational Film Festival of India, the Best Actress Award at Itay’s Levante International Film Festival, and nominated for Best Performance by an Actress at the 2009 Asia Pacific Screen Awards.
In addition to her acting career, Dr. Fonseka has also produced and directed three films including Sasara Chetana (1984), Ahinsa (1987) and Sthree (Woman, 1991). She was a member of the International Jury of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), 2012. CNN named Dr. Fonseka as one of the Asia’s 25 great actresses of all time.
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