15 July 2007
APPRECIATION – KALIDASA (KARL) GUNASENA
By Dr. Tilak S. Fernando in
Finally arrived a day towards the beginning of July, after eighty three long years, when the main sail of Kalidasa (Karl) Gunasena’s life boat suddenly had to take the impact of an unexpected and imperceptible wind force to plunk the boat peacefully.
On a sunny afternoon in
Karl Gunasena was born in
Karl was a remarkable person who thought life, from birth to death, was a university, and we mortals needed to be educated in one form or the other all the time. He was a passionate reader who delved into any area to stimulate his grey matter which made him deeply involved in Buddhist literature. Though he was a Christian by birth, more he read Buddhist text, enhanced and philosophical he became. Naturally Buddhist way of life, its thinking and values appealed to him exceedingly which made him a Buddhist in 1965 despite his Christian upbringing.
As a transformed Buddhist Karl took a leading role in religious and social activities attached to the Sri Saddhatissa International Buddhist Centre at Kingsbury. With acquired knowledge in Buddhism and refractive journalistic aptitude he undertook the responsibilities of editing a monthly Dhamma magazine published by Kingsbury International Buddhist Centre. Karl’s devotion and dedication became more apparent when his supreme organizational genius was uncovered at a time when Lord Buddha’s corporeal relics (Sarwagna Datu) were exposed for the first time in the
Karl Gunasena introduced and dominated English drama on Sri Lankan stage and became the backbone of Lionel Wendt theatre in the 1960s. Forty years ago, at a time when he was a popular English broadcaster attached to the Radio Ceylon along with Chris Greet,
Karl became a legend and an icon in the society and made foot prints in Sri Lanka Cinema by appearing in the films Gatawarayo and Chandiya playing the villain to the late Gamini Fonseka, the superstar in Sinhala cinema...
The year 1965 became a hallmark in his life where his performance took a three hundred and sixty degree turn to something different. In
Karl’s thirst for Sinhala drama had not exhausted completely, yet a residue was still bubbling like glowing amber within him. In 1981 he organized a cultural circle in
After a lapse of forty long years Karl was approached to act in a tele-drama, a
Karl Gunasena always retained a modest disposition and was a human being with a magnanimous heart. He did not exactly know the meaning of the words malice, hatred or jealousy; but always extended a helping hand to whoever needed help in word or deed whenever approached him. He never cultivated barriers between the affluent and the poor and always had room in his heart to forgive and forget even those who did not agree with him at times, a gracious quality he has left for the rest of us to emulate.
The value of a society does not depend on the numbers of its populace but of a handful who would shine as beacons in their behaviour and contribution to the society. When such personalities fade away in an ephemeral world, it does affect the value of a society as well. Karl Gunasena, actor, philosopher, broadcaster, traveller, husband, grandfather, ‘interminable student’ and a dear friend, was a one of those rare gems
Dr. Tilak S. Fernando