The world always refers to Sri Lanka’s natural and historical value. Yet, there is an unheard aspect of the country! Yes, that is none other than the skillful personalities that add value to the country. In fact, there are thousands of people who took the name of Sri Lanka to the highest possible places in the world. Indeed, that is not just in one particular field, but in many fields. Even the world admires the talents and the good qualities of these people despite the field they are engaged in. So, we thought of focusing this read on such famous people from Sri Lanka. Continue reading to know about their significance and contributions!
Cricketers among the Famous People from Sri Lanka
Simply, the bond that Sri Lankans have with cricket is simply amazing. However, this is not the simple reason for Sri Lankan cricketers to become famous all over the world. It is indeed their marvelous talents and achievements.
Some of the most famous cricketers from Sri Lanka are as follows.
- Arjuna Ranatunga
- Sanath Jayasuriya
- Muththaiya Muralitharan
- Thilakaratne Dilshan
- Mahela Jayawardane
- Kumar Sangakkara
- Lasith Malinga
Winning international tournaments, defeating the high-ranked teams in the world, recording the best possible scores, and even harsh defeats are some of the main reasons that have made them some of the most famous people from Sri Lanka. Their biographies are so inspiring to read and extract life lessons.
Scroll down to get to know a bit about these wonderful personalities!
1. Arjuna Ranatunga
He started as a left-handed batsman who went to score easily while developing his bowling skills as a right-arm medium player. Further, he started playing for the national team in 1982 and continued until 2000. In the same year, in 1982, he stepped into ODI. That was with a match against England and he ended his ODI life in 1999 in a match against Kenya.
He was a glorious Sri Lankan player for more than 25 years. He was even captaining the team for eleven years starting from 1988. During his captaincy, he could raise the team from a zero-level, weak, routinely defeated team to a competitive, successful, and determinantal chasing team. Besides, he was the captain of the Sri Lankan team which won the 1996 ICC Cricket World Cup.
However, throughout his cricket career, playing 361 matches, he always strived to give his best not for himself but for the sake of the reputation of his country. Later, he joined the cricket council. There too he contributed a lot to Sri Lankan cricket.
Accordingly, he served to erase the tarnished status of Sri Lankan cricket at the time. Hence, the Arjuna cricket era is something that will always be planted in the hearts of cricket fans in Sri Lanka as well as the world.
Apart from that, Arjuna joined politics and tried to serve Sri Lankans in that field as well. So, all these things made him one of the most famous people from Sri Lanka!
2. Sanath Jayasuriya
Of course, there is certainly no one who doesn’t know Sanath Jayasuriya! He is that much of a highlight among the famous people from Sri Lanka.
Jayasuriya succeeded in gaining glory in the country through his revolutionary batting style and chasing the scores. People consider him one of the greatest attacking batsmen of all time. His style of striking and all-rounder performances is very powerful, daring, and incomparable. Further, his determination has led many matches to win with hard pressure on the opposing team.
His revolutionized explosive batting in ODI during the mid-1990s is the highlight of his whole career. In those days, the opposing teams used to play with a little tension when they were bowling to Sanath Jayasuriya. That is the reason why cricket fans still murmur his name whenever they witness something similar to his performance from any debut cricketer in the team. Due to his explosive batting style, he even had the nicknames such as bomb blaster and little bomb blaster.
He is the only cricketer in history to score 10,000 runs and take 300 wickets as a double all-rounder in a single format. At the same time, he is the most successful left-arm spinner in the history of ODI cricket. Further, he was also the first cricketer to score a century in less than 50 balls.
Moreover, he records the highest ODI innings by a Sri Lankan. That is 189 runs against daring India while recording the highest partnership for 2nd wicket in test cricket. He is also the first and only batsman in history to score two ODI scores above 150 consecutively. Saying that he has kept dozens of records as both a batsman and a bowler while taking the country’s name higher in the cricket world.
3. Muththaiya Muralitharan
Muththaiya Muralitharan is one of the most famous people in Sri Lanka Cricket. He spent nearly two decades on the ground as a player. Now, he is guiding the new team members as a coach.
Muralitharan started playing in the national arena in 1992 as a debut player in test cricket. He then entered ODI in 2011. After playing about 130 test matches, he ended his test career in 2010 and his ODI career in 2011. That was with the successful completion of 350 matches. In the meantime, he was a part of T20I cricket as well.
Playing all these matches as a missile who used to make the opponent batsmen afraid, he had a quite successful career with hundreds of rewards and records. Even today the new players try to follow him and build their careers as he has remained an unerasable memory on the international cricket platform.
When it comes to the records he has kept, the best and most significant one is that he is the only bowler to take 800 test wickets and more than 530 ODI wickets in international cricket. Even today he is the highest wicket-taker in international cricket form.
Further, he is also the only player to take 10 wickets in a test in four consecutive matches and the only player to take 50 or more wickets against every test-playing nation. Moreover, he is one of the two players to take 9 wickets in a test innings twice. Also, he was the player to take most of the ‘Man of the Series’ awards in test cricket. He is also the only bowler to take 100 or more wickets in a calendar year four times across all formats.
The list never ends as he was one of the unstoppable bowlers that the Sri Lankan cricket team had.
4. Thilakratne Dilshan
Thilakrtne Dilshan also known as T M Dilshan is one of the commendable former players and captains of the Sri Lanka National Cricket team. He made his name echo in the cricket world as an all-rounder who did his best in whatever he did.
He debuted in test cricket and ODI cricket in the same year, 1999, and in T20I in 2006. Then, he ended his test, ODI, and T20I careers respectively in 2013 and 2016 after playing nearly 500 matches altogether. Other than that, he had the honor to become the second captain for Sri Lanka in Twenty20 Internationals.
At the same time, as a commendable batsman, he introduced a new technique of striking the ball called Dilscoop. It is a shot that hits the ball over the head of the keeper to reach the back boundaries.
He has kept records in a way that cricket fans around the world will remember about. He is the one to reach the highest score in Lord’s Cricket Ground by a Sri Lankan. Also, he built the highest partnership for the fifth wicket with Thilan Samaraweera in a match against Bangladesh in 2005. Further, he is the only Sri Lankan to score centuries in both innings in his 50th Test match. He also could become the opener to get the most runs for Sri Lanka in a calendar year. The list goes on as he could make his career a memorable one by giving his best to whatever format or whatever role he played throughout.
His energetic sportsmanship behavior on the ground is still memorable and incomparable. Even today, T M Dilshan is a name that remains in the minds of cricket fans all around the world.
5. Mahela Jayawardene
Mahela Jayawardene is a former player in the Sri Lanka national team. Currently, he is a consultant coach for the national team and a head coach of the IPL franchise Mumbai Indians.
He started his career on the national side in 1997 mainly as a batsman with the skills of a right-arm medium bowler. Also, he debuted his test career in 1997 and his ODI career in 1998. Similarly, he bid adieu to test cricket in 2014 and ODI cricket in 2015. He has played 149 test matches and 448 ODI matches.
As a batsman, he has succeeded in keeping the record of the highest partnership for any wicket with the help of Kumar Sangakkara and the highest individual score in tests by a Sri Lankan. He could also be the only batsman to score centuries both in a world cup final and a world cup semifinal. Further, he became the first Sri Lankan to score a century in T20I and the only Sri Lankan to have scored a century in T20 World Cups.
Besides, as a fielder, he could take the most number of catches in both Test and ODI formats. Also, as a captain, he gained the title of the best international captain of the year by the International Cricket Council.
It is mainly because of his tactical acumen for decades and his captaincy instincts. The Mahela era was the best era in cricket history when considering the confidence and the dedication of the team at the time.
Being such a commendable player, he honored the game which made him sparkle in the whole world by being a coach of the new generation who is ready to take the future of Sri Lanka cricket into their hands.
6. Kumar Sangakkara
Among the most famous people in Sri Lanka, the name Kumar Sangakkara lies on the top of the list. He is a former professional cricketer, currently a Sri Lankan cricket commentator, and an ICC Hall of Fame inductee.
Sangakkara started his career as a national player in 2000. He debuted both his test and ODI careers in 2000 and ended them in 2015. Without stopping there, he was privileged to be on the T20I players’ list from 2006 until 2014.
He is also on the top of the list when it comes to international records as well. As a batsman, he gained the second most double centuries in a career with double centuries which was second only to 12 by Don Bradman. Also, he is ninth in the list of having the highest half-centuries in test cricket with 52 as a count. Further, he is the first player to score 150+ scores in four consecutive test matches, the fastest 8,000 and 9,000 runs. Also, he is the first Sri Lankan to pass 14,000 runs in ODI cricket and the first and only batsman to score four consecutive hundreds in the same format. As a wicketkeeper, he has the most dismissals in all three formats: Test, ODI, and T20I.
He became popular as one of the greatest batsmen in the history of cricket. Especially, according to the ratings he is in the top three current batsmen in the world in all three formats of cricket. During his cricket career of 15 years, he has scored 28.016 runs in all three formats which ended him as the second-highest run-scorer in ODI cricket, and the sixth-highest run-scorer in test cricket.
His discipline and his sportsmanship made him popular around the world as a gentleman in the sport.
7. Lasith Malinga
Lasith Malinga is a well-known fast bowler. He recently left cricket but remained as a consultant coach of the Sri Lanka national team.
As a right-arm fast bowler, he joined the National Cricket Team and remained there until 2020. He directly started his test and ODI careers in 2004 and remained there until 2010 and 2019 respectively. Also, he debuted in the T20s in 2006 and stayed until his retirement in 2020. Throughout his journey, he has played more than 350 matches and the service he has done is commendable and incomparable.
The best performance he has done so far is the consecutive wickets with his swinging-in yokers. In fact, he is the only bowler up to date to take two world cup hat tricks, three ODI hat tricks, and two double hat tricks in the world. Hence, he is the owner of the record for most hat-tricks in international cricket.
Besides, he is the first bowler to take 100 wickets in all three formats; test, ODI, and T20I in international cricket. He is the fourth-highest wicket-taker in all formats of T20 cricket. Also, he is the first and only bowler to take 100-150 wickets in the history of the IPL. Even as an average batsman he could hold the record of being the highest ninth wicket partnership in an ODI which is 132 runs with Angelo Mathews against Australia.
His bowling style is scary and deadly, making the opposing players careful when striking his balls. He is commonly used as a death bowler and popular for his significant round-arm action. This sling action ended up in giving him a nickname, ‘Slinga Malinga’.
After being one of the strongest frontline bowlers on the team for more than a decade, he retired from all the formats of cricket in 2021.
Athletes among the Famous People from Sri Lanka
Apart from the cricketers some athletes also performed well and took the name of the country to the international space. Some of them are as follows;
- Susanthika Jayasinghe
- Damayanthi Darsha
- Dinesh Priyantha
Scroll down to know about these wonderful personalities!
8. Susanthika Jayasinghe
Susanthika Jayasinghe is a retired Sri Lankan spinster who specialized in 100 and 200-meter running events. However, she is popular for her Olympic win, which was a silver medal in the 200m women’s running event in the 2000 Summer Olympics.
It is the second medal that a Sri Lankan could achieve in an Olympic event and the first medal that an Asian female got in an Olympic event. She is also the only Sri Lankan to win a medal in a World Athletic Championship, by then.
She attempted three times to take the name of the motherland to the heights of the world through the Olympics and one of her attempts thus succeeded. Therefore, she is considered one of the most decorated sprinters in Sri Lanka.
9. Damayanthi Darsha
Damayanthi Darsha is a retired sprinter in Sri Lanka who competed in 200m and 400m sprinter events on international platforms. She is the current 200m women’s sprinter record holder of Asian games and the current 400m women’s sprinter record holder of Asian Athletic Championships. Not only that! She is the national record holder for 400m women’s sprinter as well.
People regard her as one of the greatest and most successful track and field athletes to represent Sri Lanka at the international level. She, as an athlete, has represented Sri Lanka at the Olympics three times, at the Commonwealth games four times, and at the South Asian games four times to take up the pride of the country to the international crowd.
10. Dinesh Priyantha
Dinesh Priyantha is a paralympic track and field athlete who participated and took the victory down to the country in the F46 category javelin throw event. He also served as an important member of the Sri Lanka Army during the civil war period, which eventually resulted in making him disabled due to a shot at his left arm during the final stages of the war.
At the Paralympics, he became the first ever Sri Lankan to win a gold medal which made him the record holder of Paralympics and World record in men’s javelin throw for the F46 category. Even as disabled he took the name of the country to the international level and fulfilled his duty as a proud Sri Lankan.
Politicians among the Famous People from Sri Lanka
In every country, politics is one of the most discussed topics among the countrymen. Similarly, in Sri Lanka also, politicians are always in the contest due to their work and their contribution to the development of the country. Some politicians have been in the political field for more than 50 years and have done so many things on behalf of the country. Among them, there are former presidents, ministers, and parliament members along with the current president as well.
This section of this article will discuss further the about noteworthy political roles in Sri Lanka such as:
- D.S. Senanayake
- Sirimavo Bandaranaike
- S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike
- Lakshman Kadirgamar
- J.R. Jayawardene
- C.W.W. Kannangara
- Ranasinghe Premadasa
- Maithripala Sirisena
- Ranil Wickramasinghe
- Mahinda Rajapakshe
- Gotabaya Rajapakshe
- Chandrika Kumarathunge
Continue reading to know more about them!
11. D.S Senanayake
D. S. Senanayake is one of the famous people from Sri Lanka owing to his emerging contributions to the Sri Lankan independence movement. However, he is a former statesman after the independence of Sri Lanka from British rule.
As you may already know, this movement led to the establishment of self-rule in Ceylon. After stabilizing this rule in Sri Lanka, the political and government system established by the colonial intruders started to change. As a result, D.S Senanayake became the first Prime Minister of Ceylon who later entered into historical legends as the ‘Father of Nation’. He gained this honor due to the immense commitment he showcased to the independence movement and later in building up westernized Sri Lanka into the Sinhalese nation. Thus, he is one of the significant characters in the political history of this island which is constantly subjected to unexpected alterations.
12. Sirimavo Bandaranaike
Sirimavo Bandaranaike is one of the former Sri Lankan female politicians who gained popularity due to his gender identity. Being a female, during the period of the 1960s when cultural and traditional values were highly concerned, she succeeded in becoming the first female Prime Minister in the world when she became the Prime Minister in Sri Lanka.
Besides, she was the chair of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and she served three times as prime minister, two times as the chair of the party, and one time in the presidential system under the presidency of Chandrika Kumaratunga, who is her daughter.
However, she entered politics following her husband, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike‘s death, and most of the time her emotional speeches ended up with her bursting into tears. Owing to this, she even earned the title ‘The Weeping Widow’ from her opponents. However, she is one of the most famous people from Sri Lanka and a noteworthy character who remained in her political career for quite a long time fulfilling her duty toward the nation.
13. S.W.R.D Bandaranaike
S.W.R.D Bandaranaike was the fourth Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, who was often referred to as ‘The Silver Bell of Asia’ based on the heart-touching and revolutionary speeches he made for the public.
Moreover, he is famous as the founder of the left-wing and the Sri Lanka Freedom party. As mentioned in the previous section, he is the husband of the world’s first female prime minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, and the father of the first and only female president of the country, Chandrika Bandaranaike.
However, his service period is unbelievably less, and it is limited to three years. In fact, he started his political career in 1956 as an active politician and had to end his career along with his life journey due to an assassination in 1959. Still, being a revolutionary politician, he strived in establishing some national policies, which later his wife attempted to keep up and collaborate in the governing system of the country.
14. Lakshman Kadirgamar
Lakshman Kadirgamar was a popular Sri Lankan lawyer and statesman during the later years of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st century. He is mainly popular for the service he has done during his ministerial period as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka. And yes, it is his successful foreign relationships that made him one of the most famous people from Sri Lanka.
Besides, he was a lawyer who fought against the LTTE organization where he attempted to ban it internationally. Unfortunately, this was what resulted in his death caused by an assassination of an LTTE sniper.
However, he served in the political field for a decade and his service is significant in the political history of Sri Lanka. Considering all the political and legal careers of Lakshman Kadirgamar, the government of Sri Lanka awarded him with the highest national honor, Sri Lankabhimanya.
15. J.R Jayawardene
J.R Jayewardene was one of the significant leaders who had a great serving period in the political history of Sri Lanka. He served as the Prime Minister from 1977 to 1978 and as the second president, as well as the first executive president in the Republic of Sri Lanka from 1978 to 1989.
Besides, he was a leading character in the nationalist movement in Sri Lanka. The main incident that is related to him is that due to him introducing the open economy system, Sri Lanka could get out of the economic turmoil Sri Lanka was in before. At the same time, he bore the accusation of being an initiator of the civil war due to one of the statements he made regarding the Black July. However, owing to all these reasons he became one of the most famous people from Sri Lanka and one of the most controversial political figures that can be found in political history.
16. C.W.W Kannangara
C. W. W Kannangara is one of the most famous people from Sri Lanka, and his recognition lies as a lawyer and a politician who contributed much to the education system back in his time. Besides, he was an active participant in Sri Lanka’s movement for independence during the early 20th century.
He, being a lawyer, worked a lot with regard to the legal proceedings during the riots and gave his best to protect the true leaders who worked on getting independence. Later after independence, he became the first Minister of Education in the State Council of Ceylon.
Being the Minister of education, he implemented exclusive reforms in the education system and ended up offering free education in government schools and government universities. To date, his major reform of the education system is in action, and therefore millions of children could get their education free of charge.
17. Ranasinghe Premadasa
Ranasinghe Premadasa was the third president of the Republic of Sri Lanka and the second executive president of the country. He is one of the most famous people from Sri Lanka and a widely spoken figure in political history due to his controversial ruling period as president.
Before his presidency, he served as the Prime Minister under the governance of president J R Jayewardene. However, he initiated several charity works to light up the lives of the working-class crowd in the country, which are up to date in action. Some of his social work is opening up preschools for poor families and vocational training centers for sewing and tailoring for youth. During his presidency, the civil war in the North and a communist insurgency were in action. However, he is well-known for his particularly ruthless actions against insurgents and terrorists.
18. Maithripala Sirisena
Maithripala Sirisena is a politician and the seventh executive president of the Republic of Sri Lanka. His governing period is of three years, and he was the first politician to become the president without belonging to the traditional Sri Lankan political elite.
During his presidency, one of the highlighted things that happened is that he fired Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe and appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister by a letter. This surprised many since he became the president by campaigning against and defeating Mahinda Rajapaksha. Therefore, he is considered a president who tried hard to get the Rajapaksas into power again. However, he showed an impressive sense of simplicity, and this itself gave less significance to whatever contributions he did on behalf of the country.
19. Ranil Wickramasinghe
Ranil Wickramasinghe is a Sri Lankan politician who is currently the president of the country. At the same time, he is the Minister of Finance in Sri Lanka.
Besides, the significance is that he had been the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka five times leading six governments. To be specific, that is from 1993 to 2022 while being the leader of the opposition from 1994 to 2001 and from 2004 to 2015. During his service period, he served as the Minister of Industry under the presidency of Ranasinghe Premadasa. While he was holding this role, he initiated major industrial reforms and established the Biyagama Special Economic Zone.
Being a politician for a huge period of time and facing several presidential elections as a candidate, he finally could become the president of Sri Lanka by a secret ballot of the Parliament of Sri Lanka as a result of Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigning from the Presidency. And yes, he has in fact become one of the most famous people from Sri Lanka, owing to the strength he had to face any challenge and finally receive the presidency, even after several failures.
20. Mahinda Rajapaksa
Mahinda Rajapaksa is a politician in Sri Lanka who is currently a member of the parliament. He served as the president of Sri Lanka for ten years from 2005-2010 and the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka from 2004-2005, 2018, and 2019-2021.
His Presidency period is considered a period with a lot of corruption records and dysfunctional projects. Further, during his presidency, he has been accused of crimes such as war crimes and human rights violations. However, during the same period, he managed to develop the infrastructure facilities in the country. Almost all the highway projects came up in Sri Lanka during his time. And apart from that, many other constructions, as well as monuments, came up during his time.
Owing to all these reasons, he became one of the most famous people from Sri Lanka, while being one of the most controversial characters in the political history of the country.
21. Gotabaya Rajapaksa
Gotabaya Rajapaksa is a former military officer and politician who became the eighth president of Sri Lanka. He is the elder brother of Mahinda Rajapaksa as well. He is the only person with a military background to become a President in Sri Lanka and the first person to become a President without being a part of an elected office.
However, more than 69 lack citizens voted for him with high hopes and several development plans, yet he failed in achieving any of those. Hence, he became one of the most hated Presidents of Sri Lankans and the people protested really hard to let him down from the position. As a result, he fled from the country and stepped down from the position.
Authors among the Famous Sri Lankans
Sri Lanka is a country with a proud history and in parallel, it is rich with literature that evolved for centuries. Even the country has a lot of readable sources about this history in different formats. One of those formats is the novels that reveal the lifestyle of the ancestors. Besides, the authors who wrote these novels are some of the most intellectual lot in Sri Lanka. They have taken the name of the country International through their skill of writing. Their novels are world famous and their writing skill is unique from one to one.
Some of such authors that took Sri Lanka’s name to the world are:
- Martin Wickramasinghe
- Michael Ondaatje
- Sibil Wettasinghe
- T.B Illangaratne
- Simon Nawagattegama
- Ediriweera Sarathchandra
Scroll down to get to know about these eminent personalities!
22. Martin Wickramasinghe
Martin Wickramasinghe is one of the most famous authors in the history of Sinhala Literature. His novels became world famous owing to their literacy richness. Now, there are translations of them in several languages.
His literary career began with the novel Leela. He climbed to the top of fame through his world-famous trilogy, Gamperaliya, Yuganthaya, and Kaliyugaya. He won several awards for his unique style of writing. Besides, he has gained the title of ‘The Father of Modern Literature’ as well.
His novels represent the different classes of Sri Lanka, from rustic village life to middle-class urban life and high-class rich life. Moreover, his books follow the order and they provide all the details of development and new inventions that took place in the country. Hence, his novels are one of the best sources in Sri Lanka to get information about ancient Sri Lanka.
23. Michael Ondaatje
Michael Ondaatje is originally a Sri Lankan, yet a Canadian poet, writer, essayist, novelist, editor, and filmmaker. He has received numerous international awards such as the Governor General’s Award, the Giller Prize, the Booker Prize, and the Prix Medicis etranger. Ondaatje received recognition as one of Canada’s most renowned living authors as well.
His first work was a poem that came with the name ‘The Dainty Monsters’. However, he got famous for his most recent novel, The English Patient which became both nationally and internationally successful. He even won the Golden Booker Prize for this novel due to its incredible literary features.
His career is a combination of fiction, autobiographies, poetry, and films. He touched the heights of success through his work in every form. He has successfully done a huge number of literary works that are written with his style and literary features. Hence, he is considered a world-famous writer whose work is included on several literature platforms around the world.
24. Sibil Wettasinghe
Sibil Wettasinghe was one of the most popular children’s book writers and an illustrator in Sri Lanka. She is most famous as the doyen of children’s literature in Sri Lanka.
She has become world famous through her unique writing style. Altogether she has done 200 books and they have been translated into numerous languages. There are translations of most of her stories in languages such as Japanese, Chinese, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, English, Korean, Dutch, and Tamil. Among them, the two books, Child In Me and Eternally Yours have reached the heights of fame.
Wettasinghes’s work was recognized locally and internationally, and thus her work has won many world-renowned awards that added more value to her skill. She has won particularly literary awards under the category of child narrative as she could make the children absorbed in her work as there was magic in them.
25. T. B Ilangaratne
T. B Ilangaratne was a world-famous Sri Lankan author who was also a politician, dramatist, and theatre actor at the same time. He was also a children’s book writer and got popular through his children’s novel, Amba Yaluwo. Many films and television series came up focusing on his novels. As a result, people become curious about the novel and its writer. His novels have quite a unique literary style and features that are rare in other children’s novels of the time. In the meantime, he engaged highly in politics and shined in the field contributing immensely to the country.
26. Simon Nawagaththegama
Simon Nawagaththegama was a Sinhala novelist, Sinhala radio play writer, and actor. His most famous work was Sansaranye Dadayakkaraya which was about Buddhist mythologies and blind faith in the institutions. This novel, later on, had a film adaptation as well which was a complete success in showcasing the gist of the novel. His literary style influences ancient teachings, and it makes the reader read the novel eagerly and curiously. Through most of his work, he attempted to reveal the truth of modern Sri Lankan society.
Actors among the Famous People from Sri Lanka
Just like there are dozens of people in other sectors who have taken the name of the country to the world, there are unforgettable names in the field of film and television as well. No matter if the person is a male or a female, both types have taken their skills to heights where they can make the world realize the presence of Sri Lanka. Not only that they have shown their talents, but also the capability and the improvement of the particular industry in Sri Lanka.
Some famous people in the film and teledrama industries in Sri Lanka are as follows.
- Gamini Fonseka
- Rukmani Devi
- Jackson Anthony
- Malani Fonseka
- Pooja Umashankar
- Jacquelin Fernandez
Of course, there is no limit when talking about these people as they have done fascinating work reaching the best of it during their times. Scroll down to get to know a glimpse of these wonderful personalities!
27. Gamini Fonseka
Gamini Fonseka is one of the famous people from Sri Lanka, who has kept his name in the film industry in an unforgettable manner. He was and is considered the greatest actor in Sinhala cinema as they say that still there is no one to beat the talents that he showcased on every platform ranging from television drama to cinema. Although he is deceased by now, his work and his talent are valid up to date, and praised by even the younger generations.
This fact is further proved through the number of ‘Best Actor’ awards he has gained throughout the decade from 1960-1970. Because of the legendary talent of Gamini Fonseka, he was even considered the King of Sri Lankan cinema during the same period.
Stepping into the film industry as a teenager, he bore the intention of being a cameraman at first. However, he debuted his cinema career as the second assistant producer to David Lean’s Bridge on the River Kwai and Lester James Peiris’s Rekava. During the same time, he got a chance to act as a minor character in the Sinhala film, Rekava, and an English TV series directed in Sri Lanka. Debuted as a minor character, he improved to be the main role in all the upcoming films. Accordingly, he dominated the field for a very short period of time.
During this journey, he encountered the characters of a romantic lover, a hero, a motif (clergy, monk, policeman, counselor, etc.), a father, a grandfather, a brother, and perhaps a villain who contributed massively to the flow and the life of the film. Besides, he was not only popular as a film actor, but also as a film director, producer, and politician.
Some of the most famous films that he took part in and even rewarded are as follows.
- Parasathu Mal
- Sorungeth Soru
- Kasthuri Suwanda
- Sagarayak Mada
- Nomiyena Minisun
28. Rukmani Devi
Among the very few Sinhala actresses who wrote their names in the space of International platforms, Rukmani Devi scores at the top of the list. Being once an actress and once a singer, she took the whole film industry, particularly the background singing voice under her control. Her vocals are fascinating as much as her beauty that the people of the time could not resist not seeing or not hearing from her. This immense talent led her to acquire the title of the Nightingale of the Sri Lankan Music Industry.
Particularly, she was the one to rule the gramophone era through her unbelievable voice. The best proof that can provide for her incomparable voice is the awards she won multiple times as the ‘Best Background Singer’.
In her songs collection, there are around 50 songs according to the sources that have been recorded. However, some say that there is more than that as the early stage of her period was an era where there were no sources to preserve the songs.
Apart from that, she has participated in acting the main role in more than 100 films in the Ceylon film industry while winning the award of Best Actress Title multiple times. In addition, she became popular as the one and only actress from Sri Lanka to feature on the cover page of an Indian magazine called ‘Filmfare’. Further, the vintage car model, Toyota Hi-ace was known as the ‘Rukmani Model’ as she used to travel around in such a model and even died from an accident while traveling in that vehicle.
Some of the most popular films in which she contributed in acting:
- Kadawunu Poronduwa
- Peralena Iranama
- Kele Handa
- Abuddassa Kale
- Ara Zoysa
Some of the most popular songs of her:
- Sandyawe Siriya
- Pinsara Mage Soyura
- Ninden Rathri Yahane
- Doi Doi Putha
- Mavila Pene Vi Rupe
- Pem Sihina Loke Paya
All these songs are background songs of the films that dominated the film industry by winning a number of awards. Of course, the songs vocalized by Rukmani Devi could take the films to the heights of popularity as well.
29. Jackson Anthony
Jackson Anthony is one of the other extraordinary actors in the industry of film and television who is dazzling in the field to date. He has kept an unforgettable mark not only in the field of dramas and films but in the field of stage dramas where he debuted his acting career for the first time.
He was one of the most active actors on all three platforms. This made him even win the ‘Best Actor’ award about sixteen times during his career. Apart from being an actor in the industry, he appeared before the public in various forms such as director, producer, singer, screenwriter, television host, novelist, columnist, lyricist, historian, and traveler.
He has influenced and motivated Sri Lankans in many ways through his character and his work. Meanwhile, he also gained recognition as an ordinary person who enjoys life to its fullest. Even the characters he played throughout had a meaning and purpose that portrayed a lesson to the audience.
As an actor, he has acted in countless teledramas, stage dramas, and films while showcasing an immense talent that is up to the standards of taking the name to the heights of International platforms.
Famous stage dramas that he took part in:
- Bera Handa
- Methanin Maruwenu
- Tharavo Igilethi
- Madhura Javanika
- Maha Samayaka
- Dhawala Bheeshana
The songs that he sang:
- Sithe Susum Niwana Gayana
- Desa Piya gath kala
- Lande Ukula Uda
- Dewathawan Sithana Dewal
- Ra Tharakawo
Further, if we speak about the songs, most of the songs that he has sung are of performances with renowned artists in the field.
Films that he contributed to acting:
- Bawa Tharana
- Gini Keli Saha Gini Awi
- Agni Dahaya
- Sooriya Arana
- Kurulu Pihatu
- Ksem Boomiya
- Kusa Pabha
- Dada Ima
It says that his skills are incomparable, and people only witness similar kinds of fascinating acting through his two sons, Sajitha Anthony and Akila Danuddhara. However, Jackson Anthony is one of the most famous people from Sri Lanka, simply unreplaceable.
30. Malini Fonseka
The name Malini Fonseka is an overheard and repeatedly heard name and still heard name in the field of Sri Lankan Cinema. She, who debuted her acting at a younger age, probably as a teenager, is now an actress who has been keeping the status of success and popularity throughout her career without making a chance to drop them.
Being the ‘Queen of Sinhalese Cinema’, Malani has been in the field for about seven decades, starting from the late 1960s. Right after that year, she started acting in films. Then, she won the ‘Best Actress Award’ at the National State Drama Festival. From there onwards, she became the youngest successful actress in Sinhalese Cinema and succeeded in keeping her status throughout her career. Her talent once took her to the international platform as she was named as one of Asia’s 25 greatest film actors of all time by CNN.
She started as a stage drama actress. With time, she leveled up until she became an actress that had high demand in the field. As a stage drama actress, she spent about 14 years of her career and moved into cinema with the help of one of her brothers, but with the names of the best directors of the time. After her first film, Punchi Baba in 1968, she received an uncountable number of invitations for the lead role from the directors of the time. With that debut, she ended up acting in 140 movies including international movies. Her incredible talents made her an unforgettable name on the silver screen as well as its loyal audience. Still, they get goosebumps when Malini Fonseka participates in a film through acting.
Some of all time successful films of Malini Fonseka:
- Siripala Saha Ran Menika
- Eya Den Loku Lamayek
- Bambaru Awith
- Ahas Gawwa
- Weera Puran Appu
- Pilom Premanath
- Hingana Kolla
- Awurudu Da
- Anthima Reya
- Akasa Kusum
According to records, she is the first actress to take the name of the country to the heights of International, winning a special Jury award at the Moscow International Film Festival in 1975. This is the first of her many international awards as well. So, owing to all these reasons, she is one of the most famous people from Sri Lanka.
31. Pooja Umashankar
Pooja Umashankar is a Sri Lankan-Indian actress who acted in Sinhala, Tamil, and Malayalam films. Debuting the acting career just to experience it by acting in one film and returning to her previous life, she made her name a very demanding name in the film industry.
The first film in which she acted was Ullam Ketkumae. She acted there as an Anglo-Indian girl. However, her first film released was the romantic comedy Jay Jay where she depicted a total opposite of her first character.
She is a fast adapter and a learner who takes the challenge of doing any type of role after thorough research. After becoming a successful actress in the Indian film industry, she started working in the Sri Lankan film industry as well.
In the Sri Lankan film industry, she debuted as a romantic lover and acted in several films. Later she started giving life to some serious challenging characters where one can distinguish a huge talent through her character. Pooja first contributed only to acting, and her voice was dubbed by another as she was short in speaking Sinhala. But later on, she could learn it and let the audience hear her voice side by side with her acting. The experts declare that it is an incredible talent that can only be seen through a dedicated person who adores the profession.
In both the film industries, Sri Lankan and Indian, she won the ‘Best Actress Award’ and the ‘Most Popular Actress Award’ several times for her skillful portrayal of whatever character she got to give life. Further, she participated in several reality shows being one of the judges on the panel as well.
Some of her Indian movies where she showcased incredible talents:
- Jay Jay
- Oram Po
- Naan Kadavul
- Panthay Kozhi
- Vidyum Munn
Sri Lankan movies where Pooja Umashankar showed amazing talents:
- Asai Man Piyabanna
- Suwanda Danuna Jeewithe
- Kusa Pabha
According to the industry news, Kusa Pabha was one of the most successful films of the actress Pooja Umashakar. And yes, it became the highest-grosser ever in the Sri Lankan film industry along with the successful character portrayal of Pooja.
As an actress in the Sri Lankan film industry, she got the chance to work with renowned actors in the field such as Jackson Anthony, Channa Perera, Sanath Gunathilake, Roshan Ranawana, and Uddika Premarathne.
After all, she is one of the most famous people from Sri Lanka, adored by many people of various nationalities.
32. Jacquelin Fernandez
Jacquelin Fernandez is an actress in the Indian film industry but has origins in Sri Lanka.
At first, she was an announcer in the Sri Lankan media field. Then, she entered the modeling field crowning herself the title of Miss Universe Sri Lanka in 2006. Accordingly, she got the opportunity to represent Sri Lanka at Miss Universe in 2006.
Later she joined the Indian film industry directly debuting with the fantasy film, Aladin. This resulted in taking her to the heights of popularity. Thereafter, she took on challenging characters in different genres and exposed her talent to the world. This helped her take the name of her motherland to the heights of the international platform.
Entering the Indian film industry by being auditioned for a modeling assignment, she could consistently maintain her talent and popularity in the industry. Also, some of her films where she acted with the most powerful actors in Bollywood reached box office records as well.
Apart from being a spectacular actress in Bollywood, she has been doing several charity programs for the welfare of animals which resulted in making her the ‘Woman of the Year’ in PETA as well. Further, she is one of the key participants in Indian concert tours and televised award ceremonies.
Being originally a Sri Lankan, she has gained pride in Sri Lanka by reaching the heights of Bollywood, one of the largest cinema fields in the world. So, there is nothing wrong with mentioning that she is one of the most famous people from Sri Lanka.
Some of the films she participated in acting and reached box office records:
- Housefull Series
- Murder 3
- Race Series
- Judwaa 2
- Bhaagi 2
Along with these few, she has acted in more than 20-30 films in total.
Musicians among the Famous People from Sri Lanka
Just like the film and television industry, the music industry is also on the top list of developing fields in the country. Day by day the scope widens and the approach to international platforms by adapting the upcoming styles increases. Thereby Sri Lankan music, at the moment, is in a run of hope to touch the heights of the music world. The main reason for this strong resistance is the foundation that the ancient musicians laid with the intention of making the future of music in Sri Lanka not a journey but a destination that the whole world embraced at once. In that lot, there are certain musicians who are regarded as the pioneers of this field. Some are still in action while some have died by the body, not by vocals.
These names are on the list.
- W.D Amaradewa
- Sunil Shantha
- Nanda Malini
- Rohana Beddage
Continue reading to know more about these famous people from Sri Lanka!
33. W. D Amaradewa
This is a legendary name in the field of music and one of the most famous people from Sri Lanka. Simply, the voice attached with this name is unforgettable and incomparable up to date.
He is a Sri Lankan Sinhalese vocalist, violinist, and composer. His songs are composed primarily with the aid of traditional music instruments and the lyrics are a part of fluent Sinhala diction. Because of this feature, he is usually cited as the ‘Maestro of Sri Lankan Music’. Within the territory of the island, there is no one who disregarded his songs but embraced them with high respect. Not only that he sings for the peace of the nation. Meanwhile, he has done immense work towards the development of the industry as well.
One of the major alterations he did to the prevailing folk music of the time he entered the industry was that he added verses to the only melody version and made two distinctive parts in the songs. That is how the chorus formed, removing the restrictions imposed in traditional music earlier.
Further, he added the genre of Sarala Gee which was highly adapted by the vocalists of the time. At the same time, he contributed to composing the Maldives National Anthem as per the invitation of the Maldives Government.
Altogether he has given more than 10 albums to the music industry of Sri Lanka. And the specialty is that each of them consists of different types of experiments and styles. Hence, W.D Amaradeva is an unerasable name in the music industry in Sri Lanka as he is the pioneer of the prevailing style of classical music in Sri Lanka.
34. Sunil Santha
If we look back at the music industry of Sri Lanka, Sunila Santha is a name that is primarily written in all the records. So, he can be undoubtedly considered one of the most famous people from Sri Lanka.
He was originally a composer, singer, and lyricist who participated in bringing forth numerous successful creations in history. He was a prominent character in the time period from the late 1940s to the early 1950s.
Most of his work is part of his experiments where he tried really hard to make a future for the Sri Lankan music industry. With the influence and education of Indian music and composing, he started recording for Radio Ceylon as his first step. That remarkable step he took, made him reach the heights of the industry and create a stable spot in it.
The most remarkable work he has done was making the world’s first one-note song which became a masterpiece in the late 1960s. The masterpiece was named ‘Gum Gum Gum’ which is sung to the tune of a wasp’s hum.
During his career, he had flights from time to time because of which he had to start from scratch repeatedly. Yet, that is how he found the success or the downgrade of his experiments.
However, he remained in the field for several decades holding into the status of success that he himself gained with dedication and determination. The final album he made reached the heights of success as the music in it was composed by mixing the traditional drums of Sri Lanka which made a successful blend.
35. Nanda Malini
Nanda Malini, the all-time favorite songstress and female playback singer, is a prominent character in the music industry in Sri Lanka. She is one of the most renowned and most honored singers who sings songs under the theme related to real life and socio-cultural, and socio-political complications in the country. Mainly, her songs convey messages on relationships, life circumstances, and emotions that stem from human behaviors and realities. Her concept specially made her songs popular and embracing as they speak to both minds and hearts of the people.
She started showcasing her talent through reciting poems in simple community events and later on improved to become the best of best female singers in the country. She even won the award of the ‘Best Female Singer’ on several occasions as an honor to her vocal quality.
Besides, Nanda Malini is one of the female artists that let the people embrace her albums through separate solo concerts from which she reached the heights of popularity and success as well. Also, when looking into the collection of Nanda Malini, one can find 25 recorded cassettes let alone her songs produced in early times. Being the most prominent artist in the field, she always humbly accepted the love and comments of her audience without neglecting a single word of them. Owing to all these reasons, she became one of the most famous people from Sri Lanka.
36. Bathiya Santhush (BnS)
BnS is the short-term name for the most popular Sri Lankan pop duo Bathiya Jayakody and Santhush Weeeraman. This duo is not only popular in the territory of this island, but famous in the whole world as the world believes that compatibility as such can rarely be found.
The way they sing, the style they maintain, and the experiments they constantly do always become successful. These two are a duo who took their first steps to international arenas from Sri Lanka. One of the most significant things is that they are the first to sign a contract under Universal Music Publishing. Throughout the two decades of their journey, they have already done around 15 albums. All these albums became the most popular songs of the time as each had a separate vibe and separate taste.
By now they are the primary shareholders of the BNS production group which houses the most successful companies in the Sri Lankan entertainment industry. The contribution they have made to the industry is incredible and unbeatable. Therefore, they have become a top-notch music industry with a huge audience, and two of the most famous people from Sri Lanka.
Yohani is an upcoming Sri Lankan singer, songwriter, rapper, music producer, and YouTuber. She was exposed very recently by a cover she did to a song by a well-known singer in the field. Also, she is a sensation on TikTok as well along with being a businesswoman in musical instruments imports and exports.
She debuted as a YouTuber and started getting followers very fast. With that uprising, she became really famous and signed a contract as brand ambassador for the best-known Prima Kottu Mee. Later, she made her debut song collaborating with Red Bull.
She became a sensation with her song ‘Manike Mage Hithe’ which became a worldwide popular song. It hit the views of over 200 million which is the highest ever. Besides, this was immensely embraced by the Indians, and thus, she was able to do many shows in India, and take part in some of their TV shows as well. Owing to all these reasons, she became one of the most famous people from Sri Lanka.
The Bottom Line
There are several hundreds of Sri Lankans, who have taken the name of this splendid island to the world. Among them, the ones who are mentioned in this article are just a few. However, there are many things for us to learn from these inspiring characters as well. Their dedication and passion for their profession, their interest in taking on challenges, and being down-to-earth even amidst their popularity are some of them. Besides, their efforts and talents should be highly appreciated. They are indeed precious gems of this charming island!