What do the British authors Leonard Woolf and Arthur C. Clarke and the Sri Lankan Bandaranayake clan of Prime Ministers and Presidents have in common? The link between all these different characters is a very famous actor in a Sinhalese movie from 1980. “Baddegama” was directed by Sri Lanka’s most filmmaker, Lester James Peries. Baddegama is the film version of Leonard Woolf’s novel “village in the junge”. This was the first book written by Leonard Woolf, shortly after he had married Virginia. The novel from 1913 is based on Leonard Woolf’s experiences in the Ceylon Civil Service between 1904 and 1911. The film version adopted the jungle village’s name, Baddegama. Another British gentleman who lived on the island after he fell in love with it, played a minor role in this movie, namely Sir Arthur Clarke, author of “2001: A Space Odysee”. It is a guest appearance in the Baddegama film, but the magistrate played by Arthur Clarke could be Leonard Woolf himself.
Vijaya Kumaratunga, the most famous Sinhalese actor and one of the most beloved Sri Lankans ever, played Babun, one of the two leading male roles in this Baddegama movie. Kumaratunga was not only an actor but also a politician. When he was assassinated in 1988 in the course of the JVP terror campaign, a national mourning was ordered to honour him, though Vijaya Kumaratunga was an opposition leader who had never served in as a government official. It became the largest mourning in Sri Lanka ever. Vijaya Kumaratunga was the husband of Chandrika Bandarainayake Kumaratunga, who became the island’s first female president in 1994. She is the daughter of S.W.R.D Bandaranayake, assassinated in 1959, and Sirimavo Bandaranayaka, who both served as Prime Ministers of Ceylon and Sri Lanka in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.
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