9 October 1945|
Ja-Ela, Sri Lanka
|Died||16 February 1988
Polhendoga, Sri Lanka
|Other names||Kovilage Anton Vijaya Kumaranatunga|
|Alma mater||St. Benedict's College |
|Years active||1968 – 1988|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) |
|Relatives||Jeewan Kumaranatunga, Ranjan Ramanayake|
Kovilage Anton Vijaya Kumaranatunga (Sinhala: කොවිලගේ ඇන්ටන් විජය කුමාරණතුංග; 9 October 1945 – 16 February 1988), also known as Vijaya Kumaranatunga, was a popular Sri Lankan film actor and politician, married to former Sri Lankan president Chandrika Kumaranatunga from 1978 to his assassination in 1988.
In 1978, Kumaranatunga married Chandrika Bandaranaike, daughter of the late Sri Lankan Prime Minister S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike and former Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike. Vijaya Kumaranatunga and Chandrika Bandaranaike had two children,Yasodhara Kumaranatunga Walker (MD) and Vimukthi Kumaranatunga (Vet) in UK.
Kumaranatunga's first film was Hanthane Kathawa, in which he played the lead role. Since then, in a career that spanned nearly two decades, he acted in 114 films including Eya Den Loku Lamayek (1975), Ponmani (1977), Bambaru Avith (1977), Ganga Addara (1980), Baddegama (1980), Paradige (1980), Maha Gedara (1980), Kedapathaka Chaya (1989) and Kristhu Charithaya (1990).He also won several awards. He had been winning the most popular actors award in Sri Lanka from 1983 to 1988. That was a record in the Sri Lankan Cinema History yet.He was posthumously awarded as the best actor for the role he played in Kedapathaka Chaya after his death.He performed as a Playback Singer as well in several films and won the Best Playback Singer Award for two times (For "Saharawe Sihinya" Movie - "Walakulak Gena Muwa Karamu Hiru....." & "Dolosmahe Pahana" Movie- "Sara Guwana Wida Neguna.....", Also, he sang more than 100 songs by releasing nearly 10 Cassettes (Ganga Addara, Kawluwa Atharin, Vedana, Dinakara Paya, Vijaya Gee, Seetha Reyedi, Mangala Nekatha, Sudu Duwa, Roossa Gaha Langa).He sang all his songs with out taking any money. Vijaya performed in one English film, The God King and one Tamil film, Nanguran during his career.The only film he produced was Waradata Danduwam which was screened after his death.
He was also a politician, who started his political life in the Lanka Sama Samaja Party. He later joined the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and unsuccessfully contested to Katana seat in 1977. He was active in the presidential campaign of Hector Kobbekaduwa in 1982. After the election, he was jailed under the emergency regulations by J.R Jayawardena for allegedly being a "Naxalite" (a political creed hitherto and henceforth unknown in Sri Lanka), but he was never charged. He contested Mahara by-election under SLFP candidature in 1983 and was roughed up by UNP violence. An attempt was made on his life and one of his friends was killed. Vijaya won the first round of counting and a second round was ordered.Then occurred the infamous blackout at the counting centre. By the time electricity was restored UNP candidate has recorded a victory by few votes. The opposition insisted that someone has literally eaten some of Vijaya's votes to ensure UNP victory. He founded the Sri Lanka Mahajana Party (SLMP). He and his party argued for peace in the then ongoing civil war in Sri Lanka. He contested to the Minneriya by-election under the newly erected SLMP and recorded the second place in the competition that was won by the UNP candidate however sending his old party SLFP to a humiliating third position. His party then contested at several by-elections including Kundasale and Habaraduwa but did not live up to expectations. In his final public address Kumaratunga who had a political mission - one that transcended political barriers expressed his unconcealed dislike for feudalistic politics of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), a party that failed to sustain his interest due to its sheer lack of liberal thinking. Addressing the mammoth public rally held at Campbell Park on January 28, 1988, Kumaratunga lashed out at the UNP, SLFP and the JVP for failing to address the need of the hour. Interestingly, Kumaratunga also voiced his concerns about the SLFP's links with the JVP. In 1988 his party came to a concillation with several other left wing parties including LSSP, NSSP, Sri Lanka Communist Party and EPRLF to form a new alliance-United Socialist alliance(USA). A few days prior to the establishment of the new alliance,Vijaya was assassinated. The agreement for USA was signed by the party leaders at his funeral ceremony.USA won a large number of seats in the newly erected provincial councils in an election that was boycotted by the main opposition SLFP. Later USA forwarded Ossie Abeygoonasekera as it's presidential candidate and he would record the last place at the presidential elections in 1988. USA contested at the 1989 Parliamentary Elections and won three seats including one from the national list however all the winners represented member parties of USA other than SLMP.
Death and legend
He was shot in the head with a Type 56 assault rifle outside his residence in the outskirts of Colombo on 16 February 1988 at 12.20pm by Lionel Ranasinghe alias Gamini, who later confessed to the murder upon being questioned by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). Ranasinghe, in a 141 page statement, confessed that he was merely carrying out orders given to him by the Deshapremi Janatha Viyaparaya (DJV) / Patriotic People's Movement, the military arm of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (People's Liberation Front), a Marxist organization which is responsible for assassinations during the late 1980s. However, the Presidential Commission report had implicated President Ranasinghe Premadasa, Gamini Lokuge and the Deputy Minister of Defence Ranjan Wijeratne of the United National Party had been behind the Vijaya Kumaratunga assassination. Kumaratunga's widow Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga also holds this view. Kumaratunga's funeral had attracted the most number of people for a funeral in Sri Lanaka. Vijaya's Coffin was only partly opened (the head part was closed due to the damage occurred to the head by gunshots).The funeral was held at the Independence Square in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 21 February 1988 as a State Funeral though he represented the opposition arena against the existed UNP Government.It was the first ever funeral ceremony to be telecast live on a Sri Lankan TV Channel (by Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation). Most Sri Lankans recall that Vijaya was the most handsome & the most humanitarian personality who ever lived in Sri Lanka during the 20th century. Twelve people reportedly committed suicide after hearing his death. People recall his assassination day as the "The Horrible/The Darkest Tuesday in the Sri Lankan's History" (16 February 1988 - Tuesday)
Kumaranatunga's death is still mourned by many people in Sri Lanka.
- "A humble humanist with broad vision". DailyNews. 21 October 2006. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- "Some of St. Benedict’s College’s Illustrious Alumni". stbenedictscollege.org. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- As per his Postal ID issued on 23/11/1963 (AL:001821)
- Malalgoda Banduthillka.Sri Lnaka Methiwarana Ithihasaya
- LankaNewspapers.com.Reins in these wild buffaloes.Tuesday 18 Dec 2007.Available online.
- Malalgoda Banduthillaka.Sri Lankawe Methiwarana Ithihasaya.
- Bloody betrayal, by Dilrukshi Handunnetti (The Sunday Leader, 22nd February, 2004)
- Malalgoda Banduthillaka.Sri Lankawe Methiwarana Ithihasaya
- Confessions of Vijaya's killer by Sunday Leader -Frederica Jansz (Virtual Library SL Web)
- Vijaya Kumaratunga assassination was a UNP conspiracy: Gamini Lokuge's gun alleged death weapon (Sunday Observer, 21 March 2004)
- "Devolution only solution - CBK (Vijaya's 20th Death Anniversary)". BBC News. 19 February 2008.
- The Bandaranaike Ancestry
- Vijaya Kumaranatunga's Biography on Sinhala Cinema Database
- The Ratwatte Ancestry
- Vijaya Kumaratunga's Biography in Sinhala
- Vijaya's Film Details in Sinhala
- 21st death anniversary of Vijaya Kumaranatunga in Sinhala
- Vijaya Kumaratunga in Sinhala 1
- Vijaya Kumaratunga in Sinhala 2
- Official Website - National Film Corporation of Sri Lanka
- Official Website of Lester James Peries in association with Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Sri Lanka
- Remembering Vijaya Kumaratunga, By Kumar Rupesinghe
- Biography for Vijaya Kumaratunga, Internet Movie Database Inc.
- Confessions of Vijaya's killer, WWW Virtual Library - Sri Lanka