Artiste Joe Abewywickrama who entertained film fans for a number of decades has bid his final farewell.
No one would have ever guessed that G.P. Don John Abeywickrama who was born on 22nd January 1927 in Lellupitiya in Pelmadulla would revolutionize the Sinhala silver screen. The film titled ’Deva Sundari’ diverted his life on to a different path. That film did not materialise but G.P. Don John Abeywickrama totally changed due to the film. Thereafter he changed his name and became Joe Abeywickrama.
In 1957 he performed a comical character in the film ‘Saradama’. When he passed away he had acted in more than 150 films. Although Joe lacked a muscular physique and a handsome face, characteristic of actors, he was full of talent. At one time he made us laugh as a comic and at another time he played the serious character of ‘Gorin Mudalali’ in ‘Weli Katara’.
Talents of this extraordinary character actor were highly evident in films such as Ran Mutu Duwa, Para Sathu Mal, Thum Man Handiya, Beddegama, Aswesuma, Pura handa kaluwara, Sikuru liya, Getawarayo, Pooja, Angulimala, and Bambaru Ewith. He played the character of Siribohamy in Siribo Aiya and entertained the film goers in Allapu Gedera playing the humorous character of Kapila.
His name cannot be erased from the history of Sinhalese Cinema. Playing a role of a comic, villain, lover or an elderly person was not a challenge for him. He was full of talent that he performed until the final period of his life. He was a close friend to ITN. At the dawn of the millennium, former Chairman of ITN Newton Gunaratne launched a programme to felicitate artistes by making financial donations. He was in the front line of the artistes of the millennium. His talents started to wax with his age.
This great performer who entertained us for half a century has left the world as the setting moon. He has left an encyclopedia of cinema for the future generations. His name will be eternal in the Sinhala film industry.