A few years ago, a group of friends went to a cinema. One of them, who dreamed of becoming a model or actor, promised his friends that someday a film he played a role in would be screened at that very cinema. A few days ago, this same group went to the cinema to watch a film starring the friend who made that promise.

Anuj Ranasinghe recalled this memory while talking about the film

Me Wage Adarayak, in which Anuj plays the leading male role.
Me Wage Adarayak, directed by Chandran Rutnam, is a love story between two students at an aviation school. Of course, life isn’t perfect so it just happens that Roshan (played by Anuj Ranasinghe) comes from a Kandyan, Buddhist family and is the son of a politician while Serena (played by Dinakshie Priyasad) is from Down South, is a Christian and from a middle-class family. Despite his father’s disapproval, Roshan carries on the relationship and the couple gets married.

However, during the second half of the film, the story takes unexpected twists and turns, and can be considered to be a love story different to what we usually see in Sri Lankan cinema.
Me Wage Adarayak is Anuj’s first film and while he is happy with the film, he says, “there are places I need to improve in and I will correct my mistakes and do my best in the future.”

The young actor is from Panadura and studied at Sri Sumangala College, Panadura and later, St Peter’s College, Colombo. He also studied business management and IT.

Anuj grew up, wanting to be a model or actor. His dream of being a model was the first to become a reality. In 2010, Anuj won the title of Mr Sri Lanka and went on to represent Sri Lanka at the Best Model- World which was held in Spain. He was placed first runner up. A year later he represented Sri Lanka at Mr International and was able to bring Sri Lanka to the top 15.

“When I was 21, I contacted several people in the fashion industry, but later realized it wasn’t the right time to start modeling. So, I followed a degree and it was only when I was 24 that I started as a model by contesting in Mr Sri Lanka. I must thank Brian Kerkoven for all his support,” Anuj said.

While Anuj has been involved in modeling since then, he moved on to other fields and has appeared in music videos and commercials. The first tele-drama he acted in was Sayuri and this was a year ago. It is after this that Anuj joined the film industry, a place a he hopes to be for a long time.

Regarding TV commercials, Anuj said they were a good opportunity to get off the fear of the camera. It was due to the good directors who guided him that he learnt how to act. The various characters he played in music videos allowed him to try out various roles and come to the standard he’s currently at.

However, his love for the fashion industry remains. “My passion is modeling,” he said, explaining that there are many designers who want him in the field. Thus while focusing on modeling,  he studies acting so he can improve his skills.

When asked how he manages to balance work, especially in different fields, Anuj said he has managed to do so for now. Besides modeling and acting, Anuj is also a wedding planner and handles event management. He is also a TV presenter for a wedding show, which he said has allowed him to talk with people who help him with his business. While such a busy schedule may make it difficult to maintain the fitness required, he sticks to a diet and gym schedule and also keeps fit through dancing and martial arts.

Going back to his first film, Anuj said it was through the film that he made a breakthrough. “The teledrama I acted in didn’t approach the audience that much. My breakthrough was from the film and I have received many good comments about both my acting and the film,” Anuj said. Thus while known as a model, it was through the recent Chandran Rutnam film that Anuj became known as an actor.

Thus it is no surprise that Anuj is extremely grateful to Chandran  Rutnam. “Chandran  Rutnam is a Hollywood film maker and has a lot of experience. His film is different from traditional Sinhala movies, especially with regard to music and dialogues,” Anuj said, explaining that he believes this is why the film is popular among the youth. He added that another reason the film appealed to the youth was because of the setting in the aviation school.

Without revealing any spoilers, it can be said that Me Wage Adarayak has an unexpected ending. “The audience doesn’t get what they expect and so it’s a new experience for them,” Anuj said.

Speaking about the character he played in the film, that of a lover, Anuj explained that at the start of his career he would want that sort of character. However, in the future, he would accept any kind of character, including villain characters. When asked if he would change his physical appearance for a film, Anuj said he would. “For Sayuri, I had to grow my beard and hair,” Anuj said, explaining that he will do anything for a good character.

The path Anuj has taken so far may seem if not smooth at least less bumpy. Anuj too is aware of this. “Most directors don’t use new actors in their films and they think models can’t act and that all models have are looks,” Anuj said. He explained that this pushes models to show their skills as actors. “Recently, however, there were a couple of models who were able to show their talents in acting,” Anuj says, thanking Chandran Ratnum for the experience he gained during the making of Me Wage Adarayak.

Once again speaking about Me Wage Adarayak, Anuj commented on the innuendoes that are a constant in the film. The characters in the film talk about sex although not in a vulgar way. This is something unusual in Sri Lankan films, but Anuj says it isn’t a big issue as, “during a time when we are constantly updated on various topics, why can’t we speak about them in films too?” He, however, said there are unnecessary scenes that need not be shown in detail.

“I don’t accept having sex scenes in films. We have a tradition and a way of living. However, if the stories are related to such themes, they can be portrayed in a way that is proper and suitable,” he said.

Anuj also spoke about his family saying his father, a retired Air Force officer and mother, a retired teacher, have always supported him. Besides his dream of becoming a model and actor, Anuj wanted to also be a pilot and thus Me Wage Adarayak made that dream come true in a way. When asked why he didn’t pursue that career, Anuj said that after he completed his A/Ls, he didn’t know what career to follow and did the business management and IT degree simply because his elder sister had also followed the degree and suggested it to him. However, Anuj said that he might go on to at least get a Private Pilot License (PPL).

He clearly continues to have goals and dreams in life and Anuj plans on moving forward in all fields he’s involved in. The model and actor has a long way to go, there’s no doubt about that, but he does seem to have the passion and determination to achieve all his goals in life.

Pics by Chandana Wijesinghe