Denawaka Hamine

Kalasuri Dona Meraya Denawaka (commonly known as Denawaka Hamine) (20 February 1906 – 9 December 2002) was a Sri Lankan actress. “The grand old lady” was known for portraying elderly characters.

Denawaka Hamine was born 20 February 1906 in Imbulgoda, Gampaha. She was by profession a school teacher until a chance encounter with G. D. L. Perera when she accompanied a young actress to a theatrical audition, led to her winning the role of an elderly mother in Perera’s play Kandulu. Due to her masterful performance in the role, Perera brought Hamine into his drama group Kala Pela; she would play in Kala Pela productions like Manamalayo, Sakkarawattang and Sama (as Nonnohamy) and was honored with a merit award at the 1964 Arts Council Drama Festival for her role in Totupola.

Hamine’s debut film role was in the film adaption of Sama (1965) by Perera reprising the role she had popularized in the play. In Sath Samudura (1968) she played the mother of two fishermen to much critical rave. She was presented a Best Character Actress Award for the role by a special government council. It was delivered on stage by the then Sri Lankan prime minister Dudley Senanayake.

In the 1970s, Hamine had major roles in Tun Man Handiya, Desa Nisa Kolomba Sanniya and Matara Achchi. She continued to perform the elderly woman character. She played to Western audiences with a small role in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as a weeping mother in 1984. In 1987, she was awarded the Kalasuri title.

Hamine did work in television with roles in teledramas like Kopi Kade. In 1998 she received an honorary award for her contributions to Sinhala Cinema from the Sri Lankan president Chandrika Kumaratunga.

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