Emeritus Professor Sunil Ariyaratne
Professor Sunil Ariyaratne retired with the title of Professor Emeritus in the year 2015 following an academic career spanning more than 40 years during which he served the universities of Kelaniya, Jaffna, and Sri Jayewardenepura.
In the field of creative arts, he is best known as a songwriter and film director. Having composed nearly 1000 songs to date, he was awarded as the best songwriter in 1982, 1984, 1987, 2002, 2008, and 2018 respectively. Among the films he directed, ‘Sarungale’ (The Kite) (1979) was regarded as the first ever Sri Lankan film that dealt with the ethnic conflict, and his cinematic unfolding ‘Christhu Charithaya’ (The Life of Christ) (1990) has been the only movie with a Christian theme that was directed by a Buddhist. Prof. Ariyaratne’s films, ‘Siribo Aiya’ (1981) and ‘Sudu Sewaneli’ (2002) won the Presidential Award for Best Film in the given years, while ‘Kusa Paba’ (2013), ‘Paththini’ (2014), ‘Yashodhara’ (2018), and ‘Vijayaba kollaya’ (2019) all won the People’s Award as the Most Popular Film of the particular years in which they were launched.
Having completed ‘Sangeetha Visharada’ with a first-class, he won the State Music Award from the State Music Advisory Board in 1999 for his music-based research endeavors. Prof. Ariyaratne also won the State Literary Award in the years 1985, 1986, 1994, 2000, and 2008. For his pioneering work in introducing Tamil literature to Sinhala readers, the Tamil community awarded him the honorary titles ‘Tamilmani’ (Tamil Bell) in 1991 and ‘Tamilmamani’ (Tamil Jem) in 1993.
As a result of his noteworthy and immense contribution to the development of the fields of literature, music, and cinema, this renowned scholar, film director, author, poet, and lyricist was awarded the D.Litt degree by the University of the Visual and Performing Arts in 2011 and by the University of Sri Jayewardenepura in 2013.