Dedication led to my success - Nilmini
Some have the talent, but less success. Some have the skill with no
luck. It's a rare occasion that one is blessed with everything. Nilmini
Thennakoon is one such lucky woman who could thrive in life in many
The tele role she played as 'Deepthi' in the 'Doo Daruwo' teledrama
has created an unforgettable image in the minds of the people. "But that
was not my first tele," smiles Nilmini.
Although nearly two decades have passed since the time she stepped
into the field, the bold actress is still a charming beauty. "There's no
secret in my success other than dedication," she smiles.
Nilmini's very first appearance before a TV camera was when she was
in grade seven at the Princess of Wales College in the 1980s. "I was
studying dancing under Mrs.Vajira Chitrasena at school, and
simultaneously was attending the 'Pahatharata' and 'Kandyan' dancing
under a radio artiste Mrs. Chitra Kumari Kalubowila at Moratuwa. It was
Mrs.Chitra who took me to the Rupavahini stage for the first time for a
ballet drama called 'Sasara'," she recalls.
Nilmini has an inborn talent for dancing. "I gave little priority to
my studies. Maths was my most hated subject. I could only study upto
O/Ls as I gave priority to dancing and acting. But now I really regret
it. Even for newcomers in the field, I advise them not to neglect their
studies as it would always be better if you could at least reach up to
A/Ls," she stresses.
Nilmini was a teenage school girl when she got the craze to be an
actress. While she was going to her 'famous' Maths class, she got to
know that the popular acting couple Sumana Amarasinghe and Roy de Silva.
One day with her friends Nilmini went to them to get her autograph
signed. After seeing the charming damsel, Sumana asked her whether she
liked to take part in the latest film 'Hitha Honda Chandiya' which they
were to produce. Nilmini was elated. After playing a brief hartal at
home, Nilmini managed to chuck herself in it. "It was a dancing scene
and it was my first experience before a camera," she says.
After taking part in 'Hitha Honda Chandiya' Nilmini decided that she
could achieve her target as an actress in the future. At the same time,
D. B. Nihalsinghe took this mischievous teen for many of his TV
Commercials. Nalan Mendis who saw her in them gave her a big role to
play in his tele drama 'Passe Gena Manamali', and simultaneously fetched
to act in his famous tele series 'Doo Daruwo' which was telecast through
many years on the Rupavahini on Sundays at 8.30 p.m.
Nilmini won her first award as the up-and-coming actress at the
Sarasaviya Film Festival in 1992. And then after sometime she won the
Most Popular Actress Tele Award for six years continuously. The Best
Actress Tele Award went to her in the year 2000.
"I have acted in more than 100 teledramas and about ten films so far.
I took leave from acting after my daughter was born. Recently, I asked
part in 'Handewa' after two and a half a years. It was directed by
Sherly P. Delankawala, and I was longing to take part under his
direction," she says.
Moreover, Nilmini is now concentrating in improving her 'beauty
business'. Once the most loved tele star is today the owner of a
successful beauty salon and a garment business. "I followed a five-month
course in dress designing in France recently as it would help me
immensely in my business," says Nilmini.
Whatever said and done, wherever she goes her loving daughter follows
her; Shvetha. "Oh! she is my angel, my life and everything," she says
and cuddles her daughter. Shvetha Mandakini is now 5 years old. "My only
dream is to educate her and let her go into society as a good human
"Where ever I go I try to take her along with me. Playing both the
role of mother and father to a child is a little difficult. But I think
I have won the challenge to a great extent, as far as I think," she
A streak of sadness was visible on her face. "I still love Madhu
Madhawa. He is my daughter's father. More than anything I never loved
anybody else than him. I never thought my fate would be like this.
However, Madhu and I are very good friends now. I know he loves me
and my daughter a lot. But what went wrong was that he and I were living
in two extreme worlds. I am a down to earth person, but he is an extreme
social lover," she sighs.
Though loneliness haunts her life, Nilmini faces life with courage.
"There's no sacrifice that a mother cannot do on behalf of her child,"
Nilmini today follows a very stable life with a steady income.
Charity is her pastime. "I am very happy about my success in my career.
My next aim is to produce a teledrama. I have already found a good
script for that. It is titled 'Maaya Devi', a story of a woman who
struggles to face life with courage," she concludes.