A. D. Ranjith Kumara - Kuromaku
“He was so generally civil, that nobody thanked him for it”. -Samuel
I will come to it presently. But, let us take up A. D. Ranjith Kumara
My pen traced his progress, way back in 1972 - that is, 38 long years
ago. At that time too, Ranjith Kumara, had risen to a slightly high
profile, among his peers who practised art and pursued media
professions. When I focused upon him at that time, he was a staff
journalist attached to Lake House.
Many of his colleagues were happy being routine-bound. But, Ranjith
had an inner urge and a creative restlessness, which made him explore
avenues, that, most others would have left alone. A medium he was deeply
engrossed in, at that early age, was cinema. His earnest pre-occupation
with pictorial expression, lured him into the field of cover-art - an
area, dominated by a limited coterie of persons at that time.
Ranjith introduced an impressive streak of innovation to the
conventional practice of cover-art. His efforts received the blessings
of outstanding men of letters of the country. In those formative years
of creative development, his interests were multi-faceted. He assisted
in stage-productions. He provided publicity to films. He created
credit-titles for cinematic works - these were among many other things.
What is essential at this point is to observe his evolution from that
Today’s Ranjith Kumara, is an entirely different kind of personality.
The vast variety of cumulative experiences, he has been able to gather
over the years, has, quite clearly, given him a stunning uniqueness.
If we so desire, we can adopt a statistical approach to assess his
He is the only person who has arranged and organised more than 50
film and TV festivals.
He would have provided more than 500 meals to members of film and TV
Juries.He would have arranged more than 500 trips, to transport, film
and TV panellists.
The decor of an umpteen number of stage sets and festival -
backdrops, would have taken place under his supervision.
A steady flow of souvenirs would have been ensured by him.Such a
categorisation of what he was involved in, would seem impersonal and
lacking in human depth.
What really matters is the way he doing on to detail. I discerned his
zealous keenness quite early in his career. I suggested at that time
that this young artist and others of his ilk, should do well to remember
perpetually the dictum of the great Mies van der Rohe: “God is in the
Ranjith adheres to this credo with an ardent commitment.
To appreciate Ranjith’s addiction to perfectionism, one must know him
from “within” as it were. If it is a film or a TV jury, that Ranjith is
concentrating on, he worries endlessly even about the least detail. His
work-style is admirably enlivened by his concern for those others with
whom he has to collaborate.
Ranjit possesses a built in P. R. acumen. He has always had a warm
rapport with film stars and others associated with the field of
entertainment. This, as is quite well-known, is a touching tribe. But,
Ranjith has a way of walking right into their hearts.
His capacity to remain unruffled under even the most trying of
circumstances, is nothing short of legendary.
As some tend to believe, this may have been conditioned by his
childhood and later adolescent and youthful experiences. The environment
he was raised in, was constantly a-bustle. He acquired the state of
That enabled him to pursue his own line of thought and his own brand
of work, unperturbed by what went on outside.
Ranjith has written vividly about this specific ambience, that gave
him the personality timbre, to remain unshaken in any troubling context.
The general perception is that Ranjit concentrates mostly on films,
cinema personalities and events, associated with cinema, in his
The series of articles about a vast variety of personalities, that he
contributed to Navayugaya, when I edited that publication, is an
outstanding literary and journalistic effort.
Ranjit is primarily an artist, journalist and writer. But, by
default, he has turned out to be a “planner,” worthy of being taken high
note of. When a film festival or a TV Fest is in the offing, Ranjit’s
planning efficiencies come to the fore. During the initial stages, such
planning, may have been directed by organizers. But, today, his planning
skills have reached an astonishing acme. As I have been (at least
peripherally) associated with many such planning efforts, I am fully
aware of the stresses and tensions, he has to endure. Ranjith’s hallmark
is his capacity to remain cool in the midst of all the challenges.
But, in quite a visible manner, these stresses and tensions have
taken their toll.
In the early days, as a youthful artist, he displayed a head of
The stresses have reduced this, to a shining pate. But, fortunately,
his soul still exhibits that youthful zest, ardour and enthusiasm.
His professional journalism, took place mainly in “Sarasaviya” and in
“Navayugaya.” He plunged into his professional duties in these journals,
with an unabashed sense of fulfilment.
Though officially he is in journalism today, in an administrative
capacity, he makes insightful contributions, through the absorbing
pieces of journalism he composes.
Even at events and festivals, he has been centrally involved in,
Ranjith Kumara has a way of remaining away from the limelight.
In a prestigious film festival, which he may have sweated hard to
plan and organize, Ranjith Kumara may be present only very briefly,
performing a minute function - somewhat similar to the signature
appearances of Director Alfred Hitchcock, in his own films.
Ranjith Kumara prefers to remain in the background.
Now, this brings us to our “Kuromaku.”
“Kuromaku”, is very much a Japanese institution. This refers to a
‘shadow’ personality, who remains unseen in the background, while
manipulating what is taking place on stage. The word “Kuromaku” implies
“black curtain,” and refers to a person who directs the actions of
others - unseen - from behind.
In many an instance Ranjit Kumara is a “Kuromaku.”
He manages things from behind, to enable others to occupy the centre
His personality has so evolved, that he inspires trust. The
unescapable outcome of this development is that, he gets to shoulder a
plethora of responsibilities. But, strangely enough, he is equal to all
During recent years, he has turned his attention to Buddhist events
and Buddhist publications as well.
Ranjith Kumara has been a solid and functional part of Sri Lanka’s
landscape of art and culture.
The store of experiences and knowledge he has amassed throughout
these years, could very well be described as unparalleled.
He should be persuaded to record this history. So that an important
facet of the cultural life of this era, could be adequately profiled.
I feel, Ranjith Kumara should do it, at least in memory of the
strands of black hair he has lost, under the stresses of these