Iranganie Roxanna Serasinghe (nee Meedeniya) (born 1931) is a Sri Lankan actress. Since her debut in Rekava, Serasinghe has become recognized for playing motherly figures in various films and television serials.
Early life and education
Iranganie Meedeniya grew up in Mudugamuwa, near Ruwanwella in a tranquil village setting. Her early touches with nature would later lead her to become an environmental activist. In the meantime Meedeniya was encouraged to pursue acting by her parents. While attending Bishop's College she played in several end-of-term plays; at Girls' High School, Kandy whilst pursuing a HSC Meedeniya took a leading role in an adaptation of Pygmalion.
Against her father a Rate Mahatthaya's wishes, Meedeniya entered the University of Ceylon in 1947 with the support of her cousins. He passed away in her first year away at a time when Marxist ideas were the norm. She immersed herself in the Ceylon theater scene while there under the guidance of Professor Ludowyk; she also became a proficient dancer with lessons from Chitrasena.
She eventually graduated with an Arts degree and travelled to London with letters of recommendation from Ludowyk following a marriage to Professor Dissanayake (they divorced some time later). There with the help of actresses Flora Robson and Sybil Thorndyke, Meedeniya attended Bristol Old Vic Theatre School for a year and the London School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art for two years.
Theater and film
Returning to Sri Lanka, Meedeniya met up with Ludowyk and Austrian Jew director Neuman Jubal and got back into theater. Doing mainly English roles at first, she delved in Sinhala plays per Henry Jayasena's suggestion beginning with Apata Puthe Magak Nethe and following with roles in Damma Jagoda's Sinhala version of A Streetcar Named Desire, Ves Muhunu, and Porisadaya. The following years saw Meedeniya in constantly changing settings–teaching briefly at Musaeus College, working for the Times of Ceylon after returning from London, doing a stint at the SLBC and handling a post in the tourist trade working as a junior executive for Mackwood's.
Meedeniya entrance into film was a short work done by Lester James Peries for the Government Film Unit covering traffic safety. Peries subsequently cast her in his debut feature film Rekava as the mother of its protagonist. Though the film was a flop, Peries received rave reviews from critics and the cast was pleased with the work. It has since achieved an iconic status in Sri Lanka.
In 1960 Meedeniya married Winston Serasinghe who had appeared in Rekava and some other productions with her. With the new surname, Iranganie Serasinghe achieved fame as an actress appearing in many of Peries' early work.