Soon after independence in 1948, our founder late U W Sumathipala, a young man at that time, entered the world of business. His first experience was in the construction industry, which he soon mastered and became very successful. He later went into backward integration and expanded into supplies and logistics. In no time his sharp business acumen and visionary leadership brought him further success. Following a period of phenomenal growth and after marriage, in 1956, he ventured into another new area of business: Turf Accounting , and here too he made his indelible mark, soon becoming an icon in that industry.
Following these successes in the 70’s , he further diversified into an area of business he was passionately interested in: Films and Film production. He produced his first film “Unnath Dahai Malath Dahai” and the premier was screened at Asoka cinema hall in Grandpas on 16th July 1976. It was the 338th film of the Sinhala film industry. This was a commercially successful production. He was also the owner of Asoka cinema hall.
The next film ‘Ahasin Polowata’ received international acclaim at the 3rd International Film Festival in Cairo held from 26th September to 4th October 1978. This film which was directed by nonpareil Dr Lester James Peiris, won the prestigious Akanathon international award for the best film from a third world country. This achievement was a milestone in an annals of the Sinhala cinema. It was officially released in our local film circuit on 15th December 1978.
Following the success of ‘Ahasin Polowata’ was the next movie – ‘Ganga Addara’ directed by Mrs Sumithra Peiris and produced jointly by late U W Sumathipala and his wife late Dr (Mrs) Milina Sumathipala. Just like its predecessor, this film also bagged prestigious awards, including Presidential and Sarasavi film awards. It also received the highest number of awards in that year.
The late U W Sumathipala whose name was synonymous with the business world and the world of Arts as a producer of world-class movies, was also a keen sportsman. He was largely responsible for grooming and producing a World Champion in Billiards and Snooker, the legendary M J M Lafir, and always gave back to life what life had bestowed upon him.
Late Dr. (Mrs.) Milina Sumathipala is a pious Buddhist hails from a reputed Business family. She was the Chairperson of Sumathi Holdings and M/s. U W Sumathipala Foundation.
She was awarded with the Doctor of Philosophy (Social Services) from the Open International University, Colombo in November 2006.
She held several positions in social and religious associations in Sri Lanka. She was the first and only lady to be the President of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress, the leading Buddhist organization in Sri Lanka. She formed the U.W. Sumathipala Foundation to serve the National, Religious and Social Services activities of the country.
She has rendered remarkable services to the Health Sector through various projects. More importantly she constructed a complete Neuro Surgery Unit at the General Hospital of Colombo, from the profit of a Movie which she has produced. She took the leadership to raise funds to set up the MRI Unit at the General Hospital of Colombo and donated a MRI Scanner to the Unit. She was actively involved with the activities of the Blood Bank and to encourage the blood donors, a short Tele Drama was produced in the name of “Boosathwaru”. She has given the assistance and the guidance to organize more than 150 Blood Donation Campaigns island wide individually and through the U.W. Sumathipala & Sons and U.W. Sumathipala Foundation for the past 35 years. Through these campaigns over 20,000 pints of blood have been collected in favour of the needy patients.
During her tenure as the President of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress she managed several Child Development Centers with over 800 destitute children. She opened up a Vocational Training Center for the children of over 18 years who move out from the Centers to gain some training in order to find employment. She is an active member of the “Asarana Sarana Kulangana Samithiya” which started 40 years back to provide assistance to the marriages of under privileged girls. She was the President of the “Kantha Abivurdhi Sansadaya” formed 10 years back for the women’s welfare.
Both Mr. & Mrs. Sumathipala were into the filming industry and Mrs. Sumathipala continued producing award winning movies in Sri Lanka which was started by her husband. More significantly all the movies she has produced were concern about women. She is the highest number of Award Winning Producer in Sri Lanka. The profits gained from these movies have mainly utilized for the social services of the country.
She has contributed immensely to the betterment and the sustainability of the Buddha Sasana by constructing and assisting the temples, constructing of Sanga Wasa, assisting Monks for their education and so on. The “Ran Sivige” of Dalada Maligawa made out of Gold and Silver was one of her significant donations.
Her services extended to promote the sports in the country and she has built the Head Quarters Building of the Billiards & Snooker Association. Further, for the last 15 years the National Snooker Championship is sponsored by the U. W. Sumathipala Foundation.