Nihal Silva

Nihal Silva

Nihal Silva (1954–1989) was a Sri Lankan comedian and actor. He rose to fame playing Sergeant Nallathamby in the play of the same name. The character was a stereotypical Tamil Hindu with a bald head, small moustache, police suit and Vibhuti, three lines of ash, on his forehead.

The play Sergeant Nallathamby was one of the first Sri Lankan plays to be a financial success. It was hugely popular, even playing in the Middle East to Sinhala audiences. After its run, a slew of similar comedies like Ralla, Commando Diyasena, and Vadamaarachi appeared in Sri Lankan theaters inspired by its success.

Silva was born on January 10, 1954 in Kirulapone and grew up in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka. He came from a poor family, and began his theater career with Wesak dramas. He subsequently had roles in stage plays like Amal Biso and Le Kandulu. He first played Sergeant Nallathamby in the play Neinage Suduwa.

Silva was shot to death by Sri Lanka Army soldiers as he ignored warnings and ran a checkpoint on December 3, 1989 in Dehiwela; he possibly did not understand the situation due to inebriation.


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