Those who watched the award winning Prasanna Vithanage film Akasa Kusum, would no doubt remember the character ‘Priya’, the troubled daughter of Sandhya Rani (Malini Fonseka), who worked as a hostess at a Karaoke night club. Nimmi Harasgama displayed her talent in a sterling performance as Priya, winning critical acclaim. This young and striking actress has now transformed herself into a totally different character as Auntie Netta – the slightly eccentric, strait talking middle-aged aunt, in a hilarious program aired weekly on a private TV channel.
The award winning actress, who recently was named by Zee Magazine as one of six up-and-coming Asian actors in England, created Auntie Netta herself.” It’s been in my head for years and I’ve not been brave enough to bring her out. When I was back home for a couple of months, I finally started experimenting with the character, who is a mixture of different people in Sri Lanka,” explained Nimmi during a recent interview.
Put a Chat With Auntie Netta” is a talk show that pairs well known Sri Lankan personalities with the most unlikely of interviewers. Harasgama collaborated with television producer Heshani Sothiraj Eddleston to bring Netta to local audiences.
Nimmi says that although Auntie Netta is Sri Lankan, she isn’t supposed to be Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, or Burgher. “I want her to be able to talk about them all and get away with it.” Although Auntie appears to be harmless, she has a mischievous sense of humour and a very sharp mind.
Nimmi, who is of mixed Sinhala and Tamil parentage, left for the UK at the age of 14 and got involved in drama at an early age, acting in plays in the West End of London. She eventually obtained a BA Degree in Drama and Theatre Arts from Goldsmiths College in London. She has worked in Sri Lanka at different jobs, including a stint at Young Asia Television. She speaks Sinhala and understands Tamil.
Nimmi received the award for best actress at the Las Palmas International Film Festival (2004) for August Sun; the Best Actress Special Jury Award (2007, Sri Lanka) at the Presidential Film Awards and Best Actress Award at the Sarasaviya Film Awards (2007, Sri Lanka).
She first became famous in her home country for her role in Ira Madiyama (2003), also directed by Prasanna Vithanage. Akasa Kusum and Ira Madiyama were screened at international film festivals, winning several awards, and in both these movies Nimmi played serious, glamorous roles.
According to Nimmi, since she had been successful as a dramatic actress, no director wanted to cast her in comedy. Auntie Netta was her way to break out of this mould.
Here is Auntie Netta putting a chat with Gypsies leader and Singer Sunil Perera