Malani Senehelatha Fonseka (born April 30, 1947 in Kelaniya) is an award-winning Sri Lankan film actress, also known as the "Queen of Sinhalese cinema". Her cinema career which has spanned many decades began with Tissa Liyansooriya's Punchi Baba in 1968.
She first earned recognition, when she won the 'Best Actress Award' at the 1969 National State Drama Festival This was followed by Sarasaviya Best Actress Awardsfor Hingana Kolla in 1980, Aradhana in 1982 and Yasa Isuru in 1983. In 2010 she has been named by CNN as one of Asia’s 25 greatest film actors of all time.
Fonseka started her acting career with stage dramas. In 1963, she made her entry to stage dramas with "Noratha Ratha". In 1968, Fonseka won the best stage drama actress national award for her performance in Akal Wessa. She has since played the lead role in 14 stage dramas. She entered the cinema industry through one of her brothers, Ananda Fonseka, who was both a film director and producer but was introduced to the cinema itself by
She made her debut with Tissa Liyansuriya's Punchi Baba (The little Baby) in 1968. These films were followed by Abudasse kale, Dahasak Sithuwili andAdarawanthayo in the same year. With the critical success she gained with these, she was offered the lead role by several movie directors of the time. Fonseka has acted in over 140 movies since then, some of which were international movies.
Fonseka was the first Sri Lankan actress to reach international heights, winning a special Jury award at the Moscow International Film Festival in 1975. This was to be the first of her many international awards.She also won an award at the New Delhi Film Festival in 1977.
Apart from the many Sarasaviya Awards she has won, she has also earned other honours like the Presidential Awards, OCIC Awards and also international recognition.
Her most recent awards include the "Best Actress Award" for the teledrama "Kemmura" at the Sumathi Tele Awards Ceremony, 2000 and Wishva Prasadhini Award as appreciation of her service to the cinema industry from the President in 1996.
Malini Fonseka felicitation ceremony titled Maliniye held at the BMICH on April 30, 2003 with the participation of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga for her four decades of contribution to the Cinema of Sri Lanka in more than 150 films.