අතීතය මනරම්‍ය ..

අතීතය මනරම්‍ය ..එසේම මතකය... නොඅමතක කළ යුතුය...මාගේ මතකය තවමත් නොඅමතකය ..මා ස්වාධීන රෑපවාහිනියේ සේවය කරන අවදියේදී අද අප අතර නොමැති බොහෝ කලා කරුවන් ගේ ඇසුර ලැබීමටත් ඔවුන්ගේ ගීත සජීවීව රෑප ගත කිරීමට දායක වීමටත් ලැබීම විශාල භාග්‍යක් ලෙස සළකමි .එසේම එදා අප රූප ගත කළ ගීත කොපි කොට නිර්ලජ්ජිත අයුරින් ඇතැම් ගීත නිර්මාණ තුළට උන්ගේ නම් ඇතුල් කොට යූ ටියුබ් අඩවියට ඇතුළ් කොට තිබෙන අයුරු දැකීම විටෙක මා හට හාස්‍යක් ගෙනදේ...කෙසේ වෙතුද අපේ ඇතැම් පැරණි සිනමාපට තුට්ටුවට දෙකට මිළදී ඉන් පසුව උන්ගේ නම්ද අයිතිය සහ සංරක්‍ෂණය ලෙසින් විශාල අකුරින් සිරස්තල යොදා ප්‍රදර්ශණය කරන කලෙක මෙම රුපවාහිනී නිර්මාණ ගැන කියනු කවරේද...?
ඔබ එදා රසවිඳි නිර්මාණ මෙන්ම අද අපගෙන් සමුගෙන ඇති ඒ කුසළතාකරුවන් ගේ මතකයන් අවදිකරවිම මෙහි අරමුණයි...මා ස්වාධීන රූපවාහිනී සේවයේදී නිෂ්පාදනය කළ මතක සුවඳ වැඩසටහන අදද බොහෝ දෙනෙකුට මතකය...
ඔබගේ අදහස් මා අගයමි..
සුමිත් ජයන්ත ඩයස්
siyarasa@gmail.com

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Sunil Santha

Add Video



Baddaliyanage Don Joseph John alias Sunil Santha was born on 14th of April 1915 at Dehiyagatha, Jaela. His parents died whilst he was still a baby, so he was brought up by his grand mother and uncles. His youngest uncle Mr.M.J.Perera was a music lover. Sunil Santha learned to play the harmonium from him.

He came first in the island in the school leaving certificate examination and won the Weeraratne award. In 1933 he passed the Teachers Final Examination. As a teacher at Mt.Calvary School he exhibited his talent in drama, vocal, music, art and handwork.

From 1936 to 1939 his students won the competition at the Southern Schools Music Competition thrice and the challenge cup was given to the Calvary school. In 1938 he passed the Intermediate Gandarva Examination and also obtained a certificate in physical training and learned to play the piono accordion and the gitar. He learned Sinhala folk songs and Wannam from Urapola Banda Gurunnanse. video

Before long ,however he gave up teaching to pursue a musical carrier ,and in 1939 left for India where he studied ndustani,Classical and Bengali Orchestral and Vocal music, first at ShantiNiketan. After spending one year he went to Batkhande Sangeeth Vidyapeeth. ,Allahabad. He became first in the first Division in instrumental(sitar)and first Division in vocal where he obtained Sangeeth Visarad Degree after four year course of study video

In 1944 he returned to the Island as Sunil Santha. He met Mr. Kapukotuwa and as The Government had appointed a person for the post of music inspector he refused the music teachers appointment. He read the books by Munidasa Kumaratunga and Raphiel Thennakoon and realized the necessity of creating Sri Lankan music. video

He wrote a letter titled Montessori Method of Music to the Silumina Newspaper and on shorter method to learning music to Prabodaya. He started a music class at Kanuwana, Jaela. In 1946 he stayed in the house of Suriyashankar Molligoda at Bambalapitiya and started his quest to find Sinhala Music. On the 2nd of March 1946 he sang songs at the Kumaratunga Commemoration ceremony, soon he became a superstar after he recorded Olu Pipila at the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. That was the first song recorded in a record.
video
The people who saw him performing those days compared him to a Greek god. Another compared him to a handsome Indian prince with Aryan features. His skin was ivory in colour. He was five feet 11 inches tall. video

In 1946 he published his first song book "Ridi Walawa". He created songs which he sang for various charity songs like Home for the Elders of Mallika in Colombo. He published many song books. They are Hela Ridi Walawa, Mihiriyawa Mal Mihira, Heli Mihira, Sunil Handa, Song Folio, Song of Lanka, Guvan Thotilla, Desheeya Sangeethaya, Sangeethaye Atthiwarama as Sunil was against Indian Ragadari music his enemies started a battle to expel him form the Radio Ceylon.

They damaged across his discs and some of the people who were with him at the beginning pirated his songs and published them to earn money. Sunil attacked these people in his song books. In 1951 Peramuna news paper did a survey and named Sunil Santha as the most popular singer of the year. video

Meanwhile the enemies of Sunil Santha who favored Hindustani Music laid a trap on him. That was to get down Mr. Ratanjankar from India to audition the Sinhala artists. They mentioned that anybody who refused that audition would be expelled from the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. The Lankadeepa News paper published an editorial against the audition of Mr. Ratanjankar. They questioned about the special reason for bringing down Ratanjankar to audition the Sinhala artists. Would that be necessary for his pupils like Sunil Santha to face that audition? Is it necessary to audition artists at this time? Are they doing that for the progress of art? That news paper protested against the audition of Ratanjankar.

Sunil Santha boycotted the audition of Ratanjankar. He was expelled from the SLBC. In 1952 he married Bernadet Leelawathi Jayasekara. She was a trained teacher.

In 1953 Sunil started his classes in the Maradana Newton building. He promised to teach 10 pupils free of charge. At that time Mr. Albert Perera (W.D. Amaradeva) who played the violin for Sunil Santha’s songs was having financial difficulties. Sunil Santha helped him by allowing him to teach music in his Panadura music classes.

In 1955 the great journalist D.B.Dhanapala started a campaign and exposed the plight of Sunil Santha through the columns of Lankadeepa. The money collected by the paper was given to Sunil Santha.

In 1956 Doctor Lester James Pieris invited Sunil to make tunes for the songs of "Rekhawa" and "Sandeshaya". The songs were masterpieces and even now they are very popular.

Sunil tried various trades like selling clothes and doing photography. He became very close to poor people's hearts. Many parents sent their teenage sons to get advice from Sunil Santha.

In 1967 Director General Mr. Neville Jayaweera invited Sunil Santha to the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation and asked him to do programs in music. He created revolutionary music and created songs in one note and four notes and five notes. Mr. Jayaweera asked Sunil to audition the artist. Mr. H.W. Rupasinghe and W.D.Amaradeva assisted him.

In 1970 Sunil moved to his uncle’s house as the land lady wanted the house. Mrs. Agnes Perera the widow of his uncle was very kind to Sunil Santha’s family and asked them to live in a section of their house. His cousins cleaned the poultry shed. They used that as a study room for the family. Sunil and Leela had three sons and one daughter.

Sunil continued to repair radios and other electrical equipments. In 1977 Mr. H.M. Gunasekara who was the Director of Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation produced a record named "Sunil Gee." There was a debate about whether there is a written music in the Sigiri songs. Some scholars opposed that idea. Sunil created Sigiri Gee and showed that there is a possibility of written music in Kurutu Gee as our ancestors were so intelligent in constructing such great buildings as Lovamahapaya and Sigiriya.

Twenty eighth of February of 1981 was the saddest day of Sunil Santha’s life. His third son Jagath was drowned in the Blue Oceanic Hotel Negombo. That death is still a mystery. Sunil suffered a heart attack and was admitted to the Colombo General Hospital. He died on the 11th April 1981.
His eyes were donated to two people.
On the 13th of April he was laid to rest in the Dehiyagatha cemetery.

දේශයක් පිනවූ නිහඬ උදාරකලාකරුවා

ආනන්ද සමරකෝන් පිළිබඳ මතක සටහන්

පුංචි දවස්වල සව් කඩදාසි කෑල්ලක් තොල්පටවල රඳවා පිඹිමින් සංගීතයක් පිට කිරීමට ඔහු පුරුදු විය. මේ පුරුද්ද දුටු වැඩිහිටි ඥාතියෙක් ඔහුට මවුත් ඕගනයක් තෑගි කැර ඇත. එදා සිට මේ දරුවා දවස ගෙවූයේ මවුත් ඕගනය දෙතොල රඳවාගෙනය. ඒ නිසා ඔහුගේ දෙතොල තුවාල විය.

ආනන්ද සමරකෝන් නම් ඒ මහා කලාකරුවා කුඩා වියේ සිටම සංගීතයට ලැදි බැව් ඇඟවෙන එක් අපූරු අවස්ථාවකි ඒ.

එපමණක් නොව සංගීතයට ලැදි සිය පියා (සැමුවෙල්) ඉදිරියේදි කුඩා ආනන්ද සමරකෝන් ප‍්‍රවීණ සංගීතඥයකු ගෙන් නියත වියරණ ලැබීය. ඒ රූපසිංහ මාස්ටර් ගෙනි.

පියා සාදිරිස් මාස්ටර් සහ රූපසිංහ මාස්ටර් සමඟ තබ්ලාව වයමින් විනෝද වූ දවසක වයලීනය රැගෙන එන ලෙස ආනන්ද නම් පුංචි කොලු පැටියාට අණක් ලැබිණි. කුඩා දරුවා වයලීනය රැගෙන ආවේ තත් මත ඇඟිලි තුඩු මෙහෙයවමිනි.

තත්මත ඇඟිලි රැඳුණු ආකාරය දුටු රූපසිංහ මාස්ටර් විමතියට පත්විය. ආනන්ද ගේ පියා අමතා "සැමි කවද හරි තමුසෙගෙ කොල්ලා ලංකාවේ ලොකුම සංගීතඥයෙක් වෙනවා" යැයි ඔහු එසැනින් කීවේ අනාගතය ඉවෙන් දුටු අයුරිනි.

නිදහස් දිනය සමඟ නිබඳව අපගේ සිහියට නැඟෙන ජාතික ගීයේ නිර්මාතෘවරයා වන ආනන්ද සමරකෝන් ගීත රචනය, සංගීත නිර්මාණය පමණක් නොව චිත‍්‍ර ශිල්පයට ද මහත් කුසලතා පෑ අසමසම කලාකරුවෙකි.

ශී‍්‍ර ලංකා මාතා
අප ශී‍්‍ර ලංකා
නමෝ නමෝ මාතා


ලොකු - කුඩා අප හැමගේ මුවග රැඳුණු මේ උදාර ජාතික ගීය පසුපස කතාව ද රසවත්ය.

ඔහු ඒ පිළිබඳ මතක සටහන් තබා ඇත්තේ මේ අයුරිනි.

“1940 ඔක්තෝබර් 20 දා සවස ගෙදර ගියෙමි. මගේ උපන් දේශය කෙරේ, මා සිත බැඳුණු උදාර සිතුවිලි හා සෞන්දර්ය කෙළවරක් නැත. මම කල්පනා කළෙමි. ඒ මේ අත ඇවිද්දෙමි.

රාති‍්‍ර 10 ට පමණ සිය පහන නිවා කළුවරේ කල්පනා කළෙමි. තරමක නින්දක් ගියේය. අඩ සිහිනයකින් මෙන් "නමෝ නමෝ" ගීතය මනසේ සටහන් විය. පසුදා උදේ එය ලීවෙමි"

ගාල්ලේ මහින්ද විද්‍යාලයේ සංගීත ගුරුවරයා ලෙස කටයුතු කළ ඔහු පසුවදා මේ ගීය පියානෝව වයමින් සිසු දරුවන්ට කියා දුන්නේය.

ඔහු රචනා කළ මෙ දේශාභිමානී ගීතය, එම විද්‍යාලයේ සිසුන්ට ඉගැන්වූ පසු ගීත පොතකට ඇතුළත් කෙරුණි. ඒ ඔහු විසින් රචනා කරන ලද "ගීත කුමුදුනී" නම් පොතටය. මේ කෘතියට ඔහු දේශාභිමානී ගීත රැසක් රචනා කළේය.

ආනන්ද සමරකෝන් කරලැයින් සමඟ විවාහ වූ දා

ඔහු මොහොතකටවත් නොසිතූ දෙයක් සිදුවිය. ටික කලෙකට පසු ඔහු රචනා කළ මේ ගීතය කමිටුවක් මඟින් තෝරාගන්නා ලදුව, නිදහස් දින උලෙළකදී ප‍්‍රථම වරට ගායනා කෙරිණි. ඒ 1949 වසරේදීය. කොළඹ මියුසියස් බාලිකා විද්‍යාල සිසුවියෝ "නමෝ නමෝ මාතා" යනුවෙන් එසේ සාමුහිකව ගැයූහ.

ඔහු විසින් රචනා කරන ලද එම "නමෝ නමෝ මාතා" ගීතය පසු කලෙක, "ශී‍්‍ර ලංකා මාතා" යනුවෙන් ලංකාවේ ජාතික ගීය ලෙස එවක රජය විසින් තෝරා ගන්නා ලදි.

ඉන් අනතුරුව 1951 වසරේ සිට නොකඩවා සෑම නිදහස් දින උලෙළකදීම මේ ගීතය, ගායනය කෙරිණි.

ජාතික ගීයේ ඉතිහාසයේ වගතුග සොයා යන ගමනේදී මේ උසස් නිර්මාණය දැයට තිළිණ කළ ඒ සෞන්දර්යවේදියා ගේ ජීවන ගමන ද අමතක කළ නොහේ.

1911 ජනවාරි 11 වැනි දින පාදුක්කේ වටරැක ලියන්වල නම් ගමේ දී ආනන්ද සමරකෝන් උපත ලැබීය. ඔහුගේ පියා සැමුවෙල් සමරකෝන්ය. මව ඩොමින්ගා පීරිස් වූවාය.

පිරිමි දරුවන් හතරදෙනෙකුගෙන් යුත් පවුලේ තෙවැන්නා ආනන්ද සමරකෝන්ය. ඔහු කුඩා කාලයේ සිටම කලාවට ඇල්මක් දක්වා ඇත. එනම් උපතින්ම සමරකෝන් හට සංගීතය පිහිටා තිබුණි.

ඔහු මූලික අධ්‍යාපනය ලැබුවේ පිළියන්දල වෑවල ගමේ පිහිටි රජයේ පාසලෙනි. ඒ වන විට ඔහුට වයස අවුරුදු 8 ක් පමණ විය. ඔහුගේ් නෙත ගැටෙමින් සොබා සෞන්දර්යයේ සිරි විඳ ගනිමින් පළමුව ගීතයක් ලියුවේත්, ලියා ගැයුවේත් වෑවල රජයේ පාසලෙහි කුඩා පංතිවල ඉගෙනුම ලබන කාලයේදීය.

කුඩා සමරකෝන් තමාට අපි‍්‍රය වූ ගණිත පාඩම වේලාවේ දී ගණිත පොතේ ගීයක් ලියුවේ පාසල අසලින් ගලා යන වේරැහැර ගඟ සිහි කරමිනි. මෙහිදි ගණිත පාඩම වේලාවේ බාහිර වැඩක නිරත වීම හේතු කොට ගෙන ගුරුවරයාගේ ඇනුම් බැනුම් වලටද ලක් විය.

සමරකෝන් නැගු සිතුවම්

ඉන් නොනැවතුණ ගුරුතුමා කුඩා සමරකෝන් හට තමා ලියූ ගීතය පංතිය ඉදිරියේ හඬ නඟා ගායනා කරන ලෙස දඬුවමක් පැනවූයේය. ගීතය ගැයීමෙන් ගුරුවරයාගේ කෝපය නැති කිරීමට කුඩා සමරකෝන් දරුවා සමත් විය. ඒ ඔහු කලාවට සම්බන්ධ වූ ප‍්‍රථම අවස්ථාවයි.

තරුණයෙකු ලෙස 1934 ඉන්දියාවේ "ශාන්ති නිකේතන විශ්ව භාරතී" විද්‍යාලයට ඇතුළු වූ ඔහු සංගීතයත් චිත‍්‍ර ශාස්ත‍්‍රයත් හොඳින් ප‍්‍රගුණ කළේය. රාගධාරි සංගීතයේ ද රවීÁද්‍ර සංගීතයේ ද මනා ආභාෂය ලැබුවේය.

ලංකාවට පැමිණ අප දේශයටම ආවේණික වූ ස්වතන්ත‍්‍ර සරල ගීත ශෛලියක් හඳුන්වා දුන්නේය. "පුදමු මේ කුසම්, බැස සීතල ගඟුලේ, විලේ මලක් පිපිලා කදිමයි, පුංචි සුදා සුදු කැටියා, ඇසේ මධුර ජීවනයේ ගීතා, සරු සාර කෙතේ, එන්ඩ ද මැණිකේ මමත් දියඹටා, වරෙං හීන් සැරේ, පොඩිමල් එතනෝ, සුනිලේ ගුවනේ පායා, අක්කේ අක්කේ අර බලන්නකෝ" වැනි ගීත ඒ සඳහා කදිම නිදසුන්ය.

ජන ගී ආරයෙන්, සංවාද සහිතව නිර්මාණය කොටගත් මේ ගීතවලින් එවකට පැවති සිංහල සංගීත රටාව නව මඟකට අඩි තාලම දැමීය.

චිත‍්‍රපට සඳහා ගීත රචනයෙන් ඔහු නොයෙක්වර දායක විය. 'සුජාතා' චිත‍්‍රපටයේ එන "මන රංජන දර්ශනීය ලංකා" "සැඩ සුළං" හී "ශී‍්‍ර ලංකා මා පි‍්‍රයාදර ජයභූමි" "ඉදිරියට යමු සැවොමා" "පෙම් කැකුළ පිපී එනවිට මහදේ" "ජීවන මේ ගමන සංසාරේ" වැනි ගීත රැසක් අදටත් ජනපි‍්‍රයය.

අම්බලන්ගොඩ ධර්මාශෝක, ගාල්ලේ මහින්ද විද්‍යාලය, කොළඹ ආනන්ද බාලිකාව, මාතර සුජාතා විද්‍යාලය, කොළඹ ආනන්ද, නාලන්දා වැනි විද්‍යාල රැසක ද චිත‍්‍ර සංගීත ගුරුවරයකු ලෙස සේවය කළේය.

සිරිල් වික‍්‍රමගේ

වික්ටර් බණ්ඩාර

නාරද දිසාසේකර

සුනිල් සමරකෝන්

ඔහු මෙරටට අග‍්‍රගණ්‍ය ගෝලයින් රැසක් දායාද කළේය.

සී ද එස් කුලතිලක, සරත් ප‍්‍රනාන්දු, අමරදේව, ආනන්ද තිස්ස ද අල්විස් ඒ අය අතර වූහ. ඒ අතර ඔහු විසින් ලංකාදීප, ජනතා, සිළුමිණ ආදී පුවත්පත් වල සැපැයූ ලිපි රැසකි.

ස්වර ලිපි සහිත ළමා ගීත සියයකටම ආසන්න සංඛ්‍යාවක්, පුවත්පත්, සඟා කෘති සඳහා සම්පාදනය කළේය.

අමරණීය කලා නිර්මාණ රැසක්, ඉතිරි කොට අනපේක්‍ෂිත මොහොතක (1962 වසරේදී) මොලොවින් සදහටම සමුගත් ආනන්ද සමරකෝන් ගේ සමීපතමයන් කීපදෙනෙක් ද ඔහුගේ ජීවිතය හා බැඳි වැදගත් තතු හෙළි කරන්නට අප හා එක්වූහ.

මුලින්ම ඒ මතකය අවදි කළේ රංගන ශිල්පී, සිරිල් වික‍්‍රමගේය.

සමරකෝන් මහතා මුලින්ම මම හඳුනාගත්තේ "ශී‍්‍ර ජයනා" ගුරුන්නාන්සේගෙන් නැටුම් ඉගෙන ගන්නා කාලයේදී. එතුමා නිර්මාණය කළ 'බැලේ' නාට්‍යයන්ට සංගීතය නිර්මාණය කරන්න ඔහු නිතර දෙවේලේ එනවා.

ඔහු සතු මානුෂීය ගුණය වඩාත් කැපිලා පෙනුණා. හැමෝමත් එක්කම සුහදව, සිත්දිනා ගෙන කටයුතු කරන ඔහු බෙහෙවින් පි‍්‍රයමනාප කෙනෙක් වුණා. අපි බොහොම මිත‍්‍රශීලීව කාලයක් ඇසුරු කළා.

මේ මිතුරුකම නිසාම කොළඹ ආපුවාම මා සමඟමයි නතර වුණේ. අවසන් කාලයේදී බොරැල්ල "ඩියුරෝයි" හෝටලයේ කාමරයක නතර වෙලා මාත් සමඟ නිර්මාණ කටයුතුවල යෙදුණා.

ඔහු ගැන කතා කරන කොට මහා සංගීතවේදියාණන් ගැන කතා කරනවද? නැතිනම් ඔහු තුල සිටින චිත‍්‍ර ශිල්පියා, එසේ නැත්නම් දේශපෙ‍්‍ර්මියා ගැන කතා කරනවද කියන එකයි ප‍්‍රශ්නේ.

මෙවැනි චරිත ගැන අද අපේ ළමා පරපුරට කියාදීම වැදගත්. මොහුගේ කලා කෞෂල්‍ය පිළිබඳව කතා දෙකක් නැහැ. ඔහු කළ මෙහෙවර පිළිබඳව කිසිම තැනකින්, රජයකින්, ඇගයීමකට ලක් කළේ නෑ. මා දන්නා විදිහට ඔහු, අවසන් කාලයේ දැඩිසේ හුදෙකලා වුණා. බොහෝ කලකිරුණා.

සමරකෝන් පදනමේ ලේකම් වික්ටර් බණ්ඩාර සේනාරත්න. ඔහු මගේ පියා (මේජර්වරයෙකු වන විමල බණ්ඩාර සේනාරත්න) ගේ අතිජාත මිත‍්‍රයෙක්. චිත‍්‍ර, සංගීතය, ගායනය, නැටුම්, ලේඛනය, පද රචනය, රංගනය මේ කොයික ගත්තත් ඔහු සතු දැනුම, නිර්මාණශීලීත්වය හරි අගෙයි. අතට අහුවුණ ඕනෑම සංගීත භාණ්ඩයක් වාදනය කිරීමේ හුරුව ඔහුට තිබුණා. දක්ෂ සිතාර් වාදකයෙක්.

උස අ' 5 අ'' 8 ක් පමණ හීන්දෑරි තළෙළු මේ අපූරු මිතුරා අපේ නිවහනේ තිබූ සංගීතකාමී පරිසරයට ආදරය කළා. ඔහු එහිදී නිර්මාණ කටයුතු රැසක් කළා. මට එතකොට අවුරුද දහයක කොලු ගැටයෙක්. මට මතකයි ඒ ගී තනු.

බැස සීතල ගඟුලේ.... සැඩ සුළං චිත‍්‍රපටයේ තේමා ගීතය වූ ශී‍්‍ර ලංකා, මා පි‍්‍රයාදර ජයභූමී, දුප්පතාගේ දුක, වැදිබිම චිත‍්‍රපට ගීත. ඔහු කලාවට වගේම පරිසරයට ඉතා ආදරය, ඇල්ම දක්වපු කෙනෙක්. ඔහුගේ ගීත ජනපි‍්‍රය වීමට හේතුව පරිසරය, සොබා සෞන්දර්ය, ජන ගීතය බද්ධව නිර්මාණ කිරීමයි.

ඔහු උපතින් කි‍්‍රස්තු භක්තිකයෙක්. උප්පැන්නේ තිබුණ නම පවා පසුකාලෙක ඔහු වෙනස් කර ගත්තා. සැම විටෙකම ජාතික ඇඳුම තමයි ඔහු ඇන්දෙ. ඔහු මියයන තුරුම බෞද්ධයෙකු ලෙස කටයුතු කළා.

හරිම සුන්දර හදවතක් තිබුණා. ඉතාම කරුණාවන්ත කෙනෙක් ඔහු. ඔහුගේ කලා හැකියාව අනන්තයි, අප‍්‍රමාණයි. හරියට මහා සාගරයක් වගෙයි. එවන් කෙනෙකුගේ් උපතත් දුර්ලභ දෙයක්.

මේ ලෙස තවදුරටත් අදහස් දක්වන්නේ එදා ඔහු හා හිතවතෙකුව සිටි ප‍්‍රවීණ ගායන ශිල්පී නාරද දිසා සේකරයන්.

ඔය 1954 වසර. මම ඒ කාලෙදි ගුවන් විදුලියේ වැඩ කළා. සමරකෝන්, සුනිල් ශාන්තයන් ද ඇවිත් වැඩසටහන් කළා. ඒත් හිටපු ගමන් මේ දෙන්නගේ වැඩ තහනම් වුණා.

වනවිට ඔවුන් අපටම ආවේණික වූ සිංහල සම්ප‍්‍රදායක් හඳුන්වා දෙමින් ඒ නිර්මාණ කටයුතුවල නියැළුණු නිසා ඔවුන් ගිය මඟ යන්න මට අවශ්‍ය වුණා.

ලංකා පාර්ලිමේන්තුවේදීත් ප‍්‍රශ්න කළා, මේ දෙන්නගේ වැඩ තහනම් වීම ගැන. නැවත ඔවුන්ගේ කැඳවීම් පණිවිඩය, ඔවුන් වෙතට එදා රැගෙන ගියේ මමයි.

ගුවන් විදුලියෙ නොයෙකුත් කප්පාදු නිසා ඔවුන්ගේ දැනුමෙන් උපරිම ප‍්‍රයෝජන ලබන්න අපට හැකි වුණේ නෑ.

මේ දෙදෙනා නිර්මාණය කළ සමහර ගී තැටි, යකඩ ඇණවලින් ඉරා විනාශ කරපු යුගයක ඒ ගී තැටි, හැකි පමණින් ආරක්ෂා කොට සංරක්ෂණය කරන්නට මට හැකි වුණා. මම නොහිටියා නම් ඒ දේත් වැළකී යනවා.

එවකට මම ගුවන් විදුලියේ ඉංජිනේරු අංශයේයි සේවය කළේ. ඉන්දියාවට ගොස් තාගෝර් තුමාගෙන් චිත‍්‍ර, සංගීත ශිල්ප ඉගෙන පැමිණියත් ඔහු කිසි විටෙක අනුකරණ වාදියෙකු වූයේ නෑ. ඔහු අන්තිමට ඉදිරිපත් කළේ පහණ හා රන් එතනා ගීත නාටකය. එහි ප‍්‍රධාන ගායකයා හැටියට මාව තෝරා ගත්තා.

ඔහු පිළිබඳව නොදන්නා බොහොමයක් දේවල් ගැන කතා කරන්න කැමතියි.

මෙසේ සංවාදයකට එළැඹුණේ සුනිල් සමරකෝන්. ඔහු ආනන්ද සමරකෝන් මහතාගේ සොයුරකු වූ බර්ටි සමරකෝන්ගේ වැඩිමහල් පුතණුවන්ය.

ඔහු ශ්‍රේෂ්ට චිත‍්‍ර ශිල්පියෙක්. ඔහු ඇඳ ප‍්‍රදර්ශනයට තැබූ සිතුවම් රැසක් තවමත් මා ළඟ තිබෙනවා. ඔහු චිත‍්‍ර ඇඳි ක‍්‍රමයේ ද විශේෂත්වයක් තියෙනවා.

එය හඳුන්වන්නේ "පිරිදෝ සිත්තම්" නමින්. පරිසරයෙන් ලබාගත් පස්, මැටි, ගල්, බොරලු, අගුරු, දුරු මිරිස් හා විවිධ ශාක පත‍්‍රවල යුෂ වලිනුයි චිත‍්‍ර ඇඳ ගත්තේ. විවිධ රටවලට ගොස් ඒවා ප‍්‍රදර්ශනය කළා. ඒ රටවල තවමත් ඒ සිතුවම්, කෞතුකාගාරවල දැක ගත හැකියි.

මුළු ලෝකය පුරාම චිත‍්‍ර ප‍්‍රදර්ශන පැවැත්වුවා. පසුකාලීනව කොළඹ විශාඛා බාලිකා විද්‍යාලයේත්, නුගේගොඩ ශාන්ත ජෝන් විද්‍යාලයේත් පාසැල් ගීත ඔහු විසින් නිර්මාණය කළා.

ඔහු බොහෝ ගීත ලීවේ තනුවද හිතට නඟා ගනිමින්. එය මා දකින සුවිශේෂත්වයක්. පවුලේ අයට හරිම ආදරෙයි. ලොකු අම්මා (කරලැයින්) ඔහුගේ කලා දිවියට සහාය වුණා.

ඔහු කලාව නිසා බොහෝ ළතැවුල්, වේදනාකාරී කටුක අත්දැකීම් ලැබුවා. කුළුදුලේ උපන් එකම දරුවා වූ පස් හැවිරිදි "අරුණාදීපගේ" වියෝව ඔහුගේ වේදනාව දෙගුණ, තෙගුණ කළා.

ඔහු "කලා සෙවණ" නමින් කලායතනයක් පවත්වා ගෙන ගියා. ගුවන් විදුලියේදී, කලා මණ්ඩලයේදී ඔහුට හිමිවූ තැන සතුරන්ගේ කුමන්ත‍්‍රණ නිසා අහිමි වුණා.

එදා ජාතික ගීය වෙනුවෙන් රජය පිරිනැමූ රු 2500 මුදල පවා ලබා ගැනීමට ඔහුට හැකිවුණේ නෑ. ඒ එදා ඒ ගීතය, "කුමුදුනී" පොතෙහි ප‍්‍රකාශයට පත්වීම නිසායි.

ලොකු තාත්තා දරුණු ලෙසම සිත් තැවුලට පත් කළ සිදුවීම නම්, එදා ඔහු ඉතා ගෞරවයෙන් ලියූ "නමෝ නමෝ මාතා" ගීයට එල්ල වූ අපවාදයන්.

1961 දී එවක රජය ඔහුගෙන් කිසිවක් නොවිමසා ඒ ගීය ආරම්භයේ එන "නමෝ නමෝ මාතා" වාක්‍ය ඛණ්ඩය වෙනුවට "ශී‍්‍ර ලංකා මාතා" යනුවෙන් කොටසක් එක් කළා. ගණ දොස් ඇති නිසා ජාතික ගීය සංශෝධනය කළ යුතු යැයි නැඟුණු උද්ඝෝෂණවලට මුවා වෙලා කෙරුණේ පලිගැනීමක්.

"මේ කලකිරීම එන්න එන්නම වැඩි වුණා. ඒ නිසා මහප්පා හුඟක් දුකෙන් සිටියා මතකයි.

ඒ ගීය වෙනස් කරපු දවසේ හවස ඔහු නුගේගොඩ පාගොඩ, අපේ නිවසට ආවේ කඳුළු පුරවාගෙන. මට එතකොට අවුරුදු 14 යි. එදත් ඔහු එයාගෙ සුපුරුදු බේබි ඔස්ටින් කාරෙකෙන් ආවේ.

"පුතා මගේ ඔළුව ගලවලා, වෙන ඔළුවක් හයි කළා." එදා ඔහු කීව දේ අරුත මට දැනුයි වැටහෙන්නේ."

මෙවන් නිර්මාණයක් කිරීමෙන් කිසිවකුගෙන්, කිසි බලධරයෙකුගේ නිසි ඇගයීමක් ලැබුණේ නෑ. අඩුම තරමේ ඔහු නමින් පාරක් හෝ ස්මාරකයක් වත් සාදා නැහැ."

"එදා 1962 අප්‍රේල් 02 වෙනිදා. හරියටම ඔහුගේ මවගේ උපන්දිනය දා. එදා ආච්චි අම්මා හිටියේ අපේ ගෙදර. ඒ දවසේ කාල බීලා, විනෝද වෙලා, ආච්චි අම්මාටත් වැඳලා ඔහු කළා අපූරු නිර්මාණයක්. බුදුන්වහන්සේව සිතුවමට නඟා, ඒ අසල හිඳින සුන්දර මුව පොව්වෙකු. මට ඒ දවසේ සහලෝලා උණ.

එදා ඔහු ගෙදර ගොස් ලොකු අම්මාත් සමඟ සුහදව කතා කරලා තිබුණා. නින්දට ගොස් ඔහු පහුවදා අවදි වූයේ නැහැ. ඔහු නිදි පෙති පානය කළ බව අප දැනගත්තේ පසුවයි."

කෙසේ වුවත් ඔහු ජනතාවාදී කලාකරුවෙකි. නිර්මාණශීලි කලාකරුවෙකුගෙන් දේශයට සිදුවිය යුතු උදාර මෙහෙවර ඔහු ඉටුකැර ඇත.

Ivor Dennis


Ivor Dennis and His Master's Voice
by Cecil Perera
ersatile Singer and Music Composer Ivor Dennis will be 75 on 28th May, 2007. He was educated at Davi Samara, Seeduwa, Maris Stella College and Loyola College Negombo. Ivor is a genuine find and a disciple of maestro Sunil Santha.

In 1952, Ivor had participated in an amateur song festival of Radio Ceylon, wherein he sang Sunil Santha’s "Waren Heen Sare, Redhee Walave". Maestro Sunil Santha had heard the recital on the radio, inspite of a slight slur spotted by the maestro, he was confused, as the voice was almost identical to his own. On making inquiries the Great Maestro found out that Pasquelge Don Augustine Ivor Dennis of Seeduwa had been the singer. From that day, the relationship between the ‘Guru’ and the Disciple never wavered.

Genuine Sinhala music was first introduced to the local cinema in Dr. Lester James Peiris ‘Rekhava’ followed by ‘Sandesaya’. Sunil Santha composed the tunes for all songs in both films. Sunil did not travel to India for the recordings, instead he nominated Ivor to stand in for him. In addition to his singing, Ivor trained the playback artistes. video

He was appointed an A grade singer in 1958. He won the Presidential Award for the best Playback Singer for the film ‘Hima Kathara’. He was closely associated in the productions of ‘Madhura Madhu, Pancha Madhura , Ran Walawa and Seegiri Gee’,during the second coming of Sunil Santha to Radio Ceylon or the SLBC. Ivor’s first song to be recorded was ‘Kurulu Paradiseye’ set to the music of the Maestro, and the lyrics were Thilak Sudharman Silva’s. His patriotic song, composed by him ‘Abhimananeeyavoo Navodeye Hiru’ written by Leslie Boteju is a masterpiece. His cassette ‘Abhmana Gee’ was produced in1984.
video
He was a consultant at the Government College of Music, and worked with W D Makuloluwa in ‘Depano and Pahanin Pahana’. He was a key singer in Premasiri Khemadasa’s operas, ‘Manasawila and Pirinivan Mangallaya’. He sang in Khemdasa Master’s cassette ‘Raja Weda’ and Ven. Rambukkana Siddartha Thero’s ‘Sansare Api and Gammane Api’. Ivor was a playback singer for many Sinhala films.

Ivor participated in song recitals in Japan, Indonesia, Italy, England and New Zealand.

After the initial breakthrough of Fr. Macelline Jayakody into local church music, the partnership of Rev. Fr. Moses Perera and his nephew Sunil Santha were almost revolutionary. The beautiful and meaningful lyrics of Fr. Moses were adorned by devotionfull and melodious tunes of Sunil Santha. The hymnal ‘Obata Pasasa Gee’ was published in 1964.

Ivor continued the good work of his Guru, and composed music for Fr. Moses in ‘Obata Pasasa Gee’ 2 and 4 in 1968 and 1973. He joined the Pubuduwa in 1974 and initiated a new trend in its musical prayers. Pubuduwa produced two cassettes ‘Ape pavulen oba mahimaya’ and ‘Obe wethi Rajindo’, wherein all the tunes were composed by Ivor. He received an OCIC award for the services rendered to Christian Literary Music.He was a pioneer of the ‘Rasanjalie Kala Kavaya’ which had a galaxy of stars. To name a few, Ralex and Tony Ranasinghe, Leslie Boteju, Jackson Anthony, Kumarie Munasinghe, Joe Dambulugala, Malkanthie Pieris, K Francis, Alexis Fernando, Francis Horana, Anthony Molligoda. Rev. Frs. Earnest Poruthota and Joe Quintus Perera were the clergy involved.

He composed music for the works of Rev. Frs. Molligoda Moses, and sang for his cassettes and that of Frs. Cyril Gamini, Cecil Joy and Anthony Hemantha. Those who were fortunate to participate at the centenary celebration of Fr. Moses at the Kuda Madhu Church, Dehiyagatha, which was presided over by Rt. Rev. Dr. Oswald Gomis and Rt. Ev. Dr. Elmo Perera still remember, how the congregation was stunned, and the deafening silence that prevailed when Ivor sang ‘Sirureni Seba Namo’ composed by him and written by Fr. Moses..

Though 75, he is very much active, being involved with his own compositions, carrying on the Sunil Gee tradition, and a live wire of the church musical activities. He has a host of competent disciples.

Ivor Dennis is a humble man not allured by gold or silver. We trust that he would produce a couple of CDs, so that the true music lovers and the future generations could appreciate and listen to his unique, melodious and powerful voice.
He was Sunil Shantha's much favoured disciple. He not only was able to follow his guru's vision and mission but replicate is voice. Veteran musician and singer Ivor Dennis has completed fifty golden years in his service to Sri Lankan music which to his master gave an identity.

Coinciding with his 75th birthday, Ivor released a compact disc with 15 of his new songs and a launch of a book titled 'Apa Dutu Ivor Dennis' edited by Chandra Keerthi Kularatne at a felicitation ceremony organised with a musical titled 'Uthurana Kiri Kalasa Vilasin' at the Elphinstone Theatre last week.
At the opening of the ceremony

Ivor's life took a , when Patrick Denipitiya brought the good news in 1951 that he is wanted by Sunil Shantha, who was a hero for him then and became this young man's mentor later. This was after the greatest musician and singer who was impressed by Ivor's voice, having heard him sing one of his songs over the radio, invited him to sing in his chorus. It was when Ivor was still schooling and took part in a programme for amateur singers on the radio. The song he sang was Sunil Santha's "Waren Heensare, Redee Walawe". If not for a slight hitch in his singing, Sunil Shantha would have had thought that he was hearing his own voice.

And he sent Patrick to Seeduwa to pick the young man who matched his voice identically. In fact, Sunil Santha who was in Ja-ela, used to pick him up and bring him for classes in Colombo. Ever since, Ivor was besides his master and has been his faithful follower,".

Starting a professional singing career in 1956, Ivor Dennis recalls 1986 as a memorable year in his life, for it was in this year that he won first place in an international singing competition organized by the Asian Broadcasting Union in New Zealand. For his service to the country and his guru, the cultural Ministry awarded Ivor with a special 'Desha Nethru' award for his contribution.

Following in the footsteps of his guru, Ivor never used his talent to profit for himself. He used it for others, for the country and to God. He was in charge of the music section of "Pubuduwa"-Catholic Renewal Movement and he was one of the leading lay artistes who changed the trend of inserting words into popular song to use in worship. Further his tunes had an eastern flavour and he played a pivotal role in localising church singing.

"Sunil Shantha was the greatest artiste born in this land and sacrificed his life for the principles he believed. By joining him in his journey, Ivor did great service to the country and its music," Rev. Fr. Oscar Abeyratne, the head of 'Pubuduwa' said. "Like his mentor, Ivor Denis never let himself be sold to wealth, money or any other worldly gain," Fr, Abeyratne said.

Labambas In Srilanka



During the time the music of Shadows, the Supremes and Ventures, Tony Brent and Ricky Nelson dominated the world music and fascinated Sri Lankan music fans in the early 60s , the
drummer(Congo) Brian Fenando’s Trevor went on to form a group called The Vampires.There were but a very few beat bands in the country at the time. “ Wheels and Beacons were among them,”remembered Brian , the leader of La Bambas as he leaned against the chair with his eyes
shut, delving into a musical past that most young musicians and music lovers of Sri Lanka have scarcely opened their minds to. There was bass , rhythm and lead guitar and drums.There were no keyboards. Infact nobody knew that keyboard existed at the time,” he exclaimed. “ But the sound was full and complete even without the keyboard.”Brian, his Thomian schoolmates Priya Peiris, Erinton Perera , Malsiri Wijesuriya and Rollinson Ferdinando, all members of the Labambas were in an interview with the In Tune last Tuesday about their evolution as a group in the 60s and their music. La Bamba stands out as a beat group that emulated voice harmony in their rendition of songs in the Sinhala language.The genre is popularly known as three and four part harmony in Western music. La Bambas was special because they carried originality with their creations inasmuch to represent Sri Lankan identity in their songs at a time the popular demand was for another Elvis or a local Tony Brent against their music. The members of the group were met at the residence of Interior designer Yohan Fernando, who plans to promote the band in 2009. La Bambas have produced four EPs (extended play records) for record labels,
Paradise in 1968, Philips in 1970, Sooriya in 1971 and Macbertan in 1972 including their popular hits such as Enna Yanna Nelum Wile,
Kurulan Piyambala, Lak
Nadee and Piyakaru Mala, and also evergreen singles in Sri Lankan pop such as Cock A Doodle Do and Nuwara Menikela.La Bambas have produced over 80 songs , among them “Welcome to Sri Lanka,Ayubowan and Cricket Lowe Jaya Apatai , which they released just after Sri Lanka
winning the World Cricket Cup in 1996. They also gave life to the Sri Lankan tea with their song “ Wake Up Sri Lanka To A Nice Cup of Tea.” As pointed out by La Bambas members they did not have a front line singer because their style of music did not need one for they were singing harmony. NEW CD They have remained unplugged for over 40 decades in spite of the advent
of electronic guitars and amplifiers in the late 60s into the local scene by various beat bands and now planning to release a CD album with a selection of their original songs , which they plan to
draw from their shelved reserves as well as from their discography of “best loved singles.”
Brian started his musical career as a congo drummer in the early 60s with Vampires
before he decided to form La Bambas after seeing a performance by La Ceylonians in late 1964 at Moratuwa Buddhist Halle. This is how Brian explained his La Ceylonians experiece. “This was amazingly new and soothing to the ear. La Ceyloneans played a style which was quite different to
what other musicians have been playing or singing at the time. I was wondering to which category of music that one can assign their music. Their music was initially Western with a Spanish blend with some characteristics of Sinhala folk , I would say although it was difficult to
describe.” “I can still remember how they came out with their single tiled “Hoiya Hoiya.” A
single like Hoiya Hoiya had never been been heard. There were songs by H.R.Jotipala and Milton, but this song was never to be identified with that category of songs. It was completely different.” “ I became an admirer of La Ceylonians , thereafter. And with that influence I
wanted to start a band that could play something similar to that of La Ceylonians’ flavour of music, which is the reason for the appearance of La Bambas.” Then the opportunity
presented itself on a newspaper, The Observer Talent Contest for the first time. “Welcome youngsters apply, here’s the coupon. I knew Priya whom I called over and went out together in
search of a guitarist. We found , who had a guitar and was trying to pick up his first few chords. We opted Rollinston to play the lead guitar and we found a singer in Lasla Fenando, the present
Choir Master of Holy Emmanuel Church in Moratuwa.” “Thus the band was formed and we wanted to compose two original songs. So we composed Poya Da and Menika.to slow tempo
compound duple meter for we had the influence of South American music,” said Priya Peiris. “ We named the band La Bambas because the song La Bamba was popular at the time.” LaBambas are planing to include Poya Da and Menika on their new CD. The songs are being recorded at
EV Creations recording studio at Moratuwa. THE AUDITION La Bambas applied for the
Observer Talent Contest .They were asked to come for an audition prior to the event.
The audition was held at Louise Brown Studios in Colombo. Brian , Lasla, Priya and Rolinston had to wait for months to get their letter of invitation for the audition.Mignonne Ratnam of Jetliners was conducting the audition together with the rest of the members of the Jetliners.
La Bambas passed their audition under the supervision of Jetliners. They gort therough the test just after singing the first two or three lines of their songs and were asked to come and perform at the Coconut Grove night club at the Galle Face Hotel, Colombo on May 25, 1966. La Bambas’ performance at the Coconut Grove was only to be rejected by those patronized the club for all the others sang in English that night although they were not originals of those artistes who
performed them.“ We went there that night with a lot of expectations which turned its back on us very badly with the crowd shouting at us in disagreement with our music and appearance,” remembered Priya Peiris. This was a too heavy a blow for a young musical outfit. “However, we
recovered from that incident with determination to make a name for us, We did not let
that debacle to pin us down . Instead we made it an opportunity to come out with best results,” he added. COCK A DOODLE DO The main figure behind the creation of La Bambas’ smash hit Cock A Doodle Do was Priya Peiris. Cock Adoodle Do was not aired by Radio Ceylon ( present
SLBC) during the time because there of the security situation prevailed in the country under JVP insurrection in 1971, Priya said, “Radio Ceylon did not broadcast , Cock A -Doodle Do because it had a line “half past two” in the middle of the song in 1971 stating that the rebels might use it as a time signal. They said, the rebel might use it to blow a police station or something. After Labamba’s experience at the Coconut Grove, Erinton stayed close with the
band playing occasionally on their stands whenever somebody was absent or sick, playing bass or rhythm instruments such as guiro, kaithalam, marakkas (shakers) or temple bells while
providing baritone for their songs who eventually becomes a permanent member. Malsiri Wijesuriya ‘s influence as a member of the outfit has been invaluable in producing various percussive effects for La Bambas tracks with percussion instruments and guitar.
Rolloinstone plays a prominent role with his nylon stringed guitar which he plays with a way of his own. He let his fingers speak for the most part, but sings as is required by the band. He is a
self-taught guitarist for that matter all the member of La Bambas are self taught musicians
with the background of church music associated with harmony as its intrinsic driver.
As a music group La Bamba didn’t do one thing. They did not change their original identity to suit the modern times in anticipation of commercial gains.
By
CHAMIKARA
WEERASINGHE

La Bambas after 42 years in music scene: (from left) Rollinson Ferdinando, Malsiri Wijesuriya, Erinton Perera,
Priya Peiris and Brian Fenando.

SAA LIVE MUSICAL SHOW….

Victor is one of Sri-Lanka’s most respected and celebrated vocalists, he is also a violinist, a composer, an entrepreneur and above all a legendary musician of exquisite culture. Musician of Victor’s calibre are devotees to their art. They hone their craft through years of effort with prominence to innovation even as they create a cultural ethos that will remain in public praise long after their last performance. Victor has served his people in the midst of sizable critical acclaim since the year 1966. Victor’s melodies form an integral part of the renaissance in the indigenous music. Moreover, his work is seen by many as a continuum in the art forms that characterized the work of his predecessors Sunil Shantha and W.D. Amaradeva.

Victor Ratnayake (born February 18, 1942) is a popular Sri Lankan musician. He was the first Sri Lankan musician to hold a live one man concert; His concert known as “SA” was first performed in 1973, and was an instant success. Ratnayake credits his success to his “fitting blend of Western music with Ragadari classical music.” His songs deal with diverse themes that vary from love, to patriotism and Buddhism.
canada3
Victor began his musical endeavours at the age of nine, when his father presented him with a harmonium for his birthday. In his teen years, he further honed his musical talents under the guidance of Cyril Perera at the M.P.G. Institute in Mulgampola and later at the Institute of Aesthetic Studies. Though formally trained in the oriental traditions, Victor has also grasped the intricacies of western music and has the celebrity of a distinct and recognizable style. Many, including Victor himself, credits his success to his ability to blend western melodies with ragadari traditions as well as his uncanny skill in selecting musical instruments combined with his inimitable musical arrangements.
canada1
Being an entrepreneur, Victor was the first Sri Lankan musician to hold a live one man concert; His concert known as “SA” was first performed in 1973, and was an instant success. His public appearances number in the thousands. Each of them reach out to an audience who have been touched in no mean measure, and triumph his music in their hearts as representing a true Sri-Lankan art form. His themes range from romance, patriotism, Buddhism to an appreciation of the cosmos.
this sa is very ….

Rukmani Devii

Rukmani Devi –

Thirty (30) years have lapsed since the startling news on the unendurable demise of the acclaimed the Nightingale Queen of Silver Screen shocked the entire country on October 28, 1978. Every Sri Lankan around the world was emotionally disturbed by this horrifying accident that stilled the colorful life of a legendary jewel worthy of treasure. She was the beauty queen, cynosure of all eyes indisputably the Nightingale Queen of the Silver Screen – Rukmani Devi.




The brimful gratitude disported by the Sri Lankan citizenry paying their highest tribute in commemoration of Death Anniversary of Rukmani.

Rukmani Devi - Nightingale Queen of the Silver Screen

She became popular in the theatrical arena by the name of Rukmani Devi even though her congenital name was Daisy Rasamma Daniels. It has been the common practice in Sri Lanka and India to introduce the artist by a prognostic name depending on talents. It is believed that it was her father who introduced the portentous name Rukmani Devi to this future Singing Queen of the Silver Screen.

Some people are of the view that her music teacher, singer H.W.Rupasinghe master introduced this insightful name by her magnificent performance of many inborn talents. Another disputing argument is that this name was presented by Jayantha Weerasekera and Michael Sannas Liyanage two famous personalities on the stage. Rukmani Vasundara was another unconfirmed name rejected by her father.

Daisy was born on January 15th of 1923 in Ramboda Nuwar Eliya to the parents of Colombo Chetty Christians as the second daughter in a family of six. In response to an article appeared in the Ceylon Observer of January 15, 2006 on her 83rd Birth Anniversary, Mr W.R.Daniels – Manager of Ceylon Observer for many years, a kinsman of Rukmani Devi wrote a letter to Sunday Observer of 5th February 2006 revealing that that she was born to Mr & Mrs Daniels in Inuvil, Jaffna. There was another speculation that she was born in Ratnapura.

Although she was born in Nuwara-Eliya she grew up in Wellawatte, Colombo, studied at St.Mathew’s School and St Clare’s School, Wellawatte. At 8 years of age, she began singing Christmas Carol songs and played a role in popular drama “The Shoemaker’s Wife”. She was just 12 years of age when she remarkably played the main female role of ‘Sita’ in Ramayanaya produced by Walter Abeysinghe in 1935 with prior permission of her father. and also performed in Janakiharanaya, Rohini, “Sirisangabo”, “Mayawathie”, “Romeo Juliet” et al during 1935 to 40’s.

In early 1940s she joined the Minerva Dramatic Club on permanent basis. She played the major role in every drama produced by the Minerva Dramatic Club in the entire country. On introduction of cinematic industry in Sri Lanka she was privileged to feature her skills on the screen in B.A.W.Jayamanne’s Kadawunu Poronduwa, the first Sinhala film ever screened in the island.

On account of her tight schedule of contract with film industry, she was compelled to leave the stage in the latter part of 1940s and 1960s.

She returned to the stage again in 1960 acting in the leading female role in Malyahanawa produced and directed by B.A.W.Jayamanne. Since then she continued to perform in Vessantara in 1961 followed by Othello, Ves Muhunu, Angulimala and Allapu Kamaraya. Accredited with ineffable versatility, her performance in ‘He comes from Jaffna’ a drama produced in English dialogue for the benefit of English speaking audience had gained credentials of high reputation.

In the latter part of 1946, competition in screening the first film was so intense between Ceylon Theaters Limited and A.V.Nayagam Industries since they both controlled the distribution of films.

A.V.Nayagam braving storms against his effort with his influence signed the contract with Minerva Dramatic Group and “Kadawunu Poronduwa” the first film was screened on January 21, 1947 making history of film industry in Sri Lanka. Rukmani Devi the most talented artist in her debut on the silver screen captured the hearts of young and old in the spellbound audience by her indomitable brilliancy in playback singing, acting and dancing performance.

During the period 1947 to1978 she demonstrated her skills in 98 films. Most importantly, she played the major role of Queen of Love in all the films from Kadawunu Poronduwa to Magul Poruwa subsequently with passage of time she turned into elderly characters by the emergence of new generation.

At the outset, she was bonded with responsibility for performance only in films produced by Minerva Dramatic Group. But later her popularity glorified in absolute demand that she was offered to play the heroine role of Malini in the famous novel Kelahanda written by W.A.Silva produced and directed by B.A.W..Jayamanne. Blessed with abundance of humility she performed the major female role in ‘Doctor’ a film produced by Cinemas Limited. She was the only actress who made a record-breaking achievement in playback singing behind her own character in all these films.

Sengawunu Pilithura, a Sinhala film produced and directed by B.A.W.Jayamanne was a resounding success. B.A.W’s intent was to film the same story of Sengawunu Pilithura in Tamil dialogue for the entertainment of the Tamil speaking audience as revealed by D.V.Seneviratne, the professional script writer.

In fruition of his ambition, Kusumalatha the leading character played by Rukmani Devi the first Sri Lankan artist to appear on Tamil screen was produced and directed by B.A.W. in 1952. Kathiruppean Unnakaga (I am waiting for you) in 1977 and Nan Ungal Tholan (I am your friend) in 1978 were the other two Tamil films of her talented career. She was a gifted artist capable of expression of dialogue in fluent Sinhala, Tamil and English languages.

Records indicate that the two films Siriyalatha and Mathabhedaya were joint productions of B.A.W. Jayamanne, Eddie Jayamanne and Rukmani Devi with box office collection.

At the time of the initial stages of the beginning of cinema in India and Sri Lanka it was the practice for the main actress to perform playback singing behind her own character on the screen. Noorjehan and Suraiya predominantly influenced the Indian screen while Rukmani Devi resembled in Sri Lanka. A reservoir of inborn talents not only dominated the queen of love on the silver screen particularly from Kadawunu Poronduwa to Pipena Kumudu throughout but also excelled as the only symbolic playback singer representing her own acting performance. Gala kandeni mathuwena, Moranawa preme hade, Anna sudo, Mewila penevi, Aadara nadiya gala, Vasanawantha kala labaa and Manahara geetha gayala together with much more songs will reverberate in our memories from generation to generation.

This incontrovertible beauty queen won the Presidential Film Award for the Best Playback Singer in 1979 for her brilliant performance of the lullaby song Doi Doi Doi Doiya Putha singing behind her own elderly role played in Ahasin Polowata directed by the great Dr Lester James Peiris. She played an elderly character in Chin Chin Nona also singing with Milton Perera and M.S.Fernando.

The popular Hindi film Devatha, the main female role played by Indian film star Anjali Devi, was dubbed into Sinhala as Pathiwatha (Chastity). She was honored with five songs in Pathiwatha and continued playback singing in Hadawath Neththo, Kadawunu Poronduwa (new cast) and Rahas Dupatha. It was her inspirational contribution to film industry by her fascinating performance on the screen in about 30 films and playback singing that she was crowned as the invincible Singing Queen of the Silver Screen.

Rukmani Devi at the height of her achievement in popularity wrote her autobiography Mage Viththi (My Life Story) in 1956 with a full coverage of information gathered from various newspaper articles appeared from time to time.

It is believed that our popular film star/playback singer maintained a cordial friendship with her contemporaries world acclaimed Indian film stars Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Ashok Kumar, Nargis, and the Nightingale of India Lata Mangeshkar and many others.

It was a pristine glory for Rukmani Devi to have her photograph on the front page of the world recognized Indian Film Fare Magazine. She was the only Sri Lankan artiste to be honored by this international magazine. She was also featured in “ My Likes and Dislikes” column in Film Fare Magazine in 1958.

In a gallop poll conducted by Dinamina newspaper in 1955 she was elected the Most Popular Actress with a record majority of 13,000 votes over the first runner up. The Best Actress Award for her role Malini in the famous film Kela Handa was awarded to her at the Deepasika Film Festival in 1956. Accolades were flying one after the other for her outstanding contribution to the film industry. In 1966 Janatha Sammana was presented for the most popular Female Playback Singer at the Sarasaviya Film Festival.

She was felicitated with Deeparani Special Award at the Deepasika Film Festival in 1972 in recognition of her skilled character on the stage and the screen. In 1996 she was posthumously awarded with Sarasavi Sammana on her immeasurable contribution made in her capacity as the Silver Screen Idol of the era.

She was married to Eddie Jayamanne the renowned comedian of the Sinhala screen. The narration of their clandestine love marriage would be a highly desirable story for a film to attract a spellbound audience.

The issue of a commemorative stamp by the government, a distinctive tribute paid to the rare and precious greatness of a person, is the truest manifestation of highest regard to this immortal heroine of the silver screen. The memorial statue erected at Kanuwana intersection, Ja-Ela where the fatal accident occurred is the best example of a noble act of gratefulness by the nation demonstrated in deed when the good is relegated into the limbo of forgotten things in modern society. On behalf of the nation Rukmani Devi Museum and Rukmani Devi Mawatha in Negombo were opened with highest respect to this immaculate artist.

Words cannot express the high respect of the people moved by the example of her mighty ocean of humanity. She was a colossal image affluent with empathic generosity. The true sense of dignity was portrayed by her kindness in gifting a Morris Minor car to her driver Denzil out of the excellent pay received in recognition of her exhilarating performance of the main female character Malini in Kela Handa film.

Her fragrance of excellent qualities will remain etched in lasting memories of the entire Sri Lankan nation. Rukmani Devi was a proud daughter of Mother Lanka. She is immortal.

-Asian Tribune -