The Sunday Leader

The Mega Drama

By Raisa Wickrematunge – Photos courtesy gossiplanka

The hush of anticipation before critical results are announced is an essential component of almost every reality show. Contestants battle it out for weeks before a winner is finally crowned. Last week, popular Swarnavahini reality show/talent contest Megastar held its grand finale. Billboards were hoisted around town and faithful viewers tuned in for the results. As everyone knows, things went sour after the much hyped results were read out. Swarnavahini cut its transmission as the crowd grew rowdy, throwing bottles at the stage. The reason, supposedly, being a belief that the results were fixed. UNP MP Dayasiri Jayasekara was the hotly-tipped favourite to clinch the title, with some of the judges openly announcing their support. Ultimately, businessman and teledrama actor Ajith Weerasinghe clinched the title of Megastar. The Sunday Leader spoke to several key people involved in the show to find out what exactly led to the crowd growing so unruly and what they thought of the final result.

Dayasiri Jayasekara — It Was Fixed
Many fans of the show expected the young MP to win the title. Jayasekara himself explained what happened when the results were read out by host Kamal Addaraarachchi.
“When (the results) were announced, the Megastar people were upset and went out of the premises. Actresses, actors, all left. I was given the runner-up cup. People (in the audience) started throwing bottles and everything they had. Mervyn (Silva) came as though to fight with 5000 people. You can’t handle a situation with people throwing bottles like that. You should remain calm and quietly ask them to stop. Instead, he was acting like he was trying to hit the angry crowd. I tried my best to stop it… Ultimately, that behaviour was very ugly for the competition. It is very bad, what happened. In the end the security took me, Ajith (Weerasinghe) and Buddhika (Kulasekara) out.”
What’s more, Jayasekara cried ‘foul’ on the results. He said he had heard stories that Weerasinghe had bought 20,000 SIM cards from a phone company (and, some say, distributed it to fans and supporters) in order to sway the SMS vote in his favour.
“If you have money, you can buy these things,” Jayasekara pointed out. He also claimed that Weerasinghe and Programme Director of Swarnavahini, Buddhika Kulasekara had a close personal friendship and dined together often. “They went to the same school in Kandy,” he said.
“No one will congratulate (Weerasinghe). He can’t go out of his house. People in the country know he is not honourable. I’m not saying I’m the most honourable person. But I wouldn’t have minded if Suresh Gamage or Upeksha Swarnamali had won,” Jayasekara said. He was adamant that the results had been fixed in favour of Weerasinghe.

‘Megastar’ Ajith Weerasinghe Speaks
Winner Ajith Weerasinghe has appeared in teledramas and is said to be an astute businessman. Weerasinghe strenuously denied the allegations and in turn made charges of foul play, though he refused to name the contestant concerned.
“I don’t have the money to do that. That is not correct information,” he said, responding to allegations that he had mass-purchased SIM cards to sway the vote.
He added, “It was a genuine contest, decided by a large number of text messages.” Weerasinghe charged that one contestant was favoured throughout, though he refused to name the contestant. Weerasinghe had several counter-charges of his own to make. He charged that several identity cards had been stolen in the Kurunegala District, in order to purchase SIM cards which were used to sway the vote.
“One ID card will get you five SIMs,” said Weerasinghe. “One of the strong competitors” was behind the move, he alleged. However, he stressed that the results were correct and that there had been absolutely no wrongdoing on his part. “I even admitted that I sent SMS’ voting for myself on television. I’m the only person who accepted that from the beginning and they took advantage (of my honesty),” said Weerasinghe. He added, “Whoever wins, you have to respect the winning person.” Weerasinghe had one final charge — that the riot at the finale was staged. “An ordinary crowd would never throw stones, break glass and (ransack) the bathroom. Sri Lanka was not represented, those people came in buses with liquor… these were people hired to throw stones and sabotage,” alleged Weerasinghe. Finally, he denied any close relationship with Kulasekara, but said in fact there were other contestants who were “very, very close” to the programme director.
Rosy — Sad
Panel judge on Megastar Rosy Senanayake said she left as soon as the results were announced and therefore was not present when the fracas ensued.
Senanayake said that she had been straightforward and truthful from the start whenever she gave her verdict. “I clearly said who should be the winner… Dayasiri Jayasekara,” she said. Senanayake said she was saddened by the final result.
“This is a reality TV show where one can vote for oneself and put in as many votes [as one wants],” she said. When asked if she thought the results were fixed, Senanayake said, “To be very honest, I can’t imagine any other way he [Weerasinghe] could win.” She pointed out that Weerasinghe had admitted he voted for himself on the show. “I told him, ‘you have found a means of getting into the finals, through SMSing for yourself fearlessly,’” Senanayake said.

More Feedback From Viewers
By Udara Soysa
What happened at the final is real injustice. We all know who the winner was. Clearly there had been manipulations and we do not accept this result. People can use money to manipulate SMS results,” said Ravishanka Senanayake who spoke to The Sunday Leader from Kurunegala. Senanayake is a staunch supporter of Jayasekara and had even changed his profile picture on Facebook, encouraging people to vote for him on the show.
“We saw chaos everywhere. Lots of political guards were involved in the chaos. One deputy minister and his violent initiative worsened the situation. I think the message is clear – if you are a politician, you can do whatever violence and get away with it. I saw this first hand. Where is the rule of law?” asked Chatura (name changed).

Technology Enabled Cheating?

Various internet SMS services are now allowing customers to send bulk short text messages (SMS) impersonating any given mobile phone numbers. This is known as SMS spoofing. For example, the SMS spoofing software will copy your mobile number and send another person a text as if it had been sent from your number. According to Computer Crime Research Center, SMS spoofing became possible after many mobile/cellular operators had integrated their network communications with/in the internet. However, this software is relatively expensive. Customers of these software can send hundreds of thousands of text messages directed at any given number at any given time, impersonating a very wide range of mobile numbers.
Suresh Gamage — Not Paid

By Nirmala Kannangara

Actor Suresh Gamage was placed second runner-up in the competition. Gamage visited The Sunday Leader offices to voice his concerns about the show.
Gamage charged that several prizes which had been promised to the winners had still not been delivered.
“Buddhika Kulasekara promised to give Rs. 20 million to the winner, Rs. 8 million to the first runner-up and Rs. 3 million to the second runner-up. He also promised to give cars to all six finalists,” Gamage said. He added that although he was entitled to Rs. 3 million, he had been given a cardboard cheque for the amount of Rs. 500,000 only. What’s more, Gamage said a promised amount of Rs. 10,000 for costumes for each contestant was never given, neither was an additional promised amount of Rs. 50,000. Though the contestants all signed an agreement with Swarnavahini, they never received a copy of the letter, which had all the prize details, Gamage complained. He also accused Swarnavahini of deliberate tampering. Gamage alleged that they failed to provide proper sound and voice balancing for certain contestants, resulting in Channa Perera and Sanath Wimalasiri leaving the programme. He accused Kulasekara of asking judges to give good comments on Weerasinghe’s performances, while giving less glowing reviews of Gamage’s. Finally, Gamage alleged that Swarnavahini had promised to show the SMS votes live on the day of the finale, but had kept mum in the end.
Swarnavahini’s Version
Programme Director, Swarnavahini, Buddhika Kulasekara did not respond to repeated phone calls and text messages from The Sunday Leader.
However, a top management official at Swarnavahini explained what had happened on condition of anonymity.
“It was started by Dayasiri Jayasekara’s supporters. It was a political thing… each (contestant) brought their own supporters,” he said. The official added that once the results were announced, Jayasekara’s supporters began throwing bottles and even little pieces of concrete at the stage. “Mervyn Silva shouted, ‘Don’t do this,’ but once he shouted, more and more rocks were thrown,” he observed. What’s more, the official said that it was Dayasiri Jayasekara’s personal bodyguard, together with his driver who surrounded Mervyn Silva onstage and began threatening Silva’s bodyguards.
Commenting on the allegations that the results were fixed, the official emphatically said that Swarnavahini had not tampered with the results. “It was a reality show like any other, based on SMS votes. We had a rule, one SIM card, one SMS. Our computers only record how many votes came in for a candidate. It is possible a contestant could buy up say, 10,000 SIM cards. There is no way to stop something like that happening. We can’t control it,” the official said. Though it was admitted that mass buying of SIM cards could sway the vote, the official remained adamant that there was ‘100% guaranteed’ no foul play. “Although other candidates allege such activity, there is no proof. As far as we’re concerned, Weerasinghe is the Megastar,” the official added.

26 Comments for “The Mega Drama”

  1. Disgusted Silva

    Mervyn Silva- Every time this fellow gets involved in anything , there will always be trouble,chaos and losses ……And shamelessly he continues..
    This Mervyn the mess continues bcos he is allowed to by the big politicas and bosses..It has happened too often for too long and we all can assume why.
    So the desease has spread to even the entertainment industry!!

  2. Roy

    Swarnavahini turns dirt vahini.

  3. Mala Girawa

    SMS Ajith Weerasinghe – He will be introduced in musical shows.

  4. Basil

    Swarnawahini still have the chance to wash their mud if revealed the SMS votes all 4 got.

    • Show's own boss

      Basil,
      Thank you, here’s the results of the vote.

      Ajith W= 23,981
      Dayasiri J = 19
      Suresh = 7
      Upeksha S = 3 (also 1 message “I love you, thank you yesterday” left by one called Namal R )

      Hope our bud is washed off now.

  5. pathum

    A dubious show sponsered by a dubious channel that is Swarnawahinee which is controlled by a Dubious person “Dr. Somakka” who plays good lady, directed by dubious producer ,Buddika kulasekara with actors like Mervyn, Kamal, Rosy and so on. We challenge swarnawahinee to show the official results to the public and to show “The biggest prize ever” which they boasted to the public. p.s. I know it will not worth more than 3Mio. Always a lie what this “Swarnawahinee”says!

  6. Titus

    Another result- just like the election results!

  7. dp

    businessvahini doesn’t care who wins …their only concern is how much they earn.and they have proved it..a few million rupees underhand was enough to throw away SMS results..shame..

  8. If Ajith Weerasinghe can sing well, why don’t we get to see a single clip of him on Youtube? Who believes about the SMS stunt result given by the S’wahini. Ajith you should be ashamed of yourself becoming the rejected winning star and not the real winning star. The whole thing was a manipulated stunt by the Director Buddika. He should be sacked!

  9. narakbadu

    show must go on to keep the pathetic brainless people of the south on their toes, otherwise they will start asking about the cost of living.
    good on all those voted for MR and thier goons

  10. shane

    It is very very clear that the results were manipulated. If the results were genuine then we should be proud of having the most dumbest population on earth. A 5 year old could have identified that the worst singer of the day went on to get the mega star crown. Sri Lankan people are not that dumb it is Swarnawahini who should take the blame. They never showed even one sms that came in the computer. In fact the judges should be in that room monitoring the sms if the show has to be believable as their comments that day had no bearing. All the other reality shows conducted by other chanels ( even Sirasa) had winners who the majority of the population expected, why only in this reality show was there such a huge blunder?? It is the same voters who voted in all the reality shows isnt it?? – all sri lankans!! So isnt it soooo obvious what happened!!!!!!! Ajith is not even a popular TV personality for people to blindly vote for him out of sheer popularity as an actor. Some people only heard about him during the show!!!!

  11. Nilumini

    You’re correct Mr Titus! Countrymen are following the King!

  12. Ruwan Ferdinandez

    While our TVs are trying to tell us that these are the best shows for the people, the reality shows are becoming a thing of the past in the West where they all began. Isn’t it time the TV’s invest in talent, invite innovative projects than copying cheap shows from the west? It can’t be that difficult; instead of employing people who watch American TV, they could employ a few intelligent people who could ‘think’.

  13. I T JIL MART

    This look likes the third Jilmart

  14. Upali Ranatunga

    With this situation what we have to do for not repetation of same things, is to devide winners in to two parts, that is With Judges’s decision selection of the “Best” and Most SMS taker as the “Popular”. Then both parties will be satisfied.

  15. garawi

    It is clear that Swarnavahini manipulated the final results.
    It was obvious that Ajith was the worst of the final four. Not only Dayasiri was great but Gamage and Upeksha were also better than him. So how did he get the tops marks ??
    This was not the first instance they manipulated the result. It was done in the round where instead of one candidate leaving they pushed two candidates to the next round. It was also to make sure that Ajith was in the final four. That’s how Ajith remained in the last four.
    In the previous rounds Ajith was warned many a time by the judges that if he did not improve he woul have to go. But he was somehow in the next round miraculously. Indeed with the help of the swarnavahini.
    Finally, if the swarnavahini admits that a candidate can buy wholesale SIM cards and influence the result and they have no way of checking that,then what is the point of the whole show??

  16. priya

    useless channel boast by saying their number one and onlyt channel that stands for truth nothing but the truth !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Anton

    This is “SMS JILMART” If the politicians can do “computer jilmarts” involving the whole country, then it is simple for a private institution or an individual to act in a similar manner. However, the worst part of this whole episode is the involvement of a thug who has a very dirty mouth, as a judge for a very prestigeous show. What I can say is that the popularity of Swarnavahini is diminished because of this dirty politician.

  18. Janak

    This is so simple to understand, whoever send most messages will win it!!!! So simple as that!!!! In future don’t take any politicians as judges and also not as contestants. This was where the Swarnawahini went wrong!!!!! These politician’s thugs who came inside involved in this. They tried to give a bad reputation to Swarnavahini. One of the judges was openly supporting Jayasekera. For most of them that was a joke. That was entirely wrong. However, it was a good lesson/experience to everyone. Don’t take any politicians in future for these sort of competitions.

  19. PGLP

    Poor show, we remember Dayasiri and Praba both were winners in a semi-final stage. If swarnavahine could manipulate results in that stage. What can we expect in the finale results. Swaranvahine lost its credibility and popularity.

  20. SRJA

    Dayasiri’s singing of slow numbers were perfect throughout. But appreciated by the older crowd who normally are not facinated by sending SMS.
    Ajith’s singing was not upto the mark. But his performance on that day of fast moving dances captured the young crowd who normally SMS for any thing.
    Ajith’s performance on that day captured the audiance and he got the highest SMS. An elderly Dayasiri supporter.

    • wanted man

      AJITH DOESNT HAVE PROPER VOICE HOW CAN YOU SAY HE CAPTURED YOUNGERST VOTES? IF HE CAPTURED YOUNGERS VOTES MEANING TO YOUNGERS DOENST KNOW ANYTHING

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