31st October, 2004  Volume 11, Issue 16

First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    


A sure-fire hit!

By Marianne David 

The first time I saw  Vinod  Attanayake perform was at a qualifying round for a karaoke championship recently and his showmanship was spell binding.

Vinod is blessed with the ability to attract one's attention and keep it when he is on stage and that's exactly what he did with the audience that night.

His rendition of Will Smith's I'm Coming, which he sang that night, was lively, funky and entertaining and had me thinking, 'this guy is really good; he is great!'

Undoubtedly, Vinod's upcoming CD, which he is doing with his partner Denver Arendze is bound to be a hit - Denver is into ballads while Vinod is great at hip hop and given the way these guys perform and their inborn musical talent, the combination is sure to be outstanding.

These two guys have been singing for as long as they can remember despite constraints such as having to travel to Colombo from Kandy, where they are based when they want to complete a track.

"It is hard to do a complete track in Kandy, there are no facilities. As a result, we have to come to Colombo, which takes time," they said.

Describing how he joined up with Denver, Vinod says, "We have known each other from year one in school and it all changed in 2000 when we took part in the Showboat Karaoke Championship. We took part and I won, while Denver and his group was chosen as first runners up. We joined up after that."

Says Denver, "I went solo in 2001 and Vinod was solo all along. We started performing together in 2002."

Today the two guys are a team and have a number of original songs to their name. In addition, they are working on their CD, which will most probably be released this year.

"The CD covers all kinds of music styles and it is for all kinds of people - a mix of hip hop and ballads," said Vinod.

While the two guys write their own tracks, Ranga Jagoda composes/records them and according to Vinod and Denver, "He corrects our mistakes and we consider him a teacher."

Denver has been singing since he was quite young while Vinod focused his attention on music in a big way after winning the Showboat championship.

However, Vinod's life on stage began in school when as the president of the interact club, he had to take part in a lot of events. "That's what pushed me on to the stage to begin with," he says.

Denver performed in college for shows as well but he says the Showboat championship changed his life and made him want to do his own tracks in a professional manner.

When asked about how their families feel about their life in music, both burst out saying, "Our parents have been superb! They have been backing us and supporting us from the very beginning."

The duo, past pupils of St. Anthony's College, Kandy, plan to have shows around the island in the future as well and to put out a video in the future.

Sri Lankan duo off to Shanghai

Prageeth and Gajan, the talented and popular musical duo, have been selected to represent Sri Lanka at the Seventh Asia Singing Competition, to be held from October 31 to November 4.

The duo, known for their unique style, will be singing two songs at the finals of the competition which will be held on November 4: Nimeshayak (For A Moment) and You've Been Warned.

Nimeshayak was written by Shaheeka Sahid, with the rap lyrics written by Gajan and the song was composed by Ranga Jagoda. Ranga will also be accompanying the duo to Shangai, China where the competition is being held.

You've Been Warned was written by Gajan and Nilukshi Wickremage, and composed by Yohan Rajapakse.

The songs are from the duo's debut alum, which is due to be launched in the near future, and will consist of 10 tracks.

Apart from the two songs that will be performed at the competition, the CD will also feature another recent release by the duo titled Ennal Mudiyum.

"It is a Tamil song and the title means 'yes I can.' It is a song about never giving up in life and succeeding, a motivational song," said Gajan. B. H. Abdul Hamid is also featured in the song.

Speaking about the two songs the duo will perform at the competition, Gajan said that while the songs were released a few months ago, it is only after the duo was selected for the competition that the songs started receiving airplay.

"The media should support the local artistes a lot more, not just the recognised artistes but the ones who are not as recognised or established in the music scene. Upcoming talent should be given more opportunities. Sri Lankans should promote Sri Lankan talent - who else would do it otherwise?" he said.

He said that while Sri Lanka is known for cricket around the world and companies rush to do things for cricket, they should also put money into the music scene so that Sri Lanka would be recognised for its music as well.

"Doing a song or music video is very expensive and the music industry needs people to support it. I would like to thank Arundathi Sri Renganathan who is behind our going to Shangai, Rukshan Lokuge, Yohan Rajapakse, Ranga Jagoda and our parents, families and fans for all their support and also Thai Airways, our official carrier for the competition," he said.

The duo's upcoming album is unique: it consists of songs in all three languages. Some songs are a combination of English and Sinhala but they have also introduced Tamil in their songs, which enable the songs to reach a wider section of society and can be played on any radio or TV station in the country.

-  Marianne David

Greek and Roman influences

By Lakshman de Silva

The Augustan age dominates the idea of Latin literature when poetry  of a high standard flourished. The greatest epic poet of the Romans was Virgil (70-19 BC) whose Aeneid far outshone all other efforts at epic poetry.

But great as Virgil is, modern readers might also find acceptable others like Homer, Ovid, Properties, Catullus, Horace, Juvenal - great names in their own right. Roman comedy in the hands of Plautus and Terence also reached great heights.

In the writing of history and in political thought and the administration of cities and empires, Roman literature has left its greatest mark. A History Of The Twelve Caesars is worth the reader's attention.

Yet Latin output was to influence the greater part of Europe for nearly 12 centuries till almost the reformation.

Apart from the writers already mentioned, it is also worthy to mention Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180). He succeeded to the Roman Empire in 161 and by that time he was known as a great stoic philosopher and it looked as if Plato's dream of a philosopher emperor would materialise in his reign. But his reign was marked by disasters and wars. His meditations, which he wrote in Greek and not in Latin, were written mostly in army encampments from the battlefields. They are the thoughts of a lonely man bearing a heavy burden, and touch the modern spirit in man. His themes are simple - an absolute trust in providence, a faith in reason, and a sense of the insignificance of human affairs before the immensities of time and space.

Saint Augustine (354 to 430 AD) was a Christian Latin writer, who pioneered the first autobiography in his Confessions. It is considered the greatest masterpiece in Latin next to Virgil's Aeneid.

This self-torturing autobiography has been one of the best-loved books of the world - for its frankness of expression, and its arrival at Christianity.

Saint Augustine claimed to have written (three years before his death) 93 literary works, five books on philosophy and nearly 200 works of a polemic nature, apart from his sermons and letters. All except 10 titles have survived. But for the general reader of today, nothing but his Confessions is of interest and value.

The makings of a director

By Risidra Mendis

He's no ordinary director of  teledramas. But his love for the ancient and traditional history of Sri Lanka led him to direct one of the most unusual and thought provoking teledramas of all times. His name is Thusitha Jayawardhane, director of Sisila Ima, a teledrama presently aired on ITN.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Jayawardhane said Sisila Ima is different from other teledramas because it deals with what happens inside a human being's mind. "Due to the pressures of society, many people cannot express their true feelings. This teledrama is based on a story of a young male doctor and a nature lover who befriends an old woman near Weligama Oya," says Jayawardhane.

According to the Jayawardhane, the old woman is an expert in native medicine and cures those who cannot be treated with Western medicine. The doctor on the pretext of learning the secrets of this art pretends to be in love with the woman and moves into her Walauwa.

However unknown to the doctor, he genuinely falls in love with the old woman. The doctor's personal life gets disrupted, as he is to marry a girl from Colombo. What follows is a chaotic situation where the doctor cannot decide which woman he wants to settle down with as he is in love with both of them.

Jayawardhane's father was a poet and an author of books and his mother, an English teacher. But according to Jayawardhane, it was his mother's influence that made him take an interest in the history of Sri Lanka.

"My mother taught me the basics of history when I was schooling. This was the initial stage and the start of my career in films and teledramas," says Jayawardhane. Having successfully passed his grade five scholarship examination, Jayawardhane joined Royal College where he was exposed to the many dramas taking place at the Nava Ranga Theatre situated in the college premises.

"My interest in musicals and dramas made me stay back after school to watch them take place at the theatre. At the same time my mother advised me on what films I should watch," explained Jayawardhane.

Jayawardhane then took on certain roles in stage dramas while still a junior at Royal College. Having learned the ropes in stage dramas, Jayawardhane was finally in a position to direct his own stage plays as a senior student at Royal College. It was at this time in his life that Jayawardhane was introduced to prominent drama artistes.

But despite his love for the arts, Jayawardhane pursued his higher studies by choosing to do engineering. "I did not forget my directing. But I soon found out that I could not handle my engineering as well as my directing simultaneously," explained Jayawardhane.

The time had finally come for Jayawardhane to decide what he really wanted to pursue as a career in life. "I knew the path I had to take. At this time I knew prominent film star Tony Ranasinghe. It was Ranasinghe who introduced me to Dr. Sarath Amunugama. Having realised Jayawardhane's interest in drama and cinema, Dr. Amunugama introduced him as a writer to the Kala paper. The Kala paper dealt with cinema issues and I was happy working there," Jayawardhane said.

But while on an assignment to interview prominent Assistant Director for films and teledramas, Nilendra Deshapriya, Jayawardhane was invited by Deshapriya to work with him in directing films. "In 1983 I started working with Deshapriya," says Jayawardhane. For the next 12 years Jayawardhane worked with Deshapriya in learning the finer points in television, teledrama and film directing.

According to Jayawardhane, it was Deshapriya who finally told him that it was time for him to direct his own creation. Davala Kethu, a love story between an old man (who looks after a cemetery) and a young Tamil girl was produced and directed by Jayawardhane.

Jayawardhane won the Best Youth Director Award in 1996 for Davala Kethu, while Indika Upamali won the Best Youth Actress Award for the same teldrama. His next production after a period of five years was Sisila Ima.

Jayawardhane has many plans that include directing another teledrama and film.

"If not for the help and support extended by my Producer, Sunil Rathnayake, ITN Chairman, Newton Gunaratne, Main Actress Malini Fonseka, the cast and technical staff, Sisila Ima would not have been possible," added Jayawardhane.

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