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17th July, 2005  Volume 12, Issue 1

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                                    

Now

Caught In The Net!

By Dharisha Bastians

If you're starting to feel like you         can't remember what the Lionel            Wendt Theatre looks like anymore with English theatre having almost completely dried up in recent months, something's coming along this August to put a smile back on your face. Or better yet, have you rolling about in your centre row aisle seat!

The Performing Arts Company brings you Ray Cooney's hilarious sequel to Run For Your Wife. This time called Caught In The Net, it comes to the Wendt on August 5 and runs through two weekends giving Colombo audiences enough time to get a piece of the side-splitting action.

Directed by Nafeesa Amirudeen and produced by Mohamed Adamaly and Nadeera Adamaly, Caught In The Net promises to be just as good as its predecessor which was staged at the Wendt once in 1994 and then more recently in 2002 to pave the way for the sequel.

The play retains the four central characters of the taxi driver John Smith, his lodger Stanley Gardner and the contrasting wives Mary and Barbara Smith.

It opens right into the action with Gavin Smith (John's son with Barbara) chatting up Vicki (John's daughter with Mary) on the internet by coincidence. They arrange to meet for tea to discover more about their respective fathers and this is when John's nightmare really begins.

So follows a frantic cover up operation full of lies, confusion and a healthy dose of humour as John and Stanley try to prevent the ill-fated meeting of the teenagers.

Cast in the role of John Smith, bigamist extraordinaire is Mohamed Adamaly who is accompanied by Wanda Godlieb as Mrs. Smith No. 1 and Neidra Williams as Mrs. Smith 2.

Also back on stage for his encore as Smith's lodger and unwitting accomplice in the entire fiasco, Stanley Gardner is Dr. Sean Amarasekera.

An afternoon with the cast proves to be a barrel of laughs both on and off the stage. Full of fun and good cheer, the seven stars of Caught In The Net are enthusiastic about their roles.

None more so than Amarasekera who having arrived late, kept up a steady stream of chatter both about the play and other matters of universal interest throughout the interview.

"He takes his role very literally,"say his fellow cast-mates.

"The Stanley Gardner in Caught In The Net plays a far more prominent role," says Adamaly, "it's like he's more in control and hardly ever leaves the stage."

Neidra Williams' character Barbara is far more mellowed and serene than she was in Run For Your Wife, in which she played the sexy, youthful wife No. 2.

"That's only on stage of course," remarks the play's 'sound and fury' man, Jehan Perera also Neidra's husband - off stage of course. Barbara is into yoga and self-improvement, which includes an extraordinarily healthy diet of carrot and raspberry juice.

The ying to Barbara's yang, Mary, John's other wife is the loving mother and caring wife. She has a great relationship with her daughter Vicki as opposed to Barbara's mostly 'hands-off' relationship with son, Gavin.

Kevin Francke plays Gavin, while Ashini Fernando plays the flighty teen, Vicki who has her father wrapped around her little pinky.

Arjuna Vignarajah, who plays the senile, hard of hearing father of Stanley Gardner is a school-boy star having won a best actor award at the Shakespeare Drama Competition some years ago for his portrayal of Mercutio, and he is back on stage with Caught In The Net.

The almost surreal plot is played out at break-neck speed almost from the moment the curtain opens, and in true British comedy style.

Staged at the Lionel Wendt from August 5-7 and August 10-14, Caught In The Net follows the Performing Arts Company's reputation for slick, farcical comedy much like some of their other productions to date including Don't Dress For Dinner and Funny Money.

Caught In The Net is bound to whet theatre goers' appetites for more good English drama in the days to come and will most certainly be good for a few much needed laughs.

And to quote Amarasekera, "Just sit back and buckle your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride!" Amen to that.


A worldwide phenomenon!

By Dr. Thushara Senanayake

Fat Boy Slim, the man who became a champion in the charts a few years back with the hits like Gangster Trippin'  and Praise You is about to  make a splash on the charts with his new release Don't Let The Man in the  days to come. This new single is based on the song Signs by 70s rockers Five-Man Electrical Band.

Fat Boy Slim, who was born Norman Quentin Cook, was born on July 31, 1963 in Brighton, England. He started out his chart career with the House Martins in early 1986.

Paul Heaton, Stan Cullimore, Ted Key and Hugh Whittaker signed up with Go! Discs as the House Martins in 1985 and released Flag Day and Sheep but success didn't come their way. It was in 1986 that Cook replaced Key as the bassist and hit the UK singles chart with Happy Hour.

The same year, House Martins had a stack of hit singles including the UK Christmas number one Caravan Of Love, an a capella version of Isley Jasper Isley's song with the same title. Their album, London 0 Hull 4 shone bright on the UK albums chart in 1986.

When Dave Hemingway's arrival in 1987 replacing Whittaker in the band reinforced its socialist political stance and they came out with the album The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death - a reference to the ever-smiling British royal family.

Cook, after a short period of hibernation, tried his hands at a solo career releasing Won't Talk About It/ Blame It On The Bassline and For Spacious Life.

He was not successful and then formed Beats International and clinched the singles crown in 1990 with Dub Be Good To Me.

However, the lifespan of Beats International was short and Cook went on to form Freak Power in 1995.

Fat Boy's previous remixes of Wildchild's Renegade Master and Cornershop's Brimful Of Asha gave him some fame and the successive project The Rockafellar Skank  fell on  fertile grounds.

An array of hits followed including Gangster Trippin',  Right Here Right Now and Praise You.

Many albums, including Star 69, Camber Sands, The Pimp, The Joker and Palookaville followed. One of his singles, Weapon Of  Choice, won many MTV music awards and Fat Boy Slim became a worldwide  phenomenon.


The Minister of Men's Affairs reveals A Real Change at the Wendt

Sirisena Sumanadasa spends time, money and energy to help his nephew, Mohan, to get his father-in-law, Mr. Gajasiri, elected into parliament. Gajasiri, who lacks polish and whose English leaves much to be desired, is appointed as the Minister of Men's Affairs.

Unfortunately, Rasika, his daughter and Mohan's wife, is the president of the WLF (Women's Liberation Front) the strongest feminist group in Asia. She and the immediate past president, Niromi Nagasena have vowed to go all out to get the Men's Affairs Ministry abolished.

Then Gajasiri meets Niromi and falls madly in love with her and decides to support their campaign. Sirisena and Mohan realise they must somehow put a stop to Gajasiri and Niromi's relationship or watch all their plans go down the drain.

Amidst protest marches, hunger strikes, etc., Gajasiri's wife, Kusuma, who had deserted him and the daughter 17 years ago suddenly makes an entrance adding fuel to the fire. So the stage is set for A Real Change!

Mr. Gajasiri is played by Indu. Mohan is played by Anushan Selvarajah and his uncle Sirisena is played by Abbasali Rozais. The daughter Rasika is played by Sanjana Selvarajah while Niromi is played by Michelle Herft.

The wife, Kusuma is played by Sanwada Abeysirirgunawardena. The minister's chief of security is played by Yohan Caius and the faithful Carolis is brought to life by Pierre Samarasinghe.

Susan, the secretary is played by Seshandri De Silva. Cederica James, the investigating journalist who is feared by Sirisena and Mohan, is played by Nelum Goonetilleke.

This hilarious comedy by Indu Dharmasena is scheduled to go on the boards at the Lionel Wendt on July 16 and 17 at 7:15 p.m. A Real Change was first performed about seven years ago and it ran to packed houses.

This political satire will keep you in fits of laughter and promises light entertainment for the whole family. Tickets available at the Lionel Wendt.


A man in a woman's world!

By Dhananjani Silva

Gone are the days when we thought that draping a saree, doing one's eyebrows, lips, etc., is a woman's business. Today, there are men who go to the extra mile to better understand what women's needs are and how to satisfy them.

So, what is it like for a man to have a great sense of what's wrong and what's right when it comes to women and fashion? Well, Michael Wijesuriya is just the person to ask!

Michael is a man who has made it to the top in what is considered a woman's world. And when it comes to making a bride look her very best, he is a man who knows what he has to do to achieve this and make every bride's wedding day memorable.

Having been in the filed of bridal dressing for 13 long years, Michael is a connoisseur of brides and beauty.

"I first qualified in a different field. I did accountancy and then went to Hotel School. Thereafter, I went to USA and qualified in hotel management," says Michel with a smile.

So what made him an emperor in a women's territory? The answer is a talent that lies within Michael.

"My father was in the textile trade and I learnt the technical side of art from him. That gave me an opportunity to enter into this field. More than all that, it is the artistic quality that I possess that made me take up designing," he said.

According to Michael, he entered this field in a big way with Ramzi Rahaman, with whom he did his first bride.

Thereafter Vernon Fernando and Ramani Fernando are the people who really 'pushed' him into this field as he had not had any formal training before, says Michel who conveys his gratitude saying; "I owe a lot to them."

When it comes to being a man in a woman's world, Michael says the way men look at a bride is quite different from that of a woman. "There is no competition. A woman looking a million times better would never bother me since I am a male," he says.

Well, are there instances when a woman has been uncomfortable since he is a male designer? Michael's answer is, "never."

"People come to me because they know me. However, if the client is open-minded, I would choose dresses with sex appeal," Michel added.

He is a man who believes in constructive criticism and when it comes to dealing with customers, he is an expert. For him, there are certain ways in which he would advise his brides - for example without just saying "you are fat" he would rather put it in a charming way.

This is Michel's way of tackling the brides, mind you! But according to him, this is something that his customers appreciate. 

In Michel's point of view, being a bridal designer in this country is not really appreciated. "Few people accept and value this profession," he says, adding the advice they give is soon forgotten as it is measured only in terms of money.

However, when it comes to upcoming designers, Michel's advice is that they should establish their own identity rather than imitating others.

"Don't copy, don't follow foreign trends and don't look at foreign magazines. Your designs can be good or bad, but there will be people who would like you. In my case, the colours in Paris won't bother me as I would always consider the trend in Sri Lanka. Our people would always underestimate what is in Sri Lanka but they are willing to spend a lot on foreign stuff," says Michael.

"Then they say 'autumn collection' or 'winter collection,' but do we have winter or autumn here? We would rather do a Christmas collection because that is the season where people really dress-up in Sri Lanka," he noted.


Billy - Keeping the faith!

By Jamila Najmuddin

Born into a family of seven, this young and talented musician is fast gaining popularity through his sexy voice and popular lyrics.

Running a family business of selling musical instruments, Billy has made a name for himself as an extraordinary performer on stage!

Watching him drive the crowds wild is a sight to see and Billy sure is on his way to achieving his dreams in the music scene. At the end of the day, for Billy, the priority is being a true Christian. Keeping the faith, he talks about the most important things in life, his first kiss and his saddest memory.

The Q&A follow: 

Q: If you could be any animal or bird, which would you choose and why?

A: I don't like animals. But however, if I had to choose, I would choose to be a horse because it is an animal with prestige.

Q: What are the three most important things in life?

A: Jesus, family and friends.

Q: How do you feel about your career?

A: I love my career. It is excellent and interesting and sometimes I see no end to it. It is also very tiring and stressful but at the end of the day it is a career which satisfies me a lot.

Q: What's the first thing you do when you wake up?

A: Well, the first thing I do is wash my face and then drink water immediately.

Q: Three things that turn you on?

A: Lip gloss, a woman wearing a long skirt with a deep slit and a woman's hands, especially her fingernails, with a transparent tint.

Q: Describe your first kiss?

A: It was a learning process... It was yucky in the beginning and yummy later on. My first kiss was very special because it was only after the kiss that it was confirmed the relationship was real.

Q: What is love?

A: For me love is the true essence of human kind. It's not just an emotional feeling that passes you by; it's something that turns your world upside down. Love is a decision you make - a decision of whether you want to love that person for the rest of your life.

Q: Most memorable experience?

A: My most memorable experience is when one day, while I was singing one of my songs on stage, a fan of mine started crying. When questioned why, she said the song had touched her. The song was about heart break.

Q: If you had a choice of being in another profession, which would you choose?

A: I would probably choose advertising as I am very creative. It is also closely linked to the profession I am in now.

Q: What is your motto in life?

A: My motto in life is to be a true Christian and live life at its best while achieving my goals.

Q: If you could come back as someone else, whom with it be and why?

A: I would come back as myself - Billy. I am just so used to being myself that being another person would be very difficult for me.

Q: If the world was ending and you could save three people, who would they be?

A: Well, it is difficult to name only three people as I come from a family of seven - five brothers and two sisters. However, since I can save only three, I would save my mother, my younger brother Bonjo and my younger sister Kuku.

Q: If love were just a colour, which would it be for you?

A: I would choose the colour grey. Today love is mostly expressed through the colours red, white, silver and for some, even black. But for me love is like a grey area.  However, I am not too good with colours anyway.

Q: What is your saddest memory?

A: My saddest memory is the death of my father in 1998.

Q: What qualities do you look for in a soul mate?

A: Well honesty is the first thing that I can think of. No matter what her past has been, she should be able to tell me everything and we should be able to talk about it freely. My soul mate should also be a music lover and she should have a loving and fun personality.


Celebrating seven years in style!

By Easwaran Rutnam

T he screams of ecstatic fans filled the room as the guys who revolutionised the Sri Lankan music industry - Bathiya and Santhush (BnS) - made their grand entrance on stage for a power packed concert last week as they celebrated seven years together.

Neththara Live held at the BMICH last weekend, the first of many scheduled concerts by BnS over the next couple of months, was a sellout weeks before the event with over 1,500 fans packing the auditorium to witness a performance like no other.

Backed by the BnS band and the colorful and energetic dance troupes of Channa and Shan, Bathiya and Santhush - who made their entrance on stage dressed in their trademark 70's suit, Bathiya in blue and Santhush in red - first took time to thank the fans for supporting them over the years.

BnS then dished out a collection of their favorite hits which saw them storm into the local music industry seven years ago and make a mark, which will undoubtedly take a lot to be undone by artistes following in their footsteps.

Siri Sanga Bo, which was the breakthrough track for the duo, was still a crowd favorite while Life, Vasanthaye and their latest hit, Neththara, drew laud applause.

The repertoire of hits performed by Bathiya and Santhush included an excellent cover rendition of the track Master Sir originally performed by veteran musician Neela Wickramasinghe.

The rocky version of the track had the seated fans itching to move - which they did with their hands in the air and bodies moving on the seats.

Bathiya and Santhush also dished out a variety of Hindi tracks which included a few originals from their upcoming album to be released exclusively in India.

With the ever popular Ashanthi by their side, the boys ensured the audience was well and truly part of the performance by making their way into the crowd on a number of occasions and having them sing along to some tracks.

One lucky female fan was also selected from the audience and taken on stage where she was serenaded by BnS and then sent away with a gift that will no doubt have a special place on her mantle at home.

But it wasn't just Bathiya and Santhush at the concert. Ashanthi performed a few tracks of her own including Angel and also announced the launch of her latest album due out in stores very soon.

Nirosha Virajini was also in attendance to perform the soulful track Kiri Kodu as well as a few of her own while tabla maestro, Jananath supported BnS with his drumming and backup vocals.

Shiraz and Rajeev, better known as the Outlaws, also gave their support to Bathiya and Santhush by rapping to a few BnS hits as well as performing a few of their own. Incidentally it was Shiraz's birthday and he was given a surprise 'Happy Birthday' wish by Bathiya, Santhush and Ashanthi on stage.

Probably the stand out support act of the concert was the boys from Silent Project who had the crowd hip hopping to their hits. The two young boys from Kandy are also featured in the Neththara album.

Among the audience witnessing the mind blowing concert were members of Gypsies and Ezra's Billy who was among the original lineup of BnS.

All in all it was a show you could not afford to miss. But if for some 'unfortunate' reason you could not make it for 'Neththara live' last weekend, do not be disheartened! BnS will be performing in Negombo on July 30 while a repeat performance of 'Neththara live' is also on the cards next month.

From Colombo to Mumbai...

Bathiya and Santhush have come a long way since creating history in the Sri Lankan pop music industry back in 1998.

After Vasanthaye, Life, Tharunyaye and Neththara, BnS are now set to take their music to greater heights with the scheduled launch of a new album in India.

Announcing the launch of the album titled From Colombo To Mumbai, Bathiya and Santhush said it will feature some original Hindi tracks and will be marketed in India by Sony music.

The album will give the boys a chance to capture the very popular Indian music industry which could see them being featured on popular music channels including MTV and Channel V and VH1.

They are regarded as two of the most innovative producers, music directors and undoubtedly the most energetic and commanding stage act in the country.

Working with a wide range of musicians and other music directors from overseas specially Indians, BnS are currently a part of many collaboration projects as co-producers and have now produced their own Hindi and Tamil albums.

While the Hindi album is set to hit stores in India at the latter part of this year, the Tamil album is also expected to be out very soon.

Also lookout for their website - www.bnsmusic.com - to keep in touch with their happenings, tours and album launches.


Doing Sri Lanka proud!

Path breakers in the Sri Lankan music scene, Bathiya and Santhush, have made Sri Lanka proud by winning several awards overseas including the silver award at the 'Azia Dauysy' World Music Festival organised by the Voice of Asia International Music Foundation in Kazakhstan, Russia.

The festival attracted many entries from Europe and the Asian region. A 14-member panel of judges chose 16 entries from 14 countries for the finals held in Almaty, the capital of Kazakhstan.

In 2002, BnS signed up with Universal, the world's leading music company, marking the country's formal entry to international music publishing.

Director Asia-Pacific of Universal Music Publishing, Steven Folk speaking at the time said he was very impressed by the originality and song writing abilities of Bathiya and Santhush.

Bathiya and Santhush joined Universal Music Group's exclusive club of musical greats such as Elton John, Sting, Shaggy and Shania Twain.

In May 2003 international music rating group Global Hot 40 selected Bathiya and Santhush of Sri Lanka as 'Artist of the Month' for their achievements after their first two albums went platinum.

Bathiya and Santhush also served as brand ambassadors for Coca-Cola - 'Celebrate The Fusion' - during a two-year partnership which included concerts and consumer promotions.


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