Daya Ananda Ranasinghe embarks on singing ! |
by Tilak S. Fernando in London
Daya Ananda Ranasinghe, a veteran journalist and the founder publisher and editor of the only Sinhala Newspaper, Lanka Viththi, published in the UK and distributed to the Sri Lankan expatriate communities throughout the Globe, has released a CD under the title " Ma Sith Gath Gee". The CD contains six love songs of Dharmadasa Walpola, H. R. Jothipala , Mohideen Baig, Victor Ratnayake and the Hindi Maestro Mohamed Rafi.
It was during an era of popular songs on the radio, which was the only medium of entertainment in Sri Lanka, Daya Ananda Ranasinghe, as a child, had a dream of becoming a singer one day by listening to popular songs of Dharmadasa Walpola, Mohideen Baig, Jothipala, Sisira Senaratne, Morris Dhahanayake, Haroon Lantra etc. It was a period when hundreds of fans thronged to see and listen to those popular artistes wherever and whenever they toured within the country .Their songs were romantic and alluring with full of meaning which automatically appealed to every audience unlike the quality of songs that exist today.
As a shy village boy, Daya Ananda attempted to hatch his dream to be a singer, but it only remained within the confines of his day dreaming but never became a reality. With the passage of time, Daya Ananda moved to the Capital Colombo to pursue a career in journalism. Journalism opened the doors and afforded him the opportunity to intermingle closely with Sri Lanka's cream of the entertainment field encompassing the Radio, Cinema, Drama and the like.
With such association his ambition of becoming a singer increasingly waned off, but one thing he realized was that his talents were latent within himself, if he ever wanted to be a singer! But Daya Ananda is happy today that he did not become a singer as the current cultural scene in Sri Lanka has immensely changed and the song and music has taken a downward trend not only because people's taste has changed but the whole of the Sinhala culture and heritage is being eroded.
He points out that significant words which formed meaningful lyrics for songs in the past are being replaced today by valueless and meaningless uttering; thunderous sound systems are eternally killing the sweetness of melodies and singing itself has somewhat become a mere 'shouting'! In a fast declining society, Daya Ananda says, youth prefer such trash while adults and the mature types shun those in disgust. This is how Sinhala culture and heritage is getting eroded heading towards a calamity on roller skates Daya Ananda says, especially when so many popular artistes of yester year have become despondent and, rubbing salt to injury, their renderings too are being high-jacked and distorted by a wave of new mushroom type singers who seem to appear on a daily basis.
Last October, when Daya Ananda was in Sri Lanka he visited a good friend, Ajith Dhahanayake, a popular musician. Ajith was busy with his keyboard and was in the midst of composing some melodies for a musical programme. With him there were two other young musicians helping him with other musical instruments. Ajith, a self-educated musician, with a good voice for singing, specialized in playing the guitar. He had played for several popular Srilankan bands in the late seventies. He was in London some years ago studying photography, television and video craft attached to the London's South Thames College, during which time played for the world renowned West Indian Steel Band at the Notting Hill Gate Carnival. By doing so his name went into the history books as the first Sri Lankan ever hired by the West Indian Steel Band to play the guitar.
During Daya's visit to Ajith in Colombo, his friend Ajith made a request to record some old numbers in Daya's own voice. He was confident to sing for fun. Unprepared and unrehearsed singing was therefore done instantaneously on to a tape recorder, the result of which was that Ajith's house became the recording studio and six songs, all old hits of Dharmadasa Walpola, Mohideen Baig, H. R. Jothipala, Victor Ratnayake and Mohomed Rafi, were done with added domestic sounds and interludes from a typical Sri Lankan house environment, including coconut scraping sounds in the kitchen, firewood cutting outside and barking of dogs etc. Since it was done for fun no one took it seriously and they were not bothered either by distortions or the disturbances, especially because it was recorded only for Daya's listening pleasure.
However, in London when he played the recordings to his friend Wimal Alahakoon, a Chartered Engineer, and a talented and up coming actor, who recently won a Sumathi Award last year at the Tele-Drama festival in Sri Lanka for the role he played in Sriyani Amarasena's ' Hemanthaye Vasanthayak' teledrama, Wimal suggested that the songs in the tape be pressed onto a CD and kindly offered to bear the cost of the production. This made Daya Ananda Ranasinghe's long awaited dream to become a reality.
Daya Ananda Ranasinghe does not consider himself as a singer but underlines the fact that he is a journalist and quite happy as the editor of Lanka Viththi. He carries a short message inside cover of the CD that 'the CD is not produced as a marketing tool to sell and earn money but only for the listening pleasure' for his close and dear friends who could remember him as Daya Ananda Ranasinghe one day, by listening to his voice at least, when is no more with them.
The CD was released on 7th June 2003 at the Harrow University Campus Hall during the film show of Keera Kotuwe Gedara , a South Bank Production, where Wimal Alahakoon and Sriyani Amarasena played the main role. The film was shown to coincide with the 6th anniversary of the Lanka Viththi newspaper and hundreds of supporters who thronged to see the film, mainly to show and give their ceaseless support to the man who is doing an arduous but creditable job in publishing a Sinhala newspaper from London picked up a CD at the end of show giving a voluntary contribution.
Although Daya does not want to sell the CD, but it is my humble opinion that anyone who wishes to give a helping hand to the enormous responsibility he carries on his shoulders in publishing a Sinhala newspaper with the sole idea of not allowing the Sinhala language to be wiped out seemingly, the CD can be obtained as a souvenir and to help publish the paper, and it has to be a totally voluntary deed. Daya Ananda Ranasinghe could be contacted by e-mail : < Lanka.firstname.lastname@example.org>