Giving their best shots together again
In Jayantha Chandrasiri's 'Guerilla Marketing' which opens in Colombo
tomorrow actresses Yasodha Wimaladharma and Sangeetha Weeraratne tussles
over the same man. Prasad Abu Bakr asks the two leading stars if
anything similar has ever happened off screen in their long spanning
relationship as friends.
"Who knows, we might have" says Sangeetha, settling herself into a
chair. The bubbly actress is quick with her reflexes in thinking out her
answers in comparison to her counterpart Yasodha who looks at her
questions in depth while an answer is sorted out.
The present film, is their second together since a lapse of 10 years.
The last was when they came together in Director Vasantha Obeysekara's 'Maruthaya'
which was also their first film together.
The film eventually led them to strike a friendship so close that
Yasodha ended up as Sangeetha's bridesmaid at the latter's wedding. "But
in this business time does not allow much leverage for any relationship
to seek much time together, as amongst general friends" says Sangeetha.
Yasodha agrees adding that their busy schedules won't permit them to
fulfil certain obligations that are normally required to keep
In Chandrasiri's film they are not friends in that sense but two
women who eventually seek each other for emotional support to save the
man they both love (played by Kamal Addaraarachchi), to relieve him from
a state of mental derangement he is undergoing.
Talking of their co-stars in their respective movie careers they
state that it is interesting and makes things easier if everybody work
towards the same goal during a project.
"I get very upset when my co-stars come on the set without
remembering their lines as the producers are paying us to do a job and
we should deliver the goods" said Sangeetha emphatically.
The roles that they project in 'Guerilla Marketing' are more or less
tailor made one would say, specially when you meet them in person. While
Sangeetha is willing to sit on a hot seat and take off on an adventure
seeking professional advancement Yasodha will ponder choosing her roles
to suit her habitual personality of an introvert.
In the course of their careers both actresses came head on in to
competition in the year 2003 when their films 'Agni Dahaya' (also
directed by Jayantha Chandrasiri with Yasodha playing the lead) and 'Salelu
Varama' (directed by Vasantha Obeysekara featuring Sangeetha in the
lead), but the jury failed or backed out from presenting the best
actress award to either of them during that decisive moment, making it a
landmark in the history of local cinema where a jury failed to decide
the 'better one' of the two, both who gave their best performances that
Now they are teamed together after 10 years; in a movie handling a
contemporary theme related to modern day politics in comparison to what
they portrayed then in 'Maruthaya'.
Today both actresses probably are more mature and professional in
their views and approach to performances and who knows they might be in
competition with each other? But what is wise to believe for ourselves
when we take a long look at the fragments of relationships that are left
behind in realms of cinema as well as in politics (which Chandrasiri has
added as an essence for his theme in 'Guerilla Marketing') is that in
the corridors of power and competition there are no permanent friends,
nor are there permanent enemies.
The design and presentation of the opening night of the film is
handled by Glenda Parthipan of Emphasis.
Sunil Santha - the legend of 'Hela' music
With the demise of Sunil Santha Sri Lanka lost a versatile singer cum
musician whose songs were rooted in patriotism and blended with the
beauties of nature. Sunil Santha was born on May 14, 1915 at Dehiyagatha
in Ja-Ela. This teacher turned musician from the village of Dehiyagatha
reached the zenith of glory not as a music 'mudalali' but as a talented
musician much loved and respected by the people.
As a lad named Joseph from Ja-Ela he graduated from the famous
Bhathkanda University of Musicology in Lucknow, and returned to Sri
Lanka with a degree of "Sangeetha Vishaarada". He shunned his western
nomenclature, Joseph and adapted the name of Sunil Santha.
In 1940s, Sunil Santha created a landmark in the musical arena of
this country. This outstanding artiste surpassed his Indian and Sri
Lankan colleagues in instrumental music as well. Joining the then Radio
Ceylon, he began to build an indigenous music for a people lived of the
British harmonics and the Portugese Kafferinghas.
Sunil's melodious songs gained instant popularity. He devised a
simple style of his own. He refrained from using Hindustani tunes and
hotch potch of Sinhala, Tamil and Sanskrit words.
His first songs like "Olu pipeela", "Handapane", "Kokilayange",
"Lanka Lanka Pembara Lanka, "Jesu Upanne" became immediate hits, no
picnic groups were complete without the immortal songs of Sunil Santha.
This gifted artiste was also capable of writing lyrics for his own
songs. He was a follower of Munidasa Cumaratunga's "Hela School". Other
contemporary composers were Hubert Disanayake, raphael Tennekoon and
In 1952 a great blow was dealt on Sinhala music with the decision
taken by the then Radio Ceylon to conduct a grading test for its own
artistes with the patronage and supervision of India's famous maestro,
Ratna Shankar (Sunil's music teacher at Bhathkanda). Sunil and Ananda
Samarakoon strongly protested against the decision.
They straightforwardly said, it was rather ridiculous to get down a
foreigner to assess the talents and competency of our own artistes. They
boycotted the grading test and as a consequence they were expelled from
the Radio Ceylon. This unassumed type of talented singer when walked out
of the Radio Ceylon at the height of glory he decided never to return.
He gave up his music and song and chose to repair radio sets, clocks and
cameras as a livelihood.
When a friend of Sunil met him and questioned him a few days before
his death, his reply was "I have nothing to do with music now. This
country is not for artistes".
Sunil Santha sang for many colourful and classic cinematic creations
such as "Rekhawa" and "Sandesaya" of the master film-maker Lester James
Peries. Sunil's popular hit "Purthugeesi Kaaraya" set to a racy moving
beat became a hit tune in the sixtees. It was so popular that even Radio
Moscow could not resist playing it.
Therefore this gifted and born-artiste's death left a void in the
local music scene which cannot easily be filled. But his golden and
melodious voice will linger in the hearts of music lovers for
generations to come.
Review: Colombo Philharmonic Choir - 'A celebration of sacred music'
20th April 2005 at the Ladies College Chapel
The above programme was presented by the Colombo Philharmonic Choir
as the first of its three programmes celebrating the golden jubilee of
This concert was presented in memory of those who had sung in the
choir during the past 50 years. In the first instance one has to recall
the name of Dr. Gerald Cooray, the choir's founder and first conductor,
and Lylie Godridge who having featured often as a soloist subsequently
became its conductor.
To mention a few of the members who had sung in this choir and who
are no more, are Phyllis Kolberg (singer and accompanist), Gladys de
Soysa, Dorothy de Silva, Sylvia Van Ens, Ranee Chinappah, Glen Perera,
Sirilea Dias, Iranganie Goonesinghe, Douglas de Niese, Valentine Daniel,
Maurice Cobban-Lea, Clarence Pearce, Leonard Bandaranaike and George
Dias. This celebration of sacred music, which was a fitting tribute to
those who have gone before us, was presented in two parts. The first
part included works of Mozart, Bruckner, William Byrd, Brahms and
Excepting the 'Exsultate Jubilate', which was a solo, all other works
included in the first part, were rendered by the choir. The 'piece de
resistance' of the delightful evening was the solo of Minoli
Goonewardene. Her rendering of Mozart's 'Exsultate Jubilate' was
Her high register was very pleasing to one's ear and was rendered
effortlessly. She sang with confidence without the assistance of any
musical score. Although this work of Mozart lasted for almost fifteen
minutes, its duration in no way detracted from the quality of Minoli's
singing, which remained excellent throughout her performance. She richly
deserved the spontaneous ovation she received.
The second half of the performance was Schubert's Mass No. 2 in G.D.
167, which consisted of solos, duets and trios as well as sections for
the whole choir. The Benedictus sung by the trio Ayeshini de Silva
(soprano), Renuk de Silva (tenor) and Yke Berkouwer (Bass) showed a
perfect blending of voices, where each singer complemented the other
with very fine balance. The total effect was indeed of a very high
In passing it may be mentioned that Renuk de Silva (tenor) is the son
of one of the founder choristers, Mrs. Kamala de Silva.To begin the
second half of the programme, Anjalika Attiken played an organ interlude
'Air in G from the Suite in D' by J.S. Bach.
Unfortunately, the audience not realising that this was a part of the
performance did not remain silent and thereby distracted the listeners
to some extent. Anjalika who competently accompanied the choir
throughout this performance, is a very talented young musician, as she
proved in her performance both on the piano and on the organ.
Commenting on the performance of the choir as a whole during this
celebration of music, there is very little doubt that the Colombo
Philharmonic Choir would not have attained the high standard that it
did, if not for its dedicated conductor, Manilal Weerakoon whose
sensitivity in interpretation could be seen in the performance of the
The varying treatment of composers ranging from Bruckner to
Mendelssohn; from delicate to powerful harmony; and the response given
to him by the choir displayed Manilal's skill as in conducting. The
small number of singers in the choir in no way took away from the
quality singing they presented.
The Colombo Philharmonic Choir will present its main concert on 8th
October 2005 at the Lionel Wendt Theatre and judging from its
performance at the Ladies College Chapel one could look forward to this
Nina Annanshivilla as Raymonda
Mounted first on 19 January 1898 at the Maryinsky Theatre,
Petersburg, Raymonda was choreographed by Pashkova and Marius Petipa to
the scoring of Glazunov. This production was a great success and was
followed by different versions by companies who were keen on having a
romantic ballet that could end up in their repertoires. The first
production had Legnani, Legat and Gerdt.
In the ballet Raymonda is set to wed Jean de Brienne but is prevented
for the moment by Abderakhaman who is a Saracen knight. He forces
himself upon Raymonda while de Brienne is away on a mission. When
Raymonda's lover returns at the crucial moment, he fights his rival who
De Brienne prepares for his wedding celebrations that climax with a
spectacular and lavish Hungarian divertisement.
The USSR had constantly revived the ballet which is still held in
repertoires of all leading ballet companies around the world. West first
saw it in Zverev's version for the National Ballet of Lithuansia. This
was mounted in London in 1935.
The abbreviated version of Danilova and Balanchine was the first that
America saw and produced for ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1946.
A complete magnificent production was staged by Rudolf Nureyev for
the touring Royal Ballet in 1964 just two years after his defection from
Russia. This was limited for a festival. Nureyev mounted a further
complete version for the Australian Ballet in 1965; for Zurich Opera
Ballet in 1972 and for the American Ballet Theatre in 1975.
Every production of Nureyev had different scores but mainly it was
Glazunov. Raymonda was staged for the first time in Russia by Alexander
Gorsky in 1900.
The White Lady and the King of Hungary were ommited in this version.
In 1945 Lenoid Lavrosky made his version for the Bolshoi Theatre and in
1984 Yury Grigorovich recreated. Among the great ballerinas to dance
this role in Russia lately were Nataliya Bessmertova, Ludumilla
Senenyaka, Nina Annanashvilla among the new crop of dancers.
In the Three-Act Ballet which is set in the Chateau De Doris in
Provence, Raymonda is the neice of the Countess, Sybil De Doris and
engaged to be married to knight, Jean De Brienne. Jean has to bid
farewell to Raymonda before he goes out on a crusade which is to be led
by the Hungarian King, Andrew II.
Sad by his departure, Raymonda remains in a terrace with her friends
when she is apprehended by the vision of the White Lady. As she falls
asleep she is led by this apparition to an enchanted garden where a
vision of Jean de Brienne appear who dances passionately with her.
Suddnely Jean disappears and instead she is faced with a Saracen
warrior whom she does not know. He passionately begs for her love and is
horrified at the suggestion. Raymonda falls unconscious and when she
wakes up later, the vision disappears but not before Raymonda realises
that the dream is an indication to what is in store for her.
A few days after this incident, festivities are under way in the
ballroom of the castle. With a magnificent retinue, a Saracen warrior
enters the ballroom. She recognises him as the Saracen, Abderakham of
her dream. He strides up to her and offers her a treasury laded with
gold and jewels, asking her hand in marriage. The young Raymonda is
horrified as she rejects him.
Abderakham attempts to abduct her when the King of Hungary appears
from the crusade along with Jean and the rest of his Court. After
comprehending the situation, King Andrew II orders a single combat
between Jean and Abderakham and Jean swiftly defeats his foe. Raymonda
and Jean are reunited.
In the last scene, King Andrew II bless the marriage of Jean and
Raymonda. To honour the king, the wedding festivities conclude with a
Hungarian divertisment which the King enjoys very much.
Raymonda is not much of a story nor has it any story value other than
a royal mix-up of incidents, unrelating to each other. But the dancers
have made it a spectacular ballet to be retained in the repertories of
all leading ballet companies.