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Yamuna Malini

'Gajaman Nona' of our time

MUSIC: There were many male stalwarts who dominated the field of lyrics writing in the local music scene. Today the name Yamuna Malini Perera could easily enter this galaxy of veterans whose compositions brought fame to many a singer.


CHARMING: Yamuna Malini

Yamuna is a well-known female lyricist who made inroads into a strictly male domain. However today she could undoubtedly stand on equal terms with her male counterparts in the onerous art of lyrics writing. Hence it is little wonder that she is hailed as the "Gajaman Nona" of our times, considering her talent and the vast volume of her works.

Yamuna Malini, an epitome of simplicity and charm always sporting an innocent smile to anyone she meets, took a long time to launch her first CD titled "Adaraya Sundara Varadaki" containing many of her popular compositions. Along with the CD, she launched her latest collection of songs titled "Suwanda Mata Dee" as well.

Although unknown to many, there was a significant event behind her releasing of the new CD. The launching ceremony was a tribute to her late husband, popular stage and tele-drama actor Senaka Perera, who had always encouraged her to keep on writing.

Yamuna, who hails from Galle attended Sangamitta Girls' School in Galle where she pursued her higher studies in Advanced Level Science stream.

"Although I did Science for my A/L, my main interest from childhood was writing poems. I wrote my first poem to the "Handa Mama" children's program broadcast over Radio Ceylon at the age of 12. From then, I continued my writing for many radio programmes including "Malaka Mahima", "Kantha Kalamba", "Shanida Sadaya", and "Lalana Rekha".

All those programmes brought me very positive feedback from listeners and this gave me encouragement," Yamuna said in an interview with the Daily News Stage & Screen.

However she did not forget to mention the immense support she received from veteran journalist Dharmasiri Gamage, while she was contributing for the "Yovun Janatha" which was edited by him.

"Pahan Veta Nirmana Kendraya" or the Creative Circle of the "Yovun Janatha" and its founder Editor Dharmasiri Gamage are the two main pillars in my creative life. At that time we - the amateur writers - were given the opportunity to edit the poetry page. It was a big chance for all of us to develop our skills further", she said.

The maiden song composed by Yamuna to popular singer Sunil Edirisinghe - "Ahasa polowa wata pitawa harima his thanak" became an instant hit.

According to Yamuna, although her maiden composition established her as a female lyricist, the song "Rosa thol sibim" she wrote to popular singer Karunarathne Divulgane made a big impact forcing her to continue with her compositions.

"It is no doubt that the fine combination of veteran musician Rohana Weerasinghe and singer Sunil Edirisinghe with my creations, brought me fame as well as assisted me to establish my self as a lyricist.

Meanwhile the songs which I wrote to Divulgane such as Gajaman nona, Sulaga numba vagai, Adaraya sundara varadaki, Sudu adagena sanda, Gahaka mal pipila, etc., became popular among listeners.

The only three songs Suwanda mata dee, Premaya lova sama thanama ethi and Mahada gagana thale composed to singer Chandana Liyanaarachchi also became famous among listeners", Yamuna added.

At present Yamuna who is employed at the DSI as its Publicity Manager, also composed the theme song dedicated to our local entrepreneurs as well.

Yamuna launched her first poetry book titled "Adishtana" in 1979 and then released couple of poetry books, short stories, novels, youth novels, children's books and song books.

Some of her poetry books and song books won for her several State Literary Awards too. Up to date she has composed over 250 songs in her literary career.


A journey back with Mignonne

MUSIC: In 1969 a lovely young girl was voted as the best female vocalist, by a popularity poll conducted by the Ceylon Observer. She was the same girl, who along with the Jetliners had set an unbroken record of 365 consecutive 'House Full' Sundays at the Coconut Grove of the Galle Face Hotel.


Mesmerising: Mignonne with the keyboard artiste Soundari David

That was nearly four decades ago. A lot of water has flown under the bridge since then. Today, she has reached heights which any artiste could ever wish for. Mignonne Fernando today is one of the most renowned and adored singers among her multitude of fans from every age group.

The one and only Mignonne dazzled at a full house at the BMICH auditorium on March 25, with her melodious voice and dynamic spirit, showing to one and all that she was the toast of all Lankan music lovers even though she had been away from our shores for a lengthy period.

The unique feature of the concert was that songs that have been decades old, enchanted the young and the old with the same mesmerising charm. The show was indeed a tribute to the Jetliners and Tony Fernando, Mignonne's late husband, who managed the band. In fact the show brought together several ex-band members which added a touch of nostalgia to the event.

Mignonne came out with a scintillating performance taking her fans back to those evergreen hits like 'Over The Rainbow', 'Dancing On The Street', 'My Boy Lollipop', 'Mocking Bird', and 'The Girl From Epanema'.

It was a musical journey going 40 years back when Mignonne and the Jetliners were the rage in the local western pop scene. The band ideally catered to that era described as the swinging sixties where the British pop band Beatles held sway.

It is a little known fact among her music fans that Mignonne also made an appearance on the silver screen in song a sequence. Her rendition "Samanaliyeka gen Illenne" in the film Senakeliya became an instant hit which expanded her popularity with Sinhala fans.

Her song to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Independence on 1998 February 4 was sung with Sohan, Soul Sounds, Mariazelle and Yasmin. Songs that had been embraced by fans from here and abroad like 'Mangala Mohotha', 'Jeewithe Wasanthaye', 'Vivaha Yoge' and 'Ada Api Inne Vinotheyen' were welcomed by the audience with loud applause and cheers.

The concert was presented by DK Promotions with the media sponsorship of 'The Sunday Observer' and the 'Daily News'.

The guest vocal artistes were Sunil Perera, Sohan Weerasinghe, Rukshan Perera, Ishan Bahar, Ronnie Leitch, Mariazelle, Yasmin, Shehara, Andrea and Soul Sounds.

Beautifully choreographed the Channa Wijeyewardhana and his dance ensemble with music by Soundari David and backed by the talented artistes it was truly a night to remember.


House gifted to music maestro Shelton Premaratne

MUSIC: Another objective of the chairperson of The Mother organisation, illustrious Visharada Neela Wickramasinghe, renowned, accomplished singer, teacher, music Director and the popular playback singer was fulfilled when the house built at "Kalapura", Templers Road, Mt. Lavinia was gifted to Shelton Premaratne Master at a ceremony on March 26.


DREAM COME TRUE: The newly built house for musician Shelton Premaratne

The main objective of The Mother organisation established four years ago on March 30, 2002, the day of Neela's birthday, is to help elderly parents, award scholarships to needy intelligent students, help and felicitate artistes and musicians.

She, herself a victim of polio, helped the UNICEF project commenced in 1989 in eradicating polio from our country. She appeared in advertising hoardings and a poster.

She visited the shanty dwellers to convince them of the importance of taking precautionary measures. A song she sang for the campaign was frequently heard over our airways and television channels. Her efforts helped eradicate Polio from our country and by the year 2000 not a single case of Polio was reported.

Music Maestro Shelton Premaratne who will be 75 shortly has been devoid of his own house after his marriage, and had been living in rented out houses for decades paying exorbitant house rents.

This gifted musician hailing from a musical family is an "A" grade instrumentalist who has mastered Eastern and Western instruments and directed music in many films, dramas and groomed and nurtured a number of pupils and composed music for many popular everlasting songs.

Visharada Neela Wickramasinghe came to know that music Maestro Shelton Premaratne had a plot of land donated to him by late President Ranasinghe Premadasa at "Kalapura".

Due to lack of funds he could only lay the foundation and constructions were neglected for a number of years.

He was even issued a warning from the Tower Hall Foundation under who's purview the "Kalapura" is monitored, that the land would be acquired if the proposed construction was not completed.

When Visharada Neela came to know about his plight she had asked music "maestro" Shelton Premaratne and wanted to know whether he wanted a house to be constructed for him on his plot of land.

He grabbed the offer with enormous pleasure.

A new plan was drawn by a reputed architect and the foundation stone was laid on 10th August 2005 at an auspicious time amidst chanting Pirith in the presence of a few distinguished guests, members of The Mother organisation, artistes and close friends.


Home brewed Rock 'n' Roll at Rock Saturday!

MUSIC: It seems every time I sit down to write a review, I either become too much of a softy or the show ACTUALLY was great. I'm talking about Rock Saturday (25th March 2006.) As usual, all girl scouts were dismissed from the Women's International Hall (though the whole 'ladies free' thing brought in a number of pretty girls).

Rock Company's monthly event now has a steady following that's steadily rising. The crowds are more pleasant than you average clubbing Joe, the atmosphere just right and most importantly, the quality of the show has improved tremendously. It's almost like a pintsized Woodstock minus the mud and nudity!

Starting off on his acoustic guitar was Rock Saturday stalwart and former TNL Onstage winner, Dilan Jayakody. We're all used to this man's acoustic folk-style crooning, but this time originals like 'Shine' came out in 3D, thanks to the presence of a very competent backup band, finally!

Next up were the 'young uns' known as Fallen Grace. They've got the power, the attitude, and the skill, but they need to find their own sound. At least they're making an effort to get there but for now it's just a good excuse to take a long swig and bang your head, even if the songs were standard metal fare. And the vocalist needs a haircut.

Ditto for Nemesis, another set of 'young uns'. However, their rendition of Metallica's 'Fade to Black' was stunning! Time and experience will eventually catch up with Fallen Grace and Nemesis, and things will be great for them, only as long as they keep experimenting and exploring new ground.

Speaking of exploring new ground, Stigmata came, they saw and they conquered... with a cast iron fist! I believe Stigs is the most imitated rock band in the country and anyone who's seen them live knows why. Kudos to Javeen of Tantrum for filling in for bassist Vije.

And this night was special. It was Suresh's birthday and he got a rocky Happy Birthday initiated by bandmate Andrew (Guitar Maestros should not be allowed to sing!) The set consisted of tracks off their meticulously crafted second album Silent Chaos Serpentine.

Last but in no way least, were hard rock darlings from Kandy, Paranoid Earthling. Another band that can never be imitated because it's made up of four very unique characters. Catchy riffs, groovy rhythms and rebellious lyrics like 'Rock n Roll is My Anarchy' make you want to drive by your headmaster's house late in the night with a carton of rotten eggs! Good stuff guys... now hurry up with that album!

Though it did finish off earlier than expected, at 12.30 am, I was still leaning on my mate's shoulders chanting, singing, playing air guitar, and chatting to a few foreigners who were equally ecstatic.

That night, while others were busy attending beauty pageants and American Idol spin offs, real original Sri Lankan talent was being home brewed to perfection at Rock Saturday. Cheers to that!

- A.R.


House gifted to music maestro Shelton Premaratne

MUSIC: Another objective of the chairperson of The Mother organisation, illustrious Visharada Neela Wickramasinghe, renowned, accomplished singer, teacher, music Director and the popular playback singer was fulfilled when the house built at "Kalapura", Templers Road, Mt. Lavinia was gifted to Shelton Premaratne Master at a ceremony on March 26.

The main objective of The Mother organisation established four years ago on March 30, 2002, the day of Neela's birthday, is to help elderly parents, award scholarships to needy intelligent students, help and felicitate artistes and musicians.

She, herself a victim of polio, helped the UNICEF project commenced in 1989 in eradicating polio from our country. She appeared in advertising hoardings and a poster.

She visited the shanty dwellers to convince them of the importance of taking precautionary measures. A song she sang for the campaign was frequently heard over our airways and television channels.

Her efforts helped eradicate Polio from our country and by the year 2000 not a single case of Polio was reported.

Music Maestro Shelton Premaratne who will be 75 shortly has been devoid of his own house after his marriage, and had been living in rented out houses for decades paying exorbitant house rents.

This gifted musician hailing from a musical family is an "A" grade instrumentalist who has mastered Eastern and Western instruments and directed music in many films, dramas and groomed and nurtured a number of pupils and composed music for many popular everlasting songs.

Visharada Neela Wickramasinghe came to know that music Maestro Shelton Premaratne had a plot of land donated to him by late President Ranasinghe Premadasa at "Kalapura".

Due to lack of funds he could only lay the foundation and constructions were neglected for a number of years.

He was even issued a warning from the Tower Hall Foundation under who's purview the "Kalapura" is monitored, that the land would be acquired if the proposed construction was not completed. When Visharada Neela came to know about his plight she had asked music "maestro" Shelton Premaratne and wanted to know whether he wanted a house to be constructed for him on his plot of land.

He grabbed the offer with enormous pleasure.

A new plan was drawn by a reputed architect and the foundation stone was laid on 10th August 2005 at an auspicious time amidst chanting Pirith in the presence of a few distinguished guests, members of The Mother organisation, artistes and close friends.


Hong Kong actress Maggie Q learns Mission Impossible

CINEMA: Hong Kong actress Maggie Q says working on Tom Cruise's upcoming movie "Mission Impossible III" has taught her combat skills - including how to rescue a hostage.

"This is not a kung fu movie where I have to spend a lot of time kicking and punching. This is Mission Impossible so I was trained by hostage negotiators and military experts - people who actually did this for a living," the 26-year-old model-turned-actress told Malaysia's Star daily.

"It was no joke. What I did in the film is real. I actually know how to rescue a hostage now. It was unbelievable and pretty surreal. That was the part that made me nervous," she added.

The Honolulu-born actress, whose full name is Maggie Quigley, said working with Hollywood heavyweight Cruise was a doddle in comparison.

"Tom was a sweetheart compared to these military guys who killed people for a living," she said, adding that she has now developed a taste for action.

"I like being a tough girl. I like whacking people," she told the paper. In the movie directed by J.J. Abrams, Quigley is part of the crack Mission Impossible team alongside Cruise, Ving Rhames and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Recent Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the villain.

Born to an American father and a Vietnamese mother, Quigley has previously had brief roles in "Rush Hour 2" and "Around the World in 80 Days" with Hong Kong action hero Jackie Chan.


Russian Centre plays positive role to promote arts

ARTS: The Russian Cultural Centre plays a pivotal role in promoting cultural and educational activities in Sri Lanka. They being custodians of a great literary tradition in which world renowned Russian writers such as Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Chekhow etc., opened up new vistas, thus expanding the parameters of their perception, it is natural they are committed in propagation these immortal writers literary masterpieces by way of translations etc.

which are very relevant even today due to their universality spreading the heart-rending message of humanism throughout the world.

It has a well equipped library which is well-patronized by Russian and local scholars and students, who find it a virtual treasure-trove in which they not only find Russian books but also English, Sinhala and Tamil translations of Russian books written on varied subjects. In addition it also has a children's section and a video section.

The monthly film shows which are shown at their auditorium are very popular among discerning filmgoers who turn up in large numbers regularly to watch these Russian and International classics at the Russian Centre.

A large number of classes are conducted at the Russian Centre such as Drama and Theatre (for children) Music, Ballet, Art, Chess etc. which are immensely popular among youth who find the conducive atmosphere prevailing at the Russian Centre for their liking and also the nominal charges levied for these courses which they find quite reasonable.

The scholarship scheme at the Russian Centre allows deserving students a rare opportunity to study subjects such as General Medicine, Engineering, Agriculture, Economics, Aviation, Computer engineering etc. in Russia.

The Russian Centre has gained a prominent and envious position in Sri Lanka very specially due to its active participation in a gamut of cultural and educational activities.

Therefore, it is natural that the Russian Centre is looked upon with much reverence as a trail blazer in promoting the rarefied fields of arts and culture in a broader perspective, in which artistes of global repute, find a venue to perform and propagate their message of peace and goodwill effectively to Sri Lankan audience.

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