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Dancing Duo

Someone once stated that to dance is to be out of yourself: larger, more beautiful and more powerful. Celebrated young artistes Dushyanth Weeraman and Nilanthi Dias Karunaratne discovered this aspect in life when they took part Sirasa TV's popular reality television show 'Sirasa Dancing Stars' (SDS), which concluded its first season recently with Weeraman being crowned winner. Sri Lanka's most famous celebrity couple cum dancers reflected on their experiences and future plans to Daily News Art & Soul.

Dushyanth Versatility the key to his conquest

Dushyanth Weeraman

He is not an outsider to the music world. Having lived under the shadows of an older and successful sibling, he was looking for a break to display his versatile talents. One fine day fortune came knocking at his door and it was in the shape of something he never quite imagined before.

Looking back now how would you describe your experience on SDS?

It was a simply wonderful experience. (Smiles) It was an experience which brought out that was so much within me. In the beginning I worried over how I was going to be able to cope work with the dance routines.

I allocated time for both in the first three months but as the competition approached a climax I dedicated myself to dancing towards the latter period.

Do you feel that you have gained much out of taking part in the competition?

Definitely. My popularity had ascended and it provided a boost to my belief that I can entertain masses. People have recognised my skills as a dancer.

Did your brother Santhush help out and advice you on how to overcome each hurdle?

He just told me to go ahead with what I had in mind. At one stage he was a member of the jury so I was not allowed to confide in him. He was out of the country touring for most of the time during the competition.

Tell us a bit about your dance partner, Hashini.

She is Hashini Gonagala. I got to know her through my cousin as Hashini was one of her classmates. I have seen her dancing skills and she was my first choice when we were informed that we had to find a dance partner for the contest. However I hesitated to ask her because she was just out of school.

I started off at the beginning with Gayani during my first round but she had to leave the country as she got a job opportunity.

What was the most challenging round for you?

Each and every round was a challenge since something new was expected from us. We each tried to do better than the other without knowing what to expect from the other. The most difficult round for me was the ballroom dance number. I have never done that type of dance in my life and that was the only moment that

I used to leave the dance floor at other events. (Laughs) We choreographed all the dances in our own particular style but we had to get some help from Kevin Nugar for the ballroom dance item.

In the end all the hard work paid off as the jury gave me marks beyond the limit that they were required to give. It was an exalting moment.

The judges were required to choose a theme for us when we came to the round that included the three semi-finalists. Since I performed the ballroom dance well I was asked to present a Latin American dance. We worked painstakingly hard to do justice to that particular dance number.

Which round was your personal favourite?

(Pause)....Oh boy that's a tough one... (Laughing). There are so many wonderful moments but I'll have to say it is the finals since I was asked to present two dance acts according to my choice of music and style.

Some of my fans like to see me do the Michael Jackson kind of dance while others have informed me that they wish to see me doing different styles of dance.

So I though I'll oblige both group's requests in the finals. I presented a dance with a mixture of a variety of dance styles from Hindi, Latino, Sihnala to an easy going free style.

That was a very colourful number. The other was a bit close to the MJ style.

Let's imagine that you are one of the members of the audience. Whom would you have voted for the title of SDS?

(Thinking) Mmmm.... Honestly I think I would have voted for Dushyanth Weeraman because he performed a variety of dance styles as well as kept the audience entertained. His every dance had a little story to relate.

You have journey from the role of a singer to one of a dancer and now we expect to see you take on the role of an actor.

I have always wanted to act in a movie but I did not think the opportunity would come my way so soon.

I have been offered the lead role in Sirasa's upcoming movie and hope to work on that. So let's say my transcend to the wide screen is happening much more quickly than I imagined.

Is anything new coming up in your musical career?

I am working on an album which I hope to release at the end of the year. We are all unique in our own way so I do not aim at making a difference but doing the best for the particular song that I am working on.

I am also hoping to create my own dance troupe and tour with them in my future live performances.

Nilanthi Dancing is in her blood

What do you have to say to your fans?

Nilanthi Dias

My motto is before judging anybody, try to love the person. I hope my fans will follow this lead.

Dancing has been one of the passions of her life. It is the driving force which set her in the limelight when she broke into the world of showbiz as a member of the troupe to rock the stage with the Gypsies' popular track Pitikotapan Nonay.

Since then there had been no stopping her for she ventured from dancing into acting. For Nilanthi Dias SDS provided a stage to bring out what she was best at.

How is the response after SDS?

It's amazing. People stop me wherever I go and congratulate me. Their response is very touching and I feel lucky to be in the centre of so much love and affection.

You have commented that you were unable to perform at your best during the finals. What happened?

The floor was much more slippery than we anticipated since it was a different stage than the normal one we performed on in our previous rounds. I was wearing high heels on one of my dance items so I had to watch my steps.

What is your most unforgettable moment during SDS?

It was my comeback into the competition. When I was eliminated a lot of people shared my distress. I did not imagine that I had such a large fan base.

I was informed that I had a chance of a comeback on Thursday at around 7 p.m. Shooting was scheduled on Friday morning.

I called Nalin and we practiced all night. It was a race against time for we had only a few hours to get the two dance acts together.

How did you come across your dancing partner, Nalin?

I have known him for around five years. He had taken part in some outdoor performances with me. He is a friend and he supported me well in the dance items.

Unlike most of the others who took part in the competition, you were not new to dancing.

Every chapter in life provides a new experience. People got a glimpse of what kind of person I am.

I was given a chance to showcase my dancing skills like never before.

Only those who were closely linked with the field knew my talent but through SDS we were able to showcase out talent to millions of people.

What can we expect from you after SDS?

I did not sign for any new productions during the past few months because I was very busy with the competition.

I have been invited to take part in the new film that will be produced by Sirasa so that will be coming up in the future. I will also continue to take part in outdoor performances as a dancer.

What is your message to the fans? I wish to express my gratitude to all those who helped me and wished me success.

Many members representing the three forces helped me along with those in the Sahane Doratuwa Church in Mattakuliya.

Moves to capture the heart

Dancers of Pathavi during rehearsals

The newly wedded couple's paradise becomes short-lived as Pathavi's husband Kethu is royally summoned to be one among many to mend the Great Wall. Pretty Pathavi spends the fresh days of marriage alone, and one day she gets wind of disturbing news: Kethu is nowhere to be found.

When Chinese Emperors of yore were involved in the Great Wall project, human labour is reported to have been regarded as least important.

Men had to work beyond their capacity. Some died on the spot and the Wall was being erected upon them. Thousands and thousands sacrificed their life to build the creation which is now considered as one of the seven wonders of the world.

Pathavi comes to the workplace looking for her husband. She is in hysterics since not even a single trace of her husband is left, save a sweated garment.

Pathavi has to face not only sorrow, but the anger of the brutal Emperor who is sans humanity.

In the mean time, the Emperor gets to know of Pathavi's stunning beauty, and desires to take her into his charge. Pathavi is too tactical to handle the emperor.

She lays down her conditions: to have a golden coffin for her husband and a royal funeral with the coffin escorted only by the royal members as if they are attending a relative's funeral.

What would Pathavi do thereafter you will see at BMICH on August 15 at 6.30. Ranara Academy rejuvenates this legend in their Ballet Opera 'Pathavi'.

Thanuja Priyanthi Bandua, the adviser of the Ranara Academy, says this will be a fresh experience for the local audience.

"This is a Chinese legend. Ballet, more or less, belongs to the West. So we have made a mixed ballet opera employing Chinese, Western and local dancing and music modes."

Ranara Academy is not a traditional dance school. Thanuja says they have no firm financial hopes. However they want to invent; Pathavi and it is their maiden effort. "The local audience is not familiar with ballets and operas, unless you have a serious academic taste. We have tried to make this as simple as possible."

The character is a challenge for Lasni Subasinghe, who stars as Pathavi. "Pathavi is not just a pretty face. She has distinctive qualities like chastity. She is a complicated character," Subasinghe said.

The cast includes 25 performers along with Gaya Ramya Alwis' scripting debut. Alwis, well known for his directorial attempts, will test his lyrical capacity with Pathavi.

Project coordinator Niranga Wijesuriya said that the academy does not need a revolution. "We always think of an enlightened society rather than a revolution. Our audience contains both intellectuals and non-intellectuals. If you do a creative work, it should deliver the message to both these groups.

If it reaches only one group, it's nothing but a flop. We think our efforts will be fruitful on August 15."

Whether Pathavi will be an enlightening experience or not is best left for the audience to judge.

Maiden teleplay production for Dhammika

Dammika with Sriyani and Jeevan

Producer-actor Dhammika
Picture by Palitha Gunasena

A distressed minister makes up his mind to leave for Japan and he does not regret his decision, as he meets and gets involved in a relationship with a girl settled in the country.

Things do not run smoothly however, when he becomes a victim of an organised attack.

Completed with a record budget of Rs. 1,10,000, the teleplay is still awaiting a title. Jeevan Kumaratunga and Oshadi Hewamadduma are all set to star major roles in Dhammika Aluthgedara's latest tele creation.

The producer-actor, said his maiden work will be a fresh experience for the local audience.

"I take on the role of a youth in Japan. Unfortunately the girl he is interested in has fallen in love with the minister. He discovers it later but due to his good nature he decides to help in her troubled times.

The play is shot in many beautiful locations in Japan and Sri Lanka." Dhammika is employed at a job agency in Japan while his landscape and spare parts businesses are handled in Sri Lanka.

"I met Sriyani Amarasena on one of her visits to Japan. We became friends, and she invited me to produce her upcoming teleplay.

It was easy to work with her," he explained adding that he is still a novice to art. He wishes to remain in the field for many years because for his love for the subject.

"I wish to engage in at least producing one creation in the future but there is much that I need to learn about the field.

I hope to return to my motherland and engage in this process," he said with determination.

Ithin Eeta Passey begins work

Sampath and Umayangana as Kalum and Dedunu

Artist Sarathmadu

Sarathmadu’s popular picture story Ithin Eeta Passe which was loved by many in the 1970s now takes form in the small screen as a tele drama directed by Chandika Vijasena.

The story focuses on the romance between Kalum and Dedunu and the obstacles they have to face in bringing their lives together. The production stars Umayangana Wickramasinghe, Sampath Kumaratunge, Cletus Mendis, Sanath Wimalasiri, Gihan Fernando, Sarath Kothalawala, Avanthi Aponsu, Anula Bulathsinhala, Janith Wickramage, Susila Kottage, Alfred Perera, Chandika Nanayakkara, Richard Manamudali, Sarath Dikkumbura, Renuka Mapalagama, Jeewani Nirupa, Pumi Purasinghe, Shan Bandu Weerasinghe, Udayangani Saman Kumari, Rehana Kaushali and Bianca Fonseka.

The production executives are Lalith Wasantha, Channa Jayanath and Neel Rukman. The production coordination is by Sandun Rajakaruna while the cameraman is Chandana Dharmapriya. The musical scores are by Rohana Weerasinghe, background music by Shantha Jayalath Tisera and the lyrics are by Channa Jayanath. Uresha Ravihari and Chamika Sirimanna will contribute in vocals. Chamikara Bokaragoda is the art director while Nishantha Priyadarshana is the editor.

Make up is by Narada Dhananji Thotagamuwa. Manjula Karunaratne is the assistant director while the management factor is handled by Priyan Pathirana and Maduranga Jagoda. Ithin Eeta Passe is produced by Upul Jayasinghe on behalf of Nilwala Video Team and ITN.

The Ithin Eeta Passe team. Pictures by Palitha Gunasena

Two books to be launched

S. Chandrasiri Dassanayake’s Surya Kanyava will be launched at Dayawansa Jayakody Book Exhibition Hall, Colombo 10 on August 12 at 10 a.m. Surya Kanyava is the authentic Sinhala translation of H. Rider Haggard’s historical novel “The Virgin of the Sun”. The other literary works of the author include Zendave Siakaruva, Jamaika Thanayama, Scarlet Pimpernell, Pragnave Diyaniya Ayesha, Amen Deviyage Diyaniya, Sheeba Rejinage Muduva, Arunodaye Rejina and Cleopatra. Surya Kanyava is published by Dayawansa Jayakody

Book Publishers.-

Well known lyricist cum novelist Preethi Randeniya will launch her second novel Chittanupassana at the National Library and Documentation Service Center on August 16 at 4 p.m.

The newly edited second publication of her book written for children Punchi Aachchi will also be launched at the event along with Alutha Dathak Diyo, her latest chidren’s book.

Veteran film critic Gamini Weragama and emeritus professor Kusuma Karunaratne will address the gathering. Randeniya’s first novel was Mahagedara. Her second novel deals with a tragic tale.

The story reflects back on the past and is based on a real life incident. She is the author of a number of popular children’s books and had penned lyrics for more than 50 songs. Her aim is to continue her career in writing in both streams.




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