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DateLine Wednesday, 25 March 2009

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‘I aim to help others like I helped Jothi’

Just imagine how dreary life would be if Jothipala didn’t have the courage to live his life and create wonderful songs that are even sung by the ‘Superstars’ of today. Despite an Indian film composer deeming his songs unsuitable for the movie ‘Podi Putha’, a kind-hearted samitarian helped Jothi with financial assistance to cut a record of songs for Jabir A.Cader to use them in ‘Surathalee’. This considerate person was none other than maestro musician Stanley Omar.

“I am opening a school dedicated in honour of H.R. Jothipala because I believe that we should support young and upcoming musicians to learn the basics of music the proper way,”

“I gave H.R.Jothipala the Rs.35 that he needed as he was rather down-trodden just because his first attempt to attain success went awry,” said Omar. A mere Rs.35 which was big money during 1956 made Jothipala big with his memorable and happy-go-lucky number, “Siriyame Sara” under T.R.Papa at Wahini Studio, India.

Stanley Omar also took to his favourite hobby by joining the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation as a composer and musician.

“I was privileged to have a show and I liked performing for different children’s programmes”, he said. Working alongside Jothi, Stanley Omar even worked on ‘Surathalee’ by producing that wonder ‘Mage Ran Raje’. Contributing immensely to the silver screen, he also breathed life into many stage drama musicals encompassing ‘Janaleya’, ‘Semisayasa’ and many Henry Jayasena productions where he has led the orchestra.

Today, he is helping others like he helped the great Jothi by opening a school called the ‘Jothi Kala Kendraya’ at Ethul Kotte on March 28. “I am opening a school dedicated in honour of H.R. Jothipala because I believe that we should support young and upcoming musicians to learn the basics of music the proper way,” he said.

The academy was set up with meeting special dignitaries and veterans in the music field on H.R. Jothipala’s birth anniversary which fell on February 12. It is aimed at teaching the finer points of musical instruments like the tabla, organ, guitar, sitar in addition to Stanley’s musical baby - the violin.

“The instruments will be taught by veteran musicians who used to work at SLBC” he said. The music teaching panel will include Nimalsiri Cooray for sitar, Sunasena Cooray for guitar, Malalasekera Withana on harmonium (serpina), Upatissa Perera and Sandasiri Adikari on flute, Somasiri Baddegama and Bandula de Silva on tabla. In addition to this, Bandara Ekanayake and Upali Karunaratne will help potential Kandyan dancers of which the latter which teach drumming as well.

Thilan Harshana and Seetha Malkanthi will provide the basics in versatile drumming too. Helping OL and AL students pass with flying colours in Music will be Sujeevani Dhammika. Organ classes by renowned musician Stanley Fernando will add class to the music institution which will infuse a sense of music passion in the students.

Stanley Omar

All these maestros will help would-be musicians during weekends to tap their hidden talents and will give them the opportunity to shine. “Special individual attention will be given and group classes will also help students learn the rules of music” he said.

He said that he can play most of all the instruments and is willing to teach it the proper way.

“I have been successful in teaching the former Malaysian High Commissioner which proves that I can mould a star out of anyone who is willing to make the musical commitment” said Stanley.

He also hopes to have a dancing class where Kandyan dancing and other important dance forms will be taught. “I want to give the best for my students with expert professional guidance” he said. Being true to his roots as a Malay, he has composed Malay songs that were performed even recently at the Punchi Theatre where the Kumpulan Melayu Battaramulla held a Malay cultural show called the “Tarian dan Lagu Melayu” .

Doing his bid to preserve the Malay culture, he has been instrumental in reviving the use of Malay language through his songs. “To go the extra mile in helping the younger Malay generation get in touch with their identity, I am also producing a CD with the help of Malay feature artists, “ he said.

Those who will contribute to Stanley Omar’s CD include Bertie Abbas, Tony Jabbar, Winston Rajudeen, Tony Mantara, Nisar Ahmad, Tony Hassan, Razli Sorjah, Panthi Mantara, young singing sensation Shan Hashim and Stanley’s wife - Moon Omar.

Stanley Omar has won several film and music awards like the Sarasavi film music award and the TV Star Choice awards. Stanley Omar provided the smooth melodies for the stage drama ‘Suba Saha Yasa’ by Simon Navagaththegama which was directed by renowned actor Sriyantha Mendis.

“I have to make a special acknowledgement to my wife Mohsina (Moon) Omar for supporting me through thick and thin” said Stanley Omar graciously. He says that he wouldn’t have make it this far and opening the Jothi academy wouldn’t be possible if not for her.

“I’m glad that people still sing Jothi’s songs and remember him and I’m glad I could do whatever way to help the music industry by helping Jothi so this is my tribute to him” concluded Stanley Omar.


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