Dr. Ajantha Ranasinghe:
Iconic lyricist of our time
For more than forty years Dr. Ajantha Ranasinghe’s lyrics had
remained synonymous with the country’s music scene so much so that he is
considered as one of the foremost and sought after lyricists of our
The renowned journalist cum lyricist who is also the Consultant to
all the programs broadcast in Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation
launched five CDs compromising lyrics written by him: Vikasitha Pem
(composing tracks sung by Pandith W.D. Amaradeva), Manamalai Manaharai
and Doo Indivi Poruwe (both composing tracks sung by H.R. Jothipala),
Punchi Dawaswala (composing tracks by Sujatha Attanayake) and Pemathura
Hangum (composing tracks sung by Sangeeth Nipun Prof. Sanath Nandasiri).
“These CDs are launched mostly to let the public know which lyrics
are penned by me. Recently another person laid claim to the song
Hanthane Kandu Muduna Sisara which was actually penned by me. Such
plagiarizing acts are taking place in the society today and it had
become a dire need to brand your work,” he expressed on his aim in
launching the evergreen tunes in a collections of CDs.
This is the third time that he had produced his own collection of
lyrics in a CD as he had released three CDs, Ninda Nena Rathriyae and
Iddamal Kathawe, comprising Jothipala’s songs a couple of years ago.
Dr. Ranasinghe had started his stint as a lyricist during his youth
when he began penning children’s songs for programs like Saraswathi
Mandapaya where he had to compose lyrics according to the melody given
by Radio Ceylon.
“The situation had changed today but it is your responsibility to
bring forth lyrics which contain literary value. Lyricists of my
generation like Prof. Sunil Ariyaratne, Sunil Sarath Perera, Premakeethi
de Alwis, K.D.K Dharmawardena and some of the others still stick to this
policy. We try not to write mere set of words but our aim is to create
lyrics with a rhythmic patterns.
Though a lot of people began writing lyrics after us only a few
survive today and it is the listeners who preserve our work in their
hearts and mind. You cannot fool them because they have the ear to
recognize quality creations,” he stressed.
After leaving the program he joined Lake House as a journalist for a
period of 34 years when he worked for Dinamina, Silumina and
Sarasaviya.He was also the chief editor of Nava Yugaya and the deputy
editor of Dinamina.
Dr. Ranasinghe began writing lyrics on a wider scale in 1970 and from
there on he began gaining recognition in what he excels - lyric writing.
“I started dabbling with my skills of writing verses as a hobby but
soon found that I had real talent in the sector. I had no intention of
making money out of my capacity but things came to a circumstance that
we had to label a price for our hard work. This was however done as a
mark of respect to the creation,” he noted adding that it was Maestro
Permasiri Khemadasa who introduced Prof. Ariyaratne, de Alwis and Dr.
Ranasinghe’s work to the movie scene.
Dr. Ranasinghe had written lyrics for four generations from the
seasoned and professional singers like maestro Amaradeva and Kokiladevi
(his mother-in-law) to amateur and up coming young vocalists like
Surendra Perera.. He had also composed the lyrics for the youngest
vocalist of the period, Uresha Ravihari, when she launched her debut
number Unna Eka Gangavaka.
“It was not an easy journey as I too had to face spite and jealousy
on the way. However one of the moral lessons I learnt is that if you are
honest to your creation, you will emerge as a winner. I have written the
most number of lyrics for films asI started off with Latha Walpola’s
Pokuru Pokuru Mal Sanakeli for K.A.W. Perera’s movie Wasana.
He had won many accolades for his exceptional work. Three
Presidential awards, a State Literary award and four Sarasavi awards are
included in the list. Interestingly he had bagged an OCIC Honourary
award for his service in the field, an award that had not been presented
to a lyric writer before.
In 2007 he clinched both the Raigam as well as Sumathi awards as the
best teledrama lyric writer for composing the theme song of Doowili
Suwanda. It was the first time in history that a lyric writer won both
these prestigious awards in the same year.
The gifted lyricist who hails from Thalammahara, Panalla, said that
the rural backdrop of his childhood inspired his work.
“Though I schooled at Panalla Government school and later at St.
John’s College, Colombo, we spent our three-month holidays at our
The unblemished beauty of the village had a relaxing atmosphere on
us. These experiences are still fresh in my mind and helped me to
compose my lyrics,” he mused.
“Anyone cannot become a successful lyric writer. You need to possess
the flair for the subject and have a wide vocabulary along with vast
knowledge of the surrounds and situations. We were trained to read books
from a young age and this soon became a habit.
This feature contributed and helped us brush up our skills in writing
in different styles. I have written mind soothing lyrics for vocalists
like Nanda Malini and Latha Walpola as well as some foot-tapping numbers
for Mariazelle Gunatileke,” he said.
“If you are born as a human being it is your duty to do a certain
amount of service to your nation. I believe I have accomplished that.
There was a time when we criticized those who were new to the field
with good intentions but now I have passed that stage . There are a few
good lyric writers but most of the lyrics going around today are of an
unsatisfactory quality,” he lamented adding that he does not like to
elaborate on the subject further.
Apart from writing lyrics he had written three novels Winkle Bass,
Kristhuni Karunakarala Menawa and Mata Landuni Varam Netha.
More CDs comprising his lyrics can be expected in the future.