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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 time.

Dr. Ajantha Ranasinghe

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).

Plagiarism

“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.

Youth

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.

Career

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.

Awards

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.

School life

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 village.

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.

Criticism

“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.

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