Dr. Ajantha Ranasinghe’s festival of songs

artiest1.jpg (15800 bytes)by Kalinga Weerakkody
Renowned lyric writer, Dr. Ajantha Ranasinghe’s festival of songs "Ajantha Geethavalokana" was be held at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute at Independent Square, on May 9 (Thursday).

It was a triple festival as a new compact disc of his latest compositions, a new compendium of his old and latest songs and a new book of interesting anecdotes about popular figures he encountered in the entertainment world, written by Dr. Ranasinghe himself were launched on the occasion.

Dr. Ranasinghe who notches thirty years in Sinhala song writing and won several coveted awards for his contributions to Sinhala lyric writing, had put out his latest creations in a new cassette and CD called ‘Kalpana Vijithaya’ which were be released on May 9.

Pioneer lyric writer Ratna Sri Wijesinghe gave a short talk on the content of songs in the new CD.

artiest2.jpg (13312 bytes)A collection of 250 of his famous songs called "Ajantha Geethavalee" published by Sirisumana Godage which also includes reviews of some of his popular songs edited by a senior lecturer of the Colombo University, Santha Herath and a lyric writer of the new generation Samudra Wettasinghe, were also be released.

Material for the new book written by Dr. Ranasinghe called "Janakanthayinge manakantha katha" (Lesser known facts about better known people), had been taken from a series of articles Dr. Ranasinghe written to the ‘Silumina’ while he was working as a journalist at Lake House. Cinematologists A. D. Ranjith Kumara spoke on the publication.

Samantha Herath, a senior don of the Colombo University, delivered a lecture on ‘ Contemporary Sinhala lyrics and the compositions of Dr. Ajantha Ranasinghe’ on the occasion, which was be chaired by Sangeeth Nipun Sanath Nandasiri.

Popular singers Victor Ratnayake, Sanath Nandasiri, Sisira Senaratne, Gunadasa Kapuge, Edward Jayakody, Rookanthe Goonethilake, Priya Suriyasena, Athula Adhikari, Samantha Perera, Amarasiri Peiris, Chandrika Siriwardena, Malkanthi Nandasiri, Niranjala, and Charitha had contributed to this CD and cassette.

Recent entrants to the world of song like Ravindra Randeniya, Supriya Abeysekara, Nirosha Pathirana and Nilatha Nimalsiri, had also made vocal contributions to it.

Interesting anecdotes about the working lives of renowned artistes like Pandith Amaradeva, Khemadasa, Gamini, Malini, Jothipala, Latha, Ravindra, Pani Bharatha, Anoja, Sanath Gunathilaka, Sanath Nandasiri, Sabitha, Henry Caldera, Sriyani, Buddhi Keerthisena, Dharmadasa Walpola, Geetha, Mohammed Rafi, and Malini Bulathsinghala were included in the new book "Lesser known facts about better known people".

The festival conducted by Dr. Praneeth Abeysundara was organised under the patronage of the Outstanding Song Composers Association (OSCA) and the Sri Lanka Lyric Writers’ Association and will ended with a song recital by popular aritistes with music conducted by Samantha Perera.

Ajantha said lyric writers are bypassed like street vendors. He said that he " attended the recent song recital by the Vienna Boys Choir at the Sugathadasa Stadium, where they sang famous numbers from several countries, with every foreign song’s source being acknowledged.

When it came to a song from Sri Lanka, they sang the popular patriotic song "Indunil gangulal" sung by Rookantha, but the singers name or his name were not acknowledged though it was our labour which enabled everyone to enjoy it that evening. He sat feeling very sad dejected at being so bypassed.

Another issue pointed out by Dr. Ranasinghe was that the media in Sri Lankan society was cruel in its attitude towards song writers and artistes.

They neither mentioned the name of the lyrics writer, the music composer nor that of the singer, whenever they broadcast or telecast a song. Artistes and their contributions to society are only taken for granted especially by the electronic media which today is more powerful than the print media. Their main concern is making more and more money at the expense of the poor artiste.

When asked on his views about the present day cassette producers, he said that among them there are some who amass money by concentrating or recording pop music out of good Sinhala songs.

If modern youth wish to create new Sinhala pop music even with rap interludes, they are welcome to do it, by creating new pop songs, but not defacing existing songs loved by the people.

But aren’t there any remedies to safeguard the lyric writers and composers. Dr. Ranasinghe said there is the Intellectual Property Act in Sri Lanka which today is only a dead letter.

Ranasinghe said that writing a lyric for a film song is very difficult. When you compose lyrics for a film, you have to understand the limits within which you have to work. Your songs must reflect the essence of the story line and must be appropriate to each scene of the film. What is more, the songs must be lyrically beautiful. In a film song the lyricist has to satisfy the director of the film and work within certain parameters. The lyrics must heighten the intensity of the scene and should be in consonance with the general theme of the film. Further the lyricist has to develop a good rapport with the script writer and also the music director to create a memorable song.