Sunil Shantha

Sunil Shantha, the son of Baddha Liyanage Don Pemyanu and Kurugamage Engalthina, was born on 14 April, 1915 at the Pamunugama, Ja Ela. When he was born, he was called as Joseph John and he had one elder brother and one elder sister. Unfortunately, both of his parents passed away when he was 02 years old and then he was looked after by his uncle and his grandmother. From Dehiyagatha College, he started his primary studies and then he was able to enter to the Mount Calvary College – Galle, for further studies.

After School Life of Sunil Shantha

When he was 16 years old, he was able to pass the school leaving certificate examination as the first in the island and was awarded the Weerarathne award. In 1933, he had a training at Maggona Catholic Teaching School also. After that, in 1936 Sunil Shantha joined to Mount Calvary College – Galle as a Trainee Teacher for Sinhala, Arts and Music subjects. In 1939, he went to Shanthi Niketan – India for studying Kathakali and Manipuri dancing and Rawindra Music. In addition to that, he studied Sinhala Jana Gee and Wannam also. Then, he enrolled at Bathkanda University – Lucknow for studying “Northern Indian Music” and he was able to get his Visharadha degree as the first in the first division in Sitar and vocals. After his degree, he came back to Sri Lanka and joined for teaching at St. Anthoney’s College – Rakwana as the Grade B teacher. Apart from Indian music, to make our own Sri Lankan music, he worked hard for 09 years since 1945.
In 1949, Sunil Shantha was asked to sing for “Radio Ceylon” as a foremost singer. But due to have the argument with Prof. Rathnajayankar and the government, about categorizing musicians, he was banned from Radio Ceylon. After that, he wed Mudiyanselage Mary Josephine Bernadette Leelawathi and had 04 children. In 1965, again he joined to Radio Ceylon but it was not succeed as before. He was a renowned and influential Sri Lankan composer, singer and lyricist. Some of his popular songs are; Olu Pipila Wila Lela Denawa, Diya Goda Sema Thena Kiri Ithire, Mihikatha Nalawa and Lanka Lanka Pembara Lanka.
Page Title; Sunil Shantha / Sri Lankan Composer-Singer-Lyricist
Description; Sunil Shantha was a great Sri Lankan composer, singer as well as a lyricist and Olu Pipila Wila Lela Denawa is one of his popular songs.sunil shantha

Kumaratunga Munidasa

Kumaratunga Munidasa, a pioneer for Sinhala Literature, was born on 25, July 1887 at Hidagasara, Dickwella. His father was one of popular Ayurvedic Doctor, called Don Abiyes Kumaratunga and his mother was Palavinnage Dona Gimara Muthukumarana. He had 12 brothers and sisters.

School Days of Kumaratunga Munidasa

He started his primary education from Dickwella Buddhist School and when he was in Grade 06, he entered into High school at Balapitiya. After that, he was able to enter to St. Thomas College – Matara when he was in Grade 07, but unfortunately, Kumaratunga Munidasa e had to give up his studies. But he tried to remove all his obstacles and learnt himself. For that, his father’s books were very useful at that time. It was clearly mentioned at his book called “Piyasamara”.

During that time, he improved his language knowledge (Pali and Sanskrit) at Wewurukannala Pirivena. For that, Rev. Ananda monk who was at Wewurukannala Pirivena, helped him. Then in 1904 he entered into the Government Teachers’ College in Colombo and he got his first appointment as a government teacher in Bilingual School of Bomiriya. After showing his colours at that school, he was appointed to Kadugannawa Bilingual School as the Principal in 1909. While he continued his career in teaching and passed several professional exams, he was able to be an inspector of schools in 1917. But he resigned from that position in 1922. After that, he was able to be the head of Teaching School at Nittabuwa and the head of Teaching Training School – Balapitiya. After resigning from these positions, he made a organization call “Sinhala Samajaya” and then Kumaratunga Munidasa changed its name as “Sinhalalaya”. Thereafter, he established “Hela Havula”. Hela Havula was the starting point for many scholars and artists.

Kumaratunga Munidasa is known best for his profound knowledge of the Sinhala language and literary work and he has done a great service to Sinhala Literature. Some of his popular books are; Heenseraya, Hathpana, Kriya Wiwaranaya, Magul Kema, Nelawilla, Prabandha Sangrahaya, Wirith Wakiya and Kiyawana Nuwana.

Kumaratunga Munidasa

Ediriweera Sarachchandra

On 03 June, 1914, Charles Francis Silva and Pinto Moragoda gave birth to their son and his name was Rejinold De Silva who changed his name as “Ediriweera Sarachchandra” later. He started his primary education from Richmond Collage – Galle and thereafter he entered into St. John’s College – Panadura and St.Thomas’ College – Mount Lavinia. He showed his colours especially from science, English Literature, Greek and Latin language.
Since the childhood, Ediriweera Sarachchandra showed his skills on education and he passed the London Matriculation Examination also. In 1933, he entered into Colombo University and studied Pali and Sanskrit. And in 1936, he was offered first class degree for those subjects. Not only that, but Sarachchandra got the first place from Ceylon Civil Service examination also. After that, he worked as a teacher at St. Thomas Collage – Mount Lavinia and St. Peter’s Collage – Bambalapitiya. With improving his writing skills, he joined to the publishing company Lake House in an administrative position and he was sub editor of Sinhala Dictionary. Ediriweera Sarachchandra continued his career as a Lecturer for Pali Language at Colombo University.

More about Ediriweera Sarachchandra

As keeping a new step in the life, Sarachchandra wed Aileen Beleth and then he went to India with his wife, to study Indian Philosophy and Music. Then he completed his post graduate degree in Western Philosophy from the University of London in 1949 and he learnt Japanese language also. In 1965, he wed Lalitha Swarnalatha Perera as second time and he worked as a visiting lecturer at Denison University – America, University of Rochester and Arham University. And he was able to attend for International Conference on Japanese Studies in Japan also. During this time, Ediriweera Sarachchandra didn’t forget to add his knowledge and skills to Sinhala Cinema Industry also. He worked in Director Board of Film Corporation and later he was in Director Board of Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. Not only that, but he served as the Sri Lankan ambassador to France, Vatican and Switzerland also. This great character was be the Sri Lankan UNESCO Consignor and he was hold a Professor position at East – West Center, University of Hawaii.
And also Ediriweera Sarachchandra did magnificent literary works in Sinhala Literature. In 1942, he translated “Ape Withthi” book, written by Martin Wickramasinghe and in 1943, he translated “Mudalalige Peraliya” and produced a drama also. His first novel was “Malagiya Aththo”. He produced many dramas and some of them are; Kapuwa Kapothi (1945), Hangi Hora (1949), Uththara Raama CHarithaya (1951), Bahina Kalawa/ Sanskruthika Komasaris (1951), Pabawathi (1952), Weda Satahana (1955), Raththaran (1954), Wadinna Giya Dewale (1955), Maname, Sinhabahu, Wessanthara, Premathi Jaayathi Soko, Wellawahum, Ekata Mata Hina HIna and Elowa Gihin Melowa.
For his priceless service, he was awarded by many awards and honours. Some of them are;
1956 – Award from Literature Board of Sri Lanka – “Malagiya Aththo” Novel
1979 – Award from Literature Board of Sri Lanka – “With the Begins Bowl” Book
1985 – Global Award of “Kumaran Asan” from Kerala – India
1988 – International Award from Magsaysay – Philippines
1991 – Award of D. Lit. from University of Sri Jayawardanapura
1996 – Awards of Rajatha and Swarnamaya from Japan

This giant character, Ediriweera Sarachchandra was the first Sri Lankan who was appointed to the Nomination Committee of Nobel Price. However, this great master passed away in 1996, but his service is everlasting to us. Ediriweera Sarachchandra was a great Sri Lankan playwright, novelist, poet, literary critic, essayist and social commentator.Ediriweera Sarachchandra

Gamini Fonseka

Gamini Fonseka, the everlasting name in Sri Lankan Cinema Industry was born on 21 March, 1936 at Dehiwala. He started his education from Girl’s Collage in Dehiwala and moved to St. Thomas Collage, Mount Lavinia. After completing the school education, he aspired and focused on art, newspaper and photographic fields. But under the guidance of David Lean, Lester James Peries and W. A. Silva, he entered into the Cinema industry (as an actor) in 1956. Gamini Fonseka married on 21 February, 1963 as one of his main turning point of life.

More about Gamini Fonseka

“Rekhawa” was his first film and it is said that he got injured his leg as it was in his script of character. What an excellent acting skills he had… It was proved by “Misri”, one of popular senior cameramen in India that he had told to Mr.Fonseka “the future of Sinhala Cinema is in your hand”.

Gamini Fonseka had acted in lots of films including Dayiwa Yogaya, Sandeshaya, Ranmudu duwa, Getawarayo, Dhiwarayo, Chandiya, Rena Giraw, Sarungale, Hulawali, Kawuda Raja, Parasathu Mal, Sagarayak Meda, Nomiyen Minisun, Sebaliyo, Koti Waligaya, Adata Wediya Heta Hodayi, Horungeth Horu, Senasuma Kothanada, Gamperaliya, Awa Soya Adare and Yuganthaya. In 1987, he started to work as Film Director in this Cinema industry. However he did a priceless massive work in Sinhala Cinema within 03 decades. Sagarayak Meda, Parasathu Mal, Uthumaneni and Koti Waligaya are some of the films that he directed.

In 1965, Gamini Fonseka received the “Sarasavi Award” and “Rana Mayura Award” from International Film Award Ceremony in New Delhi. And in 1991, he was awarded from “Sumathi Memorial Award” also. He reached the peak in all spheres in Cinema industry due to his commitment, courage, dedication, determination and decorum and he was the one of reasons that our “Sri Lanka” name went to International Cinema. The service he did for this country, especially Cinema Industry is worthy.Gamini Fonseka

Malani Bulathsinhala

Malani Bulathsinhala is one of best known Sri Lankan classical musician and on December 12, 1949, she was born at Boralasgamuwa. Wilson Bulathsinhala was her father and her mother was P. K. Sumanawathi. She had 04 brothers and sisters. She began her early education at Boralasgamuwa Maha Vidyalaya and then she went to Sunethra Dewi Balika Vidyalaya, Papiliyana. She loved music and she had inborn talents for that and she graduated from State Music College, under “Gayana ha Wadana Lalitha Kala Diploma”. After that, Malani Bulathsinhala obtained the Visharada degree from Laknaw – Bhathkhande Academy.

More about Malani Bulathsinhala

As a turning point of life, Malani Bulathsinhala married H. M. Jayawardhana and she had a son and a daughter. H. M. Jayawardhana is a popular start in Sri Lankan music industry and he is a film music director as well as “Grade A” player at Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. She worked as “Deputy Education Director” at Sri Jayawardanapura, Western Province and she launched her last cassette called “Monaliza” at the John De Silva Memorial Hall.
In 1995, Malani Bulathsinhala was awarded as the “best film background vocalist” at the Sarasavi Award Ceremony and in 1991 and 1992, she got the medals for the “best singer” at Swarna Sanka Award Ceremony, repeatedly. In 1995, she was awarded as the “Best Tele Drama vocalist” at the Sumathi Tele Award Ceremony. For her massive efforts for music industry, “Sith Ru Cultural Center” organized a “Sith Ru Upaharaya” at the John De Silve Memorial Hall in 1998. Finally, Malani Bulathsinhala left from us on March 28, 2001.Malani Bulathsinhala

C W W Kannangara

By not allowing “money” to restrict the education of children at every social class, C W W Kannangara who is known as the Father of Free Education in Sri Lanka, was done a priceless service to the country. On October 13, 1884, he was born at Randombe in Ambalangoda and his full name is Christopher William Wijekoon Kannangara. His father was John Daniel Wijekoon Kannangara and Emily Wijesinghe was his mother. He began his early education at Weslyan High School at Ambalangoda and when he turned to 12 years old, his father lost his job. At those years, Kannangara family had to struggle hard for their daily sustenance. During this period, C W W Kannangara got the Foundation scholarship and was able to enter to the Richmond College, Galle. That was the time, the money did a huge impact to his education. This was the main reason to have the free education concept to his mind. He didn’t allow his poverty to interrupt his education. C W W Kannangara was often the first in class and outshined in sports in the field. He was able to pass the Cambridge senior examination, placed in the first division obtaining the highest marks among the students of the whole British Commonwealth. After that, he worked as a teacher at the Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa and then at Wesley College, Colombo. During this time period, C W W Kannangara decided to become a lawyer and he attended the Law College and passed out as a Lawyer.

More about  C W W Kannangara

During the unfortunate British riots in 1915, many innocent people were arrested and he defended those innocent people without any remuneration. C W W Kannangara was elected to the Legislative Council and he became the President of the Ceylon National Congress also. He encouraged to teach Sinhala at all schools. And worked to ensure that education was provided with equal opportunities for all children in the country, irrespective of social class, economic condition, religion and ethnic origin. From 1931 to 1947, he was the minister of Education in the State Council and he worked to establish the University of Peradeniya and introduced the Central schools concept.
During these years, there was a remarkable progress in the sphere of education. And he worked to give free mid-day meal for school children also. Dr. C W W Kannangara did a massive service in Sri Lankan Education and in 1947, he introduced the Free Education Scheme. For this scheme, many people opposed, but he didn’t stop helping schools, he continued with his giant endeavour with eminent courage. But due to have many rivals, he lost his seat at the parliamentary election. But again in 1952, he was elected to the parliament from Agalawaththa seat. He didn’t take any personal or unwanted benefits from his political powers. Dr. C W W Kannangara survived his rest of life by his pension only. In 1969, he was died after completing 83 years. Dr. CC W W Kannangara is a great, colourful and illustrious statesman worthy of emulation by present and future generations!C W W Kannangara

Victor Rathnayake

Victor Rathnayake, a popular musician who is doing a great work in Sinhala music, Sri Lanka. He was born in February 18, 1942 at Kadugannawa. He has 10 siblings and he is the 03rd one. James Rathnayake was his father and Sumanawathi Mayadunna was his mother. In 1946, he started his studies at Kadugannawa Maha Vidyalaya and thereafter he got the knowledge of basic lessons of some of northern Indian music and he practiced voice training and learnt to play various instruments including harmonium and violin. After that, Victor Rathnayake performed better in both playing instruments and singing categories.

More about Victor Rathnayake

In 1965, he presented his first music program at radio stations run by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, as a “Grade A” singer. His first sing was “Sida bida mohaduru papa” written by Arisen Ahubudu master. In addition to that, Victor Rathnayake presented “Golu muhude muthu ate” and “Atha penena himiwu kadumatha” songs. And “Dewagana paradana komala katha” song was his first song recorded to a cassette. “Mayurasana matha weda hidina” and “Obe sewanalla wage nam” songs were sung by Victor Rathnayake at the “Sarala Gee” program at “welada” radio station. During this time, he was able to be a music teacher at Aththalapitiya Maha Vidyalaya, Bandarawela. In 1966 (November 01, 1966), he married Rathnalatha Jayasinghe and Victor Rathnayake is lucky to have 04 children. They are Jayantha, Chandani, Manjula and Lelum.
In 1957, he joined to M.G.P. Art Acadamy and as the singer and the instrument player, he collaborated in R. A. Chandrasena’s musical concert at Lake Hall in Kandy, few years. As the first step to film industry, “Matara Achchi” is the first film he composed music in 1971.
The maiden “Sa” concert which goes with “Victor Rathnayake” name was held in 1975 at the Lumbini Theatre, Havelock Town. In 1976, it was held at Kadireshan Hall, Wellawaththa, with successfully presented the 300th show and in 1984, Victor Rathnayake was able to held the 1000th show of this “Sa” concert at the BMICH. Actually this “Sa” concert can be considered as a turning point in Sri Lankan music. To date, Victor Rathnayake has sung around 2000 songs and he has composed music for more than 2500 songs.
In 1979, Victor Rathnayake received the award for the best background vocalist at the Presidential Award Ceremony. And in 1981, he was awarded as the best music composer for “Siri bo ayya” of Ariyarathna at the Presidential Award Ceremony.Victor Rathnayake

Sunil Edirisinghe

Sunil Edirisinghe is one of great classical vocalist in Sinhala music industry and many of us love him a lot. The significant thing of his singing is that he is using his own way and his musical art is not merely or even mainly, a mode of entertainment; it is, above all. He was born on December 19, 1949 in Colombo. His father was Patikirige Edirisinghe. And he has 03 brothers and 04 sisters and he is the youngest one.

More about Sunil Edirisinghe

In 1955, Sunil Edirisinghe started his studies at Dharmaloka Maha Vidyalaya, Kelaniya and he showed his singing skills since that time. Then he studies at Sapugaskanda Maha Vidyalaya and Delgoda Kalyana Pradeepa Pirivena. After completing his secondary education, in 1969 he joined to the Government Printing Corporation. As a revolution in his music life, in 1970 he was able to voice at “Mathara Achchi” film (his brother Sathischandra’s film) as a playback singer. Victor Ratnayake composed that song. In order to improve his music knowledge, Sunil Edirisinghe joined at Visharada P.V. Nandasiri’s Academy of Music.

After that, he studied at University of Laknaw, India in the early 1970s and he graduated with first class honours from Laknaw – Bhathkhande Academy of Music in India. During this time, he was also a background vocalist for a number of popular Sinhala films like “Hulawali” and “Sri Madara”. And he got the first class diploma from Bhathkande and in 1975, he became a classical artist of Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. In 1977, he sang for a cassette. The popular music director, Rohana Weerasinghe directed the music to this cassette and later, both of them collaborated and done songs.

Turning point of Sunil Edirisinghe’s life

As another turning point of life, in 1979, Sunil Edirisinghe married Virendra Arachchige Dona Nandani Munasinghe. Chandra Madala was the first cassette of Sunil Edirisinghe. In 1980, he also advanced to Vishishta (Grade A) artist of Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. He received Presidental medal in 1983 (for background singer at Adhishtanaya film) and received Prasada Pranama from Mindada kala Khendraya of Univesity of Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1986. Not only that, but he received also Swarna Sanka award in 1987 (background vocalist of Mangala Thegga) and received Sarasavi award in 1988 for the background vocalist at Sandakada Pahana. Again he received Swarna Sanka award in 1990.
Sunil Edirisinghe is doing a massive service to Sinhala music industry and some of his popular songs are; Nim therak nudutu, Sadakada Pahanaka, Duwe nuba mage pranayayi, Mage amal biso. In addition to that ,Awapaa ahasaka, Miniseku pita negi asaruweki and Mala kwela oba pipenna are also very popular songs. Sunil Edirisinghe

Nanda Malani

Certainly, Nanda Malani is one of best known singers from Sri Lanka. She was born on 23rd August, 1943. Her hometown is Aluthgama, lewanduwa and she has 09 family members. When she became young, she had moved to Kotahena in Colombo and was admitted to Sri Gunananda Vidyalaya where she came under the tutelage of T. N. Margaret Perera. When Nanda Malani was wining the poetry contest, W.D. Amaradewa invited to sing the song “Budu Sadu” on Karunaratne Abeysekera’s popular program Lama Mandapaya at Radio Ceylon.

More about Nanda Malani

After improving her singing skills further, she was learning music under Victor Perera. Nanda Malani studied for a year at Heywood and then she moved on to Bhatkhande Music Institute in Lucknow, India in 1963. In 1984, she obtained the Visharada degree and participated to W.D. Amaradewa’s program. In 1971, Nanda Malani collaborated with Pandit Amaradewa in the Srawana Aradhana concert and since 1973, she started her solo concert series. She had conducted around 530 solo shows the series ended on May 22, 1979. In 1981, she started another concert series and played 500 shows and ended in August 1984. Again, Nanda Malani started her solo musical concert series called “Pawana” in June 1987 which ran for 18 months with 205 shows. After 22 years, she collaborated with Sirasa FM and conducted “Swetha Rathriya” musical concert in 2010.

Nanda Malani has sung various types of themes including love, separation, significant milestones of a human being’s life and so on. Some of her popular songs are “Pipunu Male Ruwa”, “Kadamandiye”, “Sudu Hamine” and “Mandanawa Kaaranawa”.
Here is few lyrics of her “Ahasa Se Oba Ananthayi” song…
Ahasa se oba ananthayi – Sayura Se oba ananthayi
Me Wishwaye ma dakinne – Obama pamanayi oba ananthayi

Nanda Malani