A whole new experience
Talented young singers Romesh and Lakshan are back in the
spotlight with their new song Neela Dase. It is quite a hit and
has captured the hearts of many music lovers with its melody,
unique vocal styling and of course, the visual.
The lyrics in Neela Dase were done by Rinaz Mohamad, and the
melody was done by Romesh himself. Ranga Dassanayake composed
and mixed the music.
“We wanted this visual to be a new experience for viewers. Most
of the visuals that we see today are of the same kind, where
still shots are frequently used. I wanted our Neela Dase video
to carry a more moving effect; to make it flow like a story,”
After sharing their views with Director Udaya Darmawardana and
the Script Writer Jayantha, they came up with this new idea. The
models who perform in the visual are Pubudu and Narmada.
It took two days to shoot the video. The locations were Navam
Mawatha, Mount Lavinia beach and Thalawathugoda. The visual was
edited by S.J. Devapriya.
“We planned to do the shooting of this visual for a long time
but due to security reasons we could not obtain permission from
the authorities to reserve Navam Mawatha. Because of that the
work was a bit delayed,” pointed out Romesh.
They have now launched the visual into television channels and
websites. “We are very happy about the response from our fans.
The feedback is very positive,” Romesh said, happily.
“I personally feel that we have won a huge challenge. Unlike
many in this field, we had to overcome a lot of obstacles to
reach here. Since we were from Kandy, there were not many people
we knew in the industry to assist us. In some earlier visuals we
could not create anything innovative because we were always on a
low budget scheme but now, with what we have achieved today,
many sponsors have come forward to assist us. The production of
this visual in this manner would not have been possible if not
for their assistance,” added Romesh.
Voices in Praise: Singing for God and
The Voices in Praise (VIP Choir) is a group that has been
performing in public for the past four years. Each year this
choir has performed with different themes. This year’s concert
was titled ‘God Liveth Still.’
The group is perhaps one of the only choirs that perform in all
languages in a choral style. Parts and harmony for Sinhala and
Tamil lyrics are arranged by the director of the choir. The
choir has also sung pieces from Bach and Mozart and several
The choir, unlike other groups, intends to convey a message to
the country. One of the ultimate objectives of the choir is to
praise God and secondly, to emphasise on ethnic harmony.
The choir has been invited to perform in India shortly. The
Chief Coordinator of the Choir, Johnson Gnanadass speaking to
The Nation said that the message the choir conveys to everyone
is that language should not be a barrier to ethnic harmony.
Following are the excerpts:
Q: Could you explain how the VIP Choir started?
A: Voices in Praise, known as VIP Choir, was officially
started about four years ago. The choir is the brainchild of its
Director, Wilson Gnanadass. Prior to forming the VIP Choir, five
children of Rev and Mrs. Paul Gnanadass were performing in
Colombo. However, after the demise of my father, Rev. Gnanadass,
my brother Wilson thought of embracing more voices and including
them also to perform in public. And then of course the name of
the group had to be changed.
Since the ultimate objective of this choir was to praise God, it
was called VIP. My parents were very interested in music and my
father in particular was a musician, a composer and a fantastic
violinist. We were in fact inspired by the musical talents of
our parents. And today we are glad to go before the public to
perform in all languages. Now there are about 25 members singing
in harmony with us.
Q: What type of music does the choir perform?
A: We are confined to religious music, but we perform in all
languages with a combination of Eastern, Western and Classical.
Every note we sing is arranged to be sung in harmony. Through
our singing we hope to convey the message of ethnic harmony to
the listeners and the viewers.
Q: The VIP Choir has been in existence for four years. What
type of response has the choir received so far?
A: A very positive response. We have had four public events;
each was a concert with a different theme. Except for the
English chorals, for all other Tamil and Sinhala lyrics, the
parts are arranged by my brother Wilson. It is yet another
unique feature of this choir. We also sing our own compositions
Q: Who are choristers and where are they from?
A: To be honest, most of them are not even from professional
choirs, but today they are able to perform in a professional
style. We invite people to join us and then train the voices.
Our members include school-going children as well as adults.
They are absolutely committed people.
We also have a few members who are from choirs from leading
Colombo schools. All these voices were picked by our Choir
Director and then trained.
We always welcome all the communities in our choir. We already
have non-Christian musicians performing with us. We are actually
hoping to expand the number of participants in our choir. The
invitation is extended to all to join and sing with us.
Q: What are the objectives of your choir?
A: Firstly, of course, to glorify God. Praising is one of
the most critical tools of glorifying God. Secondly, we are
conveying a huge message to the world, which is torn apart with
conflicts based on ethnicity.
A special message is to our own country where both Tamil and
Sinhala communities are at loggerheads over various reasons. One
among them is the language. And here we are, to break this
barrier and tell the people, through our singing, not to fight
over language but to learn all the languages possible.
We have, despite being a very young choir, performed in English,
Sinhala, Tamil and Latin. We hope to sing in many more languages
in the future. Why should language be a barrier to ethnic
harmony? If all of us can learn all the languages, then why
Also, very importantly, I should mention that our choir does not
perform for any commercial benefit. We are working toward our
goals. For instance, we do not even charge entrance fees because
we believe our voices are a free gift to us from God and
therefore we must give in return to the people.
Q: What are the future plans of the choir?
A: Our immediate future plan is to perform in India. We have
been invited to do so. But it all depends on the funds we raise
to travel abroad. We are also planning to release our own CD.
Handball: a fusion of Lankan and Western
By Savani Dissanayake
Prassanna Vitanage who has produced and directed many films, is
now working on the finishing touches and the post production
stages of his latest film, Handball.
‘Handball’ is a comedy about a group of Sri Lankans who want to
travel to Germany with the excuse of being in a hand ball team.
The film deals with the differences in cultures as well as the
problems faced by immigrants.
Speaking of the last stages of the production process, he said
“The director, Uverto Pasolini came down to Sri Lanka to
finalise the music for the movie. We want to use a fusion of
traditional Sri Lankan music and Western music.” He added that
they were using many Sri Lankan instruments, and that the beauty
and unique sound of the Sri Lankan music was one of the reasons
for the fusion.
Lakshman Joseph De Saram conducted and composed the music, which
took nine days of recording to get it just right. Uverto
Pasolini has now returned to London to do the final mixing of
Prassana Vitanage told The Nation that the film would be ready
for international release by December 5, and that the film would
be released in Sri Lanka, early next year.
Commenting on his current project, the director said that he was
in the pre production stages of his 6th film Akasha Kusum which
means, ‘flowers in the sky’. Shooting will begin in December.
The film has a star studded cast, mostly female, comprising
Malini Fonseka, Nimmi Harasgama, Dilhani Ekanayake Damayanthi
Fonseka, Jayani Senanayake and others.
The film which is an Indian-Sri Lankan co-production revolves
around an ageing actress in the film industry. Prassana Vitanage,
who is the director, script writer as well as one of the
producers for the film, said that this is the first time he is
using his own profession and industry as the background for the
movie, and is delighted to be doing so.
The film Akasha Kusum will be released and screened for its
world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival.
Todd Haynes (Velvet Goldmine, Far From Heaven) delivers this
dazzling, experimental take on the life of popular music’s most
revered and enigmatic artist: Bob Dylan.
In keeping with the impossible-to-pin-down nature of Dylan
himself, Haynes chooses to cast six different actors to portray
several incarnations of the groundbreaking troubadour. The
result is a challenging, sprawling work that spans several
decades and genres.
Woody (Marcus Carl Franklin) is a young black child with a folk
music obsession; Jack Rollins (Christian Bale) is an upstart
folksinger whose protest songs have ignited an entire
generation; Arthur (Ben Wishaw) is a Rimbaud-esque figure who
has begun to embrace a new form of lyrical poetry; Robbie (Heath
Ledger) is a well-known actor whose marriage to lovely Claire
(Charlotte Gainsbourg) crumbles under the weight of his
lifestyle; Billy (Richard Gere) is a slippery frontiersman who
echoes Dylan’s infatuation with the Old West and American
folklore; and, finally, there is the substance-abusing,
confrontational Jude (Cate Blanchett), who represents Dylan in
the turbulent mid-1960s.
Much in the same way that Dylan appropriated a vast array of
musical styles to create his own vernacular, Haynes does the
same thing with I’m Not There, using his expansive knowledge of
movie history to pay homage to a variety of movements and genres
(Godard, Fellini, Lester, etc.).
The typically extraordinary cinematographer Edward Lachman
outdoes even himself this time around, incorporating so many
different visual styles that it’s impossible to decide which is
the most beautiful. While the cast all fare well in their roles,
it is Cate Blanchett who runs away with the picture, proving
once again that she is one of the finest actors the movies have
The title I’m Not There is a reference to the Dylan outtake,
recorded during The Basement Tapes – Sessions. Also, I’m Not
There is one of the most famous and highly regarded outtakes,
not just of The Basement Tapes, but of Dylan’s whole career. It
was never officially released until it appeared on the film’s
official soundtrack album.
Christian Bale: Bob Dylan / John / Jack Cate Blanchett: Bob
Dylan / Jude Marcus Carl Franklin: Bob Dylan / Woody Richard
Gere: Bob Dylan / Billy Heath Ledger: Bob Dylan Ben Whishaw: Bob
Dylan / Arthur
Director: Todd Haynes
Writers: Todd Haynes and Oren Moverman
Cinematography: Edward Lachman
Film Editing: Jay Rabinowitz
Casting: Laura Rosenthal
Production Design: Judy Becker
Costume Design: John A. Dunn
Jackson’s new film re-creates Lanka’s
By Kushali Atukorale
An actor turned TV personality and film maker, Jackson Anthony,
is poised to recreate the golden era of Sri Lankan history, with
his new film, ‘ABA’.
‘ABA’ is the historical story of a young, determined prince
Pandukabhaya, who had brought all the different clans in the
country under one ruler. Anthony has brought into focus this
historical fact while creating a great piece of work in
Jackson is now busy with its post production. He talked to The
Nation about his latest venture and its background.
He said the film, based on the childhood of Prince Pandukabhaya
in the 4th century BC, mainly focused on the first 15 years of
his life, when he lived in Doramadalawa as a normal boy, as his
uncles were looking to kill the young boy who was to become the
next king. He emphasized the point that that it was not an easy
task to remake history into a movie. “History is filled with
dramatics actions” Jackson said.
According to Jackson, the film ‘ABA’ was the result of ten years
of research in history. He added that the study of books of
great schoolars like Hiutsang, Ibn Batuta, Robert Knox, which
give details of the different clans that lived in Ceylon long
ago, also helped him in designing the jewellery, sets, and
costumes of the Yaksha clan who had lived in Doramadalawa in
Most of the material and fabrics for the costumes were brought
down from India with the help of Nilhan Senevirathne. There is
also a massive usage of silicon graphics and digital multimedia.
“So far the cost of the film has gone above Rs. 55 million, “I
am grateful to Mandakini Creations for their financial support
as this is the first film on Sri Lanka which has reached such a
The jewellery for the actors playing the roles of the Yaksha
clan, had been made from the roots of the trees, barks, sea
shells, bones, belly katu, and other natural material which had
been used by people in the 4th century BC.
The music is directed by the talented Nadika Guruge.
Jackson said that the Sri Lankan film industry needed such
films, because, “We lack such films, as the young generation
tends to give preference to funny movies, and does not
understand the value of films like this.”
He said that while over 1050 films had already been made about
Sri Lanka, in the past 50 years, only six films have been based
on its history.
They were Ashokamala (1947), ‘Sirisangabo’ (1952), ‘Sandeshaya’
(1960), ‘Sigiri Kashyapa’ (1966), ‘Weera Puran Appu’ (1978) and
‘Weera Maddumabandara’ (1984). But even these films according to
him were tragedies or stories about tragic heroes. He added that
there were other important eras in our history which we have