By Ranga Kalansooriya –
What would you expect from a present-day Sri Lankan radio channel in celebrating its 20th birth anniversary? It is natural to be a big musical thamasha or a massive celebration that would not be beneficial to many of its stakeholders specifically to the mandate of the radio broadcasting in Sri Lanka.
Sirasa FM, in this backdrop, set an example last week by organising a musical evening (I do not want to use the word ‘show’ as it has a different connotation in today’s context) in tri-partite combination Nanda Malini – Victor Ratnayake and Sirasa FM – Ramya Theerthaya.
Being the pioneer of the contemporary commercial radio formation of Sri Lanka Sirasa FM has understood its responsibility, mainly in this highly competitive environment, one could comfortably claim. In a massively enlarged market almost four dozens of radio channels in all three languages (at least 25 in Sinhala) are engaged in a dog-race to win the audience. This race would lead to the production of market driven sub-standard programs and commercially driven events that would not bear any social impact and even pay the listeners in cash for their loyalty. No argument that Sirasa FM cannot afford to deviate from this ruthless market trend. Swimming against the current is a risky and costly game.
Amidst all these challenges, for several years, Sirasa FM, through several similar programs like Swetha Rathriya and Miyesi Thatakaya proved that a massive audience with a better sense of taste would flock around and hail those efforts. Ramya Theerthaya was the latest milestone in these efforts.
I have my own criticism on the media in Sri Lanka – both broadcast and print. The broadcast content is immensely affected by commercial interests and low quality journalism and production skills. Sometimes political interests may over run all such issues. Albeit all these challenges media – mainly the broadcasters – are supposed to expand the horizons of the entertainment wisdom of its audience. Ramya Theerthaya would fill that gap to a greater extent.
Who else would fit to represent the highest order of Sri Lankan music in such an event [in the absence of Dr Amaradeva from the active music stage] – Nanda and Victor who last week proved the fact they are still in their peak of performance though both of them have reached their mid-seventies [if I am not mistaken – and sorry for revealing these known-secrets].
Nanda just completed her solo performance Swetha Rathriya with Sirasa FM that went around the country until last year. But Victor – Nanda combination mesmerised the audience for continuous two hours with Jayantha Rathnayaka’s talented music composition.
Kingsley Ratnayake, Sirasa FM Channel Head in his short intervention during the show highlighted the need of setting examples for new comers to the music field through such exercises. In fact this exactly what is not being done by the contemporary broadcast media in Sri Lanka. The leadership in filling this vacuum by Sirasa FM should be continued and further strengthened with creativity. Nihal Wickrama’s creative contribution and Prof Sunil Ariyaratna’s performance line-up had no doubt made immense contribution to the event.
In my thoughts, Ramya Theerthaya should not be another music show that roams around the country but be a platform for the young talent that would form tomorrow’s world of Sri Lankan music. One could not find better parents than Nanda and Victor for this new generation. Sirasa FM has necessary resources, motivation, talents and creativity in reshaping this future generation.