|Monday, 28 June 2004|
The blossoming of Deepika Priyadarshani
In his Nandadasa Kodagoda Memorial Oration delivered last year, Professor Sunil Ariyaratne comprehensively argued the thesis that song is currently the most popular art form in our country. If this is true, then song has clearly displaced poetry from its pre-eminent position.
Poetry is for chanting; not for signing. Sinhala culture which is fundamentally Buddhist did not encourage sensuous gratification. So, we evolved as a chanting nation; not as a singing one.
Pirith chanting never exceeds a range of four notes, lest it assumes a ragadhari form. Consequently the Sinhalese did not develop a sophisticated musical tradition. Never mind. "Poor and content is rich and rich enough."
We know how to enjoy what we have. As of now, we have perfected the musical form called 'the song' and we are manifestly rejoicing in it. And now that cricket appears to have become indistinguishable from big business, perhaps the only thing to which the nation can respond in unison is music; especially songs.
Indeed, it seems to me that for our horribly divided irate nation, music is therapy. Deepika Priyadharshani's voice is a particularly soothing balm for our jaded nerves. Whenever I see her singing on television I feel that I understand in my bones why Shakespeare must have made Julius Caesar to say:
Let me have men about me that are fat.
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o'nights;
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look
He thinks too much; such men are dangerous
Deepika who suddenly appeared on our musical firmament in 1985 has now blossomed into a musical communicator of the first rank. She does not sing too much; but what she sings is superbly rendered. Unlike Cassius who had nothing to do with music, she is not a danger.
On the contrary, she is something of a healing angel. Recently she released her fourth album of songs. It is rather awkwardly titled. The title derives from the bottom line of the first song in the album written by an up-and-coming lyricist called Nuwan Liyanage.
Created to Order
But fortunately for the continuance of the human race, parenting is in good shape. There is evidence for it in the album itself. It takes form of what is for me, the loveliest song in Deepika's latest album. It is a song sung by a mother and father celebrating the birth of their daughter.
I happen to know the circumstances under which this song was created. Our master batsman Sanath Jayasuriya is a song buff. A couple of days before his wife was due to deliver their baby, three of his devoted fans Rohana Weerasinghe, Bandula Nanayakkara- wasam and Deepika Priyadharshani conceived the idea of giving him a gift on the day the child is born.
And they set to work. BN's wonderful lyric was to coin a phrase - custom-created. RW set it to music overnight. RW and DP purposefully sang the song and recorded it on the day that Sanath's wife went into labour. The gift was delivered to Sanath on the very day his daughter was born just before he left to lead our country in a match played abroad. It is a pure gem of a song.
I would have bought this album just for that song.
I am truly amazed by the sheer talent of these artistes. Many years ago, Sir Peter Medawar, a Nobel Laureate in Medicine, wrote a famous essay titled: "Can scientific discovery be premeditated?" On the premise that scientific discovery is as much an act of creation as the writing of poetry, he answered that question with a definite no.
To buttress his conclusion he quoted poet Shelly who once said, "A man cannot say I will write poetry.. the greatest poet even cannot say it". Having observed and heard what RW, BN and DP combined to create on this occasion, I am not at all sure that Shelly is right.
The elegantly produced album is adorned by Deepika's sleek head. It contains 18 songs. Maestro Rohana Weerasinghe has created the music for 12 of them. Suresh Maliyadda has contributed two strikingly fresh melodies to the album. The lyrics have been written by the best men in the business.
Prof. Sunil Ariyaratne, Ratna Sri Wijesinghe, Kularatne Ariyawansa, Sunil R. Gamage, Karunadasa Saputanthri, Parakrama Kodituwakku and Mahinda Dissanayake. Other contributing lyricists include Sunil Madawa Prematilake, Samudra Wettasinghe and Ravi Siriwardene. With such a galaxy of talent at work, the product can only be nothing but excellent.
Deepika's voice is as crystalline as ever; her intonation is as always pitch-perfect; the clarity of her diction is a virtual hearing-aid for my ageing hearing apparatus. For that relief much thanks.
- Carlo Fonseka.
Produced by Lake House