Voice behind the visuals | Daily News

Voice behind the visuals

Shammika Amani.  Picture by Chaminda Niroshana
Shammika Amani. Picture by Chaminda Niroshana

If you are a fan of Sinhala cinema, no doubt you would be able to recall the timeless tunes of ‘Mage Sihina Madure’ of Jayantha Chandrasiri’s magnum opus ‘Samanala Sandwaniya’ (Butterfly Symphony) with ease. The voice behind this soul stirring song is little know though the song has become timeless and is still listened to a countless number of times. That voice belongs to 27 year old Shammika Amani from Polonnaruwa. Apart from echoing your sentiments over the sound waves the past couple of years with the heart-piercing ‘Mage Sihina Madure’, Shammika has rendered her voice to several other productions: one teledrama and one film.

She did the theme song and another song for the film titled ‘Aakarsha’ which will be screening in the future. She also crooned to the tunes of the ‘Sith Ahasa’ teledrama which had already been telecast on the mini screen. She was also a support vocalist for a number in Sujeewa Gunaratne’s film ‘Kaala’ which is currently screening in the CEL circuit these days. These are romantic songs which set them poles apart from her debut - a heart wrenching number.

Shammika in a visual from  her song ‘Kavikari Mamai’

“‘Mage Sihina Madure’ was my first experience at background singing. I learnt music under music director Dharshana Dissanayake. Director Jayantha Chandrasiri and team were searching for a suitable voice for the song and Dissanayake said that I fitted the bill,” Shammika said.

One of the most frequent feedbacks she has gotten for her contribution was that though she is a novice to the field, she had sung the song like a professional. Many could not believe that this beaming young lady had given voice to the tearful lass in the visuals.

“The background vocals are recorded before the visuals. However both Chandrasiri and Dissanayake related the emotions and atmosphere of the scenes to me. They also trained me on how singing background vocals differ from singing a tune on a stage. It took some work but I managed to live up to their expectations,” she enthused adding that the key to a successful take is that the background vocalist too needs to enjoy the song while voicing it.

The talented youth is an old girl of Weerapura Kanishta Vidyalaya and Royal Central College, Polonnaruwa. She said that her parents noted her flair for singing at an early age.

“They too can sing well and they both loved the arts. So they encouraged me to learn music. Dissanayake was a guest at a musical concert which was held at our school. He heard me singing at that event. I had just finished my G C E Advanced Levels then,” she recalled adding that she had done eastern music as a subject in school.

She trained under her aunt Ayesha Kumari Somasekara and her school music teacher Sunethra Priyanthi. She had played the violin and sitar at school. Dissanayake taught her how to become a professional vocalist and trained her on background vocals.

“The music and art field is very competitive. I am glad I got the opportunity to show my colours in the field”.

She notes that Chandrasiri has been one of her favourite filmmakers from childhood.

“I loved ‘Dandubasnamanaya’ and ‘Guerilla Marketing’. So many people have enjoyed his productions because they are of high quality. He is one of the giants in the field and to debut in one of his productions as a background vocalist is a dream come true for any budding young vocalist. Not only was I over the moon about the offer but I felt a slight pride about my talent as well. I was motivated to do my best for the project,” she explained the thoughts which ran through her mind after hearing that she has been selected to be a part of ‘Samanala Sandwaniya’.

Shammika’s parents are teachers. Her father, Pragna Keerthi, is a sports teacher while her mother, Priyanthi Marasinghe, teaches agriculture. Her brother, Sehan Ayantha, acted in ‘Samanala Sandwaniya’ as a friend of the protagonist. Therefore she had mostly been in the company of her brother, Sachini Nisansala and Soorya Dayaruwan, the actor who portrayed the childhood stages of Vadisha, the protagonist of the tale.

“We had fun on the sets and we all excelled due to the film. Soorya is well known today and my talents too came into the limelight due to the movie,” she expressed adding that the song still takes her back to the past.

Shammika is employed at the Mahaweli Authority as a Unit Manager.

“I cannot engage in background singing full time due to my profession but if a good opportunity arises I make it a point to come to Colombo and take part in the project.

This is because it has become a passion for me. You can wrap up a song for a movie or teledrama in one day. I also get a lot of support from my work place to take part in such events,” she said.

Her favourite vocalists are Indian playback singer Shreya Ghoshal, Nanda Malini, Uresha Ravihari, and Sujatha Attanayake.

Shammika notes that the most valuable advice she had gotten in the field was to be humble and how to learn to work with others.

“You need to do justice to a song as well as work quickly.

There is no time to dally around as things have to be wrapped up as quick as possible so that the team can focus on the next task at hand. Filmmaking is an expensive chore so if you manage to pull off your part on the first take, then you would be saving a lot of money and time,” she explained adding that these words of wisdom had been given to her by Chandrasiri and Dissanayake.

Shammika noted that she had learnt acting when she was young and she had given life to some characters in school plays. If she is offered an opportunity to act, she is willing to take on that challenge as well.

Her message to budding young vocalists is to be modest and friendly with everyone in the field.

“Do not vary your commitment according to the size of the project. Enjoy your work while letting others enjoy the outcome. This is a true and tested success formula,” she advised.



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