Kumar de Silva

Happy Birthday ITN !!!

Phew what memories …. my journey with you began with Bonsoir (and the Embassy of France) in 1986. It has been one massive learning experience and full of great memories too.

Fanclub came almost immediately afterwards. I was brought in when the regular presenter was sacked. You told me, and very specifically too, that I was only a ‘temporary presenter’ until you found a suitable replacement.

Fifteen years later, when I quit ‘Fanclub’ on my 40th birthday in 2012, you had still not found that “suitable replacement”. I consider myself exceptionally lucky.

And in between you gave me so many, many other opportunities. There was ‘Dhamma in Daily Life’ (a discussion every Poya night), Talk Shows, Business Talk Shows, etc etc etc.

You made me a News Reader too. To this day I call myself “Sri Lanka’s worst News Reader”. That’s what I say to myself, chidingly and convincingly. How many times did I request you to take me off that news roster. News was never my forte. Everything else was. But you still kept me there. And I hated it.

And then one day accidental luck did the trick. I recorded Fanclub one evening (live to tape) in Studio 01 and then immediately after changed clothes and read the news. I had forgotten to mentally “switch off” my Fanclub mode. So there I was, still fully charged and happily reading news still in Fanclub mode. News that night was an embarrassing disaster for ITN. You removed me from the news roster immediately and permanently. And wasn’t I over the moon ….

In your canteen, I have gorged on lavariyas, gnanakatha, pani-appa, kimbula bunis, maalu paan, jam paan etc etc etc. On utterly hungry days, my producers and I have sat around the table there and eaten out of one buth-mula.

Technology at that time was pre-historic, compared to today. Cassettes were U-matic, large and heavy. The U-matic editing machines were embarassingly called the gona-models. Why ??? I still cannot fathom that out.

You also made me a French tour guide in an episode of “Kopi-Kade” called ‘Thank You’. There I was bringing French tourists to the village. The villagers had gone overboard in their hospitality and carted the nervous Frenchies around the village in a rickety palanquin. This came in for a lot of flak from viewers.

Stories are rife and memories keep flooding.

To this day I owe a heartfelt debt of gratitude to ITN’s then Director of Programmes Mrs. Nanda Jayamanne who gave this nervous, stammering applicant for ‘Bonsoir’, that day in November 1985, not one, but nine chances as I stammered and spluttered and failed screen test after screen test and finally scraped through the last one, when Thevis Guruge had given up on me after the first one.

If not for Mrs. Jayamanne, I would not be writing these lines today.

Thank you Mrs. Jayamanne.

Thank you ITN.

Thank you for it all !!!

NOTE: Many years later I discovered much to my great joy that Mrs. Jayamanne and I shared the identical family name – Edogage. And to crown it all, we were both from the same village – Ambalangoda.

Long live the Ambalangodayas !!!

Long live the Benthara Gangen Ehaas !!!

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