Kumar de Silva
  • Ah those memorable Christmases in Singapore with the De Lanerolle Brotherzzz …..

    As Sri Lanka’s internationally renowned De Lanerolle Brothers, Rohan and Ishan, launch their Christmas 2020 ‘virtual concert’ “PREMIERE” tonight, 20th December 2020, my mind goes back to numerous Christmases, we, together with our families have spent in Singapore right up until last year. Come this time of the year and the DLBros and wives and children head to Singapore where they are hosted by CCIS and St. Andrew’s Cathedral. Apart from the array of ‘kits’ they have in their luggage, they also have with them, (and in duplicate versions too) their backing tracks, which have been carefully arranged and recorded by maestro Shobi Perera. Among their performances in Singapore, and that too daily, are those at the St. Andrew’s Cathedral, the lunch-time concerts at the Cathedral café, the St Andrew’s Elders’ Home and of course Orchard Road. The  Cathedral performances were started by Rohan in 1996 and have continued since with the introduction of Ishan from 2001.

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  • ‘XXV’ it was … when Johann Peries celebrated 25 years in Sri Lanka’s hair and beauty industry

    Thursday, 22 October 2020. It is not often that comperes are given the total liberty to create their own scripts, and better still, choreograph their own entrances, movements on stage and exits at a spectacular show of the scope and magnitude of ‘XXV’ when Johann Peries (now parallely of Mt. Everest fame) celebrated 25 years in Sri Lanka’s hair and beauty industry. This was an ambitious show which began with the Stone Age when primitive man used stone tools to cut hair … right down the ages to climax in an infectious explosion of music, song and dance as Bollywood took over to transport the audience into a world of decadence where reality and fantasy collide in psychedelic glory.   I tell myself it was the confidence both Johann and Lou Ching Wong (who handled the entire choreography) had in Ashini Fernando and myself to take it through to perfection. Of

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  • When tragedy struck ‘The Phantom of the Opera’

    This morning I received this text message from Jerome L. de Silva – “Today 17th October, the 18th anniversary of one of my DARKEST DAYS … the cancellation of PHANTOM”. It certainly was. It was to him and to the entire Workshop Players theatre company. In as much as they were all understandably stunned and broken that evening, Colombo too was in shock. I reproduce below Chapter 15 of the Bonsoir Diaries (2013) which recounts that evening : It was 2002. The Workshop Players was going to do its most spectacular production, ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, based on the novel by Gaston Leroux. The young Serala Athulathmudali was to be Christine, there were three Raouls – Dushyanth Weeraman (long before he became the star he is today), Manoj Singanayagam and Sean Amarasekere, while JLdeS was to play the Phantom, in what was going to be his swan song. Yasmin

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  • Nihara Jayatilleke … a tale of flying and fashion, hats and horses !

    Nihara Jayatilleke is a gutsy woman with a fiercely independent mind of her own that she did not feel the need to latch on her celebrity husband Chandran Rutnam’s surname to her own. “I don’t think it’s a ‘must’ for a female to take the husband’s name. When we were to get married in April 2001, I told him that a name change was just not necessary. Chandran was confident of me and agreed instantly”. So Mrs. Rutnam carved out her identity as Nihara Jayatilleke. Fullstop. Incumbent (and the first woman to hold such a position in Sri Lanka and in Asia) President of the Royal Turf Club, Nuwara Eliya, she’s also the Managing Director of the Asian Aviation Centre. This first-ever woman President of the Royal Turf Club, Nuwara Eliya, finds herself mandated with a two-pronged plan during her current tenure of office. “We firstly want to re-activate horse

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  • Jith Pieris, a thespian matured like vintage wine

    When Ena Anne Senewiratne bought a large cuddly pug-nosed teddy bear in London in the summer of 1946, little did she realise how utterly inseparable the soft toy would be from Jith, her son-to-be-born the following year. Ensconced in his charming little Montmartre-like apartment down a lane off Ward Place in Colombo 07, Jith waxes eloquent and journeys back in time. He takes us to 1966, when he landed in London to spend the next fourteen years of his life. “It was theatre and more theatre and lots more theatre”. He worked as a stage hand and then as an usher in various theatres in London. This also meant that he got to watch plays totally free of charge and several times over. Jith was a blotting paper. He was a sponge. He took it all in with great relish. There was also the Chelsea Theatre Group of which he

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  • Happy 36th Birthday, Joyeux Anniversaire … Galadari Hotel, Colombo !

    The Galadari Hotel celebrated its 36th birthday last Tuesday 06th October. In the morning were multi-religious ceremonies followed by pirith in the evening, and heel dane the following morning. General Manager Sampath Siriwardene and team had spared no pains to make this event a meaningful one with religious observances taking pride of place in the current Covid-19 situation Sri Lanka is faced with. As has always been the custom for the past so many years, bhikkhus from the nearby temple, the Sri Sambuddhaloka Vihara, situated down Lotus Road were invited for pirith and dane. In his anusasana, the Chief Priest, Ven. Peliyagoda Isurumuniye Pagnalankara Thera recalled the LTTE suicide bomb attack on the World Trade Centre in the morning of October 15th, twenty three years prior, in 1997. Fifteen people lost their lives in that attack. Among them were the Chief Priest of the Sambuddhaloka Vihara, Ven. Vitharandeniye Thera and

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  • Pastor Tissa Weerasingha and my Sunday School days at the Calvary Church in the early 1970s

    Yesterday, Wednesday 30th September was Rosy and Athula Senanayake’s 39th wedding anniversary, barely three months since he passed away. That evening, at the Mayoral Residence down Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha, was a beautiful Memorial Service to which friends and family and colleagues were invited. It was more to ‘celebrate’ Athula’s life rather than to ‘mourn’ his death. That’s how he had wanted it to be and that’s how it happened … with beautiful gospel music interspersed with short, nostalgic speeches recalling the multi-dimensional person Athula was. At the end, just before the final hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ was sung, Thisakya announced that Pastor Tissa Weerasinghe would speak. That moment instantly took me back 45 years to the early 1970s to the same, and much younger Pastor Tissa Weerasingha of the Calvary Church in Siebel Avenue, Kirulapona, whose Sunday School my little brother Nirmal and I attended. I was eleven or twelve

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  • Polwatte Re-visited !

    This looks like a rundown animal shelter in some farm deep in the countryside. Sorry you’re wrong. This is Polwatte and this was the Department of English of the University of Kelaniya. This was home to me for four full years, from August 1981 to July 1985. Our part of Polwatte was semi-verdant terrain that periodically stank of bullshit. There was also cow shit and cat shit and dog shit, and if we were really unlucky, random goat shit too. After the rains this buffet of shits turned mushy and runny, like mousse au chocolat, in texture and colour, and that’s a totally different story. Let me now elaborate ! This elongated building with its half brick / half mesh walls housed three lecture rooms, one staff room, a small and congested room for the Head of Department and a disgustingly miserable ‘toilet’. Polwatte was still ‘gama’ (village) at that

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  • “From Sri Lanka with Love” … the making of … !

    It was 4.00 am on a fabulously cold and chilly, wet and windy, dreary and drizzly, utterly rainy morning two weeks ago, on Thursday 11 June, when our alarms began ringing, rudely throwing us out of our warm and comfy beds in our respective houses. All of us. The De Lanerolle Brothers Rohan and Ishan, and Neranjan De Silva and the entire 30 member crew and Myself. Pre-dawn Colombo was barely awake as we all trooped in, bright and chirpy, at the Lotus Tower. With permissions all cleared by the very efficient and ultra-meticulous DLBros, brief formalities saw us in and literally whoooooshed up, in a high speed lift, from the bowels of the Nelum Kuluna, perched on the waterfront of the Beira Lake at D.R Wijewardene Mawatha in Colombo, Sri Lanka … to the very summit of this tallest self-supported structure in South Asia. Oh boy, weren’t we all

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  • The light of ‘Kelvin Grove’ is extinguished … the sound of her voice is stilled !

    Anne-Marie Bulathsinhala (29 Jan 1953 – 19 June 2020) The thick pall of death lies over of ‘Kelvin Grove’, 5/2 Hill Street, Kandy. Since early last evening, in the sitting room, lies the casket bearing the mortal remains of Anne-Marie Bulathsinhala. She looks peaceful in death. The news of her demise early last morning, Friday 19th June, after a brief illness was not totally unexpected, but it did come as a shock too, to us all. And as this morning wore on, text messages and watsapp calls zigzagged across the world breaking the sad news to grieving family and friends. Anne-Marie was the light of ‘Kelvin Grove’. She was, for years, the epicentre of the Pereira and Rodrigo and Bulathsinhala families, and the extended families too. She held them all together. In this day and age of high parapet walls and padlocked gates and appointments, ‘Kelvin Grove’, the family bastion,

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