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Yohani: I want to learn Hindi, work in Bollywood




Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, September 25: Sri Lanka’s singing sensation Yohani Diloka de Silva says she wants to learn Hindi and work in Bollywood with India’s top music-makers such as A R Rahman. She expressed this desire in a series of interviews she gave leading Indian newspapers and television channels during the last fortnight.

“I don’t know Hindi at all, I want to learn it. I am a big fan of Bollywood music. A lot of music in Sri Lanka is inspired by Bollywood,” she said. “I love doing new things. If I ever get to work with A R Rahman, it would be a dream come true. I’m a big fan of all of his works.”

Apart from AR Rahman, Yohani named Honey Singh, Divine and Neha Kakkar as well. She also referred to Jacqueline Fernandez, the Sri Lanka-born actress who has learnt Hindi and has made a success of her career in Bollywood.

She also said she wants to perform live in front of massive crowds. This week she will be doing just that: perform with her band at Gurugram near New Delhi and in Hyderabad, capital of the southern Indian state of Telangana.

The shows are being sponsored by ZEE LIVE of the ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Limited, pioneer of the television entertainment industry in India. She and her nine-member band will be performing in Gurugram near here on this Thursday (September 30) and in Hyderabad on Sunday (October 3).

 According to ZEE LIVE, the live entertainment and IP vertical of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd., (ZEEL) is organising the event ‘Supermoon now trending ft. Yohani’ and has invited Yohani along with her band manager to perform at the two concerts. She will address a press conference in Mumbai before returning home.

Hindi or Hindustani as a mixture of Hindi and Urdu spoken in Bollywood films, is the fourth most-spoken language in the world with 544 million speakers, after English (1.5 billion speakers), Mandarin Chinese (1.3 billion), and Spanish (661 million).

But, thanks to Bollywood films and movie music, it is possibly the most understood language on the planet. In South Asia alone, it is understood by over a billion people in India, 220 million in Pakistan, over 160 million in Bangladesh, and many more millions in Nepal and elsewhere.

Then there is also the 50-million-strong South Asian diaspora across the globe who flock to Bollywood films. Besides, OTT (Over The Top) platforms such as Amazon Prime Videos, Netflix, Disney+hotstar etc are taking Indian cinema in general and Bollywood films in particular to all corners of the globe.

Yohani’s ‘Manike Mage Hithe’ has already reached over 116 million viewers on YouTube alone in India. It all began with an effusive tweet by Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan. On the evening of August 15, he tweeted to his 40 million followers: “But truly an ode to that incredible Sri Lankan song ‘Manike Mage Hithe’..edited here to my KALIA song by the genius NAVYA NAVELI..BUT honestly Manike.. playing in loop whole night .. impossible to stop listening.. SUUUPPEEERRRBBB.”

When her manager called Yohani up to say that Amitabh Bachchan had shared her song, ‘Manike Mage Hithe’, the singer couldn’t believe it. “I had thought he was pulling a prank on me and I went back to sleep. The next morning, I had many calls and messages from so many people congratulating me. It still feels unreal. I’m humbled by the recognition,” she said.

Overnight, the rest of Bollywood and India tuned in to watch and listen to the song on YouTube, Instagram and a host of other social media platforms. The song garnered top Bollywood stars’ praise, and now boasts of versions in Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Bengali, Odia, Bhojpuri and several other languages. Those who shared it with millions of their fans included Priyanka Chopra, Madhuri Dixit, Parineeti Chopra, Tiger Shroff, Krystle D’Souza, Rannvijay Singha, Neha Kakkar, Yashraj Mukhate, and a host of others.

And the Indian High Commission in Colombo greeted Yohani in a tweet that said: “A proud moment as the Newest Cultural Ambassador @yohanimusic is feted by national TV networks in India. #manikemagehithe has captured millions of Indian hearts from celebrities to common people.”

“I am humbled to see the love it has received from India, and I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of something as incredible as this event. I am thrilled and look forward to performing live amongst my fans and connecting with them in-person,” she added.

A fan of Bachchan, Salman Khan, Shah Rukh, Tiger Shroff, Deepika Padukone and Jacqueline Fernandez, Yohani also listens to a lot of music from India. Thanking all her Indian admirers, she said: “I can’t wait to perform live for you. I want to make friends and do collaborations with many of you. I also look forward to learning more about the culture and possibly speaking your language too. I love you all.”

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JVP, too, moves court against deal with US company



By Chitra Weerarathne and A.J.A. Abeynayake

The JVP yesterday (26) filed a writ application in the Court of Appeal requesting it to declare null and void a Cabinet decision to transfer 40 percent of the Yugadanavi Power Plant to US Company, New Fortress Energy Inc.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Cabinet of Ministers, the Ceylon Electricity Board, West Coast Power (Pvt) Ltd, Lakdanavi Limited, the Monetary Board of the Central Bank, the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation have been named as respondents among 43 others.

The JVP’s petition has come in the way of Colombo’s Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and Ven Elle Gunawansa, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya and the Federation of National Organisations (FNO) moving the court against the controversial deal with US energy company,The application has also sought a writ of mandamus on the respondents preventing them from taking any action with regard to the matter until the application is taken up and its examination is concluded.

Former JVP MPs Sunil Handunnetti and Wasantha Samarasinghe are the petitioners.

The petitioners state that the Cabinet decisions undermine the rule of law, the Constitution and democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution and several other statutes, and conventions of democratic governance and Cabinet of Ministers exercising executive powers.

The petitioners state that LTL Holdings (Pvt) Ltd., is the largest power sector engineering company in the country. It was first incorporated in the 1980s as a joint venture of the Ceylon Electricity Board and a multinational group – ABB of Norway.

The Petitioners state that Lakdanavi (Pvt) Ltd., is a fully owned subsidiary of LTL Holdings (Pvt) Ltd., and is a company specialised in engineering, procurement and construction and operations and maintenance in the energy and power generation sector.

They assert that the government has not properly explained particulars of the deal even to the Cabinet of Ministers when transferring the shares of the power plant to the American company.

They have also alleged that the government has not obtained the approval of Parliament for the agreement in question and that the relevant share transfer process has not been carried out in accordance with a formal tender procedure.

They have sought the Appeals Court to issue an order rescinding the decision taken to transfer the shares to the American company and the agreement signed by the government.

In addition, the General Secretary of the SJB MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara filed a Fundamental Rights application in the Supreme Court on 21 Oct., challenging the government decision to transfer 40 per cent of the Kerawalapitiya Power Plant to the US firm.

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Ex-Indian HC in Colombo during turbulent 1989-90 will be featured in next Pathfinder “In Conversation” webinar



Ambassador Lakhan Mehrotra, former High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka, will be featured in the next Pathfinder “In Conversation” webinar scheduled at 2.30 p.m. IST/SLST on Thursday 28th October.

Mehrotra will be interviewed by Bernard Goonetilleke, Chairman, Pathfinder Foundation. They will discuss the guest speaker’s publication ‘My Days in Sri Lanka’, which features his experience during the period 1989-1990, when he served as High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka, during a politically turbulent era coupled with the separatist war in the north-east and an insurrection in the south.

His book, ‘My Days in Sri Lanka’ touches on the beginnings of the conflict, briefly follows on its evolution until it reached its peak in the early 1990s, and then takes the reader in detail through the author’s own experience in the country, nearly two years after the 1987 Indo-Lanka Agreement was signed and the Indian Peace Keeping Force had been inducted at the invitation of President J. R. Jayewardene, while President Premadasa, who succeeded President Jayewardene considered the presence of an Indian military contingent on his nation’s soil as an affront to its sovereignty. Soon after his election, the President issued an ultimatum for the IPKF to leave its shores by 29th July 1989 and threatened military action against it if it failed to do so, which brought the two nations to the brink of a military confrontation.

The High Commissioner’s intensive consultations and tireless interaction with the political leaders of Sri Lanka, the warring factions in the country’s north-east, and the governments in New Delhi and Colombo helped signing of the joint communique on 28th July 1989 on arrangements for phased withdrawal of the IPKF in March 1990 with due recognition of its contribution and sacrifices made to preserve the unity, integrity and sovereignty of the country. ‘My Days in Sri Lanka’ provides information that has never been divulged before. The “In Conversation” webinar will delve into these experiences of the High Commissioner; whose rather brief assignment was from April 1989 to June 1990.

Following his assignment that covered the most turbulent period of Sri Lanka in modern times, Ambassador Mehrotra served as Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs and as Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Africa before his retirement in 1992. Later, he served as UN Secretary General’s Personal Representative in Cambodia from 1997 to 2000 and as Head of the UN Diplomatic Mission in Jakarta for Peace Talks between Indonesia and East Timor.

Those who are interested in retracing the history of Sri Lanka should register in advance for this webinar through the link below:

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Cardinal lashes out at Minister known as Ten Percent



His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith visits Sarakkuwa in the Pamunugama area where clearing of X-Press Pearl debris continuinues.Pic by Nishan S .Priyantha

By Norman Palihawadane and Nishan S. Priyantha

Monies taken in the form of commissions by forfeiting people’s welfare will never do any good to those who take them, says His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.

“The biggest malady our society is afflicted with is the commissions earned by politicians through various deals. They take commissions from companies by depriving the people of their dues. Such money has blood on them and they would not do any good to those who take them,” the Cardinal said yesterday.

Speaking to journalists at the Sarakkuwa beach in Pamunugama during an inspection tour to witness the progress of cleaning work of the MV X-Press Pearl wreck the Cardinal said: “We have a Cabinet minister who is notoriously known as Mr. Ten Percent. Imagine the shame on this nation when there is such a minister taking ten percent of commission from every project he passes. The monies collected in that way would never bring out any good.”

The Cardinal said that the President, the Prime Minister and government institutions including the Ministry of Fisheries, coast conservation department, marine environment protection authority and urban development authority were duty bound to remove the wreck, clean the beach and the ocean. “In doing so, the government should be concerned about the interests of people, and not about the shipping company, its local agents or agents of the insurance companies. We demand that the government take this case before the International Court of Justice in The Hague and get full compensation for the people. We have information that the agents of companies have come down and are staying in Colombo exerting influence on various political leaders and officials. Their objective is getting out of this by paying a paltry sum. If the politicians and officials permit that we will take to the streets with people.”

The Cardinal said that there was information that Urban Development Authority officials were making plans to give away Muthurajawela to foreign companies. “Muthurajawela is a national asset and belongs to the people. The politicians have no right to sell them off to Korean or Chinese companies. We would not let that happen,” he said.

Associated with the Cardinal were Ven. Pahiyangala Ananada Thera, Chairperson of Marine Environment Protection Chairperson, bishops and other religious leaders.

The Singapore-registered X-Press Pearl caught fire off the coast of Colombo in May and sank while transporting 1,486 chemical containers from the Middle East with stops in India and Sri Lanka during its voyage to Singapore.

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