BY S VENKAT NARAYAN
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.”
GL: Suspension of IMF bailout highlights failure to meet anticipated revenue targets
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Top Opposition spokesperson Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday (02) said that the government should take full responsibility for the suspension of USD 2.9 bn IMF bailout over Sri Lanka’s failure to achieve the anticipated revenue mobilisation.
The former External Affairs Minister found fault with the government for tax concessions granted to investors and the failure on its part to collect taxes, in spite of reaching an agreement with the IMF in that regard.
Referring to the declaration made by IMF delegation head Peter Breuer that the second tranche of about $330m would be delayed pending Staff-Level Agreement, Prof. Peiris pointed out that Sri Lanka and the lending agency had reached a staff-level agreement in early September last year.
Sri Lanka received the first tranche of USD 330 mn in the third week of March this year in terms of the Extended Fund Facility (EFF), spread over a period of four years.
While pointing out that revenue mobilisation had improved, the IMF said revenue was expected to fall short of initial projections by nearly 15 percent by the end of this year.
Addressing the media at the Nawala Office of Nidahasa Jathika Sabhawa, Prof. Peiris said that though the government tried to put on a brave face, the consequences of the indefinite delay could be quite catastrophic. He said the suspension of the programme could undermine debt restructuring talks with external creditors, governments, lending agencies and the commercial market.
Prof. Peiris said that the suspension of the programme, just after the release of the first tranche, was a matter for serious concern as the unexpected development could cause further erosion of investors’ confidence in the Sri Lankan economy.
Sri Lanka has obtained IMF assistance on 16 occasions.
Chairman of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Economic and Physical Plans Mahindananda Aluthgamage on Sunday told The Island the country was paying a very heavy price for the failure on the part of the Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise Department to collect the due taxes. Alleging that unpaid income taxes alone, over the past 15 years, amounted to a staggering Rs 904 bn, whereas revenue collecting authorities so far managed to collect Rs 1,643 bn though they were given a target of Rs. 3,101 bn for this year.
Prof. Peiris said that corruption in the public sector procurement process undermined the economic recovery process. The government defeated the Opposition moved no-confidence motion against Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella over corruption in the public health sector, Prof. Peiris said, asserting that the IMF must be aware of how the government encouraged waste, corruption, irregularities and mismanagement.
Prof. Peiris urged the government to take tangible measures to address the concerns of the IMF. Unfortunately, the government sought to deceive the public by claiming that the process was on track and would proceed following staff-level agreement, he said. He asked whether the government wanted the people to believe there would be staff-level agreements before the release of each tranche.
Prof. Peiris said that the government should correctly identify the warning issued by the IMF. It would be the responsibility of the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government to take remedial measures without further delay.
LPBOA demands bus fare hike
By Rathindra Kuruwita
Lanka Private Bus Owners Association (LPBOA) head, Gemunu Wijeratna on Monday (02) said they needed a five percent increase in bus fares following Sunday’s diesel price hike.
On Sunday, CPC, LIOC and Sinopec increased diesel prices by 10 rupees per litre.
Wijeratna said that the private bus owners had not increased bus fares when diesel prices were increased by 35 rupees per litre recently.
“With the latest price increase, short distance buses will lose Rs 1,000 a day. Long distance buses will lose Rs 2,500 a day. We can’t lose money like this. We want at least a five percent bus fare hike,” he said.
School transport providers have decided not to increase their charges.
Discourse on crisis in Lankan health sector at CSR
A discourse on the crisis in Sri Lankan health sector, under the theme ‘What ails the health sector? What solutions?’ is scheduled to be held at 4.00 p.m. on Thursday, 05 October 2023, at the Centre for Society & Religion (CSR) Auditorium, 281, Deans Road, Colombo 10, under the auspices of the Socialist Study Circle. The speakers will be Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, Consultant Community Physician, President, Sri Lanka Medical Association, Dr. Ananda Wijewickrama, Consultant Physician, National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Ravi Kumudesh President, Academy of Health Professionals. The discourse is open to the public.
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