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Yohani shifts base to Mumbai, learning Hindi, but misses her family



Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, November 5:Sri Lankan singer-songwriter-rapper Yohani has shifted her base to Mumbai. She is focussing on Bollywood, and is learning to speak Hindi, the language in which films are made in Mumbai. Hindi is spoken by half a billion Indians but understood by 1.4 billion Indians who love films made in Bollywood.

In interviews to Indian newspapers, TV channels and popular TV shows, Yohani said she did dream of singing for Hindi films, but didn’t think she would one day shift base to Mumbai. “I honestly didn’t think I would be able to sing for Bollywood. It all still feels like a dream. I’ve grown up listening to Hindi music and watching Bollywood films. I’m a big fan of so many artistes from India, and now I’ve got to work with a few of them. It still feels surreal,” she says.

It is not easy singing in Hindi. “Singing in a different language is quite a challenge. Learning to match the accent changes my vocal texture, so I need to get that right. But I am taking classes and working towards that,” says Yohani.She admits she misses her family: “I’d love to have my family here with me. But sadly, I don’t think they are going to move. My sister is a doctor and her work is mostly in Sri Lanka. Of course, they will come here from time to time to visit.”

She has been spending a lot of time in Mumbai because of work. “I like the three-wheeler rides (autorickshaw) in Mumbai, and I love how my team makes me feel at home here. The traffic is the only thing I dislike!

She is yet to understand Hindi fully. “Even though I don’t fully understand Hindi, I feel the music and it is amazing,” she says.And she has a long list of people she is a fan of in the Indian music industry. “I’m a huge fan of AR Rahman, Pritam, Arijit Singh, Sonu Nigam, Jubin Nautiyal, Guru Randhawa, Badshah, Divine, Neha Kakkar, Shreya Ghoshal, Sunidhi Chauhan… the list goes on. Each artiste here is unique in his/her own way, and they make great music. I feel their music and it is amazing. I aspire to have a body of work like them one day.”

Recently, she performed in Maldives for the first time to participate in the ChanaaChaa concert, and performed hit songs ‘Manike Mage Hithe’, ‘Chammak Challlo’, ‘Kabira’, ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha’, and others.Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih also attended the concert wherein Yohani delivered a spectacular performance. He also expressed his gratitude to Yohani.

“Getting love from fans is always an enormous feeling but to get it at new place which you have never visited is a surreal experience. But to my surprise I was welcomed with immense love and support. I am so thankful to the beautiful people of Maldives who treated me so well”, she said.

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Overtime gravy train for public sector back



Govt. MPs make contradictory statements on state of economy

By Shamindra Ferdinando

UNP National List MP Wajira Abeywardena on Sunday (26) disclosed the issuance of a circular by the Finance Ministry to restore overtime and other payments in the public sector.

The declaration was made in Galle soon after Transport and Media Minister Bandula Gunawardane lamented that the government was short of billions of rupees to pay public sector salaries, pensions, Samurdhi payments and meet recurrent expenditure.

Minister Gunawardena and UNP National List MP Abeywardena addressed the local media after the handing over of several buses to the Galle SLTB depot.

Cabinet Spokesman Gunawardena said that the government needed as much as Rs 196 bn before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and its projected revenue was Rs 173 bn. In addition to that Rs 500 mn was required to settle what Minister Gunawardena called bilateral debt.

Minister Gunawardane said that a part of the first tranche of USD 333 mn from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would be utilised to pay public sector salaries.

Of the USD 333 mn received so far, USD 121 had been used to pay the first installment of USD 1 bn credit line secured from India early last year, according to State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya.

Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera in the second week of August last year revealed as much as Rs 3 bn had been paid as overtime to Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) workers for several months. This disclosure was made in response to a query raised by Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella.

One of the major demands of the public sector trade unions on the warpath over the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government’s new tax formula is the restoration of overtime.

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Now, Opposition wants Finance Secy. hauled up before Privileges Committee



Prof G L Peris

Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday (27) urged Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to act speedily on the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) request to summon Finance Secretary Mahinda Siriwardena before the parliamentary Committee on Ethics and Privileges.

Addressing the media on behalf of the Freedom People’s Alliance, the former External Affairs Minister said that the Treasury Secretary had challenged the parliament by withholding funds allocated in the budget 2023 to the Election Commission thereby sabotaging the election.

Prof. Peiris said that there couldn’t be a far worse violation of parliamentary privileges than a government official undermining Parliament.

Instead of appreciating the intervention made by the Supreme Court to facilitate the delayed Local Government polls, the ruling party had sought to challenge the apex court, Prof. Peiris said, urging Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to fulfill his obligations.

Prof. Pieris said that if the government lacked funds, just one percent of USS 333 mn received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was sufficient to conduct the election.

The ex-minister said that the IMF wouldn’t oppose the utilisation of a fraction of the first tranche of USD 2.9 bn loan facility provided over a period of four years to guarantee the constitutional rights of the Sri Lankan electorate. (SF)

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Cabinet nod for fuel distribution by three foreign companies



By Rathindra Kuruwita

Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera announced yesterday that the Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval for allowing China’s Sinopec, Australia’s United Petroleum and RM Parks of the USA, in collaboration with multinational Oil and Gas Company – Shell plc, to enter the fuel retail market in Sri Lanka.

The minister said that each of the three companies would be given 150 dealer operated fuel stations, which are currently operated by Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC). A further 50 fuel stations at new locations will be established by each selected company, he said.

They will be granted licences to operate for 20 years to import, store, distribute and sell petroleum products in Sri Lanka, the minister tweeted.

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