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Freshman of 1959 All those who joined in 1959

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Old 03-07-13, 01:54 PM
sriyanjay sriyanjay is offline
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Default One of the most sought after comperes of our time, Arun Dias Bandaranaike

Mixing the fine art of jazz with nature

One of the most sought after comperes of our time, Arun Dias Bandaranaike is a man of many sides. A nature lover who has travelled the length and breadth of most parts of the Sri Lankan wilderness, he is also a lover of classical jazz. He was also an old hand at the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC). Someone who came from simple village surroundings, he is in high demand with a number of theatrical performances under his belt. Arun can be immediately recognized by his voice which is deep and magnetic. Daily News caught up with this adventurer in Reminiscences of Gold.

"My childhood was very ordinary. I grew up in the village of Kalanimulla and my childhood was just like most other children. I suppose one advantage I had was that I lived in a village and not much in the city. It allowed me to appreciate my surroundings and I was close to animals. We had cattle, the odd goat or so on with plenty of chickens. It was a farming area. That was very necessary as it allows one to be firmly planted on the earth and not have too many fanciful ideas. That was a fortunate aspect of my childhood. As far as schooling was concerned, I was sent to S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia. It was a long haul to travel there but that's the way things were those days; nothing was convenient. Kelanimulla, was a very small place and it still is. That is where my father's family was. That was the kind of background I grew up in and it was a good balance."

Arun Dias Bandaranaike.
Picture by Sarath Peiris http://www.dailynews.lk/2013/07/03/fea04.asp

As was the fashion of the time, Arun tried to obtain some professional qualifications and dabbled in accountancy for a while. "So I did a bit of that too, but nothing major. I was quite content not to aspire too much, but of course I had classmates who did outstandingly well, but I was not one of them. I had some professional aspirations and I studied accountancy and also did Performing Arts. I have absolutely no degrees and I soon lost interest in Accountancy. It was not necessarily invigorating and did not capture my imagination. After a while I got quite tired of it. I have a professional qualification as a performing artist which I followed to the letter, and got an Associate Diploma issued by the Trinity College of Music. At that time I had an excellent teacher called Yolande Abeywira. She was my coach. The Performance Arts were mainly to do with spoken English and Drama."
Outstanding teachers

Arun found in Yolanda one of the most outstanding teachers he could ever find. "If I have benefited from any of that it was from this teacher. She was very demanding. I can handle myself on a platform and on stage thanks to all that. She was one of the strictest teachers I have come across. She would let me know what I needed to do and what I shouldn't do and made no bones about it.

"I may have resisted some of that at that time, but now I value every bit of it. Those were my teenage years. I was there for six or seven years. Everything I do now in my profession at the moment stems from what she taught me."

"One production that I took part in that people seem to remember is, the role of the Ralahami in 'Well, Mudaliyar! How?' Just last week somebody said 'I remember you playing this part!'. That was in 1995. This was a play of H.C.M. De Lanerolle who wrote the script for that play. In 2001, I did Oliver, which was a new challenge, directed by Vinod Senadheera. He invited me to play the part of old Oliver. There was no such play but he rewrote the words of Charles Dickens and made it into a different kind of play. There were two Olivers: one was young Oliver and the other one was old Oliver. So that was a challenge I enjoyed because I was working with two casts. The older and the younger."

Arun, as always with his self deprecating humour, mentioned that he entered the field of Television and Radio because of boredom. "One of my classmates was in Radio and he said: 'why don't you come and do something with us! That is how I got into Radio. Just to take away some of the boredom of having to deal with accountancy, I just leapt into it. I began to do various things and they were within my capacity. I enjoyed some of that. I never pursued television; I was not even interested in television except the musical aspect. But that was not how it happened. They used me as an interviewer first and later for hosting other programmes. Those were never things I pursued and even now I don't think of them as a career. I did that maybe to earn a little money, to be able to survive. It just happened to come my way. Of course I've done a whole lot of television."
Wild Asia

"The SLBC was really vibrant in the 1980's. It went down a little bit in the 1970's but came up again in the 1980's. And there was a lot of good stuff that was happening which some people may not even remember. We had current affairs programmes, interview programmes, musical programmes with live performances of classical music. They were outstanding. And we used to get some really great performers coming from overseas as well. I had the privilege of presenting them on radio. Even news programmes had a lot of class. Things began to change in the 1990's."

A familiar figure every Saturday on Wild Asia, Arun certainly has a connection with nature. "I grew up in a village once, so that helped. I was always aware of everything that was happening around me and I was keenly aware of small creatures, large creatures, venomous snakes, crocodiles, alligators and so on. My father was also fascinated with the same things. He had such enthusiasm and would go on jungle trips. I used to join him on some occasions, and if I wasn't able to, he would share his experiences with us."

Arun has been doing Wild Asia for almost five years now and the contract goes on till February next year. "After February next year I don't know, so there will be more episodes. We have been to Yala quite a few times but we haven't done enough of the Eastern Coast. We haven't done a full range of the birds of the Eastern Coastal area and in Hambantota also. So my producer is keen to go into some of those areas."

Arun is also a multi-talented musician who plays piano, trumpet, and double bass. "One must be able to enjoy music, otherwise you are like a block of wood. Again my school environment was very conducive to learning music and singing. That opportunity also came from my relatives. My uncle used to sing with the LG singers. Lylie Godridge himself was a friend and I came to know him very well. I've learnt from him and I've spent time listening to records in his company. And that was very instructive. Then among my classmates, there were several - Manilal Weerakoon who was outstanding and who was a conductor here. He was very knowledgeable about music. Being with him in the same class, I think, made a huge difference. He had a lot to do with my awareness of music."
Jazz musicians

Arun confesses that in Jazz he doesn't like the term because it is far too narrow for the music that it encompasses. It involves a wide range which spans more than a hundred years. "So it is not just one thing, Jazz is many things. Here we have all that formality of structure, intricacy of structure involving melody, time, rhythm and harmony in a situation which changes rapidly every second. In other words you are improvising, that is what Jazz musicians do; they create the music in a spur of the moment. It is not completely planned. In a sense, unplanned, that is why it is improvised. The moment I am able to understand what a performer is trying to do, I do come alive and ask myself: How does he do it? How does he do all of these things and still maintain the equilibrium? In Jazz there has to be equilibrium. Jazz is a very fine art."

On 3 Jul 2013, at 01:46 PM, "Milinda Hettiarachchi" <rpmilinda@gmail.com> wrote:

> Cheers Arun +++

On Wed, Jul 3, 2013 at 4:40 PM, John Attygalle <jattygalle@gmail.com> wrote:

Well done mate....

John Attygalle

On Wed, Jul 3, 2013 at 2:23 PM, Howzat.dhushan@t-online.de <Howzat.dhushan@t-online.de> wrote:

Dear Arun

Yes, we can all be very proud to say that we know you. Keep up the
sterling work. And thanks to Sriyan, as always, for sharing.


Dhushan (Chico).

On Wed, Jul 3, 2013 at 2:12 PM, Dr.Nalin Jayasuriya <nalin@rensj.com> wrote:

Hi! Arun,

My heartiest congratulations!! Well done and very deserving.

All the best and take care,

Dr. Nalin Jayasuriya
Chairman, McQuire Rens & Jones (Pvt) Ltd
MD & CEO, McQuire Rens Consulting (Pvt) Ltd

Last edited by sriyanjay; 03-07-13 at 08:50 PM.
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