Nirosha Virajini

Nirosha Virajini

Nirosha Virajini was born Virajini Lalithya de Silva. The very first musical group that that recognized her potential and hoisted her on to the stage of entertainment, (Supersons) wanted a name that would both appeal to the audience (at this time she was a complete non-entity) while also blending and harmonizing with the field itself. Theirs was a mixture of north and south Indian music being replayed in Sri Lanka catering to the very large audience that appreciated Indian music. In retrospect it is amazing how right Supersons have been.

Born in the hill-capital of Kandy, Sri Lanka to a family with liberal ideas, that imposed no great obligations on the children, the family later moved to the outskirts of Colombo coinciding with Nirosha's father's departure overseas for employment. Eldest in a family of four (another sister and two brothers) Nirosha's early inclination was for Indigenous dancing. This she did with commitment over the years at school. However destiny had other plans, especially with a determined mother who recognized Nirosha's innate talents. Virjinia (Nirosha's mother) was the relentless planner for children's welfare and upbringing while the farther Mervin de Silva was a silent contributor from across the seas. It was Virjinia who took to music (though after marriage) with a degree of dedication, characterizing her need to carve out an identify for herself. However while Virjinia (talented) but with opportunities that were limited both in scope and substance finally decided to fully dedicate herself to shaping a future for Nirosha. Nirosha's debut was under the guidance of maestro late Austin Munasinghe who happened to be Virjinia's musical mentor. She was selected for chorus singing in a regular children's educational program being broadcast by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation.

Nirosha's uncle's friends who formed the group “Supersons” agreed to try out Nirosha if she could cope with emulating North and South Indian singing styles - high pitch and wide range. Nirosha's natual talent easily coped with the challenging task and she entered the musical field as a semi-professional stage artiste. The group though small was highly talented and enjoyed a wide audience especially among Tamil and Muslim minorities. Natually Nirosha sang Tamil and Hindi songs and, to put it aptly, Nirosha's representation of the original Hindi and Tamil songs if at all further enhanced their own identity. However the mother again thought of a “future' for her daughter and Nirosha was off to South India (Chennai) for possible development of her dancing and singing skills. Here in Chennai, Nirosha came under the strong influence of Karnataka music that largely contributed to her, achieving a level of singing that was truly remarkable. On a short vacation back at home, Nirosha's mother took yet another daring step by changing plans (in concurrence with various factors) and deciding that Nirosha would still have a career even without completing her educational activities in India. Thus Nirosha re-entered the fray - by now a highly competitive almost inundated with talent. The step was daring and decisive but proved to be absolutely correct.

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While she became an artiste “mandatory” for stage with her enormously successful Hindi and Tamil singing style that retained the original depth and even the vocal projection; at about the same time, she made her debut with a Sinhala cassette “ Sitha Handai” (a heart cries)named after the theme song. Though a popular Tamil melody, Nirosha gave the song and originality of her own and it was an instant success.

Nirosha successfully followed the cassette with her first one-man show - a mixture of Hindi and Tamil songs popular with her audience. By now Nirosha was synonymous with singing Tamil and Hindi songs. Nirosha's scope and range began to expand. She was sought by commercial advertisers for jingles; also several experimental but ground breaking songs were done. He sharp, resonant voice easily captured the mood behind a song and she delivered it as conceived by the lyricist and musical director. The foremost trend-setter in the Sinhala film music , Maestro Premasiri Khemadasa (a no-nonsense radical) had Nirosha (to the chagrin of many a Tamil) sing the famous “famous” peace song (Ven Purawe) in Tamil. The grouse, why get a Sinhala artiste to sing a Tamil song and for that matter a song of national significance. However Nirosha justified the confidence placed in her by the maestro. The song strove to cut across the ethnic barriers that was the root cause of a bloody armed struggle by the a section of the Tamil minority.

The second one-man show followed and coincided with Nirosha's investiture to becoming a Sinhala vocalist. A dream her mother nurtured. This was a daring move. The field was dominated by the elite of Sinhala vocalists. Her second cassette and the first CD carved a “niche” for Nirosha. Once again it was the late Austin Munasinghe, the man who recognized Nirosha's talents initially who had the privilege to make a break-through with a song based on feelings of a simple woman, dreaming of the yet unborn son. “Pun Sanda Reta” (Full Moon in the Night) the song itself written by a foremost lyricist of the time; the vocal rendition by Nirosha and the haunting music, combined to give one of the most beautiful songs of the time. The year 1995 was one of the most productive. Nirosha sang a Malayalam song in radical play-write Jayantha Chadrasiri's television drama filmed in Kerala. The year also saw her reaching a pinnacle of sorts when was she was adjudged “ Super Grade” by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation in Tamil singing.

Increasingly Nirosha (prematurely and grudgingly though) was inducted to the exclusive fraternity of elite artistes. You could not simply ignore her. During a short spell she had achieved so much. She had brought about a unique freshness. Films came her way and so did television drama. 1996, 1997 and 1998 saw Nirosha with a extremely busy schedules with both local and foreign assignments. She passed yet another milestone in her career when she was invited to back ground sing for a Tamil movie made in Chennai. Initially considered for one song, the music director Udaya, had her sing an additional song in the film “Urawaku Mariade” (respect the relationship) . One of the two songs was a hit of the year.

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Her third cassette and second CD was produced for a thundering reception. Nandunana Sihinaya II (Unrecognized Dream) had two particularly successful songs. One based on popular but traditional Portuguese “kapiringnga” (a version of calypso though not in Spanish style), “ Sanda Sakki (let the moon bear witness) and the other a song that conveyed supreme, unselfish, sublime love bordering the spiritual. It is not wrong to say that “ Sina Thotak” (fountain of laughter) was a milestone, as it touched the deepest of emotions; lyrically, musically and vocally.

Added to her vastly expanded repertoire was her acting debut in prominent teledrama director Bertram Nihal's “ Lantern” adaptation from Japanese story that depicted social injustice. To say the least she did this with great versatility. Many thought she could do both - singing and acting. However Nirosha remained dedicated to her original track. Through all these vast strides being taken, Nirosha not only remained the quintessential stage singer but also did not forget her original audience that wanted to hear her renditions of Tamil and Hindi songs.

Both maestros Ameradeva (winner of Padma Shri in India and Ramon Magsaysay in Philippines) the formost Sinhala musician and Premasiri Khemadasa the foremost trend-setter in Sinhala cinematic music, had no hesitation in paying their highest compliments to Nirosha's talent. She was singled out as one of the few vocalists who would do absolute justice to lyrics and music. Lyricists agreed that Nirosha's voice coupled with her unique ability to convey feelings as conceived and her vocal variations, made their songs wholesome.

Year 2000 dawned with her fourth cassette and third CD. “ Sigiri Geeyak” (song of Sigiriya) . The theme song inspired by the universally known graffiti of of Sigiriya rock fortress, was written by the eminent lyricist and professor - Dr. Sunil Ariyaratne. The special feature of her cassette and CD productions has been her total involvement with every aspect while enjoying complete confidence of the investors with regard to her judgement. Year 2001 marked yet another phase when she was selected by the prestigious Presidential Award Panel as the best female vocalist in films. The same year she sang at the prestigious Wembley theatre in London in the company of the top layer of Sinhala artistes.

Year 2002 was still greater in terms of achievement. The prestigious “ Sarasaviya” Sinhala film weekly that organizers the only film festival in Sri Lanka, selected her as the best female singer. It was followed by the only TV drama festival where once again she was adjudged the best vocalist in both categories. Her fifth cassette and fourth CD is just out - Duhulu Malak (frail flower) that bears testimony to her highly discriminatory and professional style of selections in terms of all aspects song presentations.

Within a relatively short time span of about 10 years Nirosha has achieved what many others would only achieve over a long period of time. On the other hand she is still at the top and would remain a “ star” for a long time to come.

Songs by Nirosha Virajini

Sarasaviye

Sansara Adare Theme Song (Valentine Special 2014)

Himi Nathi Pemakata (Remake)

Sitha Handai

Dunnu Wedana

Sandak Novee

Tharahavenna

Mevumkara Deviyo

Sinjore

Nenoo Numba Pal

Mal Mal Heenaya

Nilupule Nil