Mahesh Nissanka Robust, Autographed, celebrated Television music Director, accomplished VOCALIST, with ABUNDANT HUMANE VIRTUES – by Sunil Thenabadu
Mahesh Nissanka and another brother were born to deprived, destitute parents from Enderamulla, Wattala, had lamented that when he was young was very lean not attracted to anyone who led a poverty stricken horrid life. Father Sunil Bass had worked in metal quarry from which stones were extracted ,who was compelled to clean his hands with coconut oil at the end of the each day, once had been a ‘watcher’ at a State Engineering Corporation site, then later had bought beetles and ‘Keera’ from Thotalanga ‘pola’ , bundled them and sold to earn a living. Had once bought ‘Thala’ which had to be minced to make ‘Thala Guli’ taken on a push bicycle to sell.The grinding part and the yelling to sell ‘Thala Guli” was made by Mahesh as father’s ‘golaya’. The mother labelled as “Mahana Nanda” ,her only belonging was her sewing machine which she eternally pedaled manually to knit to earn a living. The dwelling they lived in was not at all conducive for a comfortable living. Once on television Mahesh lamented that he used to sleep on a mat on the clay floor .On rainy days both mother and father were used to hold the brittle clay walls tightly preventing it falling on Mahesh’s body. When young were deprived of watching television had visited a neighboring house to watch. When a youth has had an ambition to possess a television at home which was dream.
Mahesh recollects his young days was like that of Jesus Christ facing loads of agonies. He had attended a small primary school ,Thota Vidyasadaka Junior school in Enderamulla up to fifth standard, then was sent to Gurukula Maha Vidyalaya in Kelaniya which really had changed his life as a solid foundation for his future was created. This was made possible as his father had to Middle East in search of greener pastures for a job to enhance the family life. At the school Mahesh had been fortunate to meet the legendary teacher Seelaratne Senerath who had commenced a radio club in school to whom Mahesh is indebted abundantly. It was for the first time that provided this unique opportunity to speak into a microphone after a fruitful voice test carried out and later to listen to his own voice.That too was in the unfamiliar English vernacular which Mahesh still very modestly say is still to date not conversant in and is foreign to him. Mahesh had been fortunate to learn playing musical instruments and singing which he performed with interest above his academic studies. Mahesh had been a drums player and a vocalist to accepted standards not having any hereditary affiliations, perhaps a God’s precious gift. He was a member of a band outside the school where he was the ‘drummer’ and the vocalist who had to sing some selected songs. This was a terrific experience which guided him when he joined to the music division of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation in the later years.
When Mahesh reached the age of twenty years ,there was a revolutionary movement in the country during the period 1989 to 1991 though he was genuinely not affiliated to any revolutionary political party in that era. During that era Mahesh had a lot of red tape from the parents ,mother in particular to protect him from exposure to the public, as it was learnt that it was perilous though he was not involved in any revolutionary factions. Mahesh recalls that the mother had forced him to sleep under her bed as a strong precautionary measure during this perilous era. Throughout this phase Mahesh had been very keen on getting out of the country to the Middle East, preferably is search of greener pastures as he desperately needed some money for his existence and to build a dwelling of his own, for the family. The dwelling ,the family was living in was not at all conducive to proper comfortable living. But very unfortunately his mother was against his proposal to go to Middle East.She had opposed his decision wholeheartedly. But then the sole intention of his mother was for Mahesh to find some job somewhere for his benefit and to contribute to the family disbursement.
It had been really by quirk that his mother had seen an advertisement in ‘Dinamina’ newspaper calling for vacancies for trainees at the program division at the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation. She had torn the part related to the vacancies , had given to Mahesh who with his radical stance and robustness had lamented to her ,this will not be possible would not happen had discouraged her, even had fought with his mother. On her nonstop instigation Mahesh had applied, within a few days he had received a letter from the SLRC to attend a audition at the Thurstan College.When he arrived at the venue with mother’s pocket money . he observed over one thousand had thronged to the venue for this audition. For a moment he had thought he would not stand a chance had decided to go back home.While stepping out of the premises had though what he was to quip to mother, as she had given pocket money too.Mahesh had reformed his attitude had attended to the audition which also included a ‘screen test’ and to execute in a ‘video clip’.Mahesh had performed commendably . The second letter was for a written examination held at the Lumbini College where he had to face further tests when the final twenty one was selected ,the invigilators had been Hema Nalin Karunaratne and Chandranie Liyanarachchi.The former Hema Nalin Karunaratne had given him a nod and uttered ‘ to point out your finger to anyone in the audience’. Which Mahesh still firmly remember. Among so many he and Champika De Soysa had been selected for the music division of the SLRC.But Champika had left early sans pursuing a career as she had family responsibilities and chaos to shoulder. Mahesh had said he had felt thrilled and elated such that sun has begun to shine on him. There had been many days he had consumed two meals instead of two.He recollected reminiscing well how his mother fed him rice with coconut oil sprinkled as gravy. His father had addressed him a “Hiru Kumaraya”.He had paid his mother for the milk she fed him before her demise at the age of 92 years having looked after better than his own self.Many people who had not even seen his mother speaks of her qualities which they have heard for bringing up such a distinguished humble son like a ‘king’ with such unique qualities and pride.His wife is a normal housewife does her duties with responsibility on all family matters emulating his parents to immaculate precision.She had looked after his parents too when they were ageing. The parents’ duo had clicked well with Mahesh’s wife living happily sans daughter in law issues with his parents as we hear of such awful relationships often. According to Mahesh he is so fortunate to have a peace of mind for his responsible creative exercises. .
It was in year 1991 which Mahesh had asserted changed his life totally having been in the doldrums all these years. In that era no program was telecast until it was approved by a judge panel comprised of adjudicators Lucien Bulathsinghala ,Jackson Anthony, Hema Nalin Karunaratne and Chandrani Liyanarachchi.This was an ideal appointment for Mahesh to facilitate his already inherited musical talents to be able to exploit his knowledge. His ability in making out precise ‘camera angles’ which he attributes to ‘God’s precious gift.Mahesh’s music knowledge had assisted him to perform his exertion to precision. From then to date Mahesh has been permanently in the music division has matured immensely in stature as a well-known television broadcaster of many popular programs during his tenure of thirty years. Mahesh had paid a huge tribute to Hema Nalin Karunaratne that it was from him solely that he learnt the basics at the SLRC. At a television interrogation Mahesh had said there had been many administrators at the supreme who had intermittently come and gone with fluctuations in governments but the static contributions had been made by a robust middle team who had continuously carried the burden of the work to precision.But inside he states there are two factions green and blue .Though there are many drawbacks within the SLRC which Mahesh is well aware he keeps silent as he if divulged them he may be flung out to somewhere else. Mahesh had joined as a trainee producer then became a producer now the senior producer in the music division of the SLRC. His first program facing a camera had been the ‘Ayubowan’ produced, then by Saddha Mangala Suriyarachchi .To date Mahesh is only directing music programs not much of presenting. The music program ‘Suramya Rathriya’ was his own concept with the participation of popular singers, had consisted of eighty episodes well patronized by not only Sri Lankans but those in many in overseas territories also by viewers of varied ages. The program was adjudicated as the best music program at the year 2008 Sumathi Awards ceremony.This had been according to Mahesh a huge hurdle for him which he navigated across successfully. He presumes the program of Sunil Edirisinghe stands out as the most popular while the one of Deepika Priyadarshanie’s was the most emotional. Mahesh had added that these music programs were not definitely for the ‘legs’ but especially for those who love sentimental songs hence there was a huge audience.
Mahesh recollects the very first instance he faced a camera at the SLRC was when he as a novice when he conducted “Geetha Charika”.Then he remembers among others, the program “Suramya Rathriya’.Mahesh recollects how Saman Lenin very reluctantly was forced to sing at an audition at the University by his friends. .The song Mahesh recollects as Victor Ratnayake’s “Sihil Sulang Relle”.Then lately the program on Sunday nights telecast uninterruptedly the memorable “Sihinayaki Re”. Mahesh had conducted it in an immaculate manner for well over six years commenced on February 8th 2015,the guest been Dleepa Karunaratne and the vocalist Nirosha Virajini,to which many who have asserted as really a ‘Sihinayak.’.As most viewers are now conversant a guest who is invited has to select ten songs of his choice and he or she has to elaborate as to why the songs were selected. All have conveyed that to select ten songs is extremely a difficult proposition. The guests who were invited as the viewers are aware are from the cream of society, in varied occupations like professors, consultant physicians, surgeons, poets. authors, sportsmen. principals etc etc.There had been ‘Bikkhus’, ‘Sil Menios’ and other religious dignitaries invited too to occupy the guests’ chair at intervals. Every month an audience of around two hundred and fifty persons are invited for a program who are afforded the unique opportunity to listen and view the proceedings live, hear the comments of the guest and the high-quality stereo music which are so pleasing to the ear. This as all are aware is a very trending program viewed by millions not only in Sri Lanka but in various overseas countries where Sri Lankans are domiciled. Of course it is needles to comment on the endeavor of Mahesh to pierce the heart of all the guests which delights all viewers, of course in a very humorous manner in Mahesh’s own inimitable style.Mahesh endevours to penetrate the heart of the guest to bring out the person inside his heart.For this ability Mahesh to pierce the heart of the guest to expose the inner person, should be hailed and applauded to unprecedented tall heights, perhaps no other presenter is capable of. “Sihinayaki Re” is undoubtedly the trendiest television program ever produced by the SLRC or perhaps by all television channels. Mahesh had added that though “Suramya Rathriya” had drawn many adherents ,it was “Sihinayake Re” which had embraced him, having secured many fanatics whom he presume would even carry his corpse one day.It needs to be emphasized that the popularity of the ‘Sihinayaki Re ‘ is at such a peak spot even for the benefit of overseas viewers three such programs were conducted in the United Kingdom, Italy and Australia successfully to packed audiences with pin drop silence. There were two separate recitals in Australia in Melbourne and Sydney which were well patronized by music crazy Sri Lankans. It should be emphasized that Mahesh with his fluency in the Sinhalese vernacular commences the program with an introduction with his amazing entertaining attitude.Mahesh had sung songs often to show his ability and skill in singing delighting viewers and many audiences.
One question many of Mahesh’s colleagues ask him whether he comes prepared to shed tears to be emotional. The answer was simple as he never carries a script with him but in nature he is touching when he hear of peoples grievances as he too had been subjected to such stages in early life. It has been a common site to view Mahesh shedding tears .But Mahesh had stated that for any presenter it is a rule in reading a news bulletin or relating a documentary it is strictly prohibited to become emotional. Mahesh adds as a presenter should respect the script of the producer without any blemish. But for the popular “Sihinayaki Re” program he never follows a script but automatically he questions the guest, critic or whoever, which comes to him naturally to which he believes some God above guides him abundantly. The strange thing is he cannot recollect the debate or the conversations he made once he descends from the stage perhaps God’s intervention. Mahesh had added that in this universe two people cannot laugh or cry for the same reason.Mahesh always endeavors to take a guest or person to a position he had never been to earlier as he loves to speak to hearts of people. Mahesh believes in songs more than the singing there is something beyond in the lyrics. Mahesh had asserted that certain presenters to become popular presents popular conceptions but Mahesh on the other hand lays emphasis on a creation that deserves to be popular which cannot rise to such unprecedented tall heights under normal circumstances, who are deprived of a proper stage to showcase their talent.
Mahesh had joined SLRC in year 1991 as a trainee production assistant then promoted to production assistant , now he is the Director of music at the SLRC.Up to year 1998 it was a long process to telecast a music program.The program had to be passed by a panel of judges who adjudicates the standard of them before permitting to telecast. The panel of invigilators then had been Lucien Bulathsinghala,Jackson Anthony, Hema Nalin Karunaratne and Chndranie Liyanarachchi. The responsibility of this process is now under the authority of Mahesh Nissanka as the head of the music division at the SLRC
Mahesh is a real family person who has three sons, all old Anandians. The elder two sons are a bit settled he had added. One son had played cricket for Ananda College. At the big match commentary the commentator had signified him as Mahesh Nissanka’s son. He too had a victim of Covid-19 virus like Mahesh hopes to commence playing club cricket once he is fully fit.The other son Manuja is already an accomplished singer following Mahesh’s footsteps perhaps with hereditary affiliations to father , participated in the gruelling Derana Dream Star season 09 reality contest ,where among so many contestants was placed the thirteenth. Mahesh had added that he never uses his position at the SLRC to influence his children in their activities which is a rare quality of Mahesh Nissanka.His youngest son about whom Mahesh is worried about as he is still not established in any field. It has been a practice at Mahesh’s dwelling to have a family meeting constantly. One topic invariably spoken of is how the family should proceed in the event of an eventuality to him. To him he says death may come at any time hence the family needs to be equipped to continue life. The routine life of Mahesh could be termed as very busy having no scheduled times for his meals. Hence his eating patterns are different, hence health issues too have erupted sans planned exercises which he intends to schedule better. In this scenario Mahesh is rather worried about his youngest son who is still a juvenile. Recently Mahesh had been inflicted with Covid-19 related virus rather seriously with severe breathing difficulties. Many had voluntarily come to his aid. He laments that all are all of them are not genuine or faithful friends, just to be in his good books. He adds that he has only a limited number of faithful friends which could add up to the numbers of his fingers and the toes in his feet in total.
Any traditional Television broadcaster should possess characteristic attributes with excellent communication skills,which includes the ability to speak on-camera communicate well in a team environment, communication skills required in a television presenter both in front and behind the camera.Another vital area is passion as the contemporary viewing public could spot a ‘pseudo’ presenter effortlessly. A competent announcer is genuinely aware what needs to be done forming a network with the audience. A respectable announcer needs solid researching skills to have the ability to reach the bottom of a story with applicable information. Another vital aspect which Mahesh possesses is the aptitude to cope with pressure been able to meet deadlines. Of course, an ideal presenter like Mahesh possesses leadership qualities in abundance to lead television anchor be willing to help, guide and shape younger reporters behind the scenes as a mentor possessing abundant humanity virtues.
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