- Sirasa Superstar Generation Four steps out of the blues
By Ranee Mohamed
It was a Friday night, a night when Colombo was ablaze with talent. There were songs from everywhere, singers in five star hotels set hearts and minds aflame and this language of love was listened, learnt and spoken.
Elsewhere in the city were families huddled around television sets ignoring the burning in their stomachs. For the moment they feasted on the glamour on their home-screens. Their hearts overflowing with expectation and hope, though a meagre meal awaited them at the end of the great show.
There was a time when K.V. Thisara Chanaka belonged to the latter. “I was a nobody then. I was an only child. My father died of a cancer in his leg when I was six months old. I had only my mother and maternal grandmother. My mother stopped full time work because she could not take me to school and run the home alone,” said Chanaka in an interview with The Sunday Leader.
Chanaka had been determined to do something – anything – to help his mother tide over the hard times, and the tears. It is just that, that ‘something’ never came his way. Born on November 13, 1985, he waited for luck to come his way.
“I did my best to concentrate on my Advanced Level examinations. I was very interested in pursuing higher studies, but I knew that my mother did not have the means to educate me any further. I did not want to cause her any more anguish than what she had gone through, so I did not even suggest it to her let alone persuade her,” said Chanaka.
It was around the time the Advanced Level Examinations were due that Chanaka had a girlfriend. The love affair had played a dual role in his life – of being able to generate within him a happiness hitherto never experienced and also to help drown the sadness that want brings and keep the unhappiness at bay.
“Just as I thought I was the happiest man on earth, my girlfriend left me,” said Chanaka. There were signs in his eyes that the embers of his first love were burning his very soul.
The loss of his father and the struggles of his childhood were happenings that he had to live with. “I wanted to make a success of life, but there was no way. I was told that I can sing, but singing just did not seem to be enough,” he said, “It did not put food on the table.”
However, Chanaka got some school leavers together, formed a small band and called it The Revolutions. Soon, he found that it was not a very profitable affair. Besides, he had to pay the other members of the band too. “We played at parties and weddings,” recalled Chanaka. But sadly they were forced to play free of charge due to various friendships and requests from friends.
“I was determined to do some kind of a job. Then I found a small job. It did not pay me well, but it me some money for my day to day living. Then I heard of the Sirasa Superstar. My friends urged me to give it a try,” he said.
“The first round of Sirasa Superstar Generation Four was at the Galle Grounds. I went there with a friend. I will never forget that day. There were several judges – one I distinctly remember as Somasiri Medagedera. I received encouraging comments from them. I came running back home and told my mother who was ecstatic,” recalled Chanaka.
“Then I went for the second round which was in Kandy, there too I received applause, comments and constructive criticism which I worked on,” said Chanaka.
“The third round was in Dambulla and the fourth in Tharagani Hall in Colombo. There were also six to seven rounds before I got to the final. My mother did not accompany me for the initial rounds as she was not in good health. But as I climbed up in the list, she began to accompany me. She told me that she did not want to accompany me as she could not bear the sadness of watching me ‘’losing’’ and hence kept away from coming,” said the Superstar.
When the time came Chanaka always sang with his heart. The feelings of his past, the sadnesses, the anxieties, the happy moments of being in love and his experiences in life itself were the thoughts that swayed in his mind as he poured forth his heart.
By now Chanaka had not been able to go to work and hence had to give up his job. Living on the little money that he had put aside, he soon found that he had come to the end of the tether. But he knew that the singing must go on. It was like a performance of Swan Lake. Life itself had always been a sad song for him and after all this happiness now, he did not care whether he lived or died.
However, Chanaka said that he did not in his faintest dreams think that he would win because of the talent around him. The talent around me was amazing. The Sirasa Superstar Generation Four saw approximately 200,000 applicants from all over the country. The show involved hard work, planning and a dedication that only a media organisation with rock-hard determination for social responsibility, for the progress of the society and country will venture out to do.
The human resources, a significant budget, state of the art technology, solid infrastructure, utilities, clothes, planning and dedication of the staff who worked round the clock and the steadfast sense of social responsibility of the Capital Maharaja Organisation, were the propellers below as the Sirasa superstar aspirants were the swans that got on the stage up above. Thousands watched, thousands were soothed and a thousand teardrops fell as each contestant lulled a tired nation.
All eyes were on them as they sang with their eyes closed. ‘When I got to the last eight contestants there was a feeling that I was going to win. It was a feeling that gripped me and my mother. But then I heard the voices of the others. It was truly hard to say who was the best. Then came the sms voting. And the Friday night…” recalled Chanaka.
It was a night to remember as Thisara Chanaka became Sirasa Superstar Generation Four and was awarded by Group Director Mano Wickremanayake on behalf of the Capital Maharaja Organisation.
Chanaka received a Super Hybrid Motor Car (Honda Insight), two Motor Bikes, a cash prize of one million rupees, a Mobile Phone and a Mobile connection with Rs. 240,000 worth of free call time.
Thisara Chanaka is a student of Miriswatte Keppetipola Vidyalaya and the Bandaranaike College in Gampaha. He lives in a housing scheme in Hansigiri Lane in Gampaha.
“I remember the days when I used to walk for miles. I sang the same songs, but I had no one around me. I used to walk to my destination and yet worry about running out of the little money in my pocket,” he said wiping the tears.
The show is over. The curtain is closed and the superstar has emerged. Today, Thisara Chanaka receives over 55 telephone calls a day and cannot go out of his home without being surrounded by fans.
“My car is ash in colour, dark ash,” smiles Thisara Chanaka. There is a shine in his shoes and stars in his eyes as he stealthily steps out to get into his car to reach a destination that he never dreamed possible…