TV Times

27th January 2002

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Boney M in Lanka again

A popular outfit from yester-year, Boney M will be in action at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium on February 9.

This is their second tour to Sri Lanka. They were in Colombo a decade ago on an invitation of a private institution in Colombo.

Next month tour is a presentation of Harris Ghouse, who got down DJ Bo Bo to Colombo, some time ago.

1976 was a remarkable year in music history... Disco music got its most glamorous stars - Boney M! Their career was comet-like; they came from 'nowhere'and were soon a major act. There was no discotheque around the world that didn't play Boney M, every TV-show which tried to be hip those days wanted to have the four-piece from the Carribean. Their sound, a mix of reggae, disco, funk, gospel, soul and rock hit the charts around the world like a bomb. 

Soon everyone knew the name and the music of Boney M. In spite of their phenomenal success the four members remained very down-to-earth people. Today, their songs are classics and their legend lives on forever... But who is Boney M?

It all started over Christmas/New Year 1974/75 when German born producer/singer Frank Farian sang like he never sung before - a song he wrote under the pseudonym "Zambi".

Actually it started way before; after a not very successful career as Schlagersinger Farian returns to "his roots" - to the black music. BABY DO YOU WANNA BUMP he called his song, using his own heavily disguised vocals and a stylized female chorus at Europa Sound Studios in Offenbach. In 1975 the Hansa record company release BABY DO YOU WANNA BUMP under the name Boney M. Farian gets the name when he turns on the TV and sees the credits of an Australian series. "Boney" is the lead character in the series, which gained cult status in Germany in the early 70's. It was a type of comedy series where the lead character were supposed to be something of an aboriginal detective. Boney M, member Bobby Farrell laughs "They used a white English Actor with his face blackened really badly. It was a huge joke in Germany."

In 1976, the single DADDY COOL is released followed by the Album TAKE THE HEAT OFF ME, however before the album and single become massive hits the record stuck like lead in the stores shelves. DADDY COOL makes nine golden records in various European countries. Before the year is up they will have released with SUNNY another very successful single taken from the album.

The eagerly anticipated second album is on its release in the summer of 1977. The first single release; MA BAKER - a story Farian's employee Hans-Joerg Mayer (Reyam) found in a book about crime in the USA. 

The LP 'LOVE FOR SALE' is released and hits the charts, though because of the cover photo it got only a disappointing No. 60 in the UK charts. The idea wasn't a bad one but the resonance was; LOVE FOR SALE is one of Boney M.'s best recordings ever, next to the single tracks it also contain such great songs as PLANTATION BOY or the old gospel MOTHERLESS CHILD new arranged by Frank Farian. It further contained some great covers such as CCR's HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THE RAIN or one of the most beautiful titles ever recorded by Boney M.: Yardbird's STILL I'M SAD.

With the next single release BELFAST, Boney M. achieves even more success. While in the UK another top ten hit, BELFAST is banned from the radio playlist in Northern Ireland. 

As mentioned, 1978 was the THE YEAR for Boney M. The group's superstar status is confirmed with the release of the third and biggest selling album, NIGHTFLIGHT TO VENUS which yields the mega hit single RIVERS OF BABYLON; a number one hit around the world. Sold every four seconds. The absolute top hit in the UK; BABYLON stays there as No. 1 for four weeks. In Australia, where the Swedish Popgroup ABBA celebrated some of their biggest success. Boney M. could position two No.1 hits with RIVERS OF BABYLON that stayed for four weeks on the Top spot as well as with RASPUTIN. 

When British radio DJ's began to get bored to play always the same song they just flipped the side of the single and with BROWN GIRL IN THE RING the single rushed back on top 2 in the UK Charts. The single remained for 40 weeks in the British single charts! When the LP was released it went immediately No. 1 in most countries; in the UK though it hit 5 weeks after its release the NR. 1 position but stayed then there for weeks. More hits followed with PAINTER MAN and RASPUTIN. 

With 175,000 records as daily delivery to a cumulus of 2.2 million sold records in only four weeks alone in the UK the Christmas hit MARY'S BOY CHILD (OH MY LORD) is becoming the fifth biggest selling single in the UK after RIVERS OF BABYLON which is the UK charts 2nd biggest selling single ever. Because BABYLON which the text came straight from the Bible, made it so great in the charts, Farian decided to record again a song with a religious topic.

With this huge success Boney M. becomes the first most successful non-British pop group in the UK and received in recognition of that as the first foreign group the Carl Allen Award.

More than 20 years after DADDY COOL, the legend of Boney M. Iives on. 

Their hits are unforgettable; today young people rediscover the group they probably just know from Radio and from their parents.

Dream Team rocks Copacabana in Dubai

'Dream Team', one of the popular bands in Lanka, who is a top attraction now at the Sheraton Hotel in Dubai.

Their new addition 'M-Fon, a Nigerian-born singer, is our cover girl this week.

The Band is presently performing at the 'Copacabana' Night Club of the Four Points Sheraton Hotel for six days a week.

M-Fon is the frontline Singer of Dream Team with Shion Dharmarathne.

Dream Team comprises - Shion (vocals), Jude Mawjood (drums), Ashan Perera(bass) and Suresh (guitar). 

Dream Team, who is in Dubai for nearly one year now, will only be in Sri Lanka for the December festive season.

Sisil's new stage play 'Mandela-Mandela'

Nelson Mandela's life and times will be made into a stage drama by the popular playwright Sisil Gunasekara. 

The Muhurath ceremony on the play titled 'Mandela- Mandela' was recently held with the participation of Foreign Minister, Tyronne Fernando and several diplomatic personnel. Addressing the ceremony Mr. Fernando read out a message sent by Nelson Mandela himself for the occasion. 

Writing on the occasion the African leader stated "What makes the occasion of special meaning to us is not in the first place its reference to ourselves. The major significance is its reference to the South African experience of seeking change through dialogue, negotiation and peaceful settlement. Most of the world expected our country to experience one of the bloodiest racial conflagrations.

"As a people we confounded the prophets of doom by finding a negotiated settlement amongst erstwhile foes and adversaries."

Congratulating the director and the players former South African President said we hope that this play will be successful and that it will in some way serve as an inspiration to the people of Sri Lanka to find lasting peace for themselves and their children,". 

The live-wire behind this effort, Minister Tyronne Fernando said Mandela is a man who, not only in South Africa, but the world over, has become a symbol of tolerance and understanding. 

The minister whose favourite international hero was Mandela persuaded Sisil Gunasekara to do a Drama on this great man of our times. "Mandela was the greatest freedom fighter after Mahatma Gandhi" said Mr. Gunasekara speaking on the selection of this international figure for his latest play. 

"I had preliminary discussions with Mr. Fernando even before the election. And there we decided to make this a drama using several languages," the producer said. "This would be the first international stage play done in Sri Lanka. The main language will be English and we have planned to employ some English stage players for this" Sisil who has presented several famous stage plays to the Sinhala stage said. Mr. Gunasekara who had earned a name for making some outstanding comedies like "Guwan Karanam", "Ralla", "Raliya" and "Papprazi" said "this play done of a man who has made history is a departure from my earlier efforts,". 

"We have planned to render the drama into German and also to stage it in the North using Tamil," he said hopefully. Most of the preliminary work has been done and we are planning to stage the play soon" he added. 

Kavithra learns the hard way

By Susitha R. Fernando
Kavithra Panangala, a determined teledrama director speaking of her maiden effort said it was a lesson she learnt the hard way.

Directing two teleplays and one single episode "Kaluwara Anduna" portraying a series of misfortunes that overtake a remote village is the first opportunity she was given to show her talent as a teleplay maker. 

"I started my career as a director organising "Wessanthara Jathakaya" at my school when I was just a little lass playing the main role," Kavithra said recounting the journey which led her to the small screen. 

Later she accidentally got an opportunity to act in a teleplay directed by that incomparable duo of the Sinhala cinema Lester James Peiris and his wife Sumithra Peiris. 

Going down memory lane Kavithra said "I used to go with my elder brother, the only person in my family involved in this field,". "One day I went to a location of Dr. Peiris with him and there I was given a chance to play a small part in the teleplay he was directing," "I was in the grade six class then", 'It was he who encouraged me to take to the directing' she added. And later she played a major role in "Salalihini Gammanaya" first telefilm directed by Dr. Peiris. 

Being nostalagic over her association with the Peiris family she said "They advised all the technicians to teach me every thing I wanted to know". 

"Though I started as an actress Mrs. Peiris had once predicted that I would do well behind the camera in the technical crew" she added. 

Having studied in three schools-Rathnawali Balika Vidyalaya, Colombo, Matara Walgama MV and Good Shepherd Convent Kotahena, she did her Advanced Level in Commerce stream. 

But her mind was fixed on the arts stream. 

Being the youngest girl no one in the family encouraged her to become a teledrama director. After failing to persuade her to their viewpoint Kavithra was finally allowed to join Maharagama Youth Centre and study photography. With the pictures taken from a borrowed camera she came to win awards for excellency in photography. 

At a competition organised by National Environmental Authority in1985 her five entries brought her three gold medals. It was photography that helped her to handle the tasks of film making efficiently, she said. 

In response to a question why she opted to become a director than a star, which was more glamorous and popular, she said 

"I always wanted to study the human feelings and wanted to know the thinking pattern of other people". "So it was a great opportunity being a director to study human feeling like love on which all human relationships are based on". 

Before the direction of "Kaluwara Anduna" being telecast every Friday at 7.30 pm, Sunday 2 pm and Wednesday 11 am with the new power cut schedule, Kavithra had directed 15 episode teleplay titled "Ulamage Rathriya" which has not been telecast due to a problem of its sponsors. 

"Doing a teledrama is not an easy task. Finding a producer is a very difficult job and then you have to face the problem of finding a sponsor and even finding a television belt," Kavithra said talking about her novel experience. 

However determined to go ahead in her own way Kavithra finally said "I have planned to start work on a film towards the end of this year which is the final target in my journey,". 

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