Manoj Peiris: An effervescent dominant journey in the field of music | Print edition


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There are a lot of successful musicians today who had no career choice but music, so they are one hundred percent dedicated to it. To set yourself up by focusing solely on a music career takes a lot of self-confidence.

Manoj Peiris is a musician who masters his art, one who must devote all his time and energy to art. A musician’s sense of adventure is a good motivation to dive deep into music and make it the only priority and the only way forward. This is Manoj’s hard work, his springboard to success for about four decades. Lalithakala Visharada Deshamanya Manoj, as a successful musician, practices music thoroughly in his early days, to this day also as a very talented exponent of “Tabla”, which is exclusively his ultimate passion.

Manoj is a musician who doesn’t mix passion with money because it could ruin his career. Like all successful musicians, Manoj possesses abundant patience with the attitude of not giving up. Manoj has been learning for years perhaps, continues to learn, practice and hone his talents to remain at the pinnacle of fame among so many musicians in Sri Lanka. Over the years, Manoj has implemented the concept of creativity to captivate and keep a variety of audiences engaged.

Manoj is the youngest and only male brother among five children. The eldest was Malkanthi, then Nirmala, Niranjala Sarojini and Sakunthala, all renowned singers except Sakunthala, who had participated in popular teledramas. Sakunthala also inherited the singing skills but did not surface like her other sisters. After respective marriages to Chancellor Sangeeth Nipun Sanath Nandasari, tabla exponent Wijeratne Ranathunga, and singer and television program producer Rupavahini Abeywardena Balasuriya, the family has grown into a cumulatively strong musical family perhaps like the family with the most large number of musical talents in native Sri Lanka. This starry musical family has been further strengthened with the emergence of the talented Anuradha Nandasiri and Sevwandi Ranathunga.

Manoj had been the baby (“hurathala”) of all the sisters, said he was well cared for, especially by Malkanthi, when he was sick it was Sakunthala. Many have wondered and are wondering why Manoj did not tie the nuptial knot. For Manoj, this single status is reserved for him. He does, however, have a wide circle of mostly female friends. He had added that the period he had lived was much more than the period to live. From then on, he prefers to stay in the same vein with a history of more than thirty-five years as a sought-after and busy musician leading his own band with a competent group of musicians.

Manoj added that he had received affection from so many people and would receive much needed affection in the future to the same extent. For him, the single life is less cumbersome and therefore wishes to remain so. He had lamented that the time he has lived to date is far more than the time he has left to live, which is why he prefers to remain single for the rest of his life. Manoj is a crazy animal lover, having nine cats at home and he has about ten dogs parked in front of his apartment. He says if he walks on the road the dogs follow, he has to buy them yogurt to free himself. He also states that, like music, caring for and feeding animals is his pleasure.

Manoj for almost two decades had been at the pinnacle of fame as a conductor, music director. He is indispensable as the most sought after musician in the field in native Sri Lanka. Manoj has traveled many countries with many orchestras as an intelligent tabla performer. He and Jagath Wickremasinghe forming a formidable duo had supported many leading singers by accompanying them in many Western countries. He had continuously provided the music leading his musical group for nearly two decades for ITN’s popular Friday night program ‘Chat N Music’ to date. He is searched by all TV channels like Rupavahini, Siyatha, TV Derana, Swarnavahini, Charana TV etc. He details a few players in his group at TV stations where little music is needed. Manoj still manages his players when two programs collide.

There had been several local and international requests for Manoj to compile a book about his Tabla exploits that avid fans were eager to follow and learn the art. Manoj recently launched his book ‘Tablawa’ for the benefit of anyone who wanted to learn the different playing styles of ‘Tabla’. Manoj had learned the basics from his older brothers-in-law Visharada Sanath Nandasiri and Visharada Wijeratne Ranathunga. One learns the content of the book which is enough to pass professional exams up to the Tabla Visharada stage. He also wishes to mention the names of the exhibiting wizards of Tabla DR Pieris, PV Nandasiri and Dr Rohana Weerasinghe ‘gurus’ from whom he had learned the trade.

While compiling the book, Manoj had said that there were four schools (Charana) in Tabla. He had learned the Delhi Charana. In the book, the four chapters are well explained for the learners to grasp. All this Manoj explained in a simple form. The book was recently launched in the presence of the President and Prime Minister when the first copies were handed over in a glittering ceremony.

Later, Manoj received the “Raigam Lifetime Achievement Award” selected by a special jury and the Raigama Group. This award was given to Manoj apart from his contribution to music and for completing thirty-five years of uninterrupted service to music in the country.

Manoj is still very enthusiastic in this field, continuing his contribution to music by leading a group of effective players to captivate many diverse audiences watching TV, indoor concerts.

Sunil Thenabadou

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