Ajantha Ranasinghe was born in Thalammahara in 1940. Although he moved to Nugegoda later on, he spent most of his childhood in the village amidst the rural hustle and bustle. This experience of rural Sri Lanka is reflected in many of the songs he wrote admiring the beauty of our small island nation.
He studied at St. John’s College after moving to Nugegoda. Around the same time, he began to explore his skills in writing by contributing poetry and short stories to the children’s pages of Silumina and Peramuna newspapers. As a young lad in 1965, he joined the Dinamina newspaper as a staff reporter. Armed with a fresh perspective and a flare for writing, this young man rose in his career at Lake House newspapers as sub editor, local news editor, additional chief sub editor, chief sub editor and features editor. Finally he was the editor in chief of Navayugaya. After leaving Lake House, he joined Sri Lanka Broadcasting Cooperation as a consultant. As a writer he has also published several books including the novel “Vinkel Baas” and short stories such as “Soldaduwa Perala Paminiyada”.
His Journey as a lyricist started in Karunarathne Abeysekara’s Lama Pitiya. He went on to write many songs made popular by artists such as Victor Ratnayake, Sisira Senaratne, Indrani Wijebandara, T.M. Jayarathne , Neela Wickramasinghe, Anjaleen Gunathilaka and H.R. Jothipala all of whom have recorded with Sooriya. He has also contributed greatly to the film industry through song writing, working with veteran music directors such as Premasiri Khemadasa, Sarath Dasanayake, and Somadasa Elvitigala.
Staying true to himself and entwined in his roots, his lyrics induce thought and feeling that relate to anyone whose genesis was in our island nation. The serene beauty that spreads across our island is beautifully expressed in “Indunil Gangulal” and “Sili Sili Seethala Alle” which evoke a sense of pride and adoration to what is truly ours. These songs have made their way into our lives in how we tend to sing them while journeying across the country to witness this grandiose display in real-time. His ability to weave emotion out of love and all its trials are perfectly portrayed in “Rankenden Banda” where he writes of a woman torn between two lovers, expressing perfectly the conflict she feels. Our all-time childhood favourite “Kurumbetti meshime” brings forward fond memories of children playing with handmade toys made out of young coconuts. He was a true versatile when it came to writing songs, exemplified by his unique ability to evoke memories and spontaneous reaction through words that are strung beautifully through experience and fondness.
His talents have been acknowledged through many prestigious awards. He is a three time winner of the President’s Award for Best Song-Writer of the Year and has also won the State Literary Award.
Ajantha Ranasinghe passed away on February 27th 2016 at the age of 75. He will be surely missed but his songs will no doubt continue to remain a part of every Sri Lankan till the end of time.