This concise comment is also an all-encompassing salutation to great artiste, Felix Anton, for the enormous inspiration he had bestowed on Sri Lankan music, drama and theater, especially as a singer, actor, presenter, radio artist and a radio playwright, beginning from year 1969. Felix Anton received his education first at St Mary’s College in Mathugama and then at St.
Benedict’s College in Kotahena in Colombo in Sri Lanka. St. Benedict’s College is one of the longstanding renowned Catholic Schools in Sri Lanka, administered by De La Salle Brothers, popularly known as Christian Brothers, belonging to the congregation of De La Salle Brothers whose primary apostolate in the world is ‘Living the Mission of Educating in the presence of God’.
Thus De La Salle Brothers dedicate their whole mission for education of youth wherever they work. Felix Anton is a product of these two leading schools, about which he is proud of. Coming from a Catholic family, and growing in a catholic background, studying in Catholic Schools, helped Felix Anton to inculcate in himself a spiritual disposition in life. During his academic years at St. Benedicts College, Felix Anton realized his inborn talent for music and his vocal prowess.
Still he concentrated on studies without giving much priority to his passion for music. Surely his school background and participation in liturgical services in school and in church were the main sources of inspiration that enhanced his musical talents. After successfully completing his school education, Felix Anton was priming for a suitable employment, having realized his intuition for music and aesthetics. It was by this time that Felix Anton was summoned for an interview at Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation in Sri Lanka. Thus Felix Anton joined the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation in year 1969, which he reflects as a blessing.
His foremost position at Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation was to function as an Operational Assistant. There he was tasked to handle Sound Controlling. This opportunity gave Felix Anton enormous opportunities to encounter many veteran radio artists. Felix Anton featured as a Relief Announcer at SLBC. He became a Program Producer in 1979. Joining Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation paved an enormous way for Felix Anton to persist in a vocation he was longing for, especially as a lover of music.
Felix Anton recorded his first song in year 1971, and made his debut as a glittering melodious singer. His first song was ‘Netha Pinana Rusiruwata Obe’. This was musically composed by veteran musician M.K. Roksamy. The very first number itself became an instant hit, for its soothing wordings and captivating music and mesmerizing vocal sensations of songster Felix Anton. The song received rave acclamations momentarily at its release. The song was constantly aired on radio in every leading program then. Thus Felix Anton emerged as a singer in Sri Lanka. The song was acclaimed by veteran and popular singers and musicians in Sri Lanka.
Having listened to the song with vigor, veteran singer and music maestro Victor Ratnayake highly praised the exuberant singing prowess of Felix Anton with amazement. The legendary musician, Victor Ratnayake thereafter composed a melodious tune for Felix Anton with great wordsmith Premakirthi de Alwis’s lyrics. The song was ‘Palandi Mini Muthu’. This song also became highly popular among Sri Lankan music lovers instantly. From then on Felix Anton featured as a melodious singer par excellence along with his other commitments, as an actor, presenter, and as a radio artist in Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation.
Felix Anton has sung many duets with very popular singers in Sri Lanka. Among his duets, ‘Hada Gee Pothe’, sung with Chandra Bandara, and ‘Oville Pem Sandelle’, sung with Chandrani Manel, became very much popular among music lovers in nineteen seventies and nineteen eighties. These two songs hypnotized all music lovers, for their soothing wordings and euphonious singing. These songs were constantly heard on radio just after their release, and are popular even today. Sulan rella lesa hama emi, Mal nelala waralasa gawasala, Ekama isawwe, Mal kumariyak wage, Adara piya landune, are some of the beautiful songs sung by Felix Anton with a mild pop touch. These songs are very popular hits in Sri Lanka. Meeting Father Linus Mendis in nineteen seventies was a graceful event for Felix Anton as a singer. Impressed by Felix Anton’s singing prowess, Father Linus Mendis composed a series of lyrics for Felix Anton, including a duet and wished that he accompany Rukmani Devi, the revered songstress, to join him in the duet.
The wordings were ‘Nilambare Kalum Piri Sara Sanda Wage’. Being captivated by the wordings and their meaning and the melodious tune of the song, Rukmani Devi expressed her sentiments and willingness to sing the new composition with Felix Anton. ‘Nilambare Kelum Piri became an instant hit number, for its wordings, harmonious melody, and music arrangements, and the perfect harmonization of both voice tones. The song was constantly aired on radio for its immense popularity. Felix Anton humbly shares that the praises he received from the revered songstress Rukmani Devi, for singing the duet so well, had been one of the grand achievements in his life as a singer.
This became the only duet sung by Felix Anton and Rukmani Devi in the annals of Sri Lankan music history. Felix Anton thereafter sang another composition of Father Linus. The song was ‘Wenwu Da Sitha.’ This song too became very popular soon. In the process, Father Linus penned another song for Felix Anton. The wordings of this song were ‘Sitha Oba Gana Sithai Nirathuru’. This song was musically directed by Sarath de Alwis. Dramas aired on radio, commonly known as radio plays, were highly popular among radio listeners in nineteen seventies in Sri Lanka. Radio media was the only modus operandi in Sri Lanka during this time.
There were no television networks in Sri Lanka during this era. Radio was the people’s common media for entertainment. People flocked together around radios with families to listen to these dramas, which they did not want to miss at any cost. Some radio plays were aired during afternoons while some radio plays were aired at nights before the news bulletin. Most of these dramas were exceedingly acclaimed by their listeners, for their very interesting presentation and character formation and the alluring story genres. Voice modules and tones mattered a lot in radio dramas, as characters were not visibly perceptive. Felix Anton was a splendid prestigious performer who voiced many characters in most of the popular radio drams aired at that time. Felix Anton had the opportunity of being in the company of many artists while he was continuing his profession at Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation.
It was at the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation that he met Dharmasri Wickramasinghe, Ariyasiri Vithanage, and many other famed veteran Presenters and Producers. Being a contemporary and a good colleague of Felix Anton and knowing his affluent acting prowess, Dharmasri Wickramasinge invited him to play a role in his film production ‘Malasara Doni’ in late nineteen eighties. ‘Malsara Doni’ became a popular film in Sri Lanka. It was in this film that famous songstress Uresha Ravihari made her debut as a singer as well as a child actress. Uresha Ravihari played the role of the younger sister of Geetha Kumarasinghe in the film. Sanath Goonathilake and Geetha Kumarasinghe played key roles in ‘Malsara Doni’.
Felix Anton too played a pivotal character in the film, for which he received rave reviews. Thereafter Felix Anton acted in ‘Sathutai Kirula Ape’ and Hiru Sanduta Madivee’ another two film productions of Dharmasri Wickramasinghe in early nineteen nineties in Sri Lanka. Felix Anton played a memorable role as an upright Police Officer in Dharmashri Wickramasinghe’s movie, Hiru Sanduta Medivee. Felix Anton played vital roles in many popular box office hit films in Sri Lanka during the same time. One of the famous comedy films in Sri Lanka, ‘Nava Gilunath Band Coon, actionpacked films, Honda Honda Sellan’ and Nombara 17,’ were some of the blockbusters to cite here with Felix Anton’s acting prowess. In the film, ‘Nava Gilunath Band Choon’, Felix Anton played his character with veteran actress Malini Fonseka. In the film Nombera 17, Felix Anton played a pivotal role with famous prestigious veteran star, Vijey Kumaranathunga.
Television media ensued in the beginning of nineteen eighties in Sri Lanka. This was a new adventure for Sri Lankans, who had only the radio as the sole means of electronic media by then. The Independent Television Network and the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation are the two pioneering television channels in Sri Lanka. Felix Anton was one of the pioneering television news presenters in Sri Lanka. He was one of the mainline crew members of the very first batch of news readers who approached the common masses through an attractive innovative style of presenting news on Independent Television Network.
With the advent of television media in Sri Lanka television dramas were also produced. Very soon tele drama series became very popular in Sri Lanka. Many veteran popular film directors in Sri Lanka started directing television dramas, for the entertainment of common masses. Many dramas became very popular and memorable for their stories, music, and the popular dramatic personae. Most of the popular and prestigious film directors spotted Felix Anton by this time, for his striking personality, action movements and acting prowess. Felix Anton acted in many tele dramas. ‘Hiruta Muwaven’, ‘Sadun Gira Ginigani’, ‘Gini Dalu Meda’, ‘Ingammaruwa’, ‘Angani’, were some of the very standard tele dramas where Felix Anton played pivotal roles.
Dubbing, mixing, or re-recording is a process used when making films. Term ‘dubbing’ commonly denotes to the replacement of voices of actors shown on screen with those of different performers speaking a different language, which is called re-voicing. Felix Anton has voiced many drama series with splendor. Ishuara, Eka Ahasak, Maha Gedera, screened on Sirasa Television Network in Sri Lanka and Jane and the Dragon shown on Rupavahini Network in Sri Lanka, became very popular for their appealing voice dubbing modulations.
Felix Anton has performed before grand audiences in many countries in the world, as a splendid singer. Recently, Felix Anton received the State Award ‘Kalabooshana’ as a tribute, for his innumerable contribution especially for music in Sri Lanka. Felix Anton has been a humble and a gentle and an innovative artist, who has mesmerized Sri Lankan music and his fans with his fascinating melodious vocal prowess. His contribution to music industry in Sri Lanka as a singer is unique, enormous and unmatchable. As a Radio Dramatist his role-play is memorable. His acting in films and television dramas is captivating and distinctive.
Felix Anton is revered by all for his humility and simplicity. Let this concise comment be a compliment to him, as a songster who has stood the test of time, being in the arena of music nearly for five decades in Sri Lanka, as a highly esteemed exemplary artiste. Great songster Felix Anton is married to Ms. Shanthi Fernando and has been blessed with two sons, Sanoj and Raveen. His avid fans are eagerly looking forward with hopeful thoughts to listen to his newest creations in future soon.
By Anton Narangoda