Local scene...
The lanky Anil Bharati

by Prasad Gunewardene
When Christmas bells chime this man is never forgotten with the breeze in December. As the song of Jim Reeves — "Mary’s Boy Child" takes the lead in the English channels in the electronic media, the Sinhala channels take the lead with the popular Christmas hit — "Bethlehempure". He is none other than the popular man who emerged from another Clarence Wijewardene group "Golden Chimes" – the lanky Anil Bharati. Clarence is a man who found new talent into Sinhala pop scene. Anil was one of them.

Anil Bharati was a young lad in the late 1960’s singing English numbers for a group called "Rangers" in Panadura. He specialised in Jim Reeves, Englebert, Tom Jones, Cliff Richards, Trini Lopez and Elton John numbers which are yet popular then and now. He is gifted with a bass voice that suits any kind of song. As a little boy, Anil’s uncle Rev. Fr. Padmasiri Bharati described Anil as a fellow who had a liking to sing. Anil had been calling his friends home to see him sing using a coconut shell tied to a stick which he had used like a microphone. His friends had been compensated with toffees by Fr. Bharati and his wife as the young boys made the audience for Anil.

Making his break into the music scene with the "Rangers" Anil Bharati got the better break when a vacancy for a man to sing English numbers occurred in the popular "Golden Chimes" led by Clarence Wijewardene in the early 1970’s. Anil’s cousin Shanaka Perera was Clarence’s deputy in that group. Shanaka introduced Anil to Clarence and Anil was only chosen to sing English numbers at weddings and parties. He also engaged in harmony and back up for recordings of songs for "Golden Chimes". After evaluating Anil’s performance for one year, Clarence Wijewardene decided to enter him into the Sinhala pop music scene. Clarence composed "Ada Wei Iru Dina" for Anil which became an all time hit followed by the lovely Christmas song "Bethlehempure" and "Maa Adarai Nangiye".

When Clarence left the "Golden Chimes", Anil continued under Shanaka for some time. Clarence formed the "Super Golden Chimes" back in the company of his life long friend Annesley Malawana. After three years Clarence decided to go solo when Annesley announced his plans for marriage. The late Mike Gunesekere took over the Super Golden Chimes and at point, Anil joined it with Ronnie Lietch. He continued there for two years. As it happens to many musicians in pop groups, there came the time for Anil to think of a solo career. A solo career was not easy for Anil at the beginning. He got the blessings of Clarence and Dr. Ranjith Bolonne, a close music friend of Clarence in Ratnapura. Clarence offered him another all time hit "Tikirimalee" with "Ma Mulin Liyu Pem Pathe" with Dr. Bolonne composing the music and melodies for the popular hits "Desa Vidala", "Bambaraku Aduna", "Sarojini" and "Iru Dina Pamanak". Dr. Bolonne who had lot of music in him never wanted to continue but chose to go ahead with the medical profession. Today he is having a lucrative medical career in the United States.

Anil Bharati’s musical career has spanned over decades. His style is different from Baila. This man has respected his mentor Clarence maintaining the six eight style in Sinhala pop which is contrast to baila. Anil distinctly remembers Clarence’s advice that Anil was not meant for baila style. That is why Anil has sailed through with success for over three decades. He staged "Anil Bharati in Concert" at the BMICH in June last year to mark three decades in the music scene. It was a great success to this man with the hall packed to capacity.

Anil has sung the most number of Christmas songs in the Sinhala pop scene. He has also entertained fans in Middle East, America, London, Germany, Canada and Japan. A few weeks ago, Sri Lankans in Melbourne invited him for several dinner dances there and Anil was there for one month with his wife Rupa. Eustace De Silva, President of the United Sri Lanka Association in Australia organised the first dance at the prestigious Crayton Town Hall in Melbourne followed up with more in Thomas Town Community Centre and Epin Town Hall where the Engineering Association of Postgraduates of Katubedda University (Melbourne Branch) took the responsibility of the event.

Anil has many plans for the near future. His one man concert will be staged again soon. Before that he plans to re-mix many of his popular hits and record them to produce audios and CDs. His wife Rupa, a Bank executive has been his guiding light for over three decades. Anil is another introduction of the Sinhala pop legend Clarence Wijewardene who will never fade away from the music scene. Clarence has given him enough compositions to continue. Not to forget, this man Anil is also a film play back singer. He made his debut in that field in the mid 1970’s in the film "Damayanthi" singing a duet with the nightingale of Sinhala pop Indrani Perera. Anil has gone from strength to strength from day one in music. His fans will hear more from him soon. He is a persevering man always with a smile who has only friends and no enemies anywhere in this world we have seen. That has been the success of this man throughout his career.