Kalasuri Desha Nethru Dr Arunthathy Sri Ranganathan
Seminal contribution to Arts, culture and Broadcasting.
Kalasuri Deshanethru Arunthathy Sri Ranganathan was born on February 24, 1946 as the youngest of five daughters into the family of Mr. K. Sivasubramaniyam (Kandarmadam, Jaffna) and Mrs. Veeraluxmi (Uduvil, Jaffna). Her family, in fact, is a family of academics and artistes who served the nation in their respective capacities, marking Sri Lanka in the international arena.
She received her primary education at the Saiva Mangaiyar Vidyalayam or Hindu Ladies college Colombo and she entered Vembadi Girls’ High School in Jaffna for higher education. It was from Vembadi Girls’ High School that she sat for the University entrance examination and entered the University of Peradeniya to read a special degree in Economics.
At an early stage of her life, she showed an abiding interest in music and dance and learnt Carnatic music (singing) under the tutelage of Master Anthony and Veena under veteran Veena player Mrs. Raju. Subsequently, she also learnt dancing under Jayaluxmi.Kandiah (sister) and Ms.Balasundari Pradalingam (Kalakshethra). She was a disciple of Maestro Maharajapuram Santhanam in Vocal, and Maestro Kalyana Krishna bagawathar in veena from South India.
Being a popular and industrious student at the school, Arunthathy Sri Ranganathan not only excelled in her studies but also participated in extra-curricular activities. For couple of years, she consecutively won the gold medal for best singer at the All Island Inter-school Singing Competition. She demonstrated her leadership qualities and innate talents in organising by participating in porgrammes such as Kalai Vizha, Thirukural chanting, Pann Isai at school level, winning medals and thereby earning accolade among the fellow students as well as among teachers.
She commenced her trailblazing career in music even at school level by participating in SLBC’s carnatic classical music programmes. She was the only Tamil artist who passed the auditions and performed in all four categories of Music; Classical vocal, Classical Veena, Pann Isai and Light Songs. In 1966, she passed the Final certificate NCOMS ( Teachers ) in carnatic music in both Vocal and Veena. At that time, this was the highest examination in classical music in Sri Lanka.
In 1967, she entered the University of Peradeniya and obtained a Special (Honours) Degree in Economics. In 1974, she commenced her longstanding career at Sri Lankan Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) in the SLBC’s Tamil Service as Programme Producer. Her dedication and keen interest in work helped her to climb up the career ladder at SLBC first becoming Programme Controller in 1979 and then Director (Music) in 1984 and Director (Tamil Service) in 1994.
Arunthathy Sri Ranganathan excelled at SLBC leaving a rich legacy for the posterity. Her major interests are arts, culture and broadcasting. She is a pioneer in broadcasting who served the SLBC for over 30 fruitful years. In fact, all the officers at the SLBC who commenced their own Tamil radio stations in UK, Canada, Australia, Newzealand, Paris and Norway were her contemporaries and officers who worked under her. During her SLBC days she was known as radio skylark. A significant milestone in her career at SLBC was her launching of 10 CDs on the SLBC's 75th Anniversary celebration. During her tenure, Arunthathy Sri Ranganathan organised Radio Drama festivals and radio music festivals throughout the island.
Arunthathy Sri Ranganathan’s contribution spread over diverse areas; her contribution to enrich Sri Lankan cultural and artistic landscape as carnatic singer, veena player and teacher of carnatic music. In addition to academic papers presented at international fora, she contributed in-depth articles to newspapers, magazines and journals.
She is one of Sri Lanka’s best known cultural ambassadors who forged an important cultural links among diplomatic community in Sri Lanka and represented Sri Lanka at diverse international cultural festivals. She has script- written and composed music for over 20 dance dramas such as ‘Ashta Lakshmi’, ‘ Ramayana’, ‘Sakuntala’, ‘Nala Damayanthi’, ‘Anbesivam’, ‘Thanjaur Big Temple’ and ‘Skanda Lila’. She has contributed substantially to enrich the contemporary music by composing compositions based on Varnam, Padam, Kirtanam and Tillana.
Arunthathy Sri Ranganathan is a highly respected Sri Lankan artist who is capable of bringing together Sri Lankan artists of diverse races and ethnicities on to a common platform. She has made a lasting contribution in promoting national reconciliation through performing Arts.
She is, currently, engaged in teaching and popularising carnatic music not only among Tamil students but also among Sinhala students in her capacity as a teacher, Course Director and as an external lecturer of the University of Visual and Performing Arts. She pioneered in producing a batch of first ever Sinhala graduates in carnatic music. Arunthathy Sri Ranganathan is the only Sri Lankan Tamil Artist who was honoured with honorary titles such as ‘Kalashuri’, ‘Vishva Prasadini’, ‘Desha Nethru’and ‘Kalai Semmal,. These honorary titles were conferred by the Heads of State.
Arunthathy Sri Ranganathan founded ARU SRI ART THEATRE in 2004 to promote the visual and performing arts Nationally and Internationally. Today, it has bloomed into a centre par excellence for innovative artistic and cultural creations renowned worldwide. The vision of Arunthathy is to develop the theatre as a place where traditional art forms can flourish alongside contemporary interpretations and to carry age old traditions into the new millennium. Arunthathy with her theatre has travelled widely, performing in prestigious festivals, around the globe, and collaborated with many International organisations.
Arunthathy has been the most sought after artist to sing for Bharathanatyam recitals and Arangetrams for more than four decades locally and abroad. She has sung for almost 98 percent of dancers in Sri Lanka. She has released a large number of audio and video cassettes to her credit; ANUPAVAM is a DVD production of her theatre dancers.
Dr.P.Sri Ranganathan, her husband, a medical doctor , had been the live wire for Arunthathy supporting her in all her endeavours. Her three sons Sarangan, Shyamalangan and Sreeharan, well-qualified academically, are also professional musicians and popular in their career. More on Family