Mihira at 50 (‘මිහිර’ ළමා පුවත්පතේ 50 වැනි උපන් දිනය): Sparking imagination of millions

Mihira children's newspaper first issue - 27 July 1964

Mihira children’s newspaper first issue – 27 July 1964

Sinhala children’s weekly newspaper Mihira has just completed 50 years of publication. The paper holds nostalgic memories for those of us who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s with limited access to reading material.

The tabloid was launched by Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (ANCL, or Lake House) on 27 July 1964. Its founder editor was veteran journalist Srilal Hikkaduwa Liyanage (who was also founder editor of Tharunee women’s newspaper and Navayugaya informative newspaper from the same publishing house).

I wasn’t even born when Mihira came out. Sometime in 1969, when I was a precocious three-year-old, my father bought me my first copy. I was hooked: for the next dozen years, I eagerly awaited the arrival of each week’s issue on Mondays.

In the early years, Mihira carried a mix of stories, comics, articles and verse. While many were produced by talented writers and artists who understood the child’s mind, some were actually children’s own contributions.

In fact, Mihira is where I first got myself into print. As a school boy of 9 years, I submitted several of my (Sinhala) verses to Mihira (at the suggestion of my Grade 3 class teacher). One of them, on my perception of an animated clock, was printed in one issue of October 1975. I was thrilled to bits – that clipping is somewhere at the bottom of my personal archives…

Funnily enough, thousands of printed pieces later, I still get an enormous kick each time a newspaper publishes my writing.

S A Dissanayake, comics artist

S A Dissanayake, comics artist

To me (and many others of my generation), the most memorable part of Mihira were extraordinary comics written and drawn by S A Dissanayake. He drew a long-running comic (chitra katha) called Onna Babo (‘ඔන්න බබො’), which chronicled the adventures of three intrepid kids (‘බූ – බබා’, ‘තුල්සි’) and involved a wicked witch (බටකොළ ආච්චි), wizards and other characters. For us entertainment starved kids, ඔන්න බබො was Harry Potter of the 1960s and 70s. All these years later, some sub-plots are still clearly etched in my memory…

S A Dissanayake also drew the more comical Yodaya (‘‘යෝධයා’’) about a good-hearted village giant and a learned but wicked man (‘‘යෝධයා සහ පඬිතුමා”), as well as several other popular comics.

When some teachers and parents condemn all comics as polluting children’s minds, I always remind them of the glorious exceptions created by S A Dissanayake. Some feel his stories paved the way for the enormous popularity of TinTin comics and animations in Sri Lanka later on.

I just read that Dissanayake (who was a school teacher by profession) still draws children’s comics for Mihira – a rare feat (world record?) of a comic artist drawing for the same publication for half a century.

ළමයින්ට දැනුම විනෝදය ගෙන එන ‘මිහිර’ ට 50යි

http://silumina.lk/2014/07/27/_art.asp?fn=av14072712&p=1

බුබම්බා, යෝධයා,පඬිතුමා හා බටකොළ ආච්චි ළමා ලෝකයට රැගෙන ආ ඇස්.ඒ.දිසානායක

http://www.lankadeepa.lk/index.php/articles/104609

From the scrap book of S A Dissanayake, children's comic artist for half a century

From the scrap book of S A Dissanayake, children’s comic artist for half a century

 

Advertisements

Interview with Edwin Ariyadasa: Grand Old Man of Lankan Journalism

Edwin Ariyadasa photographed by Nalaka Gunawardene in 1986 during their first interview

Edwin Ariyadasa photographed by Nalaka Gunawardene in 1986 during their first interview

Edwin Ariyadasa, who completed 91 years on 3 December 2013, is one of two grand old men of Lankan journalism still practising their craft (the other being D F Kariyakarawana, also 91).

The veteran journalist has been active in his profession for nearly all of Sri Lanka’s post-independence years. During that time, he has played a variety of complementary roles: feature writer, newspaper editor, columnist, radio and TV host, journalist trainer, author and translator among others. He continues to juggle many of these and has no retirement plans.

In October 2012, I filmed a wide ranging interview with Ariyadasa as he was heading to his 90th birthday. Having grown up reading his output in Lankan newspapers in Sinhala and English, and then having collaborated with him in various public media activities for much of my own media career, I was keen to capture his memories and reflections.

It took me over a year to get the long interview edited into three video segments, and also to have it transcribed, but it’s finally done. Groundviews.org has just published it:

Looking Back at Six Decades of Lankan Journalism: What went wrong?

Nalaka Gunawardene in conversation with Edwin Ariyadasa

As I note in my introduction:

In this interview, the nonagenarian looks back at journalism and broadcasting in Sri Lanka for over half a century. His reminiscences are significant for several reasons. He recalls a time, only a generation ago, when newspapers produced by highly committed editors and journalists commanded readers’ respect as a trusted source of public information and commentary. Having played a central role in pioneering mass media education and television broadcasting in Sri Lanka, he wonders what went wrong along the way to arrive at the banality and superficiality that dominates much of the Lankan media today despite advanced technologies for production and distribution.

In that sense, this is more than mere nostalgia of an individual or the simple bewilderment of an earlier generation. Introspection from a media guru like Ariyadasa can provide the impetus for much-needed reflection for the media industry which often hesitates to turn the spotlight upon itself.

Read full interview: Looking Back at Six Decades of Lankan Journalism: What went wrong?

Interview transcribed by: Keerthika Nadarajah

Video edit by: Amal Samaraweera, TVE Asia Pacific

Photos by: Janaka Sri Jayalath

Edwin Ariyadasa (left) in conversation with Nalaka Gunawardene, Oct 2012

Edwin Ariyadasa (left) in conversation with Nalaka Gunawardene, Oct 2012