Hettiarachchige Reginald Jothipala (Sinhalese: එච්.අර්.ජොතිපාල; 12 February 1936 – 7 July 1987) was a prolific playback singer in the Sinhala cinema. He also worked as an opera singer. He died in July 1987 at the age of 51 years and 5 months. Jothipala lent his voice to all classes of actors ranging from Eddie Jayamanne, Ananda Jayaratne, Gamini Fonseka, Vijaya Kumaratunga, Sanath Gunathilaka, Tony Ranasinghe, Ravindra Randeniya and even several of the young generation of actors in Sri Lanka.
Jothipala was the first child in a middle-class family from Southern,Matara Sri Lanka. He attended St. Lawrence College in Maradana and St. John’s College in Dematagoda. Jothipala would visit tea kiosks to hear music as his family didn’t own a radio. He married Vintor Blosem. They have 4 daughters.
He came to be known by his initials “H. R.”, and was loved as “Hadhavatha Raththaran Jothipala”, meaning “kind-hearted Jothipala”, due to his kindness to people of all ages, communities and families.
Jothipala was refused many times by media, because of his loud voice and songs for Hindi tune. Jothipala made his debut as a playback singer on Cyril P. Abeyratne’s Surathalee, singing “Siriyame Sara”, in 1956. Prior to that, he had recorded a song for the late Sirisena Wimalaweera’s Podi Putha. The song didn’t make the final cut, as the Indian film composer on the film didn’t consider Jothipala’s voice good enough.
Jothi has said that he contemplated taking his life when he went with his friends to watch Podi Putha and found out that his song was not included. Later when Surathalee producer Jabir A. Cader wanted to hear one of his songs to consider him for the film, Jothipala almost passed on the offer as he did not possess enough money to create a record. He was helped out by veteran musician Stanley Omar who financed him for the sum of 35 rupees – a large amount of money at the time. Jothipala’s song on the film, “Siriyame Sara,” still remains popular in Sri Lanka, having recorded the popular number under the direction of T.R. Papa at Wahini Studio in India.
Jothipala has worked with many reputed directors of Sri Lanka. In the early stages of his prolific career, Jothipala got the chance to work with prolific film maker, Lester James Peries on the movie Sandeshaya. Jothipala sang the song “Puruthugeesikara” for the film, which was composed by the legendary Sunil Santha and written by veteran lyricist Arisen Ahubudu.
Jothipala was the undisputed choice in films that were made in the late sixties and through the seventies, the period during which he also began to act. Though Jothi was criticised for singing to the tunes of popular Hindi songs he also sang under the batons of Pandit W. D. Amaradeva, P.V. Nandasiri, Premasiri Khemadasa, Sarath Dassanayake and Milton Mallawarachchi.
He sang in hundreds of films including popular hits like Kasthuri Suwanda, Thushara, Sweeep Ticket, Hitha Honda Minihek, Kawuda Raja, Hondata Hondai, Wasana, Sangeetha and others. The award-winning singer also played some memorable roles in films including Ethulweema Thahanam, Sulalitha Sobani, Sujeewa, Sukiri Kella, Abirahasa, Bonikka, Shanthi and his own production Sumithuro’and “Obai Mamai”.
Jothipala died in the first week of July in 1987. Until death, he sang more than 3000 Sinhala songs and all of them were popularised equally and many more playback songs did not came into arena, due to production failures of films.
Two days before his death, on 5 July 1987, he participated for “Gam Udaawa”, patrionic project by late President Ranasinghe Premadasa, and sang on his final open stage. But while singing he felt a pain, but finished the singing successfully. Next day he was admitted to the hospital. Jothipala died on 7 July 1987 at Ratnums Private Hospital. The cause of his death was said to be kidney failure due to alcohol usage. “He came to our hospital very regularly. He was a big drinker. We told him time after time not to drink anymore,” Ramya Fleming, a nurse who worked at the hospital at the time, was quoted saying after his death.
The funeral was held on Borella Cemetery, and thousands of people came for the funeral. At that time, it was said that all other monuments in cemetery were broken down by this huge crowd gathered to cemetery. The number of people came, was recorded as the most people gathering for a funeral in Sri Lanka, that never happened before in history even in any one’s funeral.
Lyricist Ajanthaa Ranasinghe said that, “after dead Jothipala was too strong and popular than when he was alive”, proving that after his death, his songs reached its ultimate popularity and even now his songs are sing in every Reality show in Sri Lanka. Another journalist reported Jothipala’s death as “The Falling of Sinhala Cultural peak stone”.
Numerous activities are still under way throughout the country for his commemorations.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia