Bathiya & Santhush, the celebrity duo who are popularly known as BnS have taken the music industry by storm, a storm which has shown no signs of abating. Since their new album in 1998, BnS has catapulted into stardom through their unique style of music and branding. It seemed surreal that I met these amazing individuals on the verge of the 20th anniversary which will be celebrated in 2018.
The office was a hive of activity as people walked to and fro, for meetings which were being held ‘back to back’. Amid the buzz were the two larger-than-life figures looking nonchalant and even sparing a few minutes to apologize to me for the slight delay. The world of ‘showbiz’ is not for the faint hearted as you had to be literally on your toes all day long.
After a few minutes I had the privilege of being invited into the psyche of BnS and the multi-faceted operation which has gained momentum during their nineteen plus years of existence. The ever-smiling Bathiya was first to answer the query with Santhush who is more reserved (at first) gradually joining the conversation. I believe yours truly had the plastered grin of a Cheshire cat at this momentous rendezvous, after all hob knobbing with celebrities is not a daily occurrence!
BnS revolutionized the music industry of this tiny isle, and planted it smack bang amid the giant waves of the global music trends. The two artists, who hail from Colombo, became friends through their affinity to music at the Marianne School and the rest they say is history, but I am here to take you through its resplendent pages filled with awe-inspiring moments.
Who were their target audience at the inception?
Being of the same age group we identified with the thought process of that era where we who were schooling at Colombo would encounter those who either disliked Sinhala music or loathed English music or even those who spoke Sinhala, often refereeing to the English language as ‘Kaduwa’ (sword). Meanwhile, those who liked both languages and songs were hemmed in between these two radical groups with nothing special to call their own. This was what Bathiya and Santhush provided to those who were starving for the best of both worlds; they created a fusion brand of Sinhala and English songs which literally rocked the country and created a new musical genre which has paved the way for many to follow.
BnS is poised to celebrate the 20th anniversary in style with worldwide concerts and a brand new album. Their ever-multiplying fan base will be treated to the best performances which will encapsulate the journey of the duo and introduce them to a new phase in the BnS brand. The anniversary will reveal an extravagant new concept which is kept under wraps at present.
How does one remain within the glorious sphere for so long?
Despite the mushrooming musical groups within the island, BnS have remained in a higher realm since inception, primarily due to their ability to rise with the times while retaining their identity and philosophy. “we will not subject our music to any type of slang and refrain from using epitaphs as we like to keep the lyrics soulful and clean in keeping with our principle,” remarked the duo, who were additionally planning out their hectic schedule for the evening and the following day which included several ‘gigs’ at star class hotels, recordings , a meeting overseas and much more, which literally left my head spinning but they browsed through every detail meticulously without batting a metaphorical eyelid!
MILESTONES (EXCERPTS FROM THE INTERNET)
Having performed in over 600 concerts in Sri Lanka and abroad, BnS marked the end of their concert series after over 120 performances “Neththara Live” in 2008. This was replaced with a brand new concert series named “Shaheena” after their 2008 first single and the same titled promotional album for Lux. The erstwhile concert series Sara Sihina was named after their 2010 release. With the release of their fifth mainstream EP Sara Sihina – the 5th Element, BnS became the only Sri Lankan hip hop duo to feature Indian singers, namely Hariharan (in the song Yaalpanamen) and Asha Bhosle (Dedunna Sedi).
Starting from a 2-man operation from their bedroom during their early days, BnS Production Group today houses 4 companies — Showtown Entertainment event management & production, Saregama Music Digital Audio Production, Saregama Films and Saregama Digital Content Acquisition & Management.
Genres Hip hop, folkhop,
First Sri Lankan artists to secure a Music Publishing Contract under Universal Music Publishing in 2002.
First Sri Lankan artists to sign a recording contract with Sony BMG in 2002.
Winner – Silver Award, Voice
of Asia, Kazakhstan in 2001.
Winner – Bronze Award, Shanghai Music Festival, China in 2001.
Composers & Performers of the Official Sri Lankan Cricket Anthem for Sri Lanka Cricket in 2002 – Apa jathiye naamayen.
Winner – TYOP Award for the contribution to Culture & Arts, Ten Young Outstanding Persons of the year awards (TOYP) 2002.
Winner – Best fusion band, Golden Clef Award in 2002.
Bronze award – 4th Sunflower Hip hop Music Festival in Zernjanin, Serbia in 2003.
Special Achievement Award Winners at the “Astana Music Festival” in Kazakhstan in 2005.
Winner – “Male Icon-2006” Entertainment Industry Award (Ceremony was held on 14 June 2007 at Hilton Colombo.)
Winner – Most Popular Artist of the Year Award, Sirasa Music Awards in 2007.
Runners-up – Best Music Video, for Res Vihidena Samanaliyak, Derana Music Video Awards in 2009.
First Sri Lankan artists to release a song with an Indian collaboration. BnS released a track called “Yaalpaanamen” featuring iconic Indian singer Hariharan in 2013.
Collaboration with Asha Bhosle on their 5th album “Sara Sihina” which was released in September 2010.
Runner-up – Music Video of Lanka Matha, Derana Music Video Awards in 2010.
Performed at the opening act of the IIFA Awards 2010. BnS was also the co-writers of the IIFA awards 2010 opening music track together with Jananath Warakagoda.
Performed at the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup opening ceremony as ambassadors of folkhop.
Winner – Award for outstanding contribution to the Sri Lankan Music Industry, Derana Music Video Awards in 2012.
Composed and Performed of the official theme song for ICC Cricket T20 World Cup Song 2012
Composed the song “Achale” sung by Indian Pop Idol Sonu Nigam for the Japanese Anime Movie “The Mystical Laws” in 2013.
Performed and co-directed the official theme song for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2013.
Winner of the best VFX music Video at the Derana Music Video Award 2015 for the Music Video “Lassana Desak”
Winners of the prestigious Ada Derana “Sri Lankan” of the Year 2016 in the Entertainment and Arts Category.
My last question was what they like about being BnS to which they answered in unison “being on stage!” They absolutely rock the stage to the delight of their fans who clamour to watch each performance and at the dawn of the 20th anniversary of BnS we wish them luck and hope to see many more pioneering efforts by the fascinating duo!
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