Sangeeth said he would definitely think that the artistes of the countries would have more future collaborations as India was a neighbour and a friendly country.
Every once in a while, there comes a song that breaks the language barrier and, thanks to the proliferation of YouTube and the Internet, becomes viral. The Sri Lankan song ‘Manike Mage Hithe’ fits that “viral” description to the tee, with the number becoming ubiquitous on social media. From social influencers to Bollywood icons, everyone has jumped on the ‘Manike Mage Hithe’ bandwagon with reels featuring the song.
The current version of the Sinhala song, sung by Yohani and Satheeshan, released in May 2021. The singer-rappers became overnight sensations, not only in their homeland, but also India.
However, not many know that the song originally released in Sri Lanka in July 2020 as a single. It was produced by Chamath Sangeetha and sung by Satheeshan and rapper Dulan ARX, also the lyricist.
Speaking about the original song, Sangeeth told The Indian Express that Satheeshan had requested him last year to produce a song. When he came back to him after five months, Sangeeth said he did not like the song the producer himself did not like the song that he had produced and took a week to drastically change the music. Sangeeth made the new song so that it matched Satheeshan’s voice.
The Sri Lankan producer said Dulan ARX wrote the lyrics and was also asked to add a rap section to make it creative.
Sangeeth said the song speaks about a beautiful girl in a rural Sri Lankan village. The boy singing the song is in love with her and implores her not to ignore him.
The music video was directed by Hasith Aryan and starred Kasun Tharaka, Madushi Soysa, and Ruwan Priyadarshana. Sangeeth added they felt the song would be a hit and roped in Aryan for the video.
The viral cover
A year since the original song released, Sangeeth got singer-rapper Yohani on board for a duet cover.
Sangeeth told The Indian Express that they collaborated with Yohani during the lockdown. The cover was done in a simple manner with whatever was available to them.
Since the cover of ‘Manike Mage Hithe’ released, it has become one of the most popular Instagram Reels tunes in India. It has also become popular on streaming platforms and crossed 100 million views on YouTube. In Maldives, Sri Lanka, and India, the song reached Number 1 in iTunes’ top 100, and top viral 50 in Spotify Global and Spotify India.
Sangeeth admitted that he had not imagined that this version would become such a sensation. ‘Manike Mage Hithe’ is the first song to become a viral hit outside Sri Lanka.
He added that he still feels like it was a dream.
Music producer Yashraj Mukhate has already covered the song in India. Several YouTube artistes have also taken a shot at recreating the song in Indian languages for a wider audience.
Anas Shajahan from Kerala, who covered the song, told The Indian Express that he felt a cover would enable the song reach a wider audience as soon as her heard it on Instagram.
After he uploaded his Tamil version on YouTube, Sangeeth got in touch with him and expressed a desire to collaborate and make an official version with Yohani.
Anas rewrote the song in Malayalam. He had to teach Yohani the Malayalam and Tamil words as she did not know the languages.
While the Tamil and Malayalam meanings are different from the Sinhalese original, Anas said he understood the theme and rewrote the lyrics on that basis. The Malayalam and Tamil versions officially released on July 26.
Sangeeth said the version with Anas and Yohani had been a great success. He added that Yohani’s page got several comments for a Tamil version, which prompted him to invite Anas for the official Tamil version.
There have been multiple other versions that have gone viral as well. While some artistes directly translated the song from Sinhalese into regional languages, others gave their it their own twist and meaning.
Muzistar, a Pune-based singer-rapper, released the Hindi version in July. He told The Indian Express that the lyrics was the hard part, taking him two days to write it. He retained Yohani’s portions, replacing the male part with his own writing.
While YouTube has since removed Muzistar’s version, his version has already become famous, with even megastar Amitabh Bachchan sharing it. Muzistar said he shed happy tears when he discovered that Bachchan had shared his version.
Speaking about the many Indian versions, Sangeeth said he felt happy and honoured that the song was remade in all these languages. He said he had heard that there were 75 versions of the song.
Sangeeth also said none of the other versions were recognised apart from the official Tamil/Malayalam remake.
Most social media users admitted to not understanding the song’s language or meaning, but were still addicted to it.
Chennai-based singer-composer Amrit Ramnath said the song’s simplicity attracted him the most. He said the song was catchy and accessible, and that is why it worked so well despite not being in commonly known language.
Ramath believed the beauty of the song’s accessible music was that it transcended culture and language. He said the song would have been a hit even if it was made in a language that was even lesser known simply because of its melodic structure and recall value.
With ‘Manike Mage Hithe’ enjoying so much success in India, the obvious question is if it would pave the way for more such collaboration between Sri Lankan and Indian artistes.
Sangeeth said he would definitely think that the artistes of the countries would have more future collaborations as India was a neighbour and a friendly country. Sri Lankan artistes have worked with their Indian counterparts before as well. He added that ‘Manike Mage Hithe’ created a great environment for artistes to collaborate once again and he thinks Indian fans have only now started loving Sinhala songs.
He also revealed plans for an official Hindi version, adding that discussions were underway. Sangeeth also confirmed that Yohani had not collaborated on any version with anyone except Anas and Satheeshan.
Sangeeth also said ‘Manike Mage Hithe’ had created more avenues to showcase his talents. He has collaborated with Indian artistes such as Hariharan, Salman Ali, Pragathi Guru Prasad and Indian music lovers could look forward to more future collaborations.