Yohani shifts base to India, will Sinhala music take a backseat?

The Sri Lankan singing sensation will travel back home to record Sinhala music. She is set to launch a Sinhala album soon.

Yohani at Tu Saamne Aaye single launch on 24 November in Karjat, Maharashtra

By Mayur Lookhar

Yohani Diloka de Silva is among the many artistes who have taken to YouTube to express their talent. She shot to limelight in her country [Sri Lanka] with the Deviyange Bare rap. She earned global recognition with the Manike Mage Hithe romantic number. She was soon tapped by Indian music label giant T-Series who recreated a Hindi version of the Manike Mage Hithe track for the Bollywood film Thank God [2022]. 

Yohani launched her maiden Hindi single Tu Saamne Aaye, a duet with Jubin Nautiyal in Karjat, Maharashtra yesterday [24 November]. The Sri Lankan disclosed how she has now shifted base to Mumbai.  It strongly indicates her desire to work more with T-Series and establishing herself in the Hindi music space. Collaborating with the biggest music label in the world is indeed a great career move. But what then happens to Sinhala music, which is after all her roots. Do fellow Sri Lankans need to worry?

Not at all. Speaking to Beyond Bollywood after the press conference, Yohani said, “I can never leave my music. I’ll be going back to Sri Lanka next month to launch my new [Sinhala] album.”

The Sri Lankan assured her country men that from now on she will travel back home each time she is to record local music.

For a Sri Lankan girl, Yohani has braved to sing in Hindi. She was honest to admit that she has a long way to go to learn the language, but at the moment she is working hard to sing in the foreign language. We thought that for a Sri Lankan, she might limit herself to singing a couplet or two, but Tu Saamne Aaye sees her croon a proper Hindi duet. 

Jubin Nautiyal claimed that Yohani cracked the Hindi lyrics in the first dubbing, but surely it couldn’t have been that easy.  Asked about her mental preparation, Yohani said, “The verses that you hear now is from the first dub.  We took the verses separately because Jubin changed the lyrics a lot of times. I came prepared to record it. He tells me that he changed the lyrics a little bit, but he had changed the entire verse.  So how am I going to get? He taught me very well.”

Sinhala maybe an alien language to Hindi audiences, but the sheer voice quality of Yohani has made her a star not just in the Indian sub-continent, but maybe Asia.  Perhaps a big call, but Yohani’s short journey so far partly rekindles the impact the late Pakistan pop singer Nazia Hassan had when she burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old by crooning Aap Jaisa Koi track in Feroz Khan’s Qurbani [1980]. Hassan became an overnight national, global star and was soon dubbed as the Pop Queen of Asia.  The Manike Mage Hithe cover version has crossed over 230 millions views worldwide. While Bollywood music has seen great artistes across all generations, but it’s hard to recollect any artiste from the sub-continent today having the same impact like Nazia did in the 80s. Yohani is a little older but she looked like a teenager in the original Manike Mage Hithe song.

Commenting on the comparison with Hassan, and representing Asia on a global scale, Yohani said, “It’s amazing to think like that, I don’t have an answer for that. Everyone has their different elements, different journey. I’m honored [with the comparison] but everyone has their separate journey. I’m still figuring out my world.”


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