Premakeerthi de Alwis

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Premakeerthi de Alwis
Born(1947-06-03)3 June 1947
Died31 July 1989(1989-07-31) (aged 42)
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Resting placeKanatte Cemetery
EducationAnanda College
OccupationBroadcaster, lyricist
  • Daya de Alwis
  • Nirmala de Alwis
  • Surangi de Alwis
  • Poorna Sampath de Alwis

Samaraweera Mudalige Don Premakeerthi de Alwis (3 June 1947 – 31 July 1989), commonly known as Premakeerthi de Alwis, was a Sri Lankan radio and television broadcaster and lyricist. He was assassinated during the 1987–89 JVP Insurrection.

Early life and family[edit]

De Alwis was born on 3 June 1947 in Colombo, Ceylon.[1][2] He was the second child of Simon de Silva, a railway employee from Maradana.[1][3] He was educated at Maradana Maligakande Maha Vidyalaya and Ananda College where he co-edited the school newspaper Dhamma Jayanthi and compiled the Anandaya magazine in 1965.[1][3] In 1961 he unsuccessfully auditioned to be a singer on Radio Ceylon.[1][3] However, his speaking skills enabled him to take part in several children's radio programmes, including Lama Pitiya and Lama Mandapaya, presented by Karunaratne Abeysekera.[3][4]

De Alwis had two children – a daughter (Surangi)[5] from his relationship with Daya de Alwis, and a son (Poorna Sampath)[4] from his relationship with Nirmala de Alwis.


De Alwis father wanted him join the railway department but de Alwis was attracted to radio broadcasting.[3] De Alwis joined the Visithura magazine, part of the Davasa group, in 1966 as a feature writer.[6] He started working for Radio Ceylon as a freelance announcer on 17 December 1967.[1] He became a permanent announcer in June 1971 and was promoted to programme producer.[1] He became a Grade Two announcer in 1974 and afterwards presented programmes such as Sonduru Sevana, Serisara Puvath Sangarawa and Shanida Sadaya on Radio Ceylon's successor Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC).[4] He later joined the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation, presenting programmes such as Anduna, Sanidtha Ayubowan and Sampath Rekha (National Lotteries Board).[4]

De Alwis was a prolific lyricist, writing hundreds of songs. He wrote his first song, Hada Puda Asune Senehasa Bendune, in 1969 for Rupa Indumathi and Malkanthi Nandasiri.[3] In the same year he wrote his first film song, for Lokuma Hinawa directed by K. A. W. Perera.[3] He wrote songs for more than 150 films.[1][3] He wrote songs for numerous singers including Mohideen Baig, Malini Bulathsinhala, Milton Mallawarachchi, J. A. Milton Perera, Mervyn Perera, Victor Ratnayake, Freddie Silva and Priya Suriyasena.[3]

Popular songs written by de Alwis include Aaron Mama, Adaraneeya Neranjana, Adare Ran Bingun Nesu, Beri Bara Hindai Daruwan Dunne, Eda Re Guwan Thotupoledi, Eka Gini Koorai Mulu Gedarama Thibune, Kurullanta Gee Gayanna, Ma Ekkala Amanapawa Wee Dabara, Mannaram Piti Welle, Me Nagaraya, Mudu Parama Supiwithuru, Oba Dedunna Akasaye, Raththaran Menik Muthu Mokatada Ewa and Sanda Midulata Enawa.[3]


During the 1987–89 JVP Insurrection de Alwis received death threats allegedly from the Deshapremi Janatha Viyaparaya, the armed wing of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), but as a socialist he did not take them seriously.[7] At around 8.30pm on 31 July 1989, armed men, allegedly belonging to the DJV/JVP, stormed into de Alwis' home in Homagama.[7][8] De Alwis tried to escape through the back door but more armed men were waiting in his back garden.[7] His wife pleaded with the armed men and they assured her that they only wanted to question de Alwis.[7] They dragged him outside and shot him dead.[8] His bullet ridden body was later found 200 yards from his home.[8] His remains were cremated at the General Cemetery, Kanatte on 7 August 1989.[6]

A member of JVP was found guilty of the murder on 17 December 1992 by the High Court of Colombo.[9]

In July 2014 a part of Independence Square Mawatha, the road leading to the SLBC headquarters in Colombo, was renamed Premakeerthi de Alwis Mawatha.[10][11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Weerakkody, Kalinga (3 August 2003). "Premakeerthi de Alwis". The Island.
  2. ^ Abeyagoonasekera, Asanga (4 August 2013). "Golden Butterfly of our Nation". The Nation. Archived from the original on 21 August 2014. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Uvais, Ramesh (26 July 2010). "Premakeerthi: The humble wordsmith". The Daily Mirror. Archived from the original on 21 August 2014. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d Liyanage, Jayanthi (29 July 2009). "Simplicity of expression: Premakeerthi's 20th Death Anniversary". Daily News.
  5. ^ Thilakarathna, Kusumanjalee (27 July 2014). "Notes from a daughter's 'diary'". The Nation. Archived from the original on 21 August 2014. Retrieved 20 August 2014.
  6. ^ a b Weerakkody, Kalinga (21 July 2002). "Premakeerthi Mama". The Island.
  7. ^ a b c d Goshaka (10 December 2008). "The JVP and LTTE are two of a kind". Daily News.
  8. ^ a b c "TV Broadcaster Shot Dead". Tamil Times. VIII (9): 6. August 1989. ISSN 0266-4488.
  9. ^ "Murder Conviction: Court Case". High Court of Colombo. 5 August 2013.
  10. ^ "Avenue named after Premakeerthi De Alwis". Ceylon Today. 1 August 2014.
  11. ^ "President decided to name the road after the late artiste Premakeerthi de Alwis". Daily News. 1 August 2014. Archived from the original on 21 August 2014. Retrieved 10 May 2020.

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