Singer Nikhil Mathew speaks about his hit number in Ayalum Njaanum Thammil and his music career

It’s not always that reality show winners make it big, be it in music, dance or acting. But these talent hunts have given a chance to many talented youngsters with no godfathers in the industry. Several new voices got the opportunity to create waves solely on the basis of their talent. There are umpteen wannabe singers who’ve had their share of luck. Singer Nikhil Mathew, winner of the very first season of ‘Airtel Super Singer’, a music reality show on Vijay TV, is one example. Nikhil has crooned the soulful melody, ‘Azhalinte aazhangalil…’ from Lal Jose’s much-acclaimed movie Ayalum Njaanum Thammil, which is creating waves at the box office. The song has found a place on the charts. MetroPlus caught up with the 29-year-old over the phone while he was on his way to the airport to catch a flight to Bahrain where he has a stage show. Excerpts from the interview…

‘Azhalinte aazhangalil…’

“I’m overwhelmed by the response to the song. I never ever dreamt that the song would be so popular. All credit goes to the evocative lyrics by Vayalar Sarathchandra Varma and the wonderful composition by Ousepachan sir.” And he can’t thank enough Prem Prakash, the producer of the movie, who happens to be a family friend as well. “In fact, I didn’t get so much a response when I sang ‘Karmukilin…’ with Shreya Ghosal in Bachelor Party. Obviously, the focus was on Shreya then. So, this song means a lot and I consider it my best so far…,” says a jubilant Nikhil.

Life after ‘Super Singer’

Nikhil was doing his MBA in Chennai when the competition was announced. “I always had a special liking for Tamil songs and so had little problem with singing in Tamil,” he says. After the win, he sang for Harris Jayaraj (‘Enadhuyire…’) in the movie Bheema. He has had a steady career in Tamil, having sung in films such as Perumaan, Thulli Ezhunthathu Kadhal and so on. He has also got a number of stage shows to his credit. “It matters a lot that I’ve sung with my favourite singer Hariharan at a stage show. I could also perform with S.P.Balasubramaniam, Shankar Mahadevan, K.S.Chitra, Sujatha and many leading singers on various stages. I still remember with pride how SPB sir introduced me to the audience during my first show with him in Mumbai,” says Nikhil.

In Malayalam

His account of songs in Malayalam is rather small when compared to his numbers in Tamil. Nikhil’s entry into Mollywood was through the movie Moonamotharal, on the recommendation of Prem Prakash, with the song ‘Nilavinte…’, composed by Ousepachan. But his version of the song was there only in the CD. A song in Orkut Oru Ormakoot and those in dubbed movies were what he had to his credit till ‘Karmukilin…’ came his way. “I’ve sung in three more Malayalam movies, but can’t reveal the details since it is too early to say whether those songs would be there in the film,” he points out.

Music background

Although not a classically-trained singer, his mother, Saly Mathew, is a good singer. “In fact there are many musicians on my mother’s side,” he adds. Nikhil has learnt classical music for 15 years. His gurus are Vaikom Radhamani and Kottayam Ambilikuttan. He is now learning from Kottayam Veeramoni. Nikhil is a first prize winner in light music at State School Youth Festival (2000), State Higher Secondary Youth Festival (2002) and M.G. University Youth Festival (2004).

Family

Nikhil’s parents, A.V.Mathew and Saly, live in Kottayam while he is now settled in Chennai with his wife, Meena, who works in a bank.

Reality shows

“It is good to see that many reality show winners are getting good opportunities. But it is not an easy affair. I’ve had my share of struggle. I’d to move around giving demo CDs to composers before I started getting offers,” he says.

Music as profession

Nikhil is full-time into music. “Opting for a full-fledged music career is quite a risk in today’s competitive world. Every week a bunch of new singers enter the industry and you’ve to have that extra talent to make a mark. By God’s grace, things are quite steady at my end,” he signs off.