Singer-composer Vijay Prakash, who performs in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday, is scoring high with his songs in different languages
Music is now a constant in his life, Opportunities have always beckoned him, be it in the form of playback singing in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada, jingles, voiceovers or stage shows. He carries the tag of the ‘Jai Ho singer' with élan. Of late, he has tried his hand at composing too. So Vijay Prakash ought to have no complaints at all regarding his career that seems to be on song. But he has a grouse! “I haven't recorded a Malayalam song yet!” says Vijay.
Although a song in Malayalam might be missing from his resume, Born in Mysore to musician parents and mentored by musician Suresh Wadkar, Vijay boasts o an enviable portfolio, having sung for Ilaiyaraja, A.R.Rahman, Harris Jayaraj, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Vidyasagar and Vishal-Shekhar among others. Born in Mysore to musician parents and mentored by musician Suresh Wadkar, Vijay hopes he is in in a long innings in the music industry. More from the singer…
On Malayalam songs
I'm strongly connected to the music here. I have done a lot of shows in Kerala, where I make it a point to sing Malayalam songs. Numbers like Priyamullavale…, Oru Madhurakkinavin and Ullasappoothirikal… will definitely be there. Also, it feels great when I find that my Tamil songs are popular here. I have sung hundreds of jingles in Malayalam, besides doing voiceovers. The language is tough, and I am cautious while pronouncing certain letters. However, I have not been able to sing in a Malayalam movie (except for a classical portion in the song Pakalonnu… in Neelathamara for Vidyasagar). Some opportunities had come, but that didn't work out. When I recently performed in Kerala, I found that one of the organisers was a relative of composer Baburaj. He took me to Baburaj sir's home where I had dinner and listened to his compositions/recordings.
Although I don't do pure classical concerts these days, I love singing classical pieces at my shows. I present them as a fusion. I performed with Ustad Zakir Hussain recently. Last month, there was another performance in the company of Taufiq Qureshi and Niladri Kumar. I've also shot an episode for MTV Coke Studio, where also I tried to bring in classical elements in my songs.
Having donned the hat of a composer, I think I'm a better singer now. Andar Bahar, a Kannada movie, is my debut as a composer; I have posted my compositions on my website www.vijay-prakash.com. While a singer finishes his work in a couple of hours, a composer spends days at a recording studio. So, a singer has a bigger responsibility towards that song. Now that I am aware of the pain a composer undergoes, my perception towards singing has changed. Composing completes a musician. However, right now I'm not seriously into it. Singing is my priority.
I have been a participant (Sa Re Ga Ma Pa on Zee TV), an anchor (Sa Re Ga Ma Pa on Zee Kannada) and a judge (Star Singer on Asianet Suvarna) on reality shows. These shows are good in the sense that they give a platform for young talent. But the contestants should understand that singing someone else's song and rendering your own song in a studio are totally different. If you are an aspiring playback singer, you have to work really hard to reach right up there.
When I reached Mumbai in 1996, I was a stranger in the city. I dropped out of engineering college to pursue my passion for music. The man who shaped my career is Suresh Wadkar. I've had a slow and steady growth. My advice to all singers would be, no matter how good you might have performed in the past, it is the present that counts.
The music scene
In the 70s and 80s, there were hardly seven or eight singers who were successful around the same time. Now, you've 50 to 60 of them. It is a very competitive field, so one has to give his/her best. And I believe that each artiste needs to be different from the other, so that they can stay on. I do share a good rapport with many of them and admire singers like Karthik, Naresh Iyer and Vijay Yesudas. I was also amazed by Alphons' rendition of Aaromale… in Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa. A musician whom I consider extraordinary is Shankar Mahadevan.
Jai Ho… (Slumdog Millionaire), Hosanna… (Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa), Beera beera… (Raavan), Kaadhal Anukkal… (Enthiran), Assku Laska… (Nanban), Kandhon Se Milte Hain Kandhe… (Lakshya) and Sooni sooni… (Cheeni Kum),Anbe Sivam, Swades, Yuvvraaj, Naan Kadavul, Aravaan, Engeyum Eppodhum…