Vijay Yesudas on his father’s evergreen melodies, holding his own in a competitive world and turning music composer.
Even as Vijay Yesudas settles down at the crowded hotel lobby for a chat, his phone never leaves him in peace. In between these telephone conversations, he manages to talk about everything from his concert in the city today, spirituality, his accomplished singer-father K.J. Yesudas, and his career ever since he started singing in the year 2000. This concert is special, not just because it is his tribute to his father, but also because it is his company, V Records and Entertainment’s first big event. “Actually, I wanted to do a big rock concert, you know,” he says. But, the rock show never struck a chord like the way a tribute show did. He realised that there could be nothing more special than to sing his father’s greatest hits with him in attendance. After all, in more ways than one, his father has been instrumental for what he is today. “I am going to be singing all of my dad’s hits starting from the 1970s. Both old and young singers will be seen on the same stage at the Lady Andal school auditorium,” he says excitedly.
The concert, which is sure to score high on the emotional quotient, is in a way a culmination of his journey that began at the age of seven when Vijay started accompanying his father. “The most significant one was ‘Anjali Anjali’ I sang as a child,” he informs before picking up another call. These early forays into singing proved to be important in the formative years of this young singer, who later went on to study western classical music at the University of Miami. At 21, he got his first break in a Malayalam film, Millenium Stars. “I was told I am to be introduced as a singer in the film, which, incidentally, had my father rendering a song.” In some sense, it could be said that the first big opportunity, thanks to his father’s iconic status, came to him on a platter. It was only later that he understood that making a name for himself in the world of music was not as easy as getting his first break. “It took me six to seven years to find a place as a talented singer in Tamil.” In 2006 and 2007, he had a string of releases such as Pattiyal, Chennai 28, Kireedam and Billa that established him as a singer.
In the last couple of years, though, the singer has had more releases in Malayalam than Tamil, an industry where he couldn’t really, in his own words, break through until very recently. With two Kerala state awards under his belt, he is now flying high. “It has taken a long time for me to establish myself as a singer in Kerala. I have sung a celebration song in an Ajith-Vishnuvardhan film which will, I hope, be a big hit. I am open to singing in any language as long as I get good songs,” he says.
These milestones in his career, however, were accomplished in the face of constant comparison with his father. “Though I complete 13 years in the industry it’s hard to emulate legends like my father, he says.
Like his father, Vijay is deeply spiritual. Does it influence his music? “It brings about an emotional connect with the audience.” What plans has he drawn for the future? “They say when the time is ripe; things automatically fall in place. I am turning composer for a Malayalam film which will have a big star playing an important role,” he says.
Vijay Yesudas is clearly in a phase of his life when it is time to strike a high note.