Vijay Yesudas keeps it simple — good songs, good hits
Starry debut, struggle, success. In his decade-long career Vijay Yesudas knew each well. His career as a playback singer often veered from the script. Yet, with quiet perseverance, without appearing too eager or impatient, Vijay is getting into his groove. The past year did him good. The pleasing and heartfelt “Ee puzhayum” from “Indian Rupee” and the playful “Mazhathuli palunkukal” from “Pranayam” appear fresh on each hearing. The awards have come along, though the singer says what counts more is that the songs were big hits.
Vijay intelligently manoeuvres his way around the presence his father K.J. Yesudas is in the field. He doesn't attempt to sing like his father and he doesn't vehemently try to break free. He simply remains himself. So when music directors request him to give a ‘Yesudas touch' here and there, he doesn't mind. “It is about being used in a good way. Now I think the similarity is closer (between his and his father's voice) as my voice is getting mature, but I know the difference,” says Vijay.
Striking a balance
The 33-year-old singer was in Kozhikode recently for a concert. He nonchalantly treads a seemingly dicey territory — to express his signature, but also give glimpses of his father's brilliance. Of late, he has been called rather consistently when his father's gems were re-mixed for new movies. After “Alliyambal” (“Loudspeaker) and “Poomukhavatilkkal” (“Ivar Vivaahitarayaal”), Vijay had a rocking “Oru Madhurakinavin” last year (“Teja Bhai and Family”). The singer is unsure about re-mixes and doesn't want to take them up unless they stand up to being good compositions themselves, “‘Oru Madhurakinavin' was re-made very well,” he points out.
Vijay is busy in Malayalam, getting back with Shahbaaz Aman after “Indian Rupee” for “Spirit”, doing an original for Deepak Dev after “Oru Madhurakinavin” and veering away from his lilting melodies to a high-pitched song for Gopi Sundar. However, he remembers well the long lean time in Malayalam, which stretched till “Kolakuzhal” (“Nivedyam”) happened, the Kerala State Award arrived and listeners acknowledged it all.
“I have one particular music director to thank – Ilayaraja, who gave me Malayalam songs at that time. I also have to thank M. Jayachandran, Ousepachan who gave me good songs, just that my time had not come. These directors polished me. I remember Jayachandran used to correct my pronunciation, be picky about a lot of things. I owe him a lot,” says Vijay.
The young singer believes the Malayalam music scene is finally and bravely experimenting with new voices. Even when he was not a big draw in Malayalam, Vijay was busy with Tamil, Kannada and a handful of Hindi projects. “The Kannada songs were a big hit,” he says, while in Tamil he was singing for Ilayaraja, A.R. Rahman and Yuvan Sankar Raja. In his repertoire are memorable ones like “Sahara” (“Sivaji”). “They try different voices there,” he says.
However, even on the upswing, Vijay admits his skills in classical music lack sheen. “It is silly and stupid to make excuses, but I am running around to make a living. But I do want to do it well,” he says. On a positive note, Vijay says, most young singers in the circuit today are aware of the need to hone prune their skills in classical music. “A lot of us are getting trained now,” says Vijay.
Yesudas is known to fastidiously take care of his musical faculties, even spurning certain food products. “I am less sensitive to things,” says Vijay, “though I stay away from cold stuff. If I have yoghurt I fall sick instantly and I also keep away from certain fruits before recording.”