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Talented man-in-no-hurry

UNLIKE MANY of the young singers of his age, Vijesh Gopal is not in a hurry to jump into the bandwagon of recognition and fame. He knows that he is ready for the leap but is content to wait for his guru to give the nod.

Vijesh was among the five new faces that master-composer G.Devarajan introduced in 2001. All of them had then promised their guru that they would not take a leap into professional singing till the master gave his consent. But only Vijesh and Dr. Rashmi Madhu have managed to keep their word.

"I think that I'm ready now, but though there have been no film offers so far, I will take a decision only after I get the permission from Devarajan Sir. I have also very politely refused a few offers from audio companies, concentrating on my training in classical music at present," confided Vijesh.

Gifted with a rich voice, excellent pronunciation, and an ability to sing without affectation, Vijesh has always been impressive. For those who have listened to him at any one of the music programmes would be surprised that this singer has still not found his way, if not into films, at least on to the numerous faceless audio albums that flood the stalls.

"I have sung in only around 30 music programmes. They were either organised by Devarajan Sir himself, or by others who sought his permission to have us sing in them. Apart from that I have sung for two K.P.A.C. plays, `Raja Ravi Varma,' and `Adinivesham,' and in a music album `Pranayathinte Devaragangal.' Devarajan Sir composed the music for these ventures. Of course, there were a few amateur plays, before I was introduced to Master, in which I rendered a few songs," said Vijesh.

His casual meeting with Devarajan was a turning point in his career. Though he was into music from his school and college days, it was this association that turned Vijesh from a mere warbler into a well-trained singer.

Vijesh, who hails from Vypeen, the coastal belt of the city, was trained in Carnatic vocal by a host of teachers like Mani, who initiated him into music, Sudhan Vachakkal, Jayakumar Shenoy, and Ponkunnam Ramachandran. He is also a proficient violinist, who has accompanied many singers at various concerts. A consistent prizewinner at the State schools and university youth festivals, Vijesh has decided to pursue his vocal training under Mavelikkara Subramaniam.

"It was Seby Nayarambalam who gave me the first break in a ganamela. It was for a Vayalar commemorative programme in 1998 at our place. There were a few male singers scheduled to be singing in the event and I sang all those songs for the rehearsals. Then finally for the event proper, one of the singers failed to turn up, so I got a chance to sing those songs scheduled for him. This was the first time I was listening to and singing those old songs. And, truly, I was fascinated," reveals Vijesh.

Immediately after this event, Sachin Kaitharam, who used to be part of Devarajan's music troupe, took Vijesh to Thiruvananthapuram where he was introduced to this master composer. "I stood outside till I was called in. Master asked me to sing and I remember having, quite nervously, sung `Chakravarthini... ' He listened and asked me to sing once again. After that he gave me a few tips on how and how not to sing. They were so valuable and I cherish them even today, especially his insistence on understanding the meaning of every word and pronouncing them perfectly," recalls Vijesh.

After a wait for almost a year, Vijesh recorded for a Doordarshan documentary, `Kadalezhum Kadannu,' in which he rendered the title song. "It was my first song for Devarajan Sir and so has a special place in my heart," said Vijesh, who has completed his engineering degree.

Though he is not normally nervous when he prepares to go on stage, there was one occasion when he really felt a bit jittery. "I was asked to sing the opening song in a programme that included some of the singers that I have idolised, like Jesudas and Jayachandran. It was part of the 75th birthday celebrations of Devarajan Sir, so I asked him if I really had to do it. He gave me a hard look and said firmly that everything would go as planned. I felt a bit nervous when I went before a packed hall that evening. But, thank God, I did not fail," Vijesh said, of that memorable event in Kochi last month.

Fortunately for Vijesh, he has parents who are very understanding and supportive. "They have always encouraged and backed me. Never once have they tried to push me into professional singing, never tried to talk me out of my patient wait for the right time," said Vijesh of his father, Venugopal and mother Jayalakshmi.

Do not be surprised if you begin to hear more about this young singer in the days to come. For he is one who can keep his head, when most of those of his age are losing theirs, can wait, not being tired of waiting for everything to fall into place.


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