Music

Vaikom Vijayalakshmi’s boundless enthusiasm

Singer and instrument player 'Vaikom' Vijayalakshmi. Photo: K.N. Murali Sankar  

KAKINADA: She gives 20 to 25 performances a month in different parts of India and abroad, besides singing playback for Malayalam and Tamil films, participating in music reality shows on television channels and taking part in radio programmes. Still, she has the energy and enthusiasm to do something different in the field of music. She is ‘Vaikom’ Vijayalakshmi, the lady who made her birthplace in Kerala as her first name and became popular in a short span.

Thirty four-year-old Vijayalakshmi was in Kakinada to give a concert during the 44 anniversary of devotional music organisation ‘Satkalavauhini’. “Singing is an inseparable part of my life and singing for the audience in concerts is very close to my heart,” she says, while giving the details of the items to be performed in the event to her father Muraleedharan. She makes sure that the concert should be a blend of vocal and Veena recitals that includes rendition of classical ragas and film numbers. “I have to sing whatever the audience expect from me,” explains Vijayalakshmi, fondly called ‘Viji’ by her parents and friends.

Though she has been giving numerous performances on stage from her childhood, it was the song ‘ Katre katre’ from the Malayalam film Celluloid (2013) that provided her instant name and fame in the music circles along with offers from the film industry. To her credit, there are 40 songs for 20 films in four languages – Malayalam, Tamil, Sanskrit and Telugu, setting aside numerous records of devotional songs of different faiths. Her version of Telugu song ‘ Evvadanta evvadanta’ from the film Baahubali,’ however, was being edited in the last minute.

“I take half an hour to finish the recording of any film song. I give improvisations in a couple of takes and the music directors choose the best out of it,” she explains. Her amazing grasp is seen not just in music, but also in identifying people through a handshake and memorizing hundreds of phone numbers. “I am often called as computer by my friends and relatives. My music, my energy and my memory power, there are all the gifts given by the God,” she says humbly.

She has also popularised the Gayatri Veena, also known as ‘Eka Tantri Veena’ (a unique instrument with single string). Apart from giving performances, she also played the instrument for a couple of films. “Not just Gayatri Veena, but I can play almost all instruments except violin. One of my fans from the US presented me the Kazoo, a flute like instrument, which I learnt in a jiffy,” she says.

For the first time, Vijayalakshmi is going to perform in the US for one month in April, 2016, where she has grand plans of shopping. “I am searching for an old model cassette recorder, which is not available in India after the advent of compact discs,” says the singer, who loves to listen to the radio.

A disciple of Ambalapalli Tulasi in Carnatic music, Vijayalakshmi loves to listen to the renditions of Malayali classical singers. When it comes to film music, K.J. Yesudas and K.S. Chitra are her favourite singers. “This year, I am going to receive the Kerala State award along with Yesudas sir, which, I consider as my major achievement. Sir teaches me music over telephone whenever he finds some time,” she adds.

People recall the voice of playback singer of yesteryears P. Leela while listening to Vijalakshmi, a resemblance that earned her the offer from Celluloid team. “The comparison is an honour to me,” says the singer , whose dream is to lend her voice to the tunes of Ilayaraja and A.R. Rahman.

The singer who practices two hours a day and attends concerts almost every day finds relaxation in the kitchen by chopping vegetables for her mother Vimala. “I have high regard for Carnatic music, which is taking me to places,” she concludes.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 6:21:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/Vaikom-Vijayalakshmi%E2%80%99s-boundless-enthusiasm/article13999439.ece

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