Melodies and memories: Vidyasagar's impact on music industry

Vidya Sagar
Music composer Vidyasagar. Photo: Vidyasagar/Instagram

Melody is almost synonymous with Vidyasagar. And it has been 3 decades since Vidyasagar started his extraordinary musical journey. His debut in Malayalam cinema was nearly 2 and a half decades ago in 'Azhakiya Ravanan'. To celebrate this milestone, there will be live music concerts in four cities. In Chennai, they held a spectacular musical night called ‘The Name is Vidyasagar.’ On the 10th of this month, an event will be held at Angamaly followed by Hyderabad and Delhi. Vidyasagar talks to Manorama.

You debuted in Malayalam cinema with 'Azhakiya Ravanan'. But now there are fewer melodies in Malayalam films as well. Does it mean that our golden period in film music is over?
Of course, there are changes in music. I think it is left to the listeners to decide if the changes are for good or bad. If such changes are making us happy, then they will be celebrated by all.

You have done the same tunes for Malayalam and Tamil. Ideally shouldn’t music change according to the culture and aesthetics?
Though music has only one language, it is true that there will be changes in literature and poetry according to geography and culture. One should keep that in mind while composing. For instance, I composed the song ‘Walking in the Moonlight’ in Malayalam. But when I used the same tune in Tamil, I changed the stanza. Because the Tamil lyrics weren’t syncing with the tune.

In my experience, it is when words are added in each language that the equation changes in a song. You can compose music only by knowing its meaning.

I will give you another example. Even if you endlessly stretch the letter ‘R’ while using the word Pyaar in a song, its essence won’t change. But you can’t do the same to the Malayalam equivalent of the word, which is ‘Premam.’

Have there been instances when one song which was a super hit in a language didn’t work when it was recreated in another language?
But I have heard the reverse experience. I first did the song ‘Malare Mouname’ in Telugu and it didn’t get noticed. But when I recreated the same song in Tamil, it was a super hit.

Do you think we have singers who are able to fill the void left by S P Balasubrahmanyam and P Susheela? Or singers who are able to impress a talented musician like you?

Such a comparison is not possible. We only had one SPB, Susheela amma and Yesudas. They are incomparable. Having said that, we have very dedicated singers today. And a lot of new talents are coming up.

You have mostly used Sujatha’s voice in Malayalam. Why?
Sujatha first sang for me in Telugu and Tamil. Malayalam happened later. And the ones she sang for me were also beautiful.

I think she does full justice to my songs. Ours was a hit combination like it was between Gireesh Puthenchery and me.

You can play more than 10 musical instruments. How did you manage to learn so many instruments?
I would like to give all the credit to my father. My father Ramachandra Rao, who was a musician, had given me training in various musical instruments from a very young age. Since I consistently did my training, it wasn’t much of a problem.  

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