Singer Vijay Yesudas may have celebrated his forty first birthday but he sure thrills the music lovers with the sweet and flexible voice of a twenty-year old. The Malayali music enthusiasts are sensing a hint of legendary singer Yesudas’ impeccable notations and style in Vijay’s singing as well.
The singer, who has completed twenty years in playback singing, has now made his way to the big screen as well. Vijay, meanwhile, is excited to begin his new business venture along with his close friends. The friends are all set to open a franchise of the international men’s grooming brand Chop Shop Barber and Brand at Panampilly Nagar in Kochi. Those who wonder why the singer has taken a plunge into a field that has got nothing to do with music, Vijay says, “There is a financial crisis in the film and the music industry due to two consecutive floods and the pandemic. This has significantly affected our incomes as well. This idea came up when we were thinking about starting a business for survival.
One of my close friends Vijay had visited a Chop Shop Barber and Brand salon in Goa and it was him who suggested the idea to start a branch here. I got interested and we traveled to Goa to know more about it. That is how we obtained the Southern franchise of the brand. The first shop is at Kochi. We plan to begin salons at other Southern cities including Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.”
You have sung more than 300 songs in the last 20 years. How do you evaluate it?
There indeed has been a growth in my career due to the knowledge that I have gained from experience. I believe that my voice, music and even life have become matured. Until now, I have lived without any particular plans. I wish to continue like this. I have been nurturing lots of dreams. Some of them have been realized while some may happen soon. I know that it will happen at its due time. I have the heart to work hard for it. From the beginning until now, I haven’t made any changes in the effort that I put in for each song.
How did you improve your pronunciation issues that you had in the beginning?
You could improve a lot if you learn my appa’s (Yesudas) songs properly. Even he has advised me a lot about so many things. Besides, the music composers too have helped me sing with good articulation. Composer M Jayachandran is someone who has spent lots of time in training me. He makes sure that I pronounce and express each word in the song correctly. Jayachandran chettan is to me what Devarajan master was to appa.
You have played the roles of a hero and villain in the movies...
I have always liked acting. When I got opportunities to act, in the beginning, appa advised me that I shouldn’t step on both acting and singing simultaneously. So, I backed out then. However, when offers came my way later, it was my own decision to take them up. I would say that brushing aside the opportunities would be the greatest failure of a human being. Movie Maari was indeed a spectacular opportunity and experience as well. I had played the main villain role in it. Both I and Dhanush were skeptical whether I would be able to pull it off, as we are close friends. But, the director insisted that I was the ‘villain’ that he had imagined in his mind. Everything worked out well when the filming began.
I had played the lead role in the movie Padaiveeran directed by Dhana. I had to prepare a lot to essay the character in it. It was Dhana who taught me the lines when I sang for Mani Ratnam sir’s OK Kanmani. When he asked me to act in the movie directed by him, I said ‘yes’.
How do you manage to maintain your friendships despite being so busy?
I must say that movies and singing are something that I do very casually. I truly give more value to my friends. It would be our close friends that support us more than our family when we are in a crisis. I cannot even think how I would have survived the pandemic times had it not been for my friends.
What are your new projects in movies and singing?
I have signed the contracts for two Tamil movies in which I would be playing the lead roles. A 3D horror movie called ‘Salmon’ is another project that I have committed. The lockdown was announced when the filming of it was halfway through, at Kochi. The shooting of this movie would resume soon. The songs composed by Ratheesh Vega in Anoop Menon’s King Fish have already been released.
What about Chop Shop Barber and Brand?
This name came up from the motorcycle culture of New York in the 1920’s. These motorcycles were modified by chopping them. Noted Canadian fashion photographer Martin Prihoda is the founder of this brand.