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Interview : Lyricist Pa Vijay

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We give below an interesting talk with the young poet, Pa. Vijay who has recently won the National award for best lyricist for his song in Autograph.

Q: Tell us something about your early days.

Vijay: I am a native of Kumbakonam but I grew up in Kovai. I always had an interest in writing poetry. I decided on a literary career and to get a toehold I entered films. I met my mentor, K. Bhagyaraj through his brother, who was a family friend. I worked with him in films and his magazine, Bhagya. My first film lyrics were for the film, Gyanapazham in 1996. After about four years, I ventured out and several films like Vanathai pola, Nee varuvai ena and so on happened.

Q: How long have you been in the industry?

Vijay: I was a trainee for about four years and for the past five years, I have been on my own.

Q: Is anyone else from your family working in the industry?

Vijay: I am the first one from my family to enter the film industry.

Q: Those days, one lyricist wrote all the songs in the film. Now a days, we have four or five writing in one film. What do you feel about this trend? Do you think it is healthy?

Vijay: You see a film is the result of teamwork and this applies to songs also. When you have many songwriters, you get songs of different hues, which adds to the overall appeal of the film. Yet, the trend of one person for the entire film has not died out completely. I have myself written all the songs in Thulluvadho ilamai,
Ponniyin Selvan and Arindum ariyamalum. There are many talented poets and at times, even time constraints make the producers approach two or more lyricists. However, it must be accepted that writing all the songs in the film is more satisfying as it gives you a sense of control over the film.

Q: What is your answer to the criticism about increasing vulgarity in film songs?

Vijay: I disagree completely that today’s songs are obscene. Songs like Nattusarakku or Chinna veeda varattuma were written by me and I am not ashamed. These were written keeping in mind the setting for the song and incorporating some folk elements from our traditions. I can say with confidence that it is only now that Tamil movie songs are becoming better and such criticism is unwarranted. If you didn’t like the song, leave it alone. Do not blame the songs as they only act as a point of linkage for moving the story forward.

Q: Do you say that song writers do not have any responsibility for providing quality fare?

Vijay: See, as a songwriter I only have to write what the screenplay demands. In most circumstances, a song is used as a bridge in the story. When you have such fun songs, they are meant to break the tedium and keep the audience guessing about the next development. Providing quality literary fare in films is not in the primary line of duty.

Q: How do you feel on being conferred the National award?

Vijay: When I started writing in films, I wanted the biggest prize which was the National award. Also, for long, there has been a tradition of poets who were forty-plus to be recognized. I broke the mould and became the youngest award winner in my category. There is also a prevailing view that today’s young poets cannot produce songs of the same intensity and variety as say, Kannadasan or Pattukottai Kalyanasundaram. This award has reinforced my strong belief in the talent available today.

Q: Tell us something about how the song, Ovvoru pookkalume… was visualized?

Vijay: The greatest advantage for the song was the placement in the screenplay. It has the effect of moulding the hero’s perspective. After I heard the setting and the excellent tune by Bharadwaj, I was motivated to come up with a song which would form the soul of the film’s message. The song clicked.

Q: The song has almost become the anthem for youth yearning for self-development.

Vijay: I am happy that the song is helping the youth. I also have unconfirmed reports that from the next academic year, this song will be included in the Tamil syllabus for class III.

Q: Your other literary pursuits are also gaining momentum.

Vijay: I always wanted to be a part of the literary world. I have published five books so far and I wanted to bring out an anthology of my earlier unpublished works. I approached Kalaignar Karunanidhi to be the chief guest for releasing the books. He is a living legend and we have all imbibed several elements from his genius. I was honoured to be a child at the knees of a towering personality like him.

Q: Your other projects…

Vijay: Apart from films, I have started weekly poetry series in four Tamil magazines. I am also involved in translating great works in English into Tamil verse.

Q: How do you manage to accomplish so much?

Vijay: Allocating time is the biggest challenge. But when I think about the achievements of great literary figures, time constraint seems immaterial.

Q: Your favorite songs…

Vijay: Kannadasan’s Mayakkama, kalakkama or Malarndhum malaradha is an all-time favorite. Then there is Andhi mazhai from Rajaparvai and there are several others.

Q: Your advice to budding writers…

Vijay: Anyone with talent can win in cinema. Decide on your goal and work steadily for achieving your objectives. Never compromise on your sensitivity to your environment. Without a fixed aim, there can be no sustained effort and without effort there can be no lasting success.

Vijay signed off by thanking behindwoods for giving him the opportunity to talk to his Tamil brethren around the world.

More Interviews :

Balu Mahendra
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