Music director Vijay Antony is revered among the youth of today. His electrifying peppy numbers and melodious tunes continue to enthrall listeners. This multifaceted young gun seems to personify today’s youth, juggling his time between music direction, penning lyrics, singing and enjoying all of them.

Meet Vijay ‘Nakka Mukka’ Antony, this week’s Behindwood’s guest in a candid chat.

"Kuthu paatu is not inferior"


BW:
How did you become interested in music?

Vijay Antony: My tryst with music began right from my school days when I used to sing for my friends. I was very dull in studies and was a last bencher. Somehow I used to scrap through exams but was good in music, dance and other extra curricular activities which gave me a lot of recognition. I realized that I was more popular in school than my brainy counterparts. That’s when I thought – why not take this as a profession itself and that’s how my interest in music blossomed.

Did you straight away start composing music?

Before embarking full time as a music director I was working as a sound engineer in my studio named ‘audio files’. I was Sound Engineer Vijay Antony first and then Music director Vijay Antony.

What genres of music do you like?

I am not framed into liking any particular genre of music. If I tune myself that way, then I cannot render diverse music compositions. As I like all types of good music, I am able to give peppy numbers like Dilamo or a Nakka Mukka, along side a Brindavana Saranga Nenjankootil number or a Yen Enakku Mayakkam. Basically I need to satisfy my director as well as the audience. That’s more important.


About your family?

My dad passed way when I was seven and my mother struggled hard to bring me up. She never had any lofty ambitions of making her son a music director or making him study in an English medium school or anything like that. She is a very naïve person. I grew up amidst a lot of difficulties. She worked as a clerk in town planning office and her meager salary was just enough to take care of our basic needs like the house rent, electricity bill, groceries, my school fees etc. It was certainly an uphill task for a single woman to raise her son and I think she has done a commendable job. I spent my first ten years of life in Trichy, the next ten in Tirunelveli and the next ten at Chennai. After moving to Chennai, I started earning and things are slowly improving now on the financial front.

"Kuthu Pattus are

akin to the salsa

or discos of the

western world"


Do you think Kuthu Paatu is necessary for Tamil cinema?

Whether Kuthu Paatu is necessary for a film or not is to be decided by the director and it is only his discretion which is based on the script. That aside, according to me, Kuthu Paatu is not something that is inferior or anything like that. I feel it is a part of Tamil culture especially when the song uses instruments like tharai, thapattai and parai. These are very indigenous to us. My nakka mukka number had used all these sounds and it was a hit with both the class as well as mass audience. I feel kuthu pattus are akin to the salsa or discos of the western world.

But these types of songs do not transcend time. What is your comment on that?

Cinema came to us only from the 1950s. There were no songs or tape recorders in any household then. So when entertainment was at its nascent stage, any song that was delivered was a hit. And as the days go by, when more and more songs hit the audience, there are more options and competition is on the rise. Today, at least one hundred songs are being recorded in a single day in Tamil alone. So shelf life for current songs be it melody or kuthu, is very short and a song cannot transcend the time barrier any more.

"I have no role

model"


Who is the role model for your music?

I have no single person as my favorite or my role model. I don’t follow anyone. I like good music and I like whoever renders them. I don’t want to follow a particular person. I like Raja Sir’s melody, Rahman sir’s usage of technology, Yani’s technique of mixing Indian music with international quality. In short I like and admire good things irrespective of its roots.

Do you compose music for verses or the other way round?

I can do both ways. For ‘Dilamo’, I composed the tune and then wrote the lyrics. For the ‘suppose’ number it was simultaneous work. I first composed music for the verses of all the songs in Kaadalil Vizhunden. It depends on individual strengths and weaknesses. I find both the styles easy. But after Kaadalil Vizhunden I have started feeling that it is better to compose music for the verses. But I can do both.


Who is your favorite lyricist?

Vairamuthu is my all time favorite in the Tamil film industry. His lines are very powerful and strong. He is one poet who can think much ahead of his times.

What about the repetition of single words in songs?

Many lines of verses are not necessary but even one line is enough to compose music. Nakka mukka number had more of the word nakka mukka and it was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.

Do you like philosophic verses? If so, which is your favorite?

In the upcoming film 4777, I like the song ‘Kanneerai pola oru nanban illai, katrukkol thunbam pol oru paadam illai’. It is a very soothing number and at the same time, it makes one think deeply. I like songs with deeper meanings. ‘Tholvi nilayena ninaithal’ from Oomai Vizhigal is a favorite. I like Raja sir’s numbers like the ‘Ponnai pola aatha yenna pethu potta’ which talks about a mother’s love for her son in a profound manner.

Have you done live shows?

I have never done live shows till now. Now my songs are getting popular and I have come to a stage where I can have live shows. I have planned to conduct them at least in 10 places in 2009. Let me see.


Your opinion on the many incomprehensible words in the Tamil film songs of today?

I do not have a personal opinion on this. Anything that the audience likes is a hit and when they don’t like, they reject. Nakka Mukka is one such number. There is no meaning to the word but it was lapped up totally by Tamil Nadu and it is the regional anthem now.

What is the current trend in giving chance to newcomers?

In the earlier days, people were not open-minded. They did not welcome youngsters. Although I was talented I had to struggle hard to get a chance. I was rejected because of commercial and business reasons. But the present generation is open minded and willing to try out talents. Hence the current trend is to give opportunity if one is talented.

"Vairamuthu is my

all time favorite"


Don’t you think Tamil suffers at the hands of non-Tamil singers?

I believe that in this industry whatever is being liked by the audience only will win. If the audience rejects a particular type of singing or a singer, such trends will eventually fade away. Slang or foreign words in Tamil songs are there because they are being enjoyed by the audience. There is no connection between this and Tamil. Tamil cannot be wiped away by anybody and nothing can bring a change to Tamil. This is a trend or a style of this period. That is all.

What are your future plans?

I do not have any plans. I take each day one by one. If I get a good project in a particular period, I take it up.

Why did you start a music company?

I basically want to learn the nuances of this trade- the audio market and how to go about it. In future if I decide to venture into production or film making, this knowledge would definitely come in handy.

Tell us something about your wife

My wife is totally responsible for my growth in the film industry. Two women play an important life in a man’s life. One is his mom before marriage and then his wife after wedding. In my house, sometimes I behave like a child and that’s when my wife takes on the role of a mom. A creative person is generally very emotional. My wife understands me perfectly, handles me well and walks with me during the times of joy and sorrow. She handles my fans, talks to them in a very polite manner, manages my finances and is extremely supportive. I am very lucky to have her beside me.

"A creative person

is very emotional"


Tell us something about your projects

Audio of 4777 is out now and now I am doing its re-recording. After this, I will be on the job for Ninaithale Inikkum directed by my friend G N Kumaravel a remake of Malayalam Classmates. Songs have come out very well. Then I move on to Vasantha Balan’s Angadi Theru. I have huge expectations from the film. I will be commencing its re-recording in a few more weeks. Then it will be Kanagavel Kaaka under Balamurugan’s direction. Further on, it will be Vijaykanth’s Mariyadai directed by Vikraman. I believe that this film will be an important mile stone in my career. I have to balance Vijaykanth sir’s image and it should also be in tune with the taste of Vikraman. Till now, songs in Vikraman’s films will generally be talked about and I hope to continue the trend.

Aval Peyar Thamizharasi

Aval Peyar Thamizharasi directed by Meera Kadiravan will be my first film based on rural background. Judging by my looks, people think that I will only do melody, kuthu and carnatic songs. But Meera Kadiravan is a poet and a deep thinker and he is the first director who approached me for a rural theme. I am trying out a totally new genre of music in this film. This film will definitely give me an image make over.


Under whose direction would you like to work?

I am open to everyone. Thankfully, till now, the directors that I have worked with have given me immense freedom which has helped me deliver the perfect goods.

Who do you want to credit for your growth?

When I came to Chennai, I did not know anyone. I am yet to scale greater heights but there are many people who are responsible for whatever growth I have achieved so far. There are many warm hearts and well wishers. First it is my mom who struggled so hard to raise me. Then it is Yemi. He gave me a job in his studio without even looking at any recommendations. He is my guru and a friend who gives me a lot of emotional and moral support. When I say Guru, people think that I have learnt music from him. But he is a sound engineer who stood by me in my lean times. I like his character and behavior. I have mentally accepted him as a Guru or a role model. But for him, I would not have learnt sound engineering and I would not have become a music director. He is very important to me.

What is your take on the dearth of meaningful lyrics in film music?

Today there is a general complaint that there are no good meaningful songs. But what I don’t understand is how one can find these things in film music when one will have to look for them in Holy Scriptures like the Bhagavath Gita or the Koran or Bible. If good ideas do happen in film music, enjoy them. If not filter them or reject them. This is my opinion.

Have you personally tried something new in your upcoming films?

I have tried to bring Avvaiyar’s Aathichudi in my film 4777 through a peppy tune. This is a novel attempt and I believe that with the release of these songs, Aathichudi will find itself more audience.


Do you think you may face any opposition for this?

No, I don’t think so because I have not changed any lines or distorted the original. I don’t think it will be a crime to score music for Avvaiyar’s verses.

What is your opinion on lack of strong far reaching melody tunes in today’s music?

As I said earlier, it is all a mind-set. In olden times, there was no competition and anything that was given to the audience was liked and accepted. But the scene has changed today. It has been reported that by the year end we would have at least 10,000 songs. We are being bombarded with different types of music. Today’s youngster will tell that there are no melodies like Nenjankootil to his next generation. So the statement will remain the same only the times would have changed.

"Remixing is neither

right nor wrong"


About remix

Remixing is neither right nor wrong. It is only business. It is like the second or the third edition of a book. When there is some good old music and when the producer requests it to be remixed, as a music director, I try my best and use the latest instruments and deliver it. Personally my remix attempts have been a failure and my own tunes have become successful. When a music director remixes, it does not mean that he is incapable of producing his own tunes. In fact I can churn out close to five hundred tunes per day. We heed to director and producer’s request. That is all.

Where is Tamil film industry today as regards music?

In my personal opinion, in India, Tamil film industry tops the list in terms of quality, melody and orchestration in the music department.

Did you have your music lessons from London?

No, I am not affluent enough to go to London and study. I did my correspondence course from the Trinity College of Music. People think that I studied in London. No, I am only local.

Lyricist trying to interfere with music director’s work

As far as a film is concerned, the captain of the ship is its director and he calls the shots. When I don’t agree with him, I try to see the film through his perspective. But when it comes to music department, it is only right that the music director be given the complete freedom. A lyricist cannot interfere with a music director’s work. If he wants to express his views, he should choose a different medium. This is my opinion.

Risks that you have taken in your life

I struggled very hard to come up in life. My mom who was a clerk in an office wanted to see me as a supervisor in her office. My uncle who was a police man wished that I become a police officer. Somehow, I broke all the shackles, followed my heart and decided to walk in unchartered path. This is the major risk that I have taken and by God’s grace, it has proved well. I will also be taking such risks in future.

What is your advice to upcoming singers or music directors?

I have not accomplished much to give advice to anyone. I struggled very hard despite being talented. I was not given opportunities because people believed that I may not give them good business. But I don’t want others to undergo what I faced. As far as possible, I am trying out and giving opportunities to newcomers and talented people in most of my songs be it Nakka Mukka or Yen enakku or any of my songs. The advantage of giving chance to a new lyricist or a singer is that they are very cooperative. Secondly, by introducing many talents, the industry will have quality and this will eventually lead to a healthy competition.


Interviewer: Inian

Camera: Hemananth.B

Text: Jyothsna

Ophilia Director Sasi Divya Spandana Sneha Sharanya Mohan Nakul
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