Home > Text Interviews


Interview Team : Avinash Pandian; Venkat; Avudaiappan

Having started playing piano at the age of 3 and widely known for his expert guitar skills among bands across the tinsel town, Leon James made a giant stride towards the film industry as a music composer with the blockbuster Kanchana 2. The promising young composer takes time to chat with Behindwoods correspondent Avinash Pandian about his dream debut, AR Rahman, future projects and more…


Your association with Rahman? What did he say about Kanchana 2’s music?

My father has been working with Rahman sir for quite a long time, so I know him from my childhood days. He has always been so very supportive. I have in fact sung for few of his songs back then when I was a kid, one such was Thottapuram from Ajith’s Varalaru. Rahman sir is a legend who is a huge inspiration for me.
Not sure if he heard Sandi Muni but he heard Vaaya and he said he liked it.

People ultimately want good music. It doesn't matter who gives it to them. If it's good, people will appreciate it. And that you have the talent...all u have to do is work hard - AR Rahman

Vaaya Veera?

Vaaya Veera is one of my first composed songs, we released it in YouTube. The song was received pretty well and somehow Lawrence had got to listen to it and felt it would fit in his film and that’s how things panned out. It was earlier a short song. Then we had to rework on it a little for commercial purposes.
Lawrence and Taapsee’s chemistry in the song, their exquisite dance moves and the beautiful visuals have helped the song to get a wider reach.

How did Sandi Muni happen?

It happened later after Vaaya Veera, when Lawrence sir was in need of an energetic climax song. It was challenging as it was something new for me. We did work on different versions of it before zeroing on the final one. The song is indeed commercial but it also has an emotional undercurrent. We tried to fuse in Indian instruments with some Western ones so that it gives a world class sound yet compelling for the local audience.

How was it to share your debut album with 3 other music directors? Was this the dream debut you were longing for?

That’s how things work in the West. If something is good for the industry why stick on with the conventional setup?
Everyone has their own dream; I feel Kanchana 2 is not a bad start even though I am sharing it with three other musicians. Lawrence sir was so sweet; it was a pleasure working in Kanchana 2.

Leon is easily one of the best keyboard players I have ever worked with...happy and privileged to share Kanchana 2 with him - SS Thaman

Ko 2 and other future projects?

Yeah I am officially on board for Ko 2. It’s a political saga like the earlier version, but only with different cast this time. Bobby Simhaa and Nikki Galrani play the lead roles in the film. It would be an interesting challenge to prove myself in such a political satire at this juncture of my career. I have some plans but let’s see how things shape up. The album will most likely have three to four tracks.
Apart from Ko 2 I am in talks for a few other projects, one interesting venture with a bunch of first timers and a couple more too but nothing has been finalized yet.

How good a singer are you?

Not sure if i can sing now, I used to sing well when i was a kid but not anymore.

Your collaboration with Anirudh and Santhosh Narayanan. And your current favorite track?

Anirudh and I were a part of a popular band called Zinx. It’s a Carnatic fusion band. We are good friends.
I worked as a keyboardist in Santhosh Narayanan’s Enakkul Oruvan and Jigarthanda. My current favorite number is ‘Poo Avizhum’ from Enakkul Oruvan.

A great musician, one of the very few artists well-versed in jazz and other styles in India - Santhosh Narayanan

Bucket list?

To be a successful independent artist has always been a dream. I also want to do an outright jazz album which we don’t see much in films.

Leon was one of the most sought after keyboardists in Chennai, where singers would rearrange the date of their shows based on Leon's availability - Keba

What’s your take on auto tunes? Is it a boon or bane?

Like all other technical advancements, auto tune has its own pros and cons - if that’s what people enjoy why not use them. This doesn’t mean I am publicizing it.
I personally feel changing human voice through software is a disgrace and it is not correct.

About your recent collaboration with Andrea for a single on Women empowerment?

Yeah, it’s called ‘Ezhunthu Vaa’. The song was composed to inspire women to stand tall and succeed. It is a promotional music video for Vanessa sanitary napkins. Andrea has crooned the number while Na. Muthukumar has penned it.

Good luck to you Leon! Hope to see you more often through your music!

Leon is my favorite keyboardist & I can't even remember doing a show without him ! He is an exceptionally talented musician & I'm so proud & happy that he's finally getting to make his own music. I only hope he will still play for me whenever I call him - Andrea



This page hosts exclusive interviews with actors, actresses, film technicians and related celebrities. The interviews are generally personal views of the guest about their projects and film related matters. People looking for information about actors, actresses, directors, music directors, cameramen and other technicians will find this page useful.