FACE TO FACE The audio of Vijay's Velayudham is a hit and its composer Vijay Antony is a happy man, writes malathi rangarajan
Within minutes of reaching the market, the audio of Velayudham recorded an unprecedented sell-out. More than a lakh CDs on the first day of release is an incredible figure, and naturally I'm curious about the reaction of the man behind the music — Vijay Antony. Particularly because Antony is one music director who doesn't mince words when he says he's had no formal training in the art. “I don't know how I do it,” is all he has to say when queried about his creative skill!
Success is on a fast track for this composer-lyricist-singer-turning-actor. After a spate of hits, the response to his songs for Velayudham has touched a new high! He laughs, “I work for every film with the same amount of diligence. But here it is also the draw of the hero that's working magic for my music.”
At the launch of the album in Madurai, Vijay, the leading man of Velayudham, proved for the nth time that he's a veritable crowd-puller. And when he announced that each Vijay Antony number should be a rollicking hit, the audience cheered in assent. Vijay then went on to sing a couple of lines of ‘Sonna Puriyaadhu' from the new album, and the people went delirious with joy. “Vijay loved the songs. The 20-minute teaser we had circulated on the net also helped,” says Antony.
Director Raja, Vijay and Vijay Antony as a team, is new. “I can't thank Raja enough. I just gave him one tune for each lyric. He liked them all,” smiles Antony. Generally, directors listen to several options before they zero in on one. “As a composer, I only give directors tunes I'm happy with. I was thrilled to see our tastes converge at the same point.” But among the songs, the melody of ‘Mulachu Moonu' is the most mesmerising. Viveka's verses for the number are equally splendid.
Antony has this practice of plumping for new voices and lyricists. All aspiring singers have to do is mail their voices to firstname.lastname@example.org “I get back to them if I find the timbre impressive. I don't accept CDs. The ‘Mulachu Moonu' you tell me about has been sung by Supriya Joshi from Mumbai. She sent a demo by mail and I asked her to come down for the recording,” he says.
This composer is himself a singer, and invariably the songs turn out to be chartbusters. The most recent is ‘Oh my Angel,' a favourite on FM. Now, two of Velayudham's songs are in Antony's voice. “It isn't planned. Once a composition is complete I sing the track and send it to the director. He sometimes suggests I record them in my voice, and I go ahead.”
Composing a tune, giving it to the lyricist and getting the words for it, is the norm. Very rarely it works the other way too, with the words coming first, and the composer lending a tune to them. Vijay Antony always prefers the latter. “I interact a lot with the lyric writer. His diligence and the concept are primary. Then the rest fall in place,” he reasons. Probably it is this rapport that has made Annamalai, the wordsmith of Antony hits such as ‘En Uchi Mandaiyila' and ‘Benares Pattu Katti,' pen a couple of songs for Velayudham. “He's talented and we vibe well,” says Antony.
Mention Vijay Antony and the strange words in his refrains are bound to come to mind — ‘Naaku Mooka,' ‘Aathi Choodi' … You now hear it in the Velayudham piece — ‘Chillax' (!) begins the number. Is it a cultivated Vijay Antony stamp? Antony disagrees. “I intend relegating such rigmarole to the background for a while because my melodies get buried in the bargain. All the same, on the very day of the audio release everyone in the crowd screamed ‘Chillax.' So the draw of such usages is obvious,” he grins.
He must be tracking his listeners' choices to know their pulse so well. “Of course, social networking is essential. The feedback helps me grow. And it's a real stress buster. When I knew that without my knowledge responses were being circulated on websites in my name, I decided to plunge into it myself. Now www.facebook.com/vijayantonyinfo is my fan page. My updates are lapped up in a jiffy and I'm thrilled. I'm active on Twitter too. So in no time I could gauge that Velayudham music had caught on!”