CHENNAI: Singer, song writer and composer Maalavika Manoj is back in Chennai after a year in France, where she completed her final year of Bachelor’s in Business Administration (BBA). The 21-year-old had a whirlwind college life at Loyola College, Chennai especially with activities centered on her band, Bass-in-Bridge, which she was a part of in Class XII and continued during her first year of college. By second year, she went on to release an album, Deceptive. Now, all set to fly to Warsaw, Poland, to pursue higher studies, she reminisces her graduation days.
“Loyola was predominantly a boys’ college, I was there for two years after being in an all-girls school for 10 years. So that was a huge change. My student experience there was quite different,” she says, adding, “I was happy to have met classmates who have now become good friends. And in college I learnt that nothing is impossible, especially on the eve of an exam!”
Better known as Mali, she has sung in the movies 3, Kaliyugam, Haridas and Malini 22, Palayamkottai. “I’ve got the band experience as well as playback experience. I got to meet interesting people in the circuit like Anirudh Ravichander and Siddharth Vipin. I also met Harris Jayaraj and AR Rahman on some occasions. I didn’t work with them but gave them my album and spoke with them about my music. Those were high points in my life,” exclaims Mali, who has also lent her voice for Tamil actor Dhanush’s album Sachin Anthem, a song composed in tribute to Sachin Tendulkar.
Recently, she visited her alma mater and says, “I felt proud to walk back into the college, when the orientation programme for the new batch was being held last month. It felt like I had begun college just yesterday. At the same time, I was relieved that I had completed three years of my graduation.”
She continues about the embarrassing moments she had in college. “I’ve had people in college sing ‘la la la’ to me, mimicking the small vocal part I had in the soundtrack of the movie 3. Sometimes, this would happen in public and I would not know how to react. Another time, when I was in charge of helping the dignitaries light a lamp at a function, I went and lit them myself instead! I had to apologise profusely to the Principal and to the audience, who were in splits,” she laughs.
Asked if she scored points with the opposite gender, considering her singer-songwriter appeal, she shrugs, “Umm. I got to know many people through my music and people used to identify me as a singer-songwriter, but I doubt that made much of a difference, or at least I chose not to take notice of it.”
Like most college students, bunking was a part of her routine, she says. “But that’s really part of the fun and, moreover, my attendance was always above average. It’s all good if you know how to keep the balance,” she quips.
Speaking about the transition from school to college, she says during the first two months of college, she and her friends got an unexpected amount of freedom, compared with her school days, and they did break and bend a few rules, which landed them in the offices of many faculty members. But eventually they settled down and got the hang of college life. “You live, you learn!” she says emphatically.
“We used to go to Subway or KFC (near the college) during lunch breaks and at times just chill at a friend’s place. The college canteen was always the preferred option on days when we were low on cash,” she says, adding that once in a while, they used to go to a mall or watch movies together. “We never had a fixed place to meet — the company was always more important than the location,” she says.
Besides singing, she had time for no other extracurricular activity. “When I was recording my album, I used to finish class at around 4 pm and sometimes go straight to the studio and stay there till night. For as long as I was in Loyola, I was busy doing something related to music,” says the budding artist, who takes inspiration from singers and songwriters like Stevie Nicks, Joss Stone, Alanis Morissette, Norah Jones, Katie Melua and jazz artist Ella Fitzgerald.