Playback singer Vijay Yesudas spent a considerable amount of time after Class XI in USA. He also studied at University of Miami, Florida. He learnt to play the piano and sing at the varsity. With a down-to-earth upbringing and a college life that was spent among close friends, he remembers being surrounded by diverse people and enjoying sports. His stint there prepared him for life ahead, he believes.
With a dream debut where he sang with his father KJ Yesudas for the Malayalam movie, Millenium Stars, he has been honoured with two Kerala State Film Awards. Vijay has also sung in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Vijay is also on his way to becoming a music director and launching an event management company. He reminisces his college life on a warm, busy day at Tharangini Records (founded by KJ Yesudas) in Chennai.
What did college teach you?
I studied arts and lived on campus. First and foremost, it taught me to be open to anything. Living in a multicultural and diverse environment was quite an experience! We learned to mingle with people from everywhere and I wasn’t known for my lineage. Though I enrolled for piano, my professor realised I should be in vocals, which is what I did from my second year. I dabbled in different subjects like management, economics and social sciences, apart from music and realised music was the way forward.
What was your proudest moment in college?
When I got an invite to be a part of the university choir to perform at an opera in my third year, I was happy it was based on my skills. Of course, I had to audition and I did get through, but getting the invite was considered a big deal. This is also the place where the likes of Gloria Estafan and Enrique Iglesias studied. It felt good to be a part of that tradition.
Have you had any embarrassing moments in college?
We were very active in the Indian Association in USA. That meant performing the bhangra and dandiya! I once offered to sing a Hindi song sung by my father. After that, people started to take notice of me and realised I was Yesudas’ son. That also brought me attention from girls unexpectedly. Turning them down gently was rather embarrassing.
How did you score points with the ladies?
I like to believe men look better with time. Back then, I was a lanky, pimple-faced guy. So there wasn’t much to impress the ladies with, except for my singing. There was a north Indian girl I really liked. When I finally mustered the courage to tell her, she kindly turned me down. We parted as friends.
Was bunking a part of your college routine?
They are very particular about attending rehearsals and looking the part. All of it is included in your grade. So we didn’t bunk much.
Did you have any rifts with professors?
I was a quiet and shy guy. I didn’t get into any trouble with professors.
Where did you hang out in college with friends?
We’re talking about the late ’90s when we didn’t have cell phones. So we’d all plan to meet up at food courts. We used to play basketball, American football or tennis at the university. Apart from that, my friends and I spent a lot of time at the Indian Association. I lived with my brother initially in the dorm, and then my cousin brother. We had a Chinese roommate. We celebrated all fests and had parties in our dorm with AR Rahman blasting from my stereo, much to the chagrin of other students, who hadn’t yet recognised Rahman’s talent.
What extracurricular activities were you involved in?
Apart from rehearsals and training, we had a four-storey sports complex with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, NBA-standard basketball courts, tennis courts, etc, where I used to play with my brothers and other friends.