A Malayali brought up in Chennai who entered playback singing with a debut in Telugu before waltzing to Kollywood to churn out hits - that’s Divya Vijay! The voice behind the superhit song ‘Dheem thanaka thillana’ in the Vijay-starrer Villu, Divya was in the city recently to record a song with composer Sunny Viswanath.
She is a classically trained singer who has been learning carnatic music for the past 15 years. “I’ve been learning music since I was six and have had 14 gurus. But I never thought of making a career in playback singing,” says Divya whose ancestral home is in Guruvayoor.
It was when I had the ‘What next?’ question popping up in my mind after completing postgraduation in human resources that - call it destiny - composer Devi Sri Prasad, a neighbour and close friend who knew I was into music, offered to take me to the recording studio. I hopped in just for the heck of it. At the studio, he asked me to sing a few lines of his song that was going to be recorded soon. Little did I know that was a voice test. He convinced the producer and director of the Telugu film ‘Ready’ that my voice was good and thus happened my first song Om Namaste which went on to become a massive hit.” And there was no looking back. Divya got fantastic reviews for her neutral accent and flawless pronunciation.
She went on to sing a handful of songs in Telugu before she entered the field of playback singing in Tamil filmdom.
“It was Devi Sri Prasad who introduced me to the Tamil industry with Dheem Tanaka in Villu. I love singing all genres of music though so far I’ve sung mostly folk or Tamil western in tinseltown.
The only melody I’ve so far had in tinseltown is the title track of the Kannada film Sangama.” Ask her what her mantra is for staying afloat amid the competition from the new breed of young singers and she says, “It’s a very big thing to sustain oneself in an industry which has at least one new singer coming up every day. All of us have different styles. Now that’s a fortunate thing! I’ve just begun my career.
There’s a long way to go. I want to give my best as long as I’m around.” Besides singing, Divya is a busy compere and the anchor of the popular reality show ‘Airtel Super Singer Junior’ on Star Vijay. For the past five years, Divya has been learning carnatic music under the tutelage of Nandini Shankar at the Swaralaya School of Fine Arts, Chennai. She is a regular at concerts held every year in the Ayyappa temple near her home and has held a two-and-a-half hour concert at Guruvayoor temple. “I haven’t reached a point wherein I can confidently do a sabha katcheri. But I know that some time in my life, I’ll do it,” says the singer who’s into piano too (‘I’d love to jam on stage with my guitarist brother soon!’) Divya is excited about the songs she has sung for Sunny. “While the English single Lately is my first English song, the Hindi number Dil mein samaya hai is a soft melody with a ghazal touch. It was a break from the fast numbers I’ve been singing so far.” Lately she has sung for the Tamil film Kanakavel Kakha, the music of which has been scored by Vijay Antony.
In Telugu, she has just completed recording for Yuvan Shankar Raja and King.
When do we hear her in Malayalam? “I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a good break in Malayalam,” says the singer who worships K S Chitra and S Janaki.
Catch Divya performing at Ramada Resort, Kumbalangi on November 30.