Recently, AR Rahman was asked by a TV show host about promising talents in the film industry, and the first name he took was of Govind Vasantha, a 30-year-old composer from Kerala.
He may have become a familiar name in the South after Prem Kumar’s 96, but for those who follow the indie scene, this self-taught musician has a different identity too.
Vasantha is the frontman and driving force behind Thaikkudam Bridge – the first Indian band to perform at Summerfest in Wisconsin, the USA, certified by the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest music festival. Hailing from Thrissur, and having lived in Chennai for most of his career, Vasantha’s life changed after the band’s popularity jolted him into the spotlight.
In the last five years, he has made the best of that – from forging his own identity as a music producer to placing his band in the international music scene. To borrow Bruce Lee’s words, he is like water, not hesitant to shape up and lash out at many things.
Vasantha’s fluidity is, however, not limited to work and art. He lost around 30 kgs in the last six months through a rigorous diet and exercise regimen to fight a personal war on body shaming.
“I’m just proving a point, these small wins matter a lot to me,” he says, elaborating on his reasons to make the changes he has. Despite this fearless resolution, he still appears to be a simple man at heart.
Vasantha openly admits that, initially, he couldn’t even watch the video where the ‘Mozart of Madras’ mentioned him.
“There was a time when I rented a house next to Rahman’s, just hoping that I would catch a glimpse of him going in or out of the studio. To transition from that phase to hear him say my name is beyond imagination,” he adds, with utmost enthusiasm.
Currently, besides the release of a multi-artiste album Namah from his band, this music director has over 10 movies to work on. Vasantha’s long list includes Vijay Sethupathi’s Tughlaq Darbar in Tamil, a remake of 96 in Telugu, and Nivin Pauly’s Padavettu in Malayalam in the works.
Genes over genres
When Thaikkudam Bridge launched in 2013, the 15-member outfit received plenty of ridicule. Many people thought they were overcrowded, but for Vasantha, who comes from a family of musicians, that didn’t matter.
“Back when I was a kid, a function at home meant around 40 of us sitting around and singing during power cuts,” he recollects. His 63-year-old father, Peethambara Menon, is a vocalist who now sings and performs with the band. Also, most of their songs are written by Vasantha’s sister, Dhanya Menon. Not only that, his first cousin, Siddharth Menon, is a singer and actor too.
The project started by playing covers of familiar Malayalam songs and international numbers like Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters. Due to this, they were soon typecast and called out for being genreless on social media by their contemporaries.
“I used to get frustrated and even lashed out a few times. I deeply regret that now. That would have made me as temperamental and cowardly as they are,” he recollects. Once their first album Navarasam released, Vasantha effectively shut down the haters.
He blended Eastern classical and folk influences like Kathakali Padam and Poothapattu with a metal framework that got them to Summerfest.