With many countries being on lockdown, quite a few videos have been circulating, including a special one featuring various artists singing the AR Rahman tune, Vellai Pookal. This cover is the brainchild of singer-actor Yugendran Vasudevan, the son of renowned Tamil singer, Malaysia Vasudevan.
Currently based in New Zealand, Yugendran remotely coordinated and pieced together this video that brought together 30 artists from all over the world.
Vellai Pookal features singers S P B Charan, Devan Ekambaram, Haricharan, Sathyaprakash, Shakthisree Gopalan, Nikhil Mathew, Harihara Sudhan, Ishaan Dev, Shabir
Pravin Saivi, Rajaganapathy, Priyanka, Sam Vishal, Sharanya Srinivas, Swagatha S. Krishnan, Srinidhi and Ramya Ramachandran. Malaysia Vasudevan’s grandsons Saii Naarayan Prakash, Visashan Naarayan Yugendran and Kishan Naarayan Yugendran also sing for the lilting tune.
The cover also featured a gorgeous line up of musicians, including veena maestro Rajhesh Vaidhya, pianist Lydian Nadhaswaram, flautist Palakkad Sreeram, guitarist Vagu Mazan, keyboardist Bhuvanesh, fiddler Sruthi Balamurali as well as Charu Hariharan on the miruthangam and ganjira and Uma Shankar on the Ghatam.
Yugendran single-handedly brought together all these artists for the cover. The Varnam team speaks to the singer about his latest feat.
Inspired by that Amitabh Bachchan video
Yugendran was inspired by Family, the video featuring Amitabh Bachchan alongside Rajinikanth, Mamootty and other big stars to create Vellai Pookal. He tells us. “I shared that video with my wife, Hayma Malini, and she said, why don’t you try something like this?”
And so he did. Yugendran began approaching singers and musicians from all over the world to get the ball rolling. “It started from there, and slowly, it began picking up. Musicians like Rajhesh Vaidhya and Lydian Nadhasawaram were on board from the start. That was really nice,”
Each singer filmed their parts in their respective homes and sent it over to Yugendran. “The singers and musicians are people I talk to, they’re my friends, and we have worked together on many occasions,” The whole thing, from start to finish, took 3 days, the singer revealed.
The experience was exceptional, he says, but it was not without its challenges. “I had to liase with many people. You see, I am based in Auckland, and the time difference is a big issue,” Thankfully, he said, people were cooperative, “It was probably because everyone was at home!” he laughs.
A soothing song
As for the song itself, Vellai Pookal was Yugendran’s pick, “It is a song that is so soothing and peaceful in this time of chaos. Many of us can’t sleep at night and are so anxious by day because of all the Covid-19 related news. This song brings respite as it has a beautiful melody and the words are meaningful,” he says. Remembering the Kannathil Muthammital scene that led to the song Vellai Pookal, Yugendran says, “Ithuvum oru por thaan (This is a war too),”
“Ithuvum oru por thaan (This is a war too),”
The 44 year old has managed to juggle creating this cover with his day job, “I run my own media company in Singapore, it’s called Rambutan Media Works. I also alternate between Malaysia, Singapore, India and Auckland for work,”
Yugendran’s sons, Visashan Naarayan and Kishan Naarayan also make an appearance in the Vellai Pookal clip. “My kids love music, I suppose it is in our blood. They prefer English tunes, though, but my wife and I encourage them to listen to Tamil songs. I always tell them, this is our culture, don’t you forget that,” Even his youngest son, 7 year old Darshan Naarayan loves music, he says.
Why didn’t the Malaysian government recognise Malaysia Vasudevan?
When asked about his father, the singer says, “It is really a blessing to be Malaysia Vasudevan’s son. It is priceless to me, really,”
But he does have a bone to pick with the Malaysian government. “My father was one of the most popular Malaysians in the Indian music fraternity. He literally put his country’s name before his. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the accolades he was meant to receive,”
Yugendran expresses his disappointment that Bollywood actors have been awarded Datukships, but his father was not given any recognition by the government, not even in his passing. “It is sad that not even a road is named after him, when he has made Malaysia so proud,”
Bollywood actors have been awarded Datukships, but malaysia vasudevan was not given any recognition by the malaysian government
The Malaysian music scene, however, evokes a different emotion from the singer. “The Malaysian music scene has been fantastic from the days of David Arumugam. Now, it has been elevated with all the youngsters who are relentless in doing something new, they need to be commended for that,” Yugendran says.
“Santesh is doing really well, he has entered the Malaysians Malay and Tamil scene and it is great to see him reaching greater heights,” Santesh was featured in Yugendran’s cover of Vellai Pookal.
As for his upcoming projects, Yugendran says that he has many covers planned. He will also be working with some popular names in the Tamil music fraternity like Shweta Mohan and Praniti.
He is also looking forward to going back to composing. “Music is really my passion, I’ve composed the music for 5 movies and I’d like to do more of that,” Yugendran is also going to be creating more collaborative covers, as the response from Vellai Pookal has been astounding.
While Malaysia Vasudevan created a name for himself for his singing, it is beautiful to see Yugendran chart his own path, doing what he loves. Based on Vellai Pookal, we cannot wait to see what else this singer has in store for us.
All images are credits of Yugendran Vasudevan.