Vinayak Sasikumar: Penning lyrics that soothe the mind

Vinayak Sasikumar was barely eighteen years when he wrote lyrics for ‘Guinness’ Pakru’s directorial debut Kutteem Kolum. That was a very young age for a lyricist to step into the world of the unknown. ‘Guinness’ Pakru was himself taken aback as it was a rarity to see a young man asking for a chance to work as a lyricist.

Vinayak’s first attempt towards songwriting might not have garnered much attention, but it didn’t stop him from looking out for opportunities. A great thinker once said it does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. Vinayak persistently looked for chances which gave him a golden opportunity to work with music composer/singer Rex Vijayan in Sameer Tahir’s Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi. “I cherish those moments when I got the chance to work with Rex Vijayan. It was a great learning experience. I continued working with him in North 24 Kaatham and Sapthamashree Thaskaraha. Associating with him brought some of my best works and also helped me to meet some exceptional people in the music composing field,” says Vinayak, a native of Thiruvananthapuram.

The recognition that has come the lyricist’s way is remarkable for someone whose family has no connection with film song writing. “I coincidentally wrote lyrics as a child when my parents brought a piano as a gift. I simply composed a tune in the keyboard and wrote some verses. I would say that was my initiation into songwriting”, says Vinayak.

It came as surprise for Vinayak when ‘Thaniye Mizhikal’ from the Tovino- starrer Guppy won a state award, which was as a turning point in his career spanning eight years. “Sooraj Santhosh who sang the song was exceptional. I am grateful I could be a part of that team. The recognition was unexpected”, says Vinayak, who left his job in a leading multinational company to become a full-time lyricist.

Vinayak believes that penning lyrics or giving a theme for character should be relatable and go with the narrative of a film. “If we write what we find in everyday life, it creates a connection. Audiences can relate to it and they enjoy the songs.”

His dream run continued with ‘Aaradhike’ and ‘Pavizha Mazhaye’ from Ambili and Athiran respectively, which topped the charts. “It is a great experience to see the process of how a song develops. That’s what happened with ‘Aaradhike’. I, again, teamed up with singer Sooraj Santhosh, composer Vishnu Vijay, and director John Paul. There was an emotional connection between us as we had worked together in Guppy. We knew what was expected from each of us. The camaraderie and knowing the plot helped me to convey the essence of the film through the lyrics.”

Vinayak kept working on his craft through films such as Varathan, Helen, Trance, June and the list goes on. Writing lyrics for the dubbed version of Saaho was a chance for him to work out of his comfort zone. “Music Composer Ghibran, who worked for the film, called me and discussed writing the Malayalam verses for Saaho. I admire his work and I didn’t think twice to be a part of the project. He and director Sugeeth directly called me for a discussion which was quite overwhelming.”

Dubbing for other language films is turning to be prominent in recent years. Now, the audience looks for meaningful translation of dialogues and songs of other language films. “Strong concept-based but universal subjects that worked well in Telugu, Kannada, and Tamil are dubbed into Malayalam and it is well received here. Recent blockbusters Baahubali, Saaho, KGF are the best examples. The majority audience are strongly against dubbing and often it gets trolled. I haven’t written for dubbed movies and it was not an easy task to write proper lyrics instead of merely translating already written verses”, he says.

As a lyricist, he always wishes to work with the most established singers in the field. He could turn this wish into reality when he worked with Shankar Mahadevan in Saaho and Ambili. “I was fortunate enough to work with Shankar Mahadevan in two movies. Working closely with such established artists helped me to polish my craft.”

Meanwhile, he also tried his hands at filmmaking through a romantic musical short film Hi Hello Kaadhal that got 4 million views on YouTube. It starred Sarjano Khalid (June) and Gouri G Kishan (96 fame) in lead roles. “I always wished to venture into filmmaking. When I narrated the story to Sarjano and Gouri, they readily agreed to be a part of it. As for me, it is my first time engaging in filmmaking not just as a lyricist but as a director. I got exposed to various aspects of filmmaking. The dialogues were done through sync sound. However, it was worth the hard work. The short film came out well. The whole credit goes to my team.” Even though he made a short film and writes about romance, Vinayak confesses that romantic movies are his least favourite.

Vinayak (in the middle) with Sarjano Khalid and Gouri G Kishan

According to him, the most rewarding experience that comes with his work is gaining the love and affection of people. “When you see people appreciating your work, it helps me to move forward. One of the best compliments I have come across is when people say how these songs soothe their minds. It makes me grateful about what I am doing”. As of now Vinayak has written around 100 songs, which is quite an achievement at his age. In the pipeline are Mohanlal starrer Ram helmed by Jeethu Joseph, Sumesh & Ramesh, Kilometers & Kilometers, Sajan Bakery, and many more.

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