43. Shruthi Vijai

1 Nov

_MG_3522-EditEver since she was a little girl Shruthi Vijai loved singing, and she had always harboured the dream of becoming a performer. Throughout her schooling years she was involved in school choirs, but was never really open about it because she considers herself to be “just your average girl stuck in a daydream,” she says, laughing. She started writing her own songs at age 14 after being bullied at school because it was the easiest way she could express her emotions and because she believes that “music speaks louder than words”. By 16 she had begun to teach herself how to play the guitar.

UK MURALI, a music director and playback singer involved in many independent films in Kollywood (Kollywood is the nickname given to the Tamil film industry in the area of Chennai in southern India) first discovered Shruthi after she posted a video on YouTube. The two-minute video of her singing Sunday Morning by Maroon 5 has since been taken down, but led to a chance to kick-start her dream career as a singer. “I don’t like labelling it because it makes it seem like a job, and I don’t ever want to think of it as something ‘I have to do’” she says thoughtfully when asked if she considers herself to be a singer or a performer.

On the 22nd of January 2014, Shruthi and her mum, Uma, were on a plane to India. When she got there, Shruthi had to sing in front of UK MURALI. “They wanted to see my vocal range and to check if it was really me singing in my video.” She decided to sing one of her personal favourite songs, Red by Taylor Swift, but also had to demonstrate that she could sing in Tamil. The song she ended up singing was Allegra featured in the movie Kandasamy, which she managed to learn in a day. Having heard the song, I can honestly say that is impressive because it is a very a very difficult song to learn.

From there, Shruthi entered into a whirlwind of a trip. She was asked to write ten songs, of which four were translated into Tamil. She spent a hectic few weeks in the studios recording. Some days stretched on and she was in the studio by 9 am and didn’t leave until 7 pm. Interspersed between these were performances, organised by UK MURALI, at weddings. Shruthi sang as part of a group with 2 other women and 2 men, a musical troupe organised by UK MURALI who sings at weddings quite often.

Shruthi went back in late April, which was earlier than was originally suggested. The months of February and March were spent writing songs and completing vocal training, which she still still does. The next tour was much more full on. Every day Shruthi was either recording, on tour or performing at weddings to groups of around 500 people. While recording, she didn’t perform any new songs but perfected the sound or the lyrics of what had been previously recorded. She performed in Sivakasi, Madurai, Manaparai and Chennai, and travelled between them by bus. Her longest trip was 12 hours to Sivakasi. “Oh man, there was no air conditioning,” she moans, letting her head fall into her hands.

All up she performed at 6 different places on the tour, with crowds ranging between 5,000 and 12-15,00 people. Her concert in Madurai was broadcast worldwide over RAJTV. Amongst all this however, Shruthi was still studying a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) with a major in forensics at Swinburne University. Despite the different time zone, she was still able to complete all her assignments on time.

Once back in Australia, Shruthi was contacted by Live It Up Promotions and asked to perform at a Whole Lotta Love on Lygon St. She was the second performer and performed 6 songs. She started with Sunday Morning by Maroon 5, then proceeded with I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz, Red by Taylor Swift, Sweater Weather by The Neighborhood, Classic by MKTO and finished with Crazier by Taylor Swift. Her love of music, in particular pop music is reflected in her own music which she describes as being a fusion of pop and Bollywood.

Since then, Shruthi has been contacted again for more recording with an unconfirmed chance of another tour in late November/early December. In the meantime she is continuing with her singing lessons and writing songs, though admits that doesn’t do it “as much as [she] would like to.”

In the future Shruthi would obviously like to be a singer in India and Australia, but she has a backup plan that is rather different, which is to become a forensic psychologist. Originally she wanted to do law and then get into forensics to correct injustices, but she then thought that she would be able to do something similar in forensic psychology. She also describes her fascination with how “someone can commit a crime without any remorse or guilt.”

Shruthi has a lot of different options open in her future and will make the most of whichever one she chooses to pursue.

Words: Charlotte Long

Photo: Sean Porter






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