Twenty-five years ago, singing legend K J Yesudas hearing six-year-old Vaikkom, render a song in Todi raga, blessed her: “You will be an accomplished singer one day.” He spent two hours with the little girl hearing her sing.
But for the visually impaired classical singer, life hasn’t been smooth. To her credit, she overlooked her disability to do well in her field. The gutsy singer composed many raagas and developed a single-string Gayatri Veena and became its exponent.
A commercial break came her way only last year when she sang a duet in the Malayalam movie ‘Celluloid’ which became a hit. The duet got a special jury mention in the state film awards. Vaikkom has since been flooded with offers.
Vaikkom was born blind in a small town near Ernakulam. The family shifted to Chennai when she was quite young. Here, she was spotted with a rare ability to catch a tune at the first hearing and reproduce it with all its nuances.
Soon, she learned more than a 100 ragaas, made her own compositions and was a popular performer at concerts.
Interestingly, one of her fans presented her a “Gayatru Thampuru” and she and her father worked on it and remodelled it with just one string. Violin maestro Kuunakudi Vadiyanathan happened to hear her recital on the new instrument and named it the Gayatri Veena.
“I never felt my disability posed too many problems,” said the singer who made Yesudas her “manasa guru (eternal guru). “Music is my life.”
Her fraternity has also backed her.
“Her voice is sweet and her modulation is superb. She is a gifted artist,” said singer G Sreeram, also a programme executive in AIR, who sung the duet with her in the film, Celluloid. Her family has, however, been her biggest support.
“I see the world through my parents who sacrificed their whole life for me. They made music my life,” said the singer who has more than 500 stage performances to her credit.