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Feature

Still on the front foot

The matchfixing scandal may have devastated the cricket fan, but P M Vijendra Rao, a journalist who has recorded five songs to cheer the Indian team on, says the game is a religion very hard to get out of

Vijendra Rao: from news copy to songs He was a reporter until he woke up one morning and realised he loved music and cricket more than journalism. "I called up a friend and asked him to write two songs, and I wrote three," recalls P M Vijendra Rao. Thus was born the idea of an album of songs about cricket.

That was sometime last year, when the World Cup was just round the corner. Vijendra dipped into his savings and got Rajesh Ramanathan, who composes music for Kannada films, to record the songs. "I wanted to sing the title song, but wasn't free on the day of the recording," says the former Deccan Herald reporter known in press circles as a singer of old film hits. Rajesh Chandran and Sowmya, son-in-law and daughter of the famous singer B K Sumithra, lent their voices to his words.

Vijendra tried hard to release the album in London at the inauguration of the World Cup on June 8, but that didn't happen. He couldn't get AIR to broadcast the songs either because he hadn't found any sponsors. He had to travel from Mysore, where he was posted, to Bangalore and Bombay each time he wanted to meet people in showbiz.

He is now talking to music labels, web portals, and corporate houses in the hope that the album can be released on May 28 when the Asia Cup opens in Dhaka. "I want to add another song about the highs and lows of cricket," says Vijendra, conscious of the cynicism that has swept over the cricketing world since the betting and match-fixing scandal broke. "It has hit the game's popularity, but then people don't lose faith in god just because he snatches away a loved one," he muses. "And in India, cricket is a religion."

Vijendra's songs have a rock feel, with the synth raging in the distortion guitar mode. "We just assumed that was the style we wanted because we were doing it for a young audience," he explains. The words are predictable, and as Vijendra admits, "not extraordinary". One song cheers India on, and another is a eulogy to Sachin Tendulkar. "A sports reporter-friend has sent copies of the album to Sachin and Azhar, but I don't know if they have heard it," Vijendra told The Music Magazine.

So what next? The dapper Vijendra, who is resisting the idea of returning to a newspaper job, wants to settle down to farming and singing. Educated India, he agrees, goes overboard about cricket and neglects everything else, but for him, the game is still "heart and soul".

O Priya



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