When the Kerala State Film Awards for 2016 were announced, there was the name of Sooraj Santhosh for the best singer (male) for a song in the film Guppy beginning with the lines Thanniye…. To the uninitiated, Sooraj is the co-founder and lead vocalist of the band Masala Coffee and is popular with music buffs across the Southern industry.
Sooraj speaks about the award, “This song is very close to my heart and the fact that it was composed by my schoolmate Vishnu Vijay, who won the award for the best background score, calls for double celebration. I was not expecting this award and I was watching TV when I saw the award declaration.”
Chennai-based Sooraj started his career in 2010 singing for a Telugu film. Soon, he got busy singing songs in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. His first song in Malayalam was for the film Second Show and later, for films like Kunjiramayanam and Madhura Naranga. He says, “The number of songs I have sung in Malayalam is very less and there is no particular reason for that. I know Tamil fairly well but though I did not know Telugu and Kannada, I could manage fairly well because music has no barrier.”
The classically trained singer shot to prominence in Kerala through his eight-member band Masala Coffee. Initially performing on a music channel in TV, they graduated to live shows which were well received. Sooraj was also a member of the first Indian choral group to render five mantras in the chorala a capella style. He explains, “The music was composed by Ganesh Kumar and he collaborated with the European Chamber of Music where I recited five mantras, including the Gayatri mantra.”
Receiving a state award will not change his life — Sooraj declares emphatically! “I am going to continue doing what I am doing but the responsibility will be more and I will give my best shot at the songs I sing.” Regarding his future plans, Sooraj reveals, “Masala Coffee is working on a debut album and as far as my singing career goes, I am singing across all Southern languages.”
Not bothered about the mushrooming singers, Sooraj does not want to compete with anyone and believes that there is space for everyone. “I get a call, I go sing; I just want to do whatever I can musically!” The independent music scene is seeing resurgence in Kerala about which he is very upbeat. He comments, “There are lots of independent singers coming up and that is a good trend which people should support. The independent music scene is really doing great,” he concludes....