"Know your inner strengths & work on them" – My Take by Afzal Yusuff, Music Director
In My Take this week, Afzal Yusuff, a visually impaired music director behind some of the biggest chartbusters in the Malayalam and Tamil films industry, shares his story. Afzal, who is from Kochi, is also a well-known singer.
I consider myself lucky to have stepped foot into the music industry. Music has been close to my heart since childhood. My parents tell me that when I was a child, I used to play the tune of whatever song i heard, even if it was with a spoon or a toy. We would visit my grandfather during the vacations and that is where my love for music took wings. He would play songs of Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi, and I would be all ears for those lovely songs.
Music was inborn in me. I completed my schooling at School for the Blind in Aluva where they had all the facilities for me to experiment more with music. During leisure time, I used to try out new music instruments. I kept practicing and developing whatever skills I had. By then, I realised that music was my true calling.
After school, I joined St. Pauls College in Kochi where I would participate in art festivals and other music-related events. It was a great platform for me to bring out my talents. I also had a bunch of great teachers and guides who supported me throughout. Many renowned artists and musicians spotted me playing at these events and that opened more doors of opportunities ahead of me.
I became active in the music scene and used to work with many musicians as a keyboard programmer. That is when I heard of a bachelors’s programme in music at a renowned college in Kochi. Though I attended it a few times, I couldn’t complete it because of my busy schedule. I discontinued the course and decided to fully concentrate on music.
Tryst with film industry
My first Malayalam movie was Chandranilekkulla Vazhi directed by Biju Varkey. But I actually got noticed in the hit film Calender that was released in 2009. I went on to compose music for the blockbuster movie 1993 Bombay March 12 which established my place in Malayalam music industry. I started getting many opportunities, and I could work with renowned music directors and singers as well.
I tuned music for Malayalam movies like Ithu Pathiramanal, God for Sale and Mammootty-starrer Immanuel which was the biggest blockbuster movie in my career. Even though the movie was released in 2013, people still talk about it and its songs.
I cannot forget the immense support from movie director Lal Jose who helped me enter the industry. He introduced me to many music and film directors with whom I went on to work. I have been lucky to get his support since the year 2004. Even now, he is one of the closest people in my life and has helped me a lot in shaping a career in music.
Successful career graph
Music director Bijibal is a good friend of mine. I have collaborated with him for many ventures. I am lucky to have worked closely with renowned names like strong>Raveendran master, Berny Ignatious and Ouseppachan from whom I could learn music in-depth.
I introduced Bollywood singers like Sonu Nigam and Arban Malik to Malayalam. Their first Malayalam songs were tuned by me. I feel overwhelmed to have worked with singers like Sadhna Sargam and Kailash Kher as well. Singers from South Indian industry have been great too.
I owe my success to my parents who guided me throughout my musical journey. They helped me to beat all obstacles and follow my passion for music. The unending support of film directors like Babu Janardhanan and M Padmakumar has been very helpful for me. In fact, they are my mentors.
I have just worked on a Malayalam movie Blue Whale which is scheduled for release very soon. I completed my first Tamil movie Engeyum Naan Irupen which is also slated for release. I’am also working on a handful of other projects.
I have never considered my disability a roadblock in walking towards my dreams. In fact, there are many visually impaired people in the music industry who have made their mark though hard-work and determination. Earlier, it was hard to work in such an industry when you have a disability. But now, society is more inclusive. There are many technological advancements too. If you are a visually impaired person, know your inner strength and work towards it. Nothing is impossible.