Soon after his song became a super hit, Bollywood was calling out loud to Vijay Benedict. The song "I am a Disco Dancer" became a celebrated melody in the 80s and made Bengali actor Mithun Chakraborty a renowned break-dancer. It was amid such fame and fortune that came, a life-changing incident transpired in Benedict's life, introducing Christ and rendering the "everlasting peace" he was searching for.
Having sung for leading heroes and contemporaries like Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Sunny Deol, Govinda, Shatrughan Sinha, and with nearly all the playback singers right from the late Kishore Kumar to Asha Bhonsle, Benedict barely knew he would someday be metamorphosed into a leading Gospel singer in India. In a freewheeling interview with Christian Today, the trendsetter musician whose 'Yeshu Tu Hai Mahan' sold over 100,000 copies and are sung widely in churches, shares his journey from Bollywood to Gospel.
CT: Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to Christ.
I had done my graduation in Indian Classical Music and post-graduation in Business Management. My journey in the entertainment industry began with Bollywood where I did about 40 films. Having gained much fame from my songs, I became a globetrotter with concerts all over the world. It was at this juncture that an incident put a halt to everything and led me to ruminate and search for peace that the world and things around me could not offer.
CT: And what was that incident?
My younger brother working at a five star hotel was murdered in Germany. I flew to that country, and upon a little investigation learnt that a drug dealing was happening in the hotel which my brother witnessed and complained to the police. The drug dealers shot my brother and fled the scene even before the police could arrive.
My brother's death shook me and led me to think on questions of life which I found no answer. My brother lacked nothing and lived a comfortable life. He had all luxuries he wanted but he wasn't there. This posed a lot of questions on human life. I was totally disturbed. Nothing at this crisis, including my wealth and status could fill this void in my heart. I was desolate, spiritless and unstable. What in this world can make me happy? What can render in me "everlasting peace" which I could not find in all the prosperousness of my life?
I tried different things to find peace. My films were really doing well, but I can tell you I was not happy. Nothing could bring me out of this dejected state. It was then that somebody introduced me to Christ. My life changed thereafter. It was not the same. I can boldly confess today that I found peace in Christ and His Word. I learnt to rejoice in Christ's grace which now I know is sufficient for me in my life. Jesus, the living God, became the panacea of all my problems. I subsequently realised how beautiful it was being with God. None other than Him could fill this spiritual voidness in me. He taught me to forgive my brother's killers and love and pray for my enemies like He did.
With the Lord's calling in my life, I decided to dedicate my music to God and to His worship. There was no turning back, my life was fully offered to Him from there.
CT: But dint you find Bollywood luring with the success you had?
Yes, Bollywood was very luring. There is a lot of money in it. It is the most successful industry in India. But once I came to Christ, like I said, there was no turning back. I knew Bollywood was not what I wanted. It indeed is very mesmeric and can easily tempt one. But thankfully His grace held on to me and led me to use my talent to worship Him. Despite getting many offers, I tread on this path and I still continue to glorify Him through music.
CT: How important is worship?
Worship should be an integral part of a Christian's life. God made us to worship Him and He loves those who worship Him. Our life is to be a worship before our God. Through worship we come closer to God and feel His love.
CT: Is there a dearth of Gospel singers in India?
There is absolutely no dearth of Gospel singers. There are many who are singing but sadly not many do it with seriousness. It is not that anybody can lead worship and write songs. One's life as well has to be a testimony for the Lord. In this regard it is also important to sing well and present ourselves as ambassadors of Christ. It would be advantageous if one has a musical background as well.
CT: Something about your family?
I have two sons, Reuel and Joash. Reuel is 19 and is a songwriter and rock musician. He did his first album in the age of 17 and currently leads youth worship in some churches. They both are brought up in a Godly way. We have evening worship, bible study and prayers. As a family we attend the Assemblies of God Church in Mumbai.
CT: What is your latest album?
My latest album was "Yeshu Nam".
Interview: Vijay Benedict's life from Bollywood to Gospel
Published 02 March 2010 | Dibin Samuel