Pursuit of Happiness

Nothing else matters

Class Worldwide's Vinesh Venugopal Nair on following his passion

In the second half of the last decade, Bollywood woke up to milk the follow-your-dream genre. Rock On!, released in 2008, was one of those. It told the story of an investment banker who rekindled his love for music and decided to follow his dreams. The film was a money spinner; it was able to capture the two essential elements of pop culture: rock music and pretty faces. Even though the music missed a few notes, it got one person to follow his dreams — Vinesh Venugopal Nair, who now works with defense contracting and logistics company Class Worldwide. In an earlier avatar, he used to head global marketing at Xpress Money.

“As I walked out of the theatre, I thought, ‘why don’t I set up a band again?’” remembers Nair. Again? Music was essential to Nair. He was part of a church choir while growing up in Yercaud in Tamil Nadu. While graduating from Loyola College, Madras, in 1991, he put together a motley crew to form Acanthus, a hard rock band. 

After graduation, real life came calling. “We were all busy chasing our careers. The band split, but I continued to compose lyrics,” says the 45-year-old. Years later, he met Pakistani composer, Atif Ali. “We got chatting and I showed him my demo tapes. Ali liked them and he invited me to come to his studio.” And, as they say, the rest is history. The one-off recording session turned into a six-member band called Vin Sinner in 2010. Nair released his first record in 2011, and called it An Element of Surprise. “My involvement in music came as a huge surprise to everyone.” The lead song, A Wise Man, was dedicated to his father. 

Nair’s stint at XpressMoney always had him on the go. He used to travel almost 15 days a month but, despite his hectic schedule, Vin Sinner performed a gig every month -— at music festivals, pubs and even store openings. His first album was well received by a niche audience and another record is in the offing.  

It is not just performing that gets Nair’s blood pumping. There’s also his 2,000-CD collection — one of which is an LP of Pink Floyd’s multi-platinum hit Dark Side of the Moon that was given to him by his father when he turned six. He treasured that gift and by the time he turned 16 he had turned fanatical about CDs. Now he has two golden rules: never lend and say no to piracy. “People never want to borrow CDs from me, because they know I am going to be a pain,” he laughs. And it isn’t just plush retail stores in malls that he haunts: Nair is also a regular at smaller boutiques, searching for old favourites. He recently bought Rick Wakeman’s (keyboardist of a band called Yes) Six Wives of Henry VIII  from a stall in Auckland.

For Nair, music is a passion he loves to pursue outside of work. And, just like the character Farhan Akhtar played in Rock On!, he has no plans to quit his day job anytime soon.