The Indian film industry based in Mumbai ('Bollywood') is the biggest film industry in the world – it made over 800 new films in the year 2000. Indian film stories often use singing, but film stars do not always have good singing voices. Also film soundtracks are often dubbed into several languages. So the songs are recorded by 'playback singers' and the actors mime the words in the film. In India, playback singers are as popular as the film actors.
Vijay Benedict is one of Bollywood's favourite playback singers. In 1981 he finished a course in Business Management, but he loved music. "I was singing in many places when I got the chance to sing in films in Mumbai," he says.
Vijay's first film was 'Disco Dancer'. He provided the singing voice for the leading character, played by actor Mithun Chakraborthy. The film was very successful: Chakraborthy and Benedict won many awards. Vijay went on to sing in 40 other films and became popular across India.
Death hits family
Then came tragedy – Vijay's brother died. "My brother's death just kept me thinking that if he could die, so could I," he remembers. "There had to be something more."
Then Vijay discovered that it is possible to know Jesus as a friend. He was no longer alone. "That was the way to fullness of life," he says.
Vijay still works for Bollywood and on Indian TV, but now he also has a new interest – singing 'gospel music'. "In India, a lot of people see me on TV. Now they want to know why I'm singing gospel songs."
He also travels around the world – recent trips have included Britain, Indonesia and a two-week tour of Australia. Indian films are usually about the search for love and happiness. Vijay has now found this happiness with Jesus as his friend. He says this is much better than being famous and rich.