Thanks a lot Alphons for taking the time off from your extremely busy schedule to speak to Kairos readers. Could you   please briefly introduce yourself and   family?  

Alphons: Hello everyone. I am Alphons   Joseph, married to Rajni Aravindan and   we have two children – Joseph Alphons, a   sixth grader and Maria Alphons, a fourth   grader. My journey with Jesus Youth   started in 1989 at the ‘Campus Meet’ in   Thrissur, Kerala, where I was part of the   music team. I was actively part of the   campus ministry for a long time after that   and presently, I help with the activities   of Rexband, doing many training   programmes in addition to music shows.

Professionally, I work as a music   director and a playback singer in the   Malayalam film industry. I also run a   music academy called Crossroads school   of Music, which is the fulfilment of my   long-time dream to provide systematic   music education different from what the   normal schools were offering.

What came first, your God experience or   the discovery of your musical talent?  

Alphons: In a way, I was blessed to be   born into a musical family. My father is an   immensely talented musician, who used   to lead and compose songs for our parish   Church choir. My dad’s brother was also   a music composer. Though from a very   young age I used to be part of the Church   choir, I don’t think I ever had a personal   relationship with God during that time.

My first encounter with God   happened while attending a youth   retreat in Thrissur. Until then I had a   lot of questions about faith and God.   Though the retreat didn’t answer all of   my questions, I got enough conviction to   render my earlier doubts irrelevant. I felt   an attraction to the Holy Mass and the   Word of God, and was sustained and built   up through Jesus Youth fellowships and   formation.

     It is He who gave me
          everything – my talents,
    fame, my position in
          the movie industry, and
     the Lord was asking
    whether I loved Him
     more than all of that.
This question kept
          coming back to me, yet I
         couldn’t bring myself to
       reply affirmatively with
         a full and sincere heart.

Was there any point in   your life that you had a   desert experience? Or can   you recall a time when as   a successful musician,   you felt you had to make   difficult choices that would   affect your career?  

Alphons: Many times!   One major experience   was after the World Youth   Day in Australia, in 2008.   It was a hectic schedule   with Rexband touring New   Zealand and Australia.   While in New Zealand, I   felt a nagging pain behind   my neck, which soon got   worse and all through the   month’s stay, I experienced   extreme pain of the   cervical. Once back in   India, the doctor advised   complete rest as there was a risk of   paralysis if adequate care was not taken.

I had to cancel all my existing and   future movie projects. Soon depression   started creeping in as there was nothing   to do – I couldn’t work, I couldn’t sit and   pray, not even read the Bible as I was   mostly bedridden. The thought of ‘why did this happen to me’ started growing in   my mind. This was the time when some of   my friends suggested a retreat at Divine   Retreat Centre and this turned out to be   an extremely enlightening experience. I   felt all the sessions were speaking about   my situations and apprehensions, and   I got a lot of convictions from there.   After the retreat, I went for an Ayurvedic   treatment, where I could spend long hours   in prayer and reading the Bible.

One of the elders brought me many   books and one of them was on St Francis   of Assisi and one on ‘life and death.’ This   book gave me a fresh perspective on   eternity and how to live life focused on   eternity. Reading them, I began to slowly   realise why God had allowed this period in my life. Even though I was ‘active’ in the   ministry, I never had time for anything.“If   for this life only we have hoped in Christ,   we are of all people most to be pitied”(1   Corinthians 15:19). As I reflected on this   Word of God, I wondered how much of my   daily 24 hours was lived with an “eternity   perspective.” I sensed that although I was   doing the work of God, deep inside, my   heart was in the world.

I began to earnestly pray for God to   reveal his will. I sensed Jesus asking me   the same question that He once asked   Peter, “Peter, do you love me more than   these?” It is He who gave me everything   – my talents, gifts, fame, my position   in the movie industry, and the Lord was   asking whether I loved Him more than all of that. This question kept coming   back to me, yet I couldn’t bring myself to   reply affirmatively with a full and sincere   heart. I began praying for the strength to   say ‘Yes’ to Jesus. Reading the books of St   Francis of Assisi encouraged me to let go   of all that I had for God. I started praying   for the strength to love Him more than   everything in life, and shortly afterwards   took the decision to dedicate my life for   full-time mission. Immediately after this,   my health started improving and soon, I   was healed completely.

To get more clarity, I attended a retreat   by Fr Dheeraj on mission. He prayed   with me for a long time and confirmed   that God was indeed calling me for a   life of mission. But for the moment, He wanted to me go back and be His witness   in the movie industry. Though not too   happy, I decided to get back to my job.   My illness had kept me almost five   months away from the industry. With   not much work coming my way, I decided   to join for an MA in Carnatic Music at   Calicut University. But before the

Most of my decisions are
made during Eucharistic
Adoration. Life gets a
whole new perspective
when we spend time
with the Lord. And
we are able to listen
to the whisper of the
Holy Spirit in whatever
situation we are in.

end   of the first semester, I received a call   from AR Rahman’s office to sing a song   for Gautham Menon’s “Vinnaithaandi   Varuvaayaa.” It was a huge surprise for   me as I had never sung in a movie before.   From the moment I arrived at Rahman’s   studio, I could feel the providence of God   at work. This was a song that was not   there in the movie, but at the insistence   of Rahman Sir, the producers agreed for   a promo song. When the song was done,   the director liked it so much that he   asked me to go with them for the audio   launch, provided I had a valid UK visa.   Providentially, the previous time we went   for a Rexband show in the UK, contrary to   norm, they had given us a six month visa,   which was to expire the week after the   promo event. I went for the event, which   was a success and the song itself became   a huge hit.

For me, it was more of a testament   to God’s faithfulness. I had the illness   and during that difficult time I decided   to surrender my life, my career and   everything to God and he repaid it a   hundred times over. Earlier I was known   only in Malayalam industry, but through   this song, I became popular in Tamil,   Telugu, Kannada and even in Hindi.   However, I am all the more convinced that   the greater the heights God takes me to, it   is to give Him ever greater glory through   my life and testimony.

How do you make your choices and   decisions in life?  

Alphons: Most of my decisions are made   during Eucharistic Adoration. Life gets   a whole new perspective when we spend   time with the Lord. And we are able to   listen to the whisper of the Holy Spirit   in whatever situation we are in. I have felt that my decisions flow from the   Holy Spirit, through a true living of the   sacramental life and by spending time   with the Lord in Eucharistic Adoration. I   also pray for the intercession of Mother   Mary and there have been umpteen   instances where I have felt the tangible   intervention and mediation of Mother   Mary. Also, I have experienced God   speaking to me through the Word of God   as well as through elders.

How do you balance your faith and your   career?  

Alphons: I am convinced about my   priorities. They are my family and my faith   life. I’m equally aware that I have to pay   the price for this conviction. I had to say   ‘No’ to many lucrative dream projects that   had come my way. Many of my friends in   the movie industry feel that I am a fool to   let go of such opportunities. They feel I   am not serious enough for my career. But,   I never had any qualms about letting go of   those projects, however big and lucrative   they were, which would potentially have   wanted me to compromise on my faith   life. My goal in life is to spend eternity   with Christ and everything in my work is   oriented towards it.

Can you mention a few people who have   inspired you?  

Alphons: There are many within the   movement. Manoj Sunny, Edward   Edezhath, Elvis, and many others through   their choices have challenged my faith   journey. The life of saints, especially   St Francis of Assisi made a remarkable   change in my life. Also, my dad has been   a great inspiration. Even at this old age,   his dedication to daily Mass and his   unwavering faith has been the strength   of my life. Also, AR Rahman has been a   strong inspiration.

Thank you, Alphons, for taking the   time to speak with us. We and all the   readers of Kairos wish you all blessings   and prayers as you continue to be a   beacon of light for many people in the   entertainment industry.

Joseph Anthraper lives in Southampton with his wife Mahima and kids Anna-Claire, John-Paul and Samuel-Joseph, and loves reading, movies and theology. He is part of the Kairos Global Editorial Council.