Renowned music composer Ilaiyaraja needs no introduction. Popularly referred to as Isaignani, the musician is indeed a gnani (genius) of music, that has always maintained one quality- a heart-to-heart connection with the listener. Take any song of the popular music composer and it will surely tug at your heartstrings.
Ilaiyaraja is known for his immense dedication and experiments with ragas, musical instruments and voices. It wouldn't be wrong to say that whatever the 78-year-old composer touches, it becomes a huge success. For instance, take the discography of singers including KS Chitra, S Janaki, SP Balasubrahmanyam and KJ Yesudas and one will surely know how the legendary music composer has impacted their respective careers.
With over 7000 songs to his credit as a music composer, the Maestro has been a part of 20,000 concerts held across the world. Composing hits one after the other, the composer became south India's musical sensation in less time. Though he forayed into Bollywood and even the Marathi Film Industry, he was seen taking a 'U' turn only to deliver beautiful songs down south. Also, with several records and achievements to his credit, Ilayaraja has in fact proved that Kollywood and his heavenly music are inseparable and zillions of his songs are the proof for the same.
Well, as the prolific music composer Ilaiyaraja celebrates his 78th birthday today, we bring 5 of his best songs that will make music lovers nostalgic.
Rendered by late legendary singer SP Balasubrahmanyam, the romantic track beautifully composed by Ilaiyaraja has to be one of the evergreen songs in the favourite list of every south Indian. During one of his concerts, SPB had recalled that the recording of ‘Ilaya Nila' required as many as 20 retakes as Ilaiyaraja wanted guitarist R Chandrasekhar to play the notes to his satisfaction.
Upon Payanangal Mudivathillai's (1982) release, the singer was seen getting incessant requests from the audiences to croon the song during every other concert and live performances, such was the power of the original track. With just two instruments used- an acoustic guitar and a flute, the song has the quality that could make one fall in the deepest ocean of love and innocence.
The song turned out to be so popular that it was adapted as ‘Neele Neele Ambar Par' in the Hindi remake of Payanangal Mudivathillai, Kalaakaar (1983). The Tamil film was directed by R Sunder Rajan.
Kalyana Then Nila
Our next pick is Ilaiyaraja's song ‘Kalyana Then Nila' from the 1990 film Mounam Samadham directed by K Madhu. Featuring Mammootty and Amala Akkineni, the melodious number will always remain a gem of a song for its beautiful composition, heart-melting lyrics and of course the lead actors' enthralling chemistry.
Also, the song wouldn't have been so impactful if not for KS Chitra and KJ Yesudas' amazing voices, that easily subsumed with the other elements. Set in Darbari Kanada raga, ‘Kalyana Then Nila' is penned by Pulumaippithan. Notably, Mounam Samadham was Mollywood superstar Mammootty's debut Tamil film.
Not just visuals, but ‘Kattukuyilu' from the 1991 film Thalapathi also delivered an astounding audio treat. If Kollywood and Mollywood superstars Rajinikanth and Mammootty were impressing the audiences with their breathtaking performances on-screen, just behind the camera, legendary singers SPB and KJ Yesudas were crooning for the dance number with their powerful voices, that eventually gave life to the popular song.
With lyrics penned by Vaali, Ilaiyaraja has given the song a tinge of tribal essence that goes perfectly well with the visualisation. The composer has apparently used a western kick drum and a synth pad for the song. Thalapathi is helmed by Mani Ratnam. Notably, the film fetched Ilaiyaraja the year's Filmfare Award South for Best Music Director.
Did you know S Janaki is the only singer who has crooned most number of songs for Ilaiyaraja? Trust us, selecting one from the superhit combo's innumerable songs has been a difficult task, however, we pick ‘Inji Idupazhaga' on this special occasion. With lyrics written by Vaali, Thevar Magan's this song features Kamal Haasan and Revathi.
Interestingly, the playful number is inspired by the Hindi song ‘Yeh Dil Deewana' from the 1970 romantic drama Ishq Par Zor Nahin. Set in Raga Jaunpuri, ‘Inji Idupazhaga' reportedly was made within 10 minutes after Ulaganayagan requested Ilayaraja to compose music along the lines of the Hindi song. Helmed by late director Bharathan, the song also had another version in the film which was jointly sung by S Janaki, Kamal Haasan and ‘Chinna Chinna Aasai' fame Minmini. Notably, S Janaki won National Award for Best Female Playback Singer for the song in 1993.
Ilaiyaraja is the undisputed master when it comes to effortlessly composing any style of song. Not just lyrics, the composer also knows best to skillfully incorporate dialogues in between while making sure that it doesn't take away the true essence of the song and ‘Kanmani Anbodu' is the proof. The song is said to be the first in Tamil cinema to have dialogues and lyrics.
Featuring Kamal Haasan and Roshini, the light-hearted song is from the 1991 psychological romantic drama Gunaa. With lyrics penned by Vaali, the song has been sung by Ulaganayagan himself and S Janaki.
Filmibeat wishes legendary music director Ilaiyaraja a very happy birthday!