A chip off the old block

budding talent

He has the rich legacy of his legendary father, music maestro Ilaiyaraaja, to live up to.

But this might not be a daunting task for Yuvan Shankar Raja, who has dug his heels in, and is all set to notch up a fine century in films with the release of his cousin Venkat Prabhu’s Biriyani.

With his siblings Karthik Raja and Pavatharini already sharing his father’s mantle along with him, Yuvan has, after taking a few early reverses in his stride, blazed his own trail in Tamil cinema with several successes.

Yuvan got his first break as an independent composer in Aravindan at the age of 16. However, this film, along with two others, Velai and Kalyana Galatta, turned out to be damp squibs. This could have sapped the morale of any other debutant composer, but Yuvan, who firmly believed that his time would come, went on signing films and soon found himself in the limelight with the sound track of Selvaraghavan’s maiden directorial effort, Thulluvatho Ilamai. This was the beginning of a new collaboration, and it was Selva who gave him his decisive breaks in potboilers like Kadhal Kondein, 7 G Rainbow Colony, and Pudupettai. The first two films turned out to be blockbusters, and Yuvan’s foot tapping scores won critical acclaim. Veteran director Vasanth’s Poovellam Kettu Paar, Sundar C’s Unnakkaga Ellam Unakkaga and Rishi and the Ajith Kumar-starrer Deena, directed by A R Murugadoss, were all milestones in Yuvan’s career.

Yuvan has benefited from his association with a few producers and directors who have never looked beyond him when it came to assigning the music score. Apart from Selvaraghavan, directors like Ameer Sultan, Vishnuvardhan, Linguswamy, Bala and Venkat Prabhu have always reposed faith in the young music director. Ameer’s Paruthiveeran, in which he first experimented with rural folk music, and Raam, made him the only Tamil composer to win the coveted international award for the best musical score at the Cyprus International Film Festival.

Vishnuvardhan’s Kurumbu was the first film where the remix trend began, with Yuvan pioneering it. Vishnu’s Billa and Billa 2 were the other films that found Yuvan in his element. Bala’s films like Nanda Pithamagan and Avan Ivan too had vintage music support from Yuvan. With Venkat Prabhu, it has always been family, and right from Venkat’s debut film, Chennai 600028, to Saroja and Mankaatha, Yuvan has been the mainstay. With Venkat’s brother Premji Amaran also a composer lending a hand, Yuvan has always had the freedom of choosing the tunes, producing fantastic results. The duo come together again in Biriyani, and reports on the songs in the film are heartening.

In most of his films, Yuvan has managed to score high with at least one or two numbers that have not just become favoured caller tunes, but have also set records in the sale of CDs. The pick of these songs were Pani Thuli (Kanda Naal Mudhal), Davani Potta Deepavali (Sandakozhi), Theepidikka Theepidikka (Arinthum Ariyamalum), and Oru Kal Oru Kannadi (Siva Manasula Sakthi). Yuvan has also collaborated with lyricists including veterans like Vaali, and the younger ones like Naa Muthukumar, Paa Vijay and Snehan.

Averaging nearly 10 films a year, Yuvan’s significant future assignments include Moondru Per Moondru Kathal, Kedi Billa Killadi Ranga, Thangameengal, Valai, Vettai Mannan, Vanavarayan Vallavarayan, and Naalu Perum Romba Nallavanga. Apart from being a prolific composer, Yuvan has also sung as many as 80 songs. He has also participated in an album, The Blast, in the august company of Kamal Haasan and classical music stalwarts Unnikrishnan and Nityashree Mahadevan.

Western music and heavy metal has gone a long way in adding to his popularity; his concerts, which have been few and far between, have always been sell-outs. Although he has a long way to go in proving a worthy successor to Ilaiyaraaja and A R Rahman, Yuvan undoubtedly possesses the acumen to reach a new high.

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