Maestro Ilayaraja turns 75, but music fresh as ever

Last Updated 13 October 2018, 10:37 IST

There is something quintessential about Ilayaraja's music – its fresh every time you hear. Be it melody, folk or rap, the maestro is as simple as his compositions.

The man who scored music for more than 5,000 songs in over 1,000 movies in almost every Indian language, mostly in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam, and ruled India's music industry for four decades, turned 75 on Saturday.

For Ilayaraja, 2018 is very special for two reasons, he turned 75 on Saturday and he was awarded Padma Vibhushan, the country's second-highest civilian award in January for his unparalleled contribution to the music arena.

From an obscure village in the Theni district of Tamil Nadu to be the maestro of Tamil cinema, Ilayaraja's journey is a story that inspires everyone to go after their dreams.

He is the only music composer in the distant past to have scored a 1000 and it wasn't easy, especially when he entered the industry that was dominated by the likes of R D Burman.

'Machanai Partheengala' (Did you see my darling), his first composition in 'Annakili', brought a whiff of fresh air when tea stalls and salons across Tamil Nadu were only blaring Hindi songs.

As Ilayaraja brought alive original Tamil music through his magical compositions, the audience went spell-bound and gave him a permanent place in their hearts.

Having worked with leading yesteryear actors in almost every language, Ilayaraja's music was well-received even in Bollywood.

After Illayaraja, the 'Mozart of Madras', A R Rahman, continues to hold the fort in the Hindi film industry. Rahman is a protege of Ilayaraja and had worked with the latter in several films before becoming an independent composer in Mani Ratnam's 'Roja'.

Childhood friend Bharathiraja, contemporaries Balu Mahendra and Mahendran, and veteran filmmaker K Balachander got the best out of Illayaraja.

One of the biggest beneficiaries of Ilayaraja's music is Kamal Haasan – Nayagan (1988), Guna (1991) and Hey Ram (1995) are some of the best.

President Ramnath Kovind, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and a host of film and political personalities wished Ilayaraja on his 75th birthday.

“Birthday greetings to the peerless Ilayaraja, musician, composer and an extraordinary artiste who defines India's rhythms. Honoured to have formally awarded him the Padma Vibhushan earlier this year,” Kovind tweeted.

(Published 02 June 2018, 12:25 IST)

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