Music composer Ilaiyaraaja, who began his career with Annakili in 1976, has been bestowed with the Padma Vibhushan, the nation’s second highest civilian honour. Ilaiyaraaja, whose name is often prefixed with Maestro or Isaignaani, has composed close to 7,000 songs spread across more than a thousand films in many languages.
In a quickly organised press meet, the Maestro said he was informed about the award by a representative from the Government this evening. “He asked me if I consented to receive this award and if I would be able to attend the awards function. I conveyed my acceptance. You all know what I think about this award. I believe that it is an honour to all Tamils bestowed by the Central Government.”
#IsaignaniIlayaraja Thanks Press Meet Stills pic.twitter.com/JeIIfMt7Td
— Diamond Babu (@diamondbabu4) January 25, 2018
The composer, to whose songs many generations fell in love, sought meaning in life, and drowned their sorrows in, was bestowed with the Padma Bhushan in 2010.
Ilaiyaraaja has consistently refused to slot his music or classify it, and has also shied away from explaining its process of creation. It would suffice as long as music touches the listener, he has maintained. “It just came. I don’t know from where. Questioning the origin of music is like asking why the breeze is soothing, why you shiver in exhilaration when the spray from the waterfall hits you. The day you wonder where it comes from, things get difficult. Sometimes, entire songs are ready in just about five minutes. How do you explain that?”
During ‘Ilaiyaraaja Aayiram’, put together in 2016 by Vijay TV and Ilaiyaraaja Music N Management, his guru, TV Gopalakrishnan, recalled how a young Raja would rush in for classes at 4.30 in the morning, water still dripping from his hair. The guru would lovingly towel his hair before he taught him. The Hindu quoted him as saying, “I’ve never looked at him just as a sishya; he was beyond that. I considered it a privilege to teach a man who’s God’s gift to music.”
Ilaiyaraaja moved with the times, launching an app last year. He has also been actively fighting to protect his copyright. He took on Smule as also close associate singer SP Balasubrahmanyam.
With time, he might have reduced the number of projects he takes up, but he continues to be an important milestone in the Indian music landscape. Director Balki is a huge fan, and got him to recreate his Southern gems for movies such as Cheeni Kum and Paa, among others. He has continued singing, and will soon be heard in Maari 2.
In this year’s Padma listings, another name from the music scene in Tamil Nadu finds a place. Folk art exponent Vijayalakshmi Navaneethakrishnan, a retired professor from the Department of Folk Arts and Culture, Madurai Kamaraj University, has been awarded the Padma Shri. One would remember her from the Tamil film Puthu Pudhu Raagangal, where she crooned the hugely popular ‘Dosaikada Orathula’ composed by S A Rajkumar.
பத்ம விபூஷண் பிரஸ் மீட், சென்னை தி நகர் இளையராஜா வீடு @IlaiyaraajaFans @diamondbabu4 pic.twitter.com/RnLj30kChS
— meenakshisundaram (@meenadmr) January 25, 2018