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Ilaiyaraaja Denies Rumours of Him Returning Awards as a Sign of Protest

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Ilaiyaraaja, the renowned music composer, on Monday issued a statement denying rumours that he would be returning his national and state awards as a sign of protest after both the Tamil Nadu and Central governments remained silent during his feud with Prasad Studios.

Ilaiyaraaja and Prasad Studios were long engaged in a tussle over the former’s recording studio and chamber within the studio’s premises being tampered by the management.

In his video statement, clarifying the rumour, Ilaiyaraaja said: “It has come to my attention that a statement made by an individual has been doing rounds as a statement that I said. I would like to convey that it is completely false. I would also want to state that I have never released such a statement from my side.”

He was referring to a statement issued by Dhina, the president of the Cine Musicians’ Union which stated that veteran musician would be returning his awards to the government over his unhappiness regarding his feud with Prasad Studios.

After the musicians’ organisation held a press meet to address Ilaiyaraaja’s rights in Chennai on Monday, Dhina said that Ilaiyaraaja’s belongings were damaged and Prasad Studios’ actions were unjustified. He had said that this would not have happened if former Tamil Nadu chief ministers J Jayalalithaa, M Karunanidhi, and MG Ramachandran were present.

“Not a single voice was raised from the government when a man, who has worked for the cinema industry for 45 years, was insulted,” he said.

Clarifying the rumour, Dhina said in a video statement later on Monday: “There has been a misunderstanding in today’s meeting. I had mentioned that Prasad Studios had insulted the awards earned by Ilaiyaraaja but it got twisted and came across as if Ilaiyaraaja was returning his awards to the Central government. It is completely false news. It is my request to everyone to understand what has happened.”

The feud between Ilaiyaraaja and Prasad Studios began in September 2019 after Sai Prasad, the grandson of studio’s founder LV Prasad, took over the studios. In July 2020, the music composer had filed a complaint against Sai Prasad for “tampering with his musical instruments, notes and valuables” and for threatening to cut electricity, water, and other supplies. The complaint also said that Sai Prasad had forcibly entered the recording theatre and threatened him for using the premises. Prasad Studios had denied Ilaiyaraaja entry into the premises if his intention was to compose music.

In December, 2020, the Madras High Court granted permission to the musician to visit his chamber and vacate it on December 28. As the high court attempted to settle the feud, the bench said that the composer could meditate in the premises for a day before vacating.

The chamber in the studio reportedly contains several of Ilaiyaraaja’s photos and his Padma Bhushan award. However, despite housing such memories, the composer refused to visit the studio after he realised that it had been converted into an IT server room.

Ilaiyaraaja had also filed a complaint after he was denied access to Prasad Studios, citing renovation work. He moved the high court to stop the owners from interfering with his use of a recording theatre on the studio premises, where he has been composing music for the past four decades. He also demanded Rs 50 lakh as relief for the mental agony caused to him due to the forcible eviction.

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