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                   Ilaiyaraja Article

                                        Article on Ilaiyaraja 

In this article, I am going to trace through most of his hits, with a brief analysis of trends that shaped his music, and the trends that that he created, which shaped the rest of the film world..Most of what is written here is (actually all of it is!) recalled from memory; i dont have any references to crosscheck. A lot of my own opinions are also included in here..It is impossible to sum up his achievements as he has accomplished a lot in close to two decades.

I am going to post this article in five parts. Home click here to home page

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Ilaiyaraja - Annakkili to Sindhubhairavi
His origins in Annakkili, kind of rocked Madras, what with 'Machhanai paatteengala' booming over loudspeakers all over the place. 'Devan Tiruchhabai Malargale' - does anyone remember this song? What a sweet song! I remember, as kids we used to wait for Christmas or Good Friday, to watch this song on 'Oliyum Oliyum', as they stopped broadcasting this song on AIR in the late 70s. 'Oru naal unnodu oru naal' is another song that I remember from his early years. The song that really brought to me what they call 'Name recognition' is 'Manjal Nilavukku inru orey sugam' from the film 'Mudaliravu' . The first time I heard it was on 'Neyar Viruppam' the weekly program on Sundays (Madras A, 4-5pm). This song was electric, at that time. Hits of this period include 'Chittira Chevvanam', 'Kaatriniley varum geetam' . Around this period, came the super hit song 'Naaney Naana' from 'Azhagey unnai Aaradikkiren'. There was a small.. small controversy, that this song was based on the signature tune of 'Vayalum Vaazhvum' of Chennai Tolaikkatchi Nilayam. This was explained in one of those 'Ediroli' programs. 'Idil enna sandegam? Vayalum vaazhvum nigazhchikku title tune pottavarum Ilaiyaraja taan' enru. 'En kalyana vaibogam unnodu taan' from the same movie was also a super hit. By this time, a definite style was taking shape. Annakkili started with much emphasis on folk music, while the maestero made his way into the late seventies, he had diversified into several other domains. As Panju Arunachalam once remarked in 'Sirappu Tenkinnam' on 'Vividhbharatiyin vartaka oli parappu' sometime in the 80s, 'Karnataka isai vendum enru kettargal. Udaney pottuvittar Ilaiyaraja - Chinnakkannan Azhaikkiran '. This song sung by BMK, is probably known to one and all.

Elaborate orchestration, crisp catchy tunes etc. were the selling points of Ilaiyarajas music. 'En kanmani en kaadali' from Chittukkuruvi, 'Sentaazhampoovil', 'Adi Penne' etc. were hummed by one and all. The biggest hits were probably from 'Padinaaru vayadiniley' and 'Priya'. Priya was supposedley the first tamil movie with stereophonic sound. Priya again saw another new level in orchestration (remember the 2nd interlude in the song). Sendoorappove was a super hit. Although branded a folk song, this song has definite baroque music influence at least in the second interlude, which begins with a major string section.

Rosaappoo ravikkaikkari, kizhakke pogum rail, etc. had a number of good songs too. At this point in time, there was a marked use of the scales of Karnatic music based raagams in his music; esp. Kovil Mani Osai, Maanjolaikkilidano, (KPR), Ennullil engo (Rosappoo ravikkaikkari) Tamtananam (Pudiya vaarpukkal), Solaikkuyile (Ponnu Oorukku pudusu) etc. Ponnu oorukku pudusu had some excellent songs, which I had never heard on AIR. (Onakkenna taane innerama).

Now let us take a look at the retalliation from other music directors. Comparable superhits of that period were 'Ninaittale inikkum' by MSV. I have had many feverish fights with my then classmates over who was the best music director Ilaiyaraja or MSV. The MSV defendants would usually come up with Ninaittale inikkum for their argument. Shankar Ganesh have always been around. KV Mahadevan came up with Enippadigal somewhere during this period.

'Uravugal Todarkadai' from 'Aval Appadittan' is an evergreen song. this song showed a marked influence of Western music and this was to continue into Johny 'En vaaniley' in 1980 (gosh! iis it that far back in time- these songs are still fresh). 'Germanyin Senten malare' from Ullasa paravaigal, 'Engengae sellum' from pattakatti bairavan , 'Illamaiyenum Poonkaatru' are some of those songs still fresh from 1978 -79 -80.

There was this film called 'Kannil teriyum kadaigal' where each song was tuned by a different music director. Shankar ganesh tuned the song 'Naan onna nenachen' sung by spb, vanijayaram and jikki, while Ilaiyaraja tuned the song 'Naan oru ponnoviyam kandaen'.

TRajendar made his appearance in 1980 with his Orutalai raagam. His next film 'Vasanta Azhaippukal' didnt have too many hit songs. More on TR later. Oru talai raagam kind of took over Madras.

'Katril endan geetam' by Janaki, from Johny, (1980) is still remembered by her as one of her best songs (apparently she was interviewed on TV last month or so).

'Moodu Pani' - was Ilaiyaraja's nooravadu padam. By this time, he had begun to use synthesizers and keyboards to a large extent. The point to note however is this. The superhit song all over India at this time was 'Aap jaisa koi mere' from the film 'Qurbani' which introduced synthesized beats for the first time. All music directors followed suit, while Ilaiyaraja didnt...

Moodu pani again - En iniya pon nilave - still a fresh song. Nizhalgal was released at the same time. 'Poonkadave', Ponmalaippozhudu , (Vairamuttus first song), 'Madai tirandu' and 'Doorattil naan kanda'. Poonkadave is a fantastic song, one of his career best songs I would say. Excellent orchestration, beautiful flow, etc. etc..; This was a Deepavali release, and the movie was a flop..

There was a small lull in hits after this film, and then the next biggest hit of Ilaiyaraja's career was 'Andi Mazhai Pozhigiradu'. I heard it for the first time on a hand held transistor, a 1000 miles away from Madras, and was more than impresssed. This song is probably one of the landmarks, in the shaping up of his style.. there was a marked influence of Indian Classical Music, Jazz, W. Classical music at this point in time.

Gangai Amaran made his appearance as a music director at this time with his Mouna geetangal.

The post 'Andi Mazhai' period saw the emergence of Alaigal Oivatillai. Aayiram taamarai mottukkale - what a song, kaadal oviyam, puttam pudu kaalai (not picturized in the movie), vizhiyil vizhundu etc. Almost during the same week, the film Panneer Pushpangal was released. Wonderful songs again. Kodaikkala kaatre, Poontalir aada, Aananda raagam.. (even Aananda vikatan mentioned Ilaiyaraja's use of the scale of the ragam Simhendramadyamam in this song)..

Around Aug 15, 1981 came the films Netrikkan, Karaiyellam Shenbagappoo. The songs in Karaiyellam shenbagappoo were kind of washed away because of poor publicity. The film had some good songs to talk about. There was a low for some time again, and by Apr 14, 1982 there was a new harvest - Ninaivellam Nitya, Tooral Ninnu Pochu, Payanangal Mudivatillai Moonram Pirai etc.

Kannadasan passed away in late 1981, and the partnership between him and Ilaiyaraja ended with Moonram Pirai (posthumously released).

Tick Tick Tick, Bharatirajas move had 'Idu oru nilaakkalam' - a novel concept in itself.

By this time, Vairamuttu was the leading lyric writer for Ilaiyaraja. Ilaiya nilaa was an instant hit, so were 'Ei aatta', Togai ila mayil, Tangachhangili, En soga kadaya kelu, Erikkara poongatte, and of course Pani vizhum malarvanam, Needane etc. etc. The style of songs at this point in time was totally different from those in 1979. There was a marked use of keyboards etc. etc.

Moonraam pirai was probably the first record produced by ECHO rec. studio.

Ilaiyaraja's influence on other music directors can be seen from the songs 'Rendu kannam sandana kinnam' and 'Kanaa kaanum kangal' etc.

Oops. I forgot to mention AVM's Murattukkalai, with the folkish song 'Poduvaga en manasu' . AVM came out with Sakalakalavallavan in 1982. This movie ran for 25 weeks at Alankar theater.., and the songs 'Kattavandi', 'Ilamai ido ido' were the ear catchers. The song 'Amman Kovil kezhakkala' is kind of reminiscent of the song 'Solam vedakkaiyile' from padinaaru vayadinile. At the same time, was released the rajini film which had the songs Pattu vanna selaikkari and Taayum naane etc..

At this point in time most of the strong teams had split, and former assistant directors were beginnning to direct movies - such as Gopurangal Saivatillai, Raagangal Maaruvatillai etc. Illamaikkalangal had some good songs. At this time the style of music had undergone another transformation.

Hit songs of the early from other music directors include those from films Uyirullavarai Usha, and Anda Ezhu naatkal, Darling Darling etc.

For a while, Illayaraaja was not scoring music for any of Sivaji's films. (after the Tyagam Deepam Naan vazha vaippen era). His music resumed in Vellai Roja, with Malaysia Vasudevan singing for Sivaji Ganesan.

Taai Mookambikai, came out in 1983 i think ; this movie had a whole assembly of artistes singing together (balamurali, seerkazhi, ms visvanathan etc.). Salangai Oli, came out in 83 too. So did a whole host of films such as Malaiyoor Mambattiyan etc. Illaiyaraja was always the music director for AVMs high budget films - Sakalakala, Paayum Puli, the block buster Mundaanai mudichu.

Early in 1984 or was it late 83, Ilaiyaraja toured around the world. Upon returning he authored a book titled 'En Innisaikkanavugal' or something like that. It is an interesting book, where he talks about his experiences and how the French liked the song 'Edo Mogam' from Kozhi Koovudu. Mann Vasanai, was Bharatiraajas come back in 83. Early 84 didnt have too many hit songs to speak of. Pudumaippen saw hits appear again, and so did Nallavanukku nallavan. At this time there was another change in style, this time absorbing some of the elements of the 78-79 period. Songs such as 'Chittukku', 'Kaadal Mayakkam', 'Devan tanda veenai' etc. bear testimony to this.

Ilaiyaraja's 200th movie was 'Aayiram Nilave Vaa'. The 250th was a Motherland Pictures movie with the songs Paadum Vaanambadi , Paada vaa (1984?). Sadma was released in late 1983 I think ( a remake of Moonraam pirai). A song from Sadma, was recreated as 'En vaazhvile' for Tambikku enda ooru - a rajni film.

There was again a change in style, Kaakki chattai, Selvi, Pagal Nilavu etc. The 300th movie was Udaya Geetam again a Motherland creations, in 1985.

1985 was probably a landmark year, with Sindubhairavi winning awards left and right. Other hits of this period, Poove Poochooda Vaa, Idayakkovil.

By this time Ilaiyaraja had firmly established himself as the one and only music director dominating the tamil film industry.

Ilaiyaraja - Sindubairavi to Sinkaravelan
The post Sindubairavi period is what I would label as the Ilaiyaraja glorification period where, all his achievements over the previous decade began to gain recognition and to bear fruit in some form or the other.

I still regard 1979 - 1982 as the Golden age of Ilaiyarajas music . After Sindhubairavi, his relationship with the press changed.

Earlier on, in the seventies, there were interviews with Ilaiyaraja, wherein he described how he came up with songs such as En Kanmani, Taamta teemta (Pagalil or iravu), where he described the talents of his playback singers, incidents where Janaki's soulful rendition of certain songs mesmerized and moved the entire orchestra, so that some of the players even forgot their pieces (eg. Mada un kovilil)..

For a period, ie. early 80s through 1986 or so, there was no contact with the press at all as far as I can remember. Gangai amaran was the pr man. This trend changed in around 1987, where articles on him started to appear in English journals. Ilaiyaraja, did feature in a number of articles in 83/84, where he organized a fund raiser for the Srirangam temple though.

Titles came pouring in; he scored the music for one other hindi film Mahadev, where the song 'Anda Nelavattan naan kaiyila pudichen' is dubbed in hindi. I believe that he did also score the music for Rajni's hollywood debut 'Bloodstone'.

To summarize, his status changed from that of a new innovative music director to a well established household name, whose product always sells no matter what. Well, with a decade of achievements, why not..

About the movies, remember songs like 'Aarumadu aazham illa'.., 'Devanin kovil moodiya neram', songs from Chippikkul Muttu, 'Kallukkulle vanda eeram enna', etc. from 86. 86 also saw the emergence of Mani Ratnam with his Mouna Raagam.

We always had this impression that 'periya director enraal, specialaa poduvaar'. Well, with KB, Bharatiraaja, Sridhar, Maniratnam, SPM, etc., this reasoning has never failed. But music directors always claim that 'naanga podura ovvoru paattum, hit aagum engira nambikkayodu taan poduvom'.

Mouna raagam saw a whole new breed of songs. In this period, also came a series of very melodious songs such as 'Mandira punnagaio', 'Anbu malargalin solai idu', 'Maanada' very much like the songs of the late seventies.

This was the period during which, Bharatiraaja's first non Ilaiyaraja movie came out. The music director was an assistant of Ilaiyaraja.

1986 was a landmark year, with the release of 'How to name it'.

It was in 1987 I think that Mano was introduced with the song 'Taen Mozhi' in Solla tudikkudu manasu. Wonderful songs in this movie, although the movie was a disappointment. Poove sempoove, Vaayakatti vayatakatti, etc. etc.

Enga oor pattukkaran was probably another landmark movie, with Asha Bhonsle singing 'Shenbagame' a wonderful song. In this movie the song that takes the cake is 'Madura marikkozhundu'. At this time the Ramarajan Gangai Amaran Ilaiyaraja combination was flying really high.

poovizhi vaasalile, by Fazil - songs such as 'Oru kiliyin', 'Chinna Chinna' etc. belong to this period. Balachanders Manadil Urudi vendum had some good songs like 'Kanna varuvaya', 'Sangattamizh', etc.

MSV and Ilaiyaraja teamed up to produced songs in the film Mellat- tirandadu kadavu. (Vaa vennilave etc.). Bharatiraaja's Satyaraj film had good songs like 'Adi aattadi', 'Kodiyila malliyappoo' etc. 87 - 88, mano and chitra were the lead playback singers for the most part, with songs like 'Vizhiyil oru kavidai', etc.

The landmark film in 1987 was Naayagan, raaja's 400th movie. 'Ten paandi seemaiyila', 'Naan sirittal', 'Nee oru kaadal'.

Satya had some good songs too, and Lata Mangeshkar sang the famous duet 'Valaiosai kalakalakalavena'. She had also sung the song 'Aararo aararo' in the Prabhu starrer 'Anand'.

Although Agninatchatram came out in Apr 88 or so, the songs came out much earlier. These songs started a new trend altotether. No Indian percussion was used in any of these songs for the most part. The song Raaja, is based entirely on percussion, and human voices...

1988 also saw the release of Nothing but wind, where Hariprasad Chaurasia played the flute for the entire recording that lasts more than 45 minutes. Nothing but wind is an album to be enjoyed, especially the second piece..

En Bommukutti ammavukku, by Fazil came out during this period.

The next big harvest was in 1989 what with Apoorva Sahodarargal, and Idayattai Tirudade. Idayattai tirudade featured Mano out and out. Apoorva Sahodarargal, marked the beginning of a new round of partnership with spb (pudu mappillaikku, onna nenachen etc.)..

lkamalam? 'idazhil kadai ezhudum', 'Unnal mudiyum tambi' etc. then came on. It was rumored that MSV was working with Ilaiyaraja during this period and later. One can only guess. The song 'Muttamizh kaviye varuga', and the song 'Eerettu Padinaaru (90s) do have some msv stamps in their interludes..

Soora samharam had some very good songs. 'naan enbadu' is still a fresh song..

'Keladi kanmani', 'Guruvaayurappa', 'Nallanbe taan tayanadu', 'Siru kootila ulla kuyilukku', 'Pattukku naan adimai', etc. are some of the hits of early 1990 (probably late 89 too)..

Then came another landmark, 'Anjali' the 500th movie with songs in a whole different style altogether. Together with it came a whole host of songs such as 'Vandade', 'Nikkattuma', 'Mannil inda' etc.

Mannil inda was a great favorite, with the storly line that spb sang the whole stanza in one breath. The film Keladi Kanmani had some very good songs. 'Vaaranam Aairam' - a bunch of Alwar Pasurams (Andal specifically) was very beautifully set and used.. Nee padi Naan padi kanne was a good song too.

Karagattakkaran took TN by a storm, with Manguile being a super hit. In this film (probably in the title song), Ilaiyaraja sings a song, that kind of describes himself..

'Paattale buddi sonnar, pattale bhakti sonnar Pattukku naan padu patten anda pattukkal pala vidam taan..'

1991 saw the emergence of Maragatamani, a new music director who scored the music for KBs film Azhagan. Chinnatambi songs were hits and were reflective of the kind of songs churned out in 1991.

Guna had some good songs, and so did Talapati. The songs 'Yamunai Aatrile', and 'Sundari' deserve special mention, although the popular hit was Rakkamma..

April Mayile, was a hit in 92; the biggest hit in 92 was probably Singaravelan, with songs such as Puducheri kacheri, sonnabadi kelu, Innum enna. My favourite song in this film is 'toodu selvadaaradi'..

Asha Bhonsele and Lata Mangeshkar sang a few more songs for Ilaiyaraja during this period..

Thus, this article covers Sindubariravi to Singaravelan - almost a seven year period. The next one will cover current trends..

Illaiyaaraaja - Singaaravelan to July 93
Third in the series of five articles on Ilaiyaraja An interesting observation with respect to the various transitions in Ilaiyarajas career. If you look at the album jackets, you will see his picture on all of them. The late seventies and the early eighties showed him as a young man clad in a kurta or a shirt, playing a guitar, with a smile. In the mid eighties, the picture was of a slightly older more serious looking person, and in the late eighties and in the ninties it is that of a godman like person. The most used pose is that depicted in the background on the album covers of Howtonameit and Nothingbutwind.

While music was an incidental item fifteen years ago, and the music director was an essential but not a prominent ingredient in a movie team things have changed now. It is Ilaiyarajas picture that is promptly displayed. He has been adorned with titles such as Raagadevan, Isaignani etc. There is a dialogue by Gowndamani in Singaaravelan, 'Isaiyila aarvam ullavan ellam isaignania aaga mudiyuma?'

Singaravaelan was another milestone in the successful partnership between Kamal and Ilaiyaraja. The next big hit in this partnership is Tevar Magan, with a host of folk songs, all delightfully tuned and beautifully orchestrated, esp. 'Potripparadi penne' where the folk violin slowly blends with a major string section in the first interlude. The song Manamagale is very different from any of his other songs in that importance is given only to one instrument..

To sidetrack, one of the very few songs without any interludes - composed by Ilaiyaraja is 'Kaattuvazhi pora ponne kavala padade' >from Malayur mambattiyan. Also, the first song where Ilaiyaraja repeated a music interlude was 'madana moga roopa sundari' from Inrupoi naalai vaa .

Koottukkoru pattusattam, Chinna chinna etc. were the hits from the Prabhu film Sentamizh pattu while Walter Vetrivel boasted of 'Chinna raasaave' a catchy rythm based song.

1992 also saw the arrival of Roja and Raghumaan with his hit Chinnachinna aasai. Deva apparently a former assistant of Ilaiyaraja also began to score music for a number of films.

There have been a number of melodious songs in this period reminiscent of early Ilaiyaraja such as Ellorum Sollum Paattu, Nalam Vaazha ennalum en vaazhtukkal and so on.

The emphasis of today's hits seem to be more on catchy tunes and beats for the most part.

To summarize these three articles, we have briefly traced the career of Ilaiyaraja starting with his debut in tamil films. Today he stands poised to hear his Grand Symphony performed by the Royal Symphony Orchestra and this is by no means a small achievement..; Originating in in tamil films, establishing a firm, indisputable, indispensable, invincible lead locally, at the same time gaining international recognition from established institutions etc. etc.; i believe firmly that there is much more to come and that there is going to be much more for us to enjoy.

Ilaiyaraja - Playback Singers
Here is a list of playback singers who have worked with Ilaiyaraja.

TMS: TM Soundararaajan who was one of the leading playback singers when Ilaiyaraja made his debut, did initially sing a lot of songs with Ilaiyaraja. Starting with the sad version of Annakkili Onna Tedude, his hits include 'Nallavarkellam', 'Neramidu', Aimbadilum Aasai varum, Endan Pon vanname, Sindu nadikkarai oram, Ten mallippoove, Amma - Nee sumanda pillai, etc. Looks like the last he sang for him was in Naan Vaazha vaippen. There was a break of nearly a decade after which, he sang a song in the Sivaji Padmini starrer (a tune along the lines of Unnai Onru ketpen, with nostalgic lyrics).

S. Janaki : Her dominance was established firmly by Ilaiyaraja. Starting with Annakkili, it may not be a wrong guess to say that she is the play back singer with whom Ilaiyaraja has worked the most. A versatile singer, she has covered a range of songs from 'Amma Nee Enge' (as a 3 year old kid), 'Poda Poda' (Udirippookkal - as an old woman), Pon Meni Urugude , Sangeetame (Koil Pura), Nila Kaayudu, Doorattilnaan kanda, Kaatril, Toodu Selvadaaradi (Singaravelan). Of late we seem to be hearing more of her again. One of her best songs ever, is Tumbi Vaa (a song in Malayalam) in the film Olangal. Very well orchestrated, beautifully, powerfully, effortlessly sung. This song was originally 'Sangattil Paadada kavidai' sung by Ilaiyaraja and Janaki in the tamil film 'Auto Raaja'. I remember hearing it on Ilangaioliparappukkoottuttabanattin tamizhchevai irandu . She has sung a number of duets with Ilaiyaraja such as kannmalargalin azhaippidazh (taippongal), Sorgame vandaalum (oor vittu oor vandu), Metti oli (metti) etc. There is much more to write about Janaki, but I shall stop here.

P. Susheela: Many a golden melody has been produced by the Ilaiyaraja Susheela combination. Maane mani mangala chippi from Kadal meengal, Raaja chinna raaja, Sugamo Aayiram, Kannan enna sonnan, Kannan oru kaikkuzhandai, raaghavane ramana, ninaittu ninaittu varainda oviyam, En kanmani en kaadali (with SPB), Kannukkulle yaaro with Shailaja, Tennankeetrum with Malaysia, Neer kodukka pirandadamma (Bala Nagamma), Kaalaittenral (uyarnda ullam), Gangai aatril (1000 nilave vaa), Per solla vanda pillai (magane magane). She has been a lead singer for decades. All of the above singers were featured in Annakkili.

SPB: Was his first song with Ilaiyaraja 'Naan pesa vanden"? Probably one of the most used male playback singers. 'Poo pole' >from kavarimaan - what a song..; his first song for a Bharatiraja movie was 'Mudan mudalaaga kaadal duet paada vandene' ! A versatile singer with a whole range of songs from 'Ilamai enum poongattru' to 'Illamai ido ido' - covering such melodies as Pani vizhum malarvanam, Raaga deepam, Togai Illamayil, Paadum vaanambadi, Nada vinodangal, takita tatimi, raakkamma kaiya tattu, Onna nenachen etc. and a host of 'koottu' songs such as Ei aatta!

Yesudoss: Kannan oru kaikkuzhandai, Poovizhi vaasalil yaaradi vandadu were his early hits. This went on with Sentaazhampoovil, Uravugal todarkadai, Engum Nirainda iyarkaiyil, azhage azhagu, kanne kalaimane, Poonkaatru, Vellaippura, Poomalai, Marimarininne, Manadil urudi vendum, Kanna varuvaya, Pottu vaitta oru vatta nila, neepadi naanpadi kanne, etc. etc. only to name a few. A wonderful singer. The above mentioned songs are soft songs; some of his koottu hits include 'Vachha paarvai', and 'Tanni totti', 'Nadu rodu' etc. and his semi classical hits include 'Sridevi en vaazhvil', 'Vedam nee', Alai paayude kanna. An all time favourite is 'Manida manida' from Kann sivandaal mann sivakkum.

Sirkazhi Govindarajan: As far as I can recall, he has sung two sungs under Ilaiyarajas music direction; the first is a song from Bhadrakali while the second is from Taai Mookambikai (Tiripura Sundari nee).

Balamurali Krishna: Chinnakkannan Azhaikkiraan from Kavikkuyil was a very popular song. He sang again in Taai Mookaambikai.

SP Shailaja: Sister of SPB was introduced in Ponnu Oorukku Pudusu - Solaikkuyile was a nice song. She had a number of hits to her credit. Aasaya kaatula toodu vittu, Malargalil aadum illamai pudumaiye, Raasave unna naan ennittan, Naada vinodangal, Vaan pole vannam kondai, Kannukkulle yaaro, Mottu vitta mullaikkodi.

Jency: was also an early intruduction. A number of hits such as Iru paravaigal, Idayam Pogude, Aayiram malargale, Nyan nyan paadanum, Ennuyir neetano (priya). There was a long break and then she sang the song 'Aattoram kaatada' in 1982.

Poorani, Indra, Vasanta: Have sung songs such as Devan tiruchhabai malargale. Vasanta sang Tamtananam with Jency.

Malaysia Vasudevan: got his break with Aatukkutti muttaiyittu etc. Again a versatile singer with songs such as Aahaan vandirichu, Oru Tanga radattil, Aagaya gangai, Kattavandi kattavandi, Devanin koyilile (Vellai roja), Koyil Maniosai, Inda minminikku, Kodaikkala kaatre etc.

Kamalahasan: Ninaivo oru paravai in sigappu rojakkal, Panneer pushpangale in aval appadittan, Vikram, Pottu vaitta kadal tittam, Inji iduppazhagi, Sonnapadi kelu, vizhiorattu kavidai, raaja kaiya vachha etc. and more.

BS Sashirekha: Sang several songs in the late seventies and in the very early eighties. 'Vizhiyil vizhundu' from Alaigal oivatillai, 'Tottiram padiye' again from Alaigal oivatillai were good hits. Remember 'Vaazhve maayama' from whats the name of that movie Gayatri ? (a Sridevi starrer).

Sujata: Oru iniya uravu isaiyai anaittu sellum from Johny. Also 'Kaadal oviyam kanden' - from Kavikkuyil I guess.

PB Srinivas: 'Kangale Pesu' from the film Kadavul Amaitta medai. beautiful song.

Jikki: I believe she sang a couple of songs for Ilaiyaraja in the late 70s and i am not sure what the songs are. There is a song sung by her in 1989 'Raattiri poottadu kaattu roja'.

Vani Jayaram: Roaring hits in Azhage unnai aaradikkiren, Illamai Oonjaladugiradu (Nee kettal naan matten, Orey naal), Rosappoo ravikkaikkari (Ennullil engo) and a number of others. There was a long long gap where Ilaiyaraja and she didnt work together, and later on the comeback was in Balanagamma (Sangeetam en deivam anro), and later on again in 'Vaa vaa Pakkam vaa' in tanga magan.

Uma Ramanan: A singer with a sweet voice and expression, with such hits as 'Aananda raagam', 'Manjal veiyil' from Nandu, 'Poonkadave', 'Aarumadu aazham illa' etc.

Bhrammanandam: A singer introduced in Metti (Sandakkavigal paadum).

Radhika: A singer introduced in Aaradanai (Illam pani tuli vizhum).

Krishnachandran: Edo Mogam in Kozhi koovudu, with SJanaki, and a few other songs during the three year period 82-84.

Deepan Chakravarti: Poonkadave was a super hit. There were a number of other songs that he sang including some in Kaadal Oviyam.

TL Maharajan: songs such as Meri pyari dil ki rani from Inru poi Naalai vaa.

Gangai Amaran: Lyricist and a brother if Ilaiyaraja he has sung songs such as 'Solai Pushpangale' and 'Tekku teru machane' with PSushila.

Jayachandran: A number of hits in the early years such as 'Geeta Sangeeta', Raaja Ponnu, Vellinilavinile, Tavikkudu tayangudu, maanjolaikkili taano, Taalattude (Kadal meengal) etc. A long pause and then a comeback with songs such as 'Raasaatti onna' from Vaidehi kaattirundaal and then the song 'Undadu vizhi vazhi mele' from solla tudikkudu manasu.

Chitra: Poove poochooda vaa and Geetanjali made waves while Sindubairavi won awards. She soon became an established singer. One of my favourites is 'Madura marikkozhundu vaasam' from Enga oor pattukkaran. Other hits include Ededo, Singalattu chinnakkuyil, and several several more.

Mano: made his debut in the song 'Ten mozhi', soon became an established singer again, with hits such as Singaarapenn orutti, Madura marikkozhund and many more.

Swarnalata: again a recent introduction in the last few years. Maalaiyil yaaro from sattiriyan was a hit.The singer that sang 'naan enbadu', 'Aararo pattu paada' etc. is also a recent introduction.

Lata Rajinikant: Introduced in 'netru inda neram' Tick Tick tick, also sang 'kadavul ullame' in anbulla rajnikant.

Asha Bhonsle: Introduced to tamil in Shenbagame Shenbagame (Enga oor pattukkaran), she has had hits such as Mazhai megam, Adi kaalai unnai, O Butterfly etc.

Lata Mangeshkar: Introduced to Ilaiyaraja with 'Aararo Aararo' has hit such as 'Engirundo azhaikkum', 'Valaiosai kala kala kalavena'.

Bhupender: A hindi singer, sang a duet 'Kaise kahoon' with S. janaki in the film Nandu.

MS Viswanathan: sang a song for Ilaiyaraja in the film Tai mookambikai


Ilaiyaraja: has sung a number of songs himself. Of late each film scored by him seems to have one song sung by him. He sang all songs in the film Geetanjali (tamil - not the telugu one). Starting with Solam vedakkayile, he proceded with 'Anbu mugam' in Rusi kanda poonai, 'Kann malargalin' in Taippongal and then a whole host of other songs - Saamakkozhi, Onakkenattane and other songs in Ponnu oorukk pudusu, Kaadal oviyam in alaigal oivatillai, Metti Oli in Metti, Amman koyil kezhakkala, Kanniyila sikkadayya (Pudumaippenn), Oomai megame (kairaasikkaran), Aattadi paavada, Aarumadu aazhamilla, Adi aattadi (with janaki and multi track recording), Kalyana maalai and finally songs such as Ten Paandi seemaiyile, and 'Pattale buddi sonnar'.

This list is probably incomplete. I just recalled and wrote this up in one sitting. Omission of names is not at all intentional. I would like to discuss more about each of these singers, but it would go on for ever.

Let us move on to lyricists in the next part of this series.

Ilaiyaraja - part 5 - Lyricists, Conclusion
This article is much shorter than the others in this series.

Panju Arunachalam: had a major share of the lyrics to Illayaraajas songs early in his career. Most, if not all of his movies were scored by Ilaiyaraja. Kalyanaraman, Ellam inba mayam, Ananda raagam etc. etc. had songs written by panju arunachalam. There is a fairly long list here..

Kannadasan: This partnership lasted until 1981 till the end of the poets life. Sentaazhampoovil, Radha Radha nee engey, Azhagiya kanne, Poonkatru, Kanne kalaimane are some examples that come to my mind.

Gangai Amaran: Ilaiyaraja's brother. This was excellent team work and is going strong even today. This lyricist diversified into siningin, music composing, directing, producing and even acting.

Muttulingam: Maanjolaikkilidano, Raga deepam etrum neram etc. are the songs that come to my mind.

Vairamuttu: introduced in 1982 with his Ponmalaippozhudu is probably the most successful lyricist of today. There was a strong partnership between him and Ilaiyaraja for several years. Illaya nila, Panivizhum malarvanam, Andi mazhai, Manida Manida, Kasturi maane, Naanoru sindu etc., the list is very long.

Vaali: is another lyricist that has a whole list of Ilaiyaraja songs. Of late, he seems to have wrtitten a lot. Apoorva sahodarargal, etc. are some examples.

Paavalar Varadaraasan: Ilaiyarajavin moota sagodarar. 'mannil inda kaadal inri' is probably his greatest hit.

Mu Mehta: Ten aruviyil nanaindidum malaro from Aagaya gangai.

This list again is an incomplete list.

It takes a lot to produce a popular song. Lyrics that have meaning, lyrics that are beautiful/attractive and above all catchy. A tune that gives life to the lyrics, appropriate orchestration to give life to the tune, and voices with expression to bring all of this to full life, and finally the idam porul aeval in the film (context) that leaves an everlasting expression or atleast an expression that creates pleasure during every single recollection. To get all these factors working for you, and to last for a long while doing this, at the same time coming up with innovations - (not random experiments) but innovations that please millions of the listeners, to create expectations among the audience, to fulfil those expectations only to create more, to become a household name, to earn the love and respect of millions using music as a medium is just something great.. All that i can conclude that we are very fortunate to have had Illayaraaja score music for tamil films..

Addendum to the five part series Ilaiyaraaja - Background Score

In the five articles, we discussed the glory of Ilaiyaraja's contribution to the world of music. Most of our discussion was focussed only on songs that he tuned in movies.

Let us now switch gears and talk about his background score. Raaja gave a new dimension to background scores altogether. Ilaiyaraja's music lends wonderful support to the flow of a movie..

Raajapaarvai: There is this violin piece that Kamal plays at a recording, that is on the movie record too. (Its proabably a 78rpm with andi mazhai on one side and this piece on the other; ive seen only badly scratched discs!). VS Narasimhan (who later on was to direct music himself) played the lead violin. This piece is probably known to one and all. Now, there is another violin piece which is only on the soundtrack. The accompanying scene is one wherein Madhavi watches with appreciation Kamals rendition and breaks into applause and disturbs the recording..; also, the theme music in this film is based on a little hymn like song sung by the school choir; this song directly precedes andi mazhai; a much grander version of this piece is played at the conclusion of the film. Remember the song 'Vizhiyorattu kavidai'; A theme based on this song repeats throughout the film, growing in intensity/richness, as the relationship between Raghu and Nancy develops; played several times on several instruments, this piece repeats during the church scene at a faster pace. The background score in this movie is worth paying attention too.

The above illustration should give a general outline of what to expect in Ilaiyaraja's background score. The title music is usually special. There are themes for various contexts and these themes repeat themselves in various forms. Such conscious scoring frame by frame really builds up the power of a movie..

Nenjattai killade: Title music, along the lines of Paruvame, - with appropriate sitar/guitar pieces, coming to a grand end with a lead violin and strings in the baroque style. There is also a theme that is used to show the growing warmth between Suhasini and Pratap . This tune has been reused in the Penn Serial which came on TV several years later. The first interlude in Paruvame - was later on reset as a portion of a song 'Malaiye paniye alaigalin nuraiye' - in the song 'Alaigale vaa' for the movie Kavidai malar or so (i think) that was never released..

Going forward 6 years, lets look at Mouna raagam. The haunting music that echoes throughout the Kartik flashback still lingers in my mind. There is also a theme based on the scale of pantuvarali that shows the affection that revati's family has for her..

Alaigal Oivatillai had a very good background score. So did Salangai Oli. A choir based humming in the scale of keeravani interspersed with powerful mridangam, with small counter melodies on the synth, dominate the section first half of the movie..

Again, it is in these background scores that a music director has a full unlimited range of options (is it an appropriate word?) to create a listening experience, with his choice of the medium, in order to get the emotion/event at that point in time, at that situation get to the listener in a very powerful manner. It also calls for a great deal of creativity on the part of the director to capitalize on the music director's skills to express his message more effectively. There are scenes in films where there are no dialogues, no songs (of course no fights/chases), where music alone dominates. you can see a lot of such scenes in bharatiraaja's films. The interlude from the song 'idayam pogude' is used repeatedly in Pudiya vaarpugal for example..

The lp from the film 'Ninaivellam Nitya' has a number of small instrumental pieces, from various films. One of these, if I am not mistaken, is the title music from the film Ullasapparavaigal.

Raaja has also contributed a lot to the orchestral interludes in film songs. Most of these are highly intricate (especially during the Golden Age); some of them deviate from the main theme, wander systemmatically (not aimlessly - imitations meander aimlessly!), sometimes involving (in technical terms what is called) a modal shift and finally return to a comfortable starting point for the next passage. Take the second interlude in Aananda raagam from panneer pushpangal for example. Other memorable interludes are those from my all time favourite Andi mazhai and Poonkadave. One other song with a striking contrast in the interlude is 'Engum nirainda iyarkaiyil'. In most cases the deviations are subtle; it often seems like each interlude (actually each line) has a story to tell. Nenjattaikkillade - Yen tenrale- effective use of a choir..

There are songs that i listen to, primarily for the orchestration.. such as 'Kaadal oviyam' in alaigal oivatillai and 'Metti Oli' from metti; togai illamayil from payanangal mudivatillai; unakkenattane/saamakkozhi from ponnu oorukku pudusu; Adi Penne from Mullum malarum..

This is a never ending topic. Let me stop here..

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