Ilaiyaraaja: I keep thinking about music

I am not in awe of my songs. All forms of music are one. To you, I am Raja sir. It was a huge learning curve and the toughest phase of my life. If you may say so. So, whose music do you listen to? 0
Comment(s) What’s your favourite food? Read the interview in Malayalam
I smell bondas and bajjis. But we can start the conversation,” smiles Ilaiyaraaja, looking relaxed. If I ask for that, how is it wrong? How? It stays with them. Everyone unanimously loved it and seamlessly got connected. Birds don’t plan and fly around. When I make music, it’s mine. I spent all my time simply making music. Singers and instrumentalists rehearse timeless melodies for a concert. It’s never a process. (Laughs) Of course, what I say, often, is being misinterpreted and misunderstood. “Singaari Sarakku” from Kamal Haasan’s Kaaki Sattai echoes across the walls. Your understanding depends on your capacity to perceive it. Excerpts from the conversation:
Even today you use your old harmonium while presenting concerts or composing a song. I am sorry. Finally, destiny made me meet Master Dhanraj, who trained me in classical music. “Yesudas may come in anytime. I am not a foodie. I make music for my fans and it touches their emotions. I feel bitter when that happens. Your music came as a fresh breath of air around the late 70s. I didn’t go near it during my younger days. It’s amazing. I enjoy what am doing. I think that’s what you call ‘magic’. I am glad. People associate your music with ‘timelessness’. When Annakili (1976) happened, did you think you would be a phenomenon in the later years? We knew people would be there for us. Only I hold the right to all my songs. But I have to think of my next. It’s me. Later I took the exam by Trinity College, London and topped in classical guitar. He used to understand the pulse of the audience so well and earned their applause. Rather, they make my music theirs. (Laughs)
You are severely a misunderstood personality. Better late than never, right? I let things be. It’s a constant renewal process. We sang on the pavements. I don’t fear anyone. If you insist that I pick names: Johann Christian Bach, Joseph Haydn, Johannes Brahms, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven. Popular Photos

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Every time a filmmaker narrates the situation of a song, I start humming the tune. What I do is somewhat similar. Fans are happy that your spat with SPB has come to an end. Maatuvandi pogadha idam ellam kooda, enga paattu vandi poyirku. Everyone’s music is made of their own life experiences. What makes Ilaiyaraaja, Ilaiyaraaja? They trust my capabilities. The music itself is timeless and the biggest challenge is to provide a sense of freshness every time someone hears music. During my initial days, I would be in the studio till 11.30 pm; reach home, shower and write music till 2 am. Tell us about your first guru. At any point, did you feel pressurised? Thank you. There is a growing awareness on copyrights and royalty issue now. The moment it reaches them, it is theirs. (Laughs) Music is the culmination of saptaswaras and good music (folk, tribal, Western, jass) can be made from any instrument. I always give 100 per cent in whatever I do—irrespective of how others view it. You changed the rules of music composition bringing in new dimensions. It’s an emotional thing. If I put in the effort, it won’t have the soul. Music should happen. But if the right situation comes, why not? I am sure. More Explained

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I am what I am because of my brother-guru Pavalar Varadarajan. I don’t believe in classifying music. I used to go to walks on the Santhome Beach. Pirappukku naan anjen. They are my creation, and when someone earns money from that, shouldn’t I get my due share? Something happens between me and the harmonium. To me, music is more like a spiritual seeking that takes one to unknown levels. Also, he made me realise that cinema was a powerful medium. I keep thinking about music, even in my dreams. She asked me to play the tune again. I had difficulty in grasping how music was made for films. (Grins) World music. We were left with Rs 400 that my mother gave after selling the radio we had at home. Can someone do music for 24 hours at a stretch and never get tired? She was in tears. He was quite spontaneous, too. But only I know my intentions. People forget themselves in my music. I didn’t have time to think about anything. They are genuine. Once, I was composing some tune at a hotel. It was not easy at all. But it was wonderful to see people respond to my music. It’s difficult to explain. Advertising

Certain things never change. As I walked through the streets, radios in every house would play songs from Annakili. Your music broke barriers and you devised something that was classless. Slowly, I remember playing in his absence. I left my brother in 1967 as I felt I had to do more as a musician than being a part of a propaganda troupe. For a fangirl, this interview seemed a good excuse to have an in-depth chat with the ‘God’ of film music. You have not presented a full-fledged Carnatic kutcheri yet. That, undoubtedly, paved the way for your success. I learnt how to improvise songs and to enrapture the audience from him. Despite not knowing the language, she was moved. But how does it happen? Exactly. When that is made, people remember you. It’s not like a regular job. Curd rice would suffice, in general. The feeling was just profound because I have never promoted my music in the beginning. You have experimented with different genres of music. We came to Madras, we knew no one and had no place to stay. Music is everything to me. I was scared of my brother who feared I would spoil it. Again, I would wake up by 4 am, do my music and be at the studios at 7 am. (Pauses) The harmonium knows it better. You should say that. Pleasure meeting you, Raja sir. We listen to your music when we are low. Advertising

(Laughs) We have been distributing snacks for those rehearsing. I am still figuring out. It’s unfortunate how people are quick to lap up negativity. Success and failure are for materialistic people; not me. Advertising

It’s a busy evening at Prasad Studios. No. What’s your greatest fear? Because I don’t ‘work’. There is distinctiveness to your compositions in terms of the instruments, which I think is missing in the current scenario. When Communists became prominent in Kerala, he would help in propaganda, singing revolutionary songs. This wasn’t there when I started out. I am like a drop of water in this vast, divine ocean. A Russian lady, who was passing through, entered my room after listening to it. I never thought I was learning from him, but actually did.