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Ilayaraaja is a famous film composer and singer in South Indian cinema especially in Tamil cinema. Ilaiyaraaja is also an instrumentalist, conductor, singer, and songwriter. He has composed more than 6000 songs and provided film music or movie soundtrack for more than 1000 films, particularly being famous for his background music.[1][2][3]

Ilayaraaja introduced Western type of music into the Tamil cinema.He is also known for creating music by fusing symphonic orchestration with traditional Indian instrumentation.In 1993 he organised a full symphony performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London and thus became the First Indian to compose a full symphony,[4] with Ravi Shankar being the only other Indian to do so. He is also the first Asian to compose a full symphony performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.[5] He has won five Indian National Film Awards (the highest film honor in India); three for Best Music Direction and two for Best Background Score.[6] In 2010 he has received Padma Bhushan, awarded by the Government of India. He is usually referred to by the title Isaignani (English: Musical Genius), or as The Maestro.[7] Ilaiyaraja is a gold medalist in classical guitar from Trinity College of Music, London. In 2003, according to an international poll conducted by BBC, more than half-a million people from 165 countries voted his composition Rakkamma Kaiya Thattu from the 1991 film Thalapathi as fourth in the world's top 10 most popular songs of all time.[8]

In 2015, he was also honoured with the Centenary Award for lifetime achievement at the 46th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) at Panaji, Goa.[9] On December 31, 2015, he was nominated by the Kerala Government for Nishagandi Puraskaram, the top award conferred by the Kerala Government's Tourism Ministry, for his artistic excellence and contributions to the Indian film industry.[10]

In a poll conducted by CNN-IBN celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema in 2013, Ilaiyaraaja was voted as the greatest music composer of India with a maximum of 49%.[11]

Early life and family[change | change source]

Ilaiyaraaja was born as Gnanathesikan in 1943 in a normal middle-class family in Pannaipuram, Theni district, Tamil Nadu, India.[12][13] When he joined the school his father changed his name as "Rajaiya" but his village people used to call him as "Raasayya".[14] Ilaiyaraaja joined Dhanraj Master as a student to learn musical instruments and the master renamed and called him as just "Raaja".[15] In his first movie Annakili, Tamil film producer Panchu Arunachalam added "Ilaiya" (Ilaiya means younger in Tamil language) as prefix in his name Raaja and he named as "Ilaiyaraaja" because in the 1970s there was one more music director A. M. Rajah who was a popular one.[16]

Ilaiyaraaja was married to Jeeva and the couple have three children—Karthik Raja, Yuvan Shankar Raja and Bhavatharini—all film composers and singers.[17][18] His wife Jeeva died on 31 October 2011.[19] Ilaiyaraaja has a brother Gangai Amaran, who is also a music director and lyricist in Tamil film industry.[20]

References[change | change source]

  1. Baskaran, Sundararaj Theodore (1 January 2009). History through the lens: perspectives on South Indian cinema. Orient Blackswan. p. 82. ISBN 978-81-250-3520-6. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  2. Emmanuel Anthony Das (1 September 2010). The Best is Yet to Be. Pustak Mahal. p. 7. ISBN 978-81-223-1144-0. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  3. S. Theodore Baskaran "Jnana To Gana: Consistent eclecticism has kept Tamil film music virile" Archived 16 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Outlookindia.com, 26 June 2006.
  4. "A SYMPHONY OF SUCCESS – Ilaiyaraaja Interview in 1993". 2013-12-11. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016.
  5. "Ilaiyaraaja — IMDb". IMDb. 2005-05-29. Archived from the original on 21 May 2014.
  6. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, India. 2006. Directorate of Film Festivals at the Wayback Machine (archived 18 April 2007). Archived from the original on 18 April 2007. Accessed 2006-11-22.
  7. "Ilaiyaraaja". Tamilnadu.com. 30 October 2012. Archived from the original on 11 April 2013. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  8. THE WORLD'S TOP TEN Archived 30 March 2015 at the Wayback Machine, BBC World Service.com
  9. "Ilaiyaraja honoured with IFFI Centenary Award". The Hindu. 2015-11-20. Archived from the original on 17 January 2016. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  10. "Ilayaraja nominated for top Kerala award". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on 4 January 2016. Retrieved 2016-01-01.
  11. "NTR is the greatest Indian actor: Times Of India". The Times of India. 2013-03-08. Archived from the original on 2013-03-31. Retrieved 2013-04-12.
  12. Anand, S. (25 July 2005). "Tandav Tenor". Outlook. Archived from the original on 4 January 2015.
  13. "Exclusive biography of #Ilayaraja and on his life". FilmiBeat. Archived from the original on 19 February 2017. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  14. "திரை இசையில் திருப்பம் உண்டாக்கிய இளையராஜா கிராமிய இசைக்கு புத்துயிர் அளித்தார்". Maalai Malar. Archived from the original on 4 January 2015. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  15. "Humorist springs a surprise". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 2008-08-08. Archived from the original on 9 May 2012.
  16. "Raja and his rule". Deccan Herald. 30 March 2013.
  17. Sangeetha Devi, K. "Music from the past". Archived 7 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine The Hindu. 13 January 2007. Accessed 2007-03-03.
  18. Staff reporter. "Ilaiyaraja's daughter gets engaged". Archived 29 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine The Hindu. 5 August 2005. Accessed 2007-03-03.
  19. "Music maestro Ilayaraja's wife passes away". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 2011-11-01. Archived from the original on 10 December 2011.
  20. "Illayaraja: Gangai Amaran get together again". Behindwoods. 2005-03-12. Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-11.