Over 10 mn people to join Ilayaraaja’s fan club to be launched on April 5 in Madurai; Maestro’s son Karthik Raja will be chairman

Coinciding with a grand concert planned in Madurai on April 5, a group of people associated with veteran music director Ilaiyaraja are planning to launch the first registered fan club for him. The eldest son of the maestro, Karthik Raja, is expected to be involved in the club’s activities as chairman.

Though there are several fan clubs operating for Ilaiyaraja, especially on the web, P. Veluchamy, who has been coordinating the setting up of the club, said this would be the first registered fan club. “We will be better equipped to officially carry any message that the maestro might have for his fans. Also, we hope to get involved in various social activities under the banner.”

Ilaiyaraja has always been reluctant to formally set up clubs or lend his name to any of them. In fact, he has often, during his concerts, mentioned that “the only connection between me and my fans is my music and nothing else matters.”

When asked how Ilaiyaraja had consented to setting up the fan club, Mr. Veluchamy, who has also produced a film ‘Oru Oorla’ featuring the music of the maestro, said the consent came only after several months. “Raja Sir kept refusing for a long time, saying he was not interested but I kept insisting that we needed something formal to engage with the many fans, who are spread across the world. He eventually relented because of the affection. I also insisted that someone from Raja Sir’s family must be a member. So we have taken the help of Karthik Raja.”

On April 5, coinciding with the Ilaiyaraja concert in Madurai, the fan club will be launched along with the website - www.isaignanifanclub.com - a online space for his fans to get together and discuss his music.

The fan club also has plans to bring out a magazine.

There have been fan clubs dedicated to the maestro for years, but it was not until the formation of an online group in 1999 that an organised structure came into existence.

“Fifteen years ago, there was a Tamil film music page and several other individual efforts on the internet where people shared rare songs and clips of popular background music,” recalls Vijay Venkatraman Janarthanan, a Coimbatore-based diabetologist and founder of Ilaiyaraaja Yahoo Group. When the group started in 1999, it had only a few members, many of them his friends; now, there are 5,100 members across the world.

The group members meet often and have theme-based discussions on the maestro’s compositions, including non-film devotional and instrumental albums. The group met at London earlier this month and they plan to have a meeting in May to commemorate the 15 year of the group at Tiruvannamalai, a place very close to the composer.

A few years ago, a group of fans started a website – raajangahm.com, which was later changed to raaja.com, dedicated to the maestro and his music. However, it was abandoned later, according to a die-hard fan.