Ahead of his music concert “Rajavin Sangeetha Thirunal” on April 5, Music maestro Ilaiyaraja speaks to T. Saravanan

Music is a source of entertainment for some, income for others but for Maestro Ilaiyaraja it is “chaste and divine,” he says. “You may go to the temple for mental peace. But you may be distracted there and forget the purpose of your visit. But this does not happen when you hear good music. For as long as you are listening, the song just holds you and you feel energised and greatly relieved,” he says.

Dressed in spotless white kurta and veshti, a brightly smiling Ilaiyaraja radiates energy. In a career spanning more than three decades in the music industry, much has been said about this composer. He has redefined film music. His background scores have played a pivotal role in the success of movies. He has composed a full symphony for the prestigious Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Ilaiyaraja has also presented verses from Thiruvasagam in musical form, blending Indian and Western classical traditions.

Any art form is a valid document of the period but Ilaiyaraja says, “Mere recording of an event will not make it a historical document. It will become obsolete with time. Only those that emotionally connect with the audience will stand the test of time. The gen X thinks history is a waste of time. This is instant world where only readymade things are valued. Even in music now many people are trying to ‘assemble’ sounds,” he says. Ilaiyaraja is rated as one of the 25 greatest film composers in cinema history by popular world cinema portal ‘Taste of Cinema’. Apparently he is the only Indian music composer among great music legends such as Ennio Morricone, Max Steiner, John Williams and Bernard Herrmann. But what matters most to the maestro is just pure and simple music. He says, “Music is a continuous process. You evolve with every song”.

By agreeing to perform in Madurai, Ilaiyaraja has fulfilled a promise he made to the city’s residents couple of years ago. “I wanted to do it for my people, that is why I am here,” he says. As a mark of his love for the people of Pannaipuram, his native town, Ilaiyaraja has made arrangements for their presence here. There will also be guests from Canada and Malaysia. The event is produced by Absolute Music. Industrialist Karumuttu T. Kannan will preside over the concert where film directors Bala, Mysskin and actor Prakashraj will also take part along with scores of play back singers including Hariharan, Chithra and Mano.