An exhibition in the city displays music maestro Ilaiyaraaja’s skill as a photographer

If you are an Ilaiyaraaja fan, what more can you celebrate about the maestro, after years of listening to his hits on loop?

But the veteran is full of surprises. Drop in to Art Houz Gallery, off Kasturi Rangan Road, for an exhibition of photographs he has clicked — Naan Paarthapadi (from January 19 to 29). All shot on film. Not colour-corrected or cropped.

The composer dropped in at Art Houz for exactly 15 minutes to meet the press and take questions on Monday.

Just the way it was

“All these are photos taken during my travels. And outstation trips to temples, mostly in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Because, here I cannot get out of the car without a crowd gathering,” he says as a matter of fact. “I have taken these pictures on-the-go, mostly during car journeys... if I spot something I would stop and click immediately. Fraction-of-a-second decisions. I don’t know anything about shutterspeed and exposure, but I told Sreethar not to crop the frame or alter it digitally. What I saw is what you should see.”

Artist and painter A.P. Sreethar, who has put the exhibition together, said there were plans to make a coffee table book out of these photographs. “We also want to take the exhibition around the world and other parts of the State,” says Sreethar.

Quizzed about a haunting frame of a girl, the composer shared the story behind the image. “I clicked her in Halebid, Karnataka. She was asking for money. I just took two snaps and turned to take money to give her, but she was gone. I still feel bad that I couldn’t help her.”

What does he love clicking most? “Nature. I love Nature. Nothing specific.”

Ilaiyaraaja recently shared the photos he had taken with his old friends Balu Mahendra and P.C. Sreeram. “They too felt that today’s digital cameras don’t provide the depth that you feel in a picture taken on film,” he added.

“Anyone can take good photos with a digital camera because it is easy. Talent is when you are able to do it the difficult way. Which is why I stopped taking photos after digital cameras came in,” the maestro explains. He has the same approach to photography and art as his music. He is not a fan of digital technology and you can sense that in everything he says.

“All the good things are going away,” he replied when a journalist asked him how he felt about the shift from film to digital.

Does he have any ambitions of getting behind the camera someday as the director of photography for films? “Aiyoyo,” he dismissed the idea, “Kandathellam Edukkanum”.