When Ilaiyaraaja struck a different note

The music director has written twice to the I&B Ministry. — Photo: Bhagya Prakash K  

When the 63rd National Film Awards were given away by President Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi on Tuesday, one eminent recipient was absent. Ilaiyaraaja, the music composer who changed the way the country received and understood film music, was not present to receive the Best Background Score award for his 1000th film Thaarai Thappattai.

‘Half job’

The Hindu caught up with the maestro for an exclusive interview at Sri Ramana Ashram at Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu to find out why. “Till 2010, there was one national award for Best Music Direction. I have received it thrice — for Sagara Sangamam, Sindhu Bhairavi and Rudraveena. What is the meaning of giving me an award for Best Music Direction – Background Score, and M. Jayachandran an award for Best Music Direction? It not only means that I have done an incomplete job as music director but also implies that only half of my work is good. It means that the committee now encourages music directors to do half the job,” explained Mr. Ilaiyaraaja.

Holistic approach

The music director has written two letters (copies of both are with The Hindu) to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The letters say: “… There should be only one category of music direction similar to direction, cinematography and editing. The performance of a music director should be judged in a holistic manner which includes songs as well as background score. Giving award for songs alone or for background score alone is honouring somebody’s work which is half well done which, I am sure, is not the intention of our National Awards.”

A composer, he explained, not only composes the melodic line but also does the background score and re-recording. Bifurcation of awards leads to “pollution,” he said.

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Printable version | Oct 17, 2021 6:47:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/when-ilaiyaraaja-struck-a-different-note/article8557730.ece

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