Cinema

Salute to Ilaiyaraaja, the king

Salute to Ilaiyaraaja, the king
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A local radio channel is organising a 91-day marathon of Ilaiyaraaja songs to usher in his 72nd birthday on June 2, says Sudhir Srinivasan

Radio City 91.1 FM is providing the ultimate treat for an Ilaiyaraaja fan. As part of its campaign titled Raja Rajathan, the station is playing songs only by the composer for 91 days. The marathon comes to an end on June 2, the maestro’s 72nd birthday. Arguably the first-ever initiative of its kind, the channel has received formal approval from the composer himself. Kartik Kalla, national programming head of the station, says, “The idea was simply to pay tribute to a legend who has composed music for over 1,000 films and done over 4,000 songs. We wanted to do something extraordinary for him.”

Kartik is delighted with the success of this campaign. “We have received 13 lakh song requests so far!” he says. This is the only way to gauge audience response. “There’s something called Radio Audience Measurement, but it isn’t implemented in Chennai yet. Calls and messages are how we know if a programme is popular.”

Radio City identified a total of 600 songs to play during these 91 days. That, of course, didn’t mean they would not play other songs when requested by listeners. “Also, we have a repetition policy. The older the songs, the less frequently we are likely to repeat them.”

Kartik also talks about a concept called ‘mood mapping’. This is a strategy that helps the station decide when to play the various genres. This is why you have radio stations playing high-tempo songs in the morning and the evening. “In the afternoons and nights, when people are generally relaxed, we play melodies.” Raja Rajathan does not follow ‘mood mapping’ though as “most Raja songs are melodies that are relevant through the day”.

The consequence of organising such a programme, of course, is the inevitability of doing a similar one for another composer — say, Rahman. “We haven’t decided yet. It’s a strategic call that will be made after much deliberation.”

Most requested songs

‘Valaiyosai’ - Sathya

‘Sorgame Endraalum’ - Ooru Vittu Ooru Vanthu

‘Kadhalin Deepam Ondru’ - Thambikku Endha Ooru

‘En Iniya Ponnilaave’ - Moodu Pani

‘Enna Saththam Indha Neram’ - Punnagai Mannan

Star selections

Actor Karthik

‘Kadhalin Deepam’ – Thambikku Endha Ooru

“It’s my all-time favourite. A solo number, it’s about love, the most beautiful emotion. Dancing to a song is all right, but relishing a song and singing along... it’s beautiful.”

Director Gautham Menon

‘Kaatrai Konjam’ – Neethaane En Ponvasantham

“After having worked with him and seeing how the song evolved from composing to recording, I have no choice but to pick this song.”

Actor Vishal

‘Thendral Vandhu’ - Avatharam

It’s a masterpiece. It was only after listening to this track that I knew how quickly music could lift one’s mood. This song has that effect on me every single time.

Singer Mano

‘Thendral Vandhu’ – Thendrale Ennai Thodu

You like some songs for their pallavi, some others for their charanam, and a few for just the music between them. In this song, all of these elements come together beautifully. The sruti is perfect for both Janaki amma and Das annan (Yesudas). The lyrics are touching. This song is enough to let me unwind, no matter how stressed I am.

Director K. V. Anand

‘Naane naana’ – Azhage Unnai Aarathikkiren

The thing with Raja songs is they make you think about your past. I remember his first film, Annakili, released when I was in Class 5. I love the tune of this song. I was in Class 8 then. Even recently, I remember this song playing in my car when my destination arrived. I let the song finish before getting out two minutes later.

Composer Bharathwaj

‘Ennadi Meenakshi’ – Ilamai Oonjal Adukirathu

I’ve always believed that songs should express some emotion, some feeling. This song is a perfect example of what I believe in. It’s simple, yet so dramatic. The element of drama in this song is so inherent to this film.

Actor-director Pratap Pothen

‘En Iniya Pon Nilave’ – Moodu Pani

For some reason, despite names like Balu Mahendra and Yesudas being associated with this song, people get reminded of me when they listen to this. I have no idea what I did so well in this song to deserve that. This was also my last song with Shoba. I remember how we looked into the sky just before the line, ‘Panneerai Thoovum Mazhai’. Balu Mahendra made me listen to this song for the first time in Chola Sheraton. I learned just then that he got married to Shoba. I told him that this song was so beautiful, that it was a great wedding gift for him from Ilaiyaraaja. I also enjoyed it when Suriya, in Vaaranam Aayiram, picks up his guitar and sings this song.

Singer Haricharan

‘Andhi Mazhai Pozhigiradhu’ - Rajapaarvai

I love the way he handles ragas in this song. He goes through different scales. The song has a dreamy effect on me.

Composer Ghibran

‘Paadariyen padippariyen’ – Sindhu Bhairavi

I heard this as a kid who was learning music. I still am learning, of course, as I still don’t understand some ragas. This is the song that made classical music accessible to the public. Chithra chechi won the National Award for this song. Until this song arrived, Carnatic music intimidated the average man. It proved that even ragas can be made simpler, more accessible.

Singer Chinmayi

‘Chinna Thaayaval’ – Thalapathi

It’s so difficult to choose one. Also, I don’t think I can give reasons why I like a song. It just stirs something deep within. For lack of a better expression, I’ll just say it connects with my soul.

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Printable version | Oct 16, 2018 8:08:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/salute-to-ilaiyaraaja/article7188356.ece

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