Ilaiyaraaja is a renowned music director whose work is being applauded by the entire South Indian Film fraternity. His work is immensely popular and with his dedication and hard work, he has managed to receive the prestigious ‘Padma Bhushan’ from the Government of India. He is a man of many talents as apart from a composer, he is also a songwriter, singer along with being an instrumentalist.
Coming from a small rural area, he grew up with a keen interest in a range of Tamil folk music. He was born as Gnanathesikan, which was later on changed to “Rjaiya” when he joined the school. The great instrumentalist gained his training in the instruments from his guru, Dhanraj Master. His name was then changed to “Raaja” by his guru as a symbol of appreciation.
He spent a decade performing with a travelling music troupe which was headed by his elder brother, after joining him at an early teenage. He, later, went on to join Dhanraj Master in Madras for a music course learning the various forms of music, including Western Classical Music. He got into Trinity College of Music, London where he spent his time learning classical guitar.
In 1975, he was commissioned to compose the songs and film score for a Tamil language film, Annakkili. He applied various techniques for the same while creating a fusion of Western and Tamil idioms. In the South Indian film industry, by the mid-1980s, Ilaiyaraaja was being recognized as a renowned film composer and music director. He has managed to decorate over 1000 films and over a whopping 6000 songs.
The music director’s songs in various films were also sent to Oscars as India’s official entry. He passed on the legacy to his next generation as well as Ilaiyaraaja’s all three children grew up to be film composers and singers.