Inner self of Ilayaraja reflects in his music

By M Bhaskar Sai Published on Jun 07, 2018 02:34 PM IST

Many in the industry, including Rajinikanth, call Ilayaraja 'Saami', while the maestro's sobriquets include 'Isaignani' and 'Raaga Devan'. And these are not without reason.

Ilayaraja's spiritual side is as in-depth as his music and one can feel this in his devotional songs - both in films and in albums.

If the mesmerising Janani, Janani... made the layman understand Carnatic music without much effort, the mass Mariyamma, Mariyamma... grabbed the attention of the 'elite' with ease. Thus, Ilayaraja acted as a great leveller in society with his music.

A follower of Ramana Maharishi, Ilayaraja is a regular visitor to Tiruvannamalai. His Ramanamalai is one classic gift from a sishya to his guru. His Thiruvasagam is a cultural crossover in which he blended Carnatic with Western classical effortlessly.

It would be no exaggeration to say that Ilayaraja is perhaps the only musician who can combine Thyagaraja with Beethoven, Kunnakudy with Michael Jackson and veenai with parai. They can be extremes, but they will gel well if they are in the hands of Ilayaraja.

For the past four decades, Ilayaraja has been exploring, extending and expanding the frontiers of music. The work he does would itself be like a meditation, say those who had a chance to see him from close quarters.

"The moment Raja sir enters Prasad Studios, the environment would automatically turn spiritual. It would be like Goddess Saraswathi herself composing music" - this statement was not made by one but many.

In fact, there is no dividing the spiritual and musical sides of Ilayaraja. Both are one and the name of the new form is Ilayaraja.

In an interview, the maestro says some of his compositions "are the reflection of the efforts of past lives — mine, or those of other musical exponents". Something as mystical as his music.

At the launch of Thiruvasagam album, Ilayaraja had said the project was made possible by the grace of God and 'if He so destines, then I will be involved in more such works'. It's already destined, no doubt.