The Maestro, the Genius, the King of South Indian film music.. Music that makes people want to listen to every waking moment. Music that gets people through their life, through ups and downs, through love, joy, happiness, heartbreaks, death, loneliness. You name it and he has a song associated with it. Songs that will make you experience the emotion and get through them.
Today was the first time I really thought of what his music is to me.
It is music that got associated even before I could talk. The music which I listen to for no reason. The music that I have never claimed to love or be a fan of or place on a pedestal. It is just there..it is the only playlist I have on my phone. It is not the roti-paneer mom makes once a month that is highly appreciated but the rasam sadham or curd rice mom makes everyday which isn’t appreciated that much yet slurped off the plate with comfort and satisfaction.
When Mahesh asked what we associated with Illayaraja I realized I had typed a comment that had got nothing to do with his music but more of his association in my life. Of how Illayaraja was introduced into my system. Of my father who is a huge fan. Of tape recorders and cassettes and all the good things a 90s kid can remember.
This post is going to have more about my dad than the Maestro himself as every memory I associate with is because of my dad 🙂
The first memory that comes to my mind when I think of Illayaraja?
The memory I associate apart from all the times his music has comforted me or helped me when I am sitting far away from home is my dad and his love for music. I grew up with tape recorders and many cassettes that contained MSV and illayaraja songs that had been recorded from from time to time. Each cassette would have a small paper with the handwritten list of songs in it. And my parents used to listen to every cassette on a regular basis. My father would play some more than once to make me identify the Ragam or tell me an anecdote he had read about how SPB or Jaya Chandran or Susheela amma had done the recording or something he associates with the song or movie himself. He made me imagine this Maestro in my head, every story would have me imagine a singer wearing headphones , in front of a mike and Raja sir moving his hands with two sticks in his hand.
Most cherished cassette we own: How to name it
The Family song: Rasathi Unna This song is called our “family song” i.e. we have to sing it if we ever get lost in a fair :D. This is my dad’s most favorite and he has a recording of teaching me this when I was two-year old. I have memories of mashing this and this in more than one stage with my dad (and we called it remix :P) .
The “Ponnu paatha” song: Eeramana rojave This is a lovely sad love song. The story associated was that my dad sang this when he met my mom for the first time 🙂
*Ponnu paatha: Seeing a girl before getting married.
The lullaby song : Kanne Kalaimaane Yet another timeless brilliant piece that brings out intense emotions in me. Again was sung to me by Appa 🙂
Just instruments: The brilliant musician who(to me and Appa) made people start appreciating background scores as well. SInce I couldn’t choose just one : BGM
Other favorites: Thumbi vaa, Meendum meendum vaa, Suvvi suvvi, Valaiosai, raasaave unna nambi, Naan oru sindhu,.. the list goes on and it is impossible for anyone to pick few favorites from thousands of his compositions. Blessed are those who grew up with his music and who grew up learning to appreciate him. Yet another “you kids now will never know” moment for me 🙂
The final punch: I have had suspicions that my name came from this song Janani Janani , another of my dad’s favorite. Though my parents have been dodging the question and keep saying that they had other reasons , I strongly suspect that this was a major influence. And hey how many can say they have a song in their name composed and sung by a legend? So yeah.. I was named after a song composed by the Maestro !!
Happy Birthday Illayaraja sir..may your music touch many more generations to come!
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