Present-day music does not impress Ilayaraja

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“Music of this age does not impress me much. They are not making me feel anything new or teach me anything that I don’t know,” comments legendary composer Ilayaraja on present-day music directors.

Speaking to News Today during an event held at Ethiraj College for Women this week, the maestro shared a lot about music and more.

Q: In Tamil film industry, which vocalist’s voice do you think is very unique?

A: I see yesteryear actress Banumathi’s voice as one-of-a-kind. No one ever has even tried to imitate her vocals. Voices like Janaki’s or Susheela amma’s can be reprised by thousands of singers. Also, singers like Swarnalatha and my daughter Bavathaarini have unique voices. What is very more important is that their voices should be used to record songs that are meant for their style alone, or else it will be spoil it.

Q: Who is your favourite music director at present?

A: If I want to like music, it should take me to cloud nine. Not just for me, but anyone else. If a song fails to do that, please ignore that song completely. In that case, I don’t see even a single music composer do that in the present. Maybe, someone would evolve in the future, definitely not now. At the same time, I can show a number of legendary musicians from the past.

Q: Music directors of this age hardly make it to 100 movies. But your time was not like that. How did you feel when you reached your 100th film?

A: My 100th film was Moodu Pani by Balu Mahendra. When I started my career with Annakili, Balu Mahendra was making Azhiyaatha Kolangal. His next movie was Moodu Pani. By that time, I had already completed 99 films. That was my speed. It was more like a journey starting from Pannaipuram to Madras – before you know my 100th flick arrived just like we arrived quickly to Madras. There was nothing special to feel at the time.

Q: Which singer, who sung for you, made you admire them while recording?

A: During a song composition, all my concentration will be on my work. I give my soul to music and everything works automatically. In the midst of all this, any sincere musician would not have time to admire. Because it’s our job.

Q: Any challenging experience during a song composition?

A: Yeah. There are a few instances. I remember the making of Kaadhalin Deepam Ondru from Thambikku Entha Ooru. I was hospitalised and under bed rest after a hernia surgery. So, I was not supposed to sing. At the time, Panju Arunachalam immediately wanted a song to be recorded as the entire crew was waiting at Ooty, including hero Rajinikanth. I had to compose that song by whistling and sent the notes to my studio. During the recording and rehearsals, I would be available over phone call to make corrections. And when SPB and Janaki were recording, they practised the whole tune and sang it over the phone and I made the corrections. The song was made with whistles and phone calls only.

Santhosh Mathevan