''Music soothes our sorrows,heals our wounds and drives away our fears.''The power of music is always an insuperable proposition because it is divinity that forms the base for the evolution of music.Blessed are those that carry the spirit of music in their veins.Very few are there who do not have an ear for music.It is equally true that not all can compose tunes worthy of being heard and enjoyed. Every generation comes across one or two maestros making music that does not just reach human ears but moves deeper into the souls of men and women.
There were times when people's leisure hours were tied to radio programmes in the absence of television and its various channels.The musical melodies at bed time were the most cherished treasure of one's routine.The All India Radio with its Manoranjan and Geetmaala used to play the golden melodies of Mohammed Rafi,Mukesh,Mahendra Kapoor, Mannade and Latha Mankeshwar. It was a kind of assuaging music that made one prepare for a peaceful night's sleep.To think of those days itself would drive people to their nostalgic nerves.In Tamil until the middle Seventies the melodies of M.S.Viswanathan and K.V.Mahadevan in the form of sweet film songs would comfort every one, after a day's tough routine.Then came all of a sudden, some fresh tunes with an all inclusive rhythm of the rural breath.It was a pulsating beginning with unheard of musical notes turning the ears of the Tamil speaking lot, towards a totally different kind of aural experience. The song 'Machana Paathingala' from the film Annakkili reverberated everywhere making music closer to the Tamil soil. A new Tamil music director called Ilayaraja [prince] was born with a bang.
The objective of the article is not to list the films for which this great soul added the life supporting oxygen.But the intention is genuinely for inhaling once again the fresh air that came with the thousands of songs tuned by an extraordinary musical genius.I have no knowledge of the sum and substance of the 'swarams' [notes].Nor can I claim to be at least a bathroom singer.But I have my ears open for music as I have my passion for watching films.The music of Ilayaraja has made me enjoy and suffer the pang of sorrow. Who will say 'no' to his most enjoyable numbers like ''Ilamaiyenum Poongaatru''[Pagalil Oer Iravu], 'Ilayanila Ezhugiradhe'[Payangal Mudivadhillai] 'Sangeetha Meham'[Udhaya Geetham] and 'Thooliyile Aadavandha'[Chinna Thambi] all from the scintillating voice of SPB and the soothing melodies like 'Janani Janani' from 'Thai Mogaamigai ''Then Paandi cheemai- yile' from 'Nayagan' [sung by Raja himself] ''Poongathave Thaal Thiravai'' by Deepan Chakravarthi from Nizhalgal,'Rasaathi Uaana' from the mellifluous voice of Jeyachandran in 'Vaidhehi Kaathitundhaal' 'Kanne Kalaimaane'' [Moonraam pirai] ''Poove Poo chooda va'' from the movie bearing the same title and ''Ammavai Vanangatha Uyirillaiye'[Mannan] all from the vibrant voice of Jesudas, 'Ennai Thaalaatta Varuvaalaa' [Kadhalukku Mari -yadhai] from the penetrating voice of Hariharan and''Poutrippaadadi Penne'' from Devar Mahan .Who will refuse to dance for his numbers 'Aayiram Thaamarai Mottugale'[Alaigal Oivadhillai] ' Adi Rakkamma Kaiyathattu' [Thalapathi]'Aasai Nooruvagai' [Adutha Vaarisu] 'Paasamulla Paandiyaru' [Captain Prabakaran]'Ilamai Idho Idho' [Sagala Kalaa Vallavan] and his very first hit ''Machana Paatheengala?' [Annakkili]
Love duets of Ilayaraja like 'Medhuvaa Medhuvaa oru Kaadhal Paattu'[Anna Nagar Mudhal Theru] 'Maasi maasam Aalaana Ponnu'[Dharmadurai] ''Ore naal unai naan nilaavil paarthadhu' '[Ilamai Onnjaladugirathu] ''Andhimazhai Pozhigirathu''[Raaja Paarvai] and 'Enna Satham Indha Neram'[Punnagai Mannan] are a timeless musical treat.The other duet number 'Povouma Bulougam' [Chinna Thambi] from the immortal voice of Swarnalatha joining the clean singing style of SPB really takes us to newer zones.One of the duets that pierces through our emotional walls is the subdued and sorrow laden song ''Poongaatru Thirumbuma''from Mudhal Mariyadhai sung by Malaysia Vasudevan and S.Janaki.
The famous male voice melodies like 'Then Madhurai Vaigainadhi'[Dharmathin Thalavan] 'Oru Thanga Radhathil oru Manjal Nilavu'[Dharma Yutham by Malaysia Vasudevan] 'Nalam Vaazha Ennaalum' [Marubadiyum] and ''Manjam Vandha Thenralukku,''the most memorable song of SPB from 'Mounaraagam' starting from bass and moving casually to an amazing high pitch always keep ringing in our ears celebrating Raja's magnificent power of music. Some of the most powerful male numbers are 'Paadiparantha Kili'[Kizhakku Vaasal] ''Naan Paadaatha Paattugalille''[Dheiva Vaakku] and 'Kuyilapidhichu Koondiladachu' '[Chinna Thambi] sung by SPB. Songs like ''Annanenna Thambiyenna' '[Dharmadurai], and 'Oora therunjugitten' '[Padikkadhavan] both sung by Jesudas, would push people to a philosophical mood with a tinge of sorrow like M.S Viswanathan's' Annan Ennada Thambi Ennada' [Pazhani] and 'Annan Kaattiya Vazhiyamma' [Padithaal Mattum Podhuma] that we heard from T.M.Soundarajan's stentorian voice.
Almost all the songs composed by this exemplary musician remain closer to the hearts of many for one reason or the other.This is because of the ever enduring nativity spirit that constantly permeates through his musical compositions.There are a number of films that ran successfully, mainly for Raja's music, more than for other reasons.In some films all his songs were hits.To name a few,Chinna Thambi, Payangal Mudivadhillai,Udhyaya Geetham Vaidhehi Kaathirundhaal,and Agni Natchathiram belong to this category.
Ilayaraja can never be accused of ignoring talented new singers.But he always effectively used the grand singing of Jesudas,SPB and S.Janaki. The melody queen S,Janaki would have sung some of her best and most exalting songs under the musical composition of Raja. Specially reputed for her distinct high pitch,Janaki's soul making numbers like 'Paadava En Paadalai' [Naan Paadum Paadal],'Poovarsambu Poothaachu' [Kizhakke Pogum Rayil] 'Thaalaatum Poongatru Naanallavaa'[Gopura Vaasalile] 'Oorujanam Thoongidichu'[Mella Thirandhadhu Kadhavu] ''Vasanth Kaala Kolangal'' [Thiagam] and 'Azhagumalar Aaada'[Vidhehi Kaathirundhaal] carry a mesmerizing effect on the listeners.Among the other talents that Raja frequently encouraged were Swarnalatha who died young and Jensi whose 'En Vaanile Ore Vennila' [Jaani] is an eternal melody number.
There are a few extraordinary things to be said about Ilayaraja. He is a musical child born at the advent of the transition period of Tamil Cinema.He began his astounding show of music at a time when the mammoth star MGR was almost on the verge of his acting career. Hence Raja missed the opportunity for composing music for any movie of that legendary hero.Nor could he frequently utilize the clear and masterly voice of T.M.Soundarrajan. The one great song ''Kadavul Ninaithaan Mananaal Koduthaan''[Keezh Vaanam Sivakkum] deserves repeated listening. Raja and M.S.Viswanathan put up a combined effort to compose music for R.Sundarajan's ''Mella Thirandhadhu Kadhavu''. One can notice the sublime quality of his music on his calm and unruffled face.He displays no airs of the pride of an incomparable achiever.Like MSV he too made a modest musical parade during the harmonium days.The music of Raja has never been jarring because it has been an instinctive flow of sanctifying stuff emanating from divine destinations. Raja's prophetic perception of what kind of next musical move was in store for him and how he should churn it out, made him a venerable creator of leading musical tunes that would govern human hearts as long as this world lasts.His music kingdom has been established as per Godly designs and the extent to which his music will rule is perhaps far and wide as the spread of the kingdom of God.I think, I have said only a little about this exalting song maker and music composer.He definitely deserves a much better tribute than mine.But I earnestly salute his creative spirit.