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The Tamil music maestro and his gems

Ilaiyaraja is a household name for Tamils all over the world. A highly acclaimed composer, lyricist and writer, he has been in the South Indian film industry for over 30 years producing around 4500 songs to date.

Any Tamil person, asked to name their favourite song by Ilaiyaraja, will probably not be able to limit their choice to just one composition, such is the range and quality of his output. He has covered such a vast range of genres and moods which appeal to a wide audience.

Ilaiyaraja mastered many musical forms from carnatic to folk and western music.

Normally referred to as ‘Isaignani’, a man who is a music expert, or Maestro, he has won 4 National Film Awards and the coveted Padma Bushan Award from the Government of India.

His music can only be described as a continuous sequence of instruments punctuated with genius interludes with many layers and interwoven with the singers’ voices which make up the perfect musical tapestry.

We will regularly feature one of Ilayaraja’s gems with a video/audio link for you to enjoy. The first in this series is one of Ilaiyaraja’s unforgettable gems is ‘Aagaya Vennilave’ from Fazil’s 1990 blockbuster hit ‘Arangetra Velai’.

Set to the notes of Darbari Kanada, a grave raga usually played at night and known for its potential of profound emotional impact, it is a duet describing (using plenty of metaphors relating to the moon, a woman’s beauty and musical instruments) intimate moments shared by the hero and heroine of the film.

Uma Ramanan and Yesudas showcase their excellent musical abilities and render the lyrics with amazing emotion which elevate the song to another level.

The song is peppered with understated raga improvisations and plenty of haunting sitar and violin pieces.