Raja Sir, as the Tamil music industry fondly calls him, started his movie journey in a film called Anarkali. Working along great lyricsts like Kannadasan,Vaali, Vairamuthu, he has till date composed over 5000 songs that has turned out to be massive blockbusters and also a wave of addiction for his songs. Additionally he has won four national awards for the music category, the highest award one can give to an Indian in films and also the Padma Bushan award by the Govt of India.
Some of his other titles given by his colleagues include “Isaignani Ilayaraja” and “The Maestro” , something that is completely apt to him. The most famous films that he has composed music include Nayakan, Thalapathi, Karakaatakaraan and the ever beautiful Mouna Raagam. These films had title tracks that were so haunting and intense that single handedly won the movie’s success. When BBC conducted a poll in 2003 for the most popular songs, Raakamma Kaiyyathattu was selected by the people as one of the top 150 songs
He’s not only a music director but also an instrumentalist, conductor , singer and also a song writer. Apart from film music, Ilayaraja has had his attempts on various types of other music as well including folk, western, classical and fusion.
In 1993, he collaborated with the Royal Philamonic Orchestra and composed a complete symphony, a first by an Indian .His knowledge and deep understanding of the music including classical & Carnatic music enabled him to create a lot of synergy in his songs. He had a definitive style statement that other composers couldn’t really bring out. The variation in his music , simplicity and even more catchy tunes were some of the highlights in his music
Additionally he composed three other non film albums, How to Name it and Nothing but Wind, which was highly recieved by his fans and critics as well. The third one was his pet project and something he cherished composing it and it was none other than the great Thiruvasagam. Being a huge devotee of Lord Shiva he wanted to attempt composing music for Thiruvasagam written by the famous poet Manickavasagar.
A.R.Rahman , the Oscar award winning music director, incidentally joined Ilayaraja’s troupe as a pianist and finally branched out to compose music on his own
Though an impossible task ,if I were to list some of my most favourite tracks or films it would be Thalapathi , Nayakan, Mouna Raagam, Pathinaru Vayathinile, Neethane En Pon Vasantham, Salangai Oli, Virumaandi and Mannan