Ilaiyaraja:Raja of Raagas-I

21 Jan

One of many reasons why Ilaiyaraja is considered a genius is because his songs are a perfect example for showcasing the beauty of a raaga. Take any song in a raaga, we can see that the song explores all the dimensions within a raaga within the 5 minutes of the song. Also, multiple songs in the same raaga do not sound same at all! It takes God-gifted genius to do this repeatedly for 3 decades! Many other great composers have also done this but the sheer number of raagas used by Raja (more than 120) places him in a higher pedestal. One of the seeds for this post was that I had a raaga-obsession every week when I felt like listening to specific raagas and invariably Raja’s song’s satiated my thirst the most.

Let’s see some raagas where the song composed by Raja is THE perfect demonstration of the essence of that raaga. I have also included a few raagas where other composers’ songs stand out as they too have done a wonderful job. Read it as Raaga-Song-Movie.

  1. HAMSADHWANI-Poo Mudithu-En Purushandhaan Enakku Mattumdhaan-Not a simple song (a relatively common raaga) as the notes touched by Raja are as usual complex but P.Jayachandran has sung it with alarming ease!
  2. KEERAVANI-Malaiyoram Veesum-Paadu Nilave-A very tough choice as Raja has composed a zillion Keeravani’s but according to me this one beats all. The maestro uses minimal orchestration in the charanams to show the genius of SPB. What a rendition!
  3. DHARMAVATHY-Meendum Meendum Vaa-Vikram-When I first heard this song a few years ago, I dismissed it as another love song but recently I went back to this and started loving it. This song is a sheer beauty oozing Dharmavathy.
  4. PANTHUVARALI-Enna Varam Vendum-Nandavana Theru-Panthuvarali is a very intense raaga and this song with a great tune and greater backing vocals presents Panthuvarali in all its splendour.
  5. CHARUKESI-Thaiyatha Thaiyatha-Thiruttu Payale-Composed beautifully by Bharadwaj and sung very well by Sadhna Sargam. Another equally good Charukesi is Aahista Aahista by A.R.Rahman from Swades.
  6. MADHYAMAVATHY-Kuyile Kuyile-Aan Paavam-A nectarine song that makes you imagine the countryside!
  7. SHANMUGAPRIYA-Thakita Thakita-Saagara Sangamam-A legendary song showing why SPB is one of the greatest singers ever.
  8. AMRUTHAVARSHINI-Thoongaadha Vizhigal-Agni Nakshathram-This song has become synonymous with the Amruthavarshini raaga. Raja has composed a few more in this raaga, KaathirundhaMalli and Vaanin Devi both of which are also very good. Not many composers have not touched this raaga as its quite complex.
  9. VASANTHA-Minsaara Kanna-Padayappa-The one song that shows that Rahman CAN compose classical tunes and do it very well too. This song is unique also because the 2 tunes in the charanams are different. If you don’t get goosebumps after hearing this song then there should be something wrong with you!

I will take up more songs in the next part of this post.

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One Response to “Ilaiyaraja:Raja of Raagas-I”

  1. sreekanth pothanis August 3, 2010 at 10:25 pm #

    really nice listing of raaga based songs.
    Off course Illayaraja is unparallel in using raagas in film music. But Rehman also has proved with lot of songs based on raagas like:
    Kannodu Kanbaadelaam in abheri
    margazhi poove hindolam
    and many more

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