Mottai Boss

No, this is not the Sivaji “mottai” boss I am talking about. This mottai is known to Tamils all over the world. He has mesmerized them with his notes. Yes I am talking about Isaignani Illayaraja, “mottai” for those who love him and the Big Boss of music to me. Any number of ARR, Harris, Himesh and others can pitch in and provide good music to our ears but it is Illayaraja who can give life to a movie. The greatest hits that Tamil cinema has seen over the years include Nayagan, Anajali, Thalapathi, Mouna Ragam and many more and IR has played a very important role in their success. I am not talking about the songs alone, it is the BGM he has scored for these movies.

When it comes to Mouna Ragam who can forget the famous BGM played whenever karthik does some naughty thing and the same BGM played slowly can bring tears to your eyes (when karthik dies). Karthik comes out after getting beaten up by the police, revathi looks on…there goes the slower tone of the BGM with violins…Then karthik winks his eyes and runs away…same BGM in a faster note…Audience in all smiles..

And Nayagan? Well “Thenpandi Cheemayilae” is still one of my favorite song and that’s an evergreen BGM anyone would have listened to…

Its first the chorus, then the big violin (don’t know the exact name, you have to place it on the floor to play it) and then few more violins…Maniratnam has no dialogues for the scene and with this music the audience understands what the kid feels in Anjali and the agony of the parents.

The same big violin music is still ringing in my ears from the court scene of “Padikkadhavan” when sivaji sitting as a judge comes to know about his brothers. Who can forget the first computer music in “Punnagai Mannan”. The love theme song is undoubtedly one of the best theme music ever produced and it is still famous.

The “Chinnathayaval” song from Thalapthi which in itself is a great one, when used as a BGM whenever Rajini sees his mother…can’t get any better.

Going to a registrar office only to find out that he is going to be a witness of the marriage of his love, Kamal gives an awesome performance in Aboorva Sagodharargal…and when his mother argues to Mouli saying the girl has not married a disabled person, kamal’s expression changes and starts walking away…Behind these scenes its IR who is doing the magic with this violins. Another unforgettable BGM…

There are 100s of such BGM’s we can talk about. And I don’t have to talk about his songs. Rakkama Kaiya Thattu from the movie Thalapathi was amongst the songs listed in a BBC World Top Ten music poll. I think that says it all. Gifted are those Violins, flutes and the pianos…

I think we have not given the right amount of recognition for this genius. If I am not wrong, he has been given national award only once (for Sindhu Bhairavi) and I feel he deserves a lot more. With today’s technology it is probably pretty much easy to compose with multi track recording where you can first record the male voice, then the female voice and then the music part and later mix them up. Imagine IR’s days where every one needs to be present in the studio, be in sync and finish off a song in a stretch. That takes a lot of talent, co-ordination and patience too.

He is scoring for very few movies these days but he sings in his son’s(Yuvan) movies. I just want him to live longer so that I can at least listen to his voices, if not his scores.

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