Wednesday, April 26, 2006

1979-83 : The Raaja we felt ! Part-1

It was in this period (approx. between '79 to '83), the outstanding growth of IR happened.

Though his total seclusion from public appearance, interviews etc., also happened in this period , with the phenomenal growth at 40 plus films per year, IR was already ruling the TFM.

And he had settled in a significant way in the Telugu and Malayalam films also !

All the other old MDs were virtually fading away and even the new MDs had to struggle for their existence.

Film posters and LP covers etc invariably carried the faces of Raaja, which were not the cases ealier.

Music recording shops started mushrooming all over Tamilnadu, and a very big parallel industry got established ( which later grown into crores of rupeees turnover) and many associated job/business opportunity for a lot in rural areas also happened.

Musical hits like Kizhakke pogum rail, Sigappu Rojakkal, Mullum Malarum, Panner Pushpangal, Kazhugu, Salangai Oli, Moondram Pirai, Payanangal Mudivadhillai etc etc. registered a new generation of variety of music.

Which are significantly different in styles, formats, orchestration etc etc!

Also the whole lot of producers and directors etc had been assured of a new phenomenon "Quantity is not to affect the quality at all" !

In the ealier period, usually MDs used to highlight and give importance to one or two songs per film, for which "due care" for the orchestration etc will be done. Alternatively, the film shall be of some super star etc to get more such "better" songs.

But IR established the habit of "All Songs hit!"

Irrespective of the "star value" or "director value" etc, the "film value" became the criteria in song and orchestration effort!

All indicated one thing, that "IR is here forever".

( During these period, we indeed wrote a few letters to IR, but as expected we never got any reply from IR. Reasons may be many!

We realized the fact and resigned to the fate that IR is growing and people like us who are such a tiny spec of sand near the ocean of music, shall not disturb him anymore.

But one thing was for sure, that our love and affection and the respect for his music were growing exponentially along with each release of his film and the haunting songs and BGM scores he was inventing! )

But one thing always remained as a puzzle ! "How he is able to do all these ? "

I got the answer at a very late stage when I had the opportunity to visit him again for a few times during mid-eighties.

That I will tell later !

Monday, April 24, 2006

College Days : Part-2 : One More Glimpse !

It was end of 1978 (or beginning of 79, I don’t remember now), I had the opportunity of “Dharhsan of IR" again.

It was IR’s live musical programme at the Trade fair at Salem.

Amidst all tension of semester exam etc., still I decided to see the programme and after great efforts I got the ticket and attended that programme.

Even though I don’t remember now about the songs played on that day, a lot of IR's latest hits were played; particularly “thanni karuthiruchhu” (from "Ilamai Oonjaladugiradhu") by Malasia Vasudven stole the thunder of that day!

While the programme ended and National Anthem was playing, I used the opportunity to slip through the security system and climbed up the dias.

(I preferred to be "less patriotic" while all others stood in attention and singing, I was busy in finding the ways to rush to the dias; naturally, IR was more important than nation!)

Once the Anthem is over, I could say just Hello to him, but before talking further, policemen formed the security line and took him safely away from the crowd and he left!

So, a close encounter of shortest duration !

I could feel the truth that, “IR has really grown, and hereafter he is beyond our reach”.

Still, rather than disappointment, having seen him and enjoyed his songs on the live program stayed on my mind !

IR Memories - My College Days-Part-1

So many things happened in a very short span of first half of 1978!

The series of letters and the first personal one-to-one meet and finally the preview of Sattam En Kaiyil !

Nothing happened in a pre-planned way.

It Just Happened ! That's All !

Even in that period, IR would have been extremely busy ! In spite of that, what made him to spend those hours of writing or meeting ?

All these things point to one thing.

He is basically a good Human being with utmost sincerity and honesty towards his works and the people associated, valuing & respecting others, whomever they are, whatever the knowledge gap is !

Certainly, that period was to be considered as a watershed period in our life !

After that, suddenly, we also became busy in our own life, with college studies taking the importance and our time.

But IR memories and his music were always in our mind all the days and nights, alongwith all curricular and other activities.

Practically I can say, thereafter, every moment of our life is associated with some songs of IR in that period!

In fact, Shankar continued in Vellore with his studies and I returned to Tharamangalam (near Salem) for my Engineering studies !

Naturally, those were not the period of email and telephones !

So very rarely we were in touch with each other. But whenever the opportunity was available, we continued our IR discussions.

In those period, Radio was the main source and particularly, Vividh baarathy went on broadcasting the new releases one by one, the songs of which we already heard in IR's house.

I used to jump in joy and telling my family members to note the song and narrated our IR visit, our listening of that songs in his house etc.

During my Engineering college days at Karuppur (which is some 10 kms away from Salem), particularly during Saturdays, the second half was used to be free and I made it a point to visit Salem and to see any IR films newly released at that time.

Films like Ilamai Oonjaladugiradhu, Priya, Kizhakke pogum rail, Sivappu Rojaakkal, Mullum Malarum, etc. were such films seen by me at Salem theatres with all special efforts !

Of course, to stand in the que well in advance, you have to forego your lunch; (also you have to live with the fear of getting spotted by your seniors and ready to undergo ragging ! fortunately nothing such happened)!

I used to explain the storylines, dialogues and re-recording etc to my mother and sister of these new release films (which otherwise would come to my village after an year or so).

Slowly, my family members also got into the list of IR fans !

My grandmother, my mother used to analyse the raga of IR songs and thus my knowledge of raga list also started growing and my respect for IR was growing exponentially.

In the later part of 1978, during his last year of studies, Shankar chanced upon his second visit to meet IR.

This time through one of his friend, he could witness a song recording of IR.

That was a Telugu film called "Yugandhar" a remake of hindi film "Don".

That was the first Telugu film of IR, that also for NTR.

The song that was recorded on that day was the theme "Na Kosame Ne vachaaru" ("main hoon Don" equivalent).

I hope Sankar will one day blog that visit !

Friday, April 21, 2006

Extended Dreamy Moments - Sattam En Kaiyil

The surprise offer that came from him could not have been imagined by us by any standard.

As IR was moving out to see a film, he told us that two of us can accompany him !

We simply could not believe ouselves ! What's happening to us today ?!

Then it suddenly struck us that he was waiting for our reply to know who were the two to accompany him.

It was the greatness of Ram and Balu, that they immediately told IR, that Kumar (myself) and Sankar will accompany him.

The responsible Balu just asked IR where he had to pick us two after the preview, for which he replied that they can come to Mini-Anand !

Now it’s the time of extended dreamy scene for us !

Rather than the film we were going to see etc., the thought that we were going to spend some more time with this great person was fully occupying in our mind.

Then Karthik started to accompany his father, so he also urgently got ready and joined us.

Self and IR in the back seat and Sankar and Karthik (more or less in his lap) in the front seat, the ambassador started rolling to Mini Anand.

It was another pleasant surprise that the car of IR contained music system (which we never heard of before ! ) and our repeat listening to un-released songs continued in the car also !

Young karthik was so fond of “Poo pole, Un punnagaiyil” song, that he was repeating that song often in the tape of that car.

I vaguely remembered IR saying that it was from film "Kavariman", which was going to be the prestigious 200th film of Sivaji’s! (which I told many of my friends later, but after much anxious waiting, this film was so delayed for unknown reasons, and Thirisoolam took away the honour!)

So again I got the opportunity for thanking for the moment spent in his house and apologizing for the earlier letter etc, etc.

We reached the theater.

It was a mini- theatre with some of the VIPs already occupying the seats and patiently waiting for the other VIPs to arrive.

We took our seats and then asked him about the film to be screened. He told that it is “Sattam-En-Kaiyil”.

Then we immediately recollected, the previous Sunday edition of Dhinamani, wherein details about shooting of certain song sequence of this film had been published !

Then it dawned to our head that we were going to watch a film, which was never released so far, and that was the first screening ! Our mind also got chilled with the thought alongwith the body chill due to the AC effect in that compact small theatre!

All film luminaries were coming one by one and finally the tall "Vaani kamal" and her husband “Paramakkudikaarar” came.

Immediately after the arrival of Kamal. the film started.

We just asked IR sitting by our side, whether this film contained the song “Kadai thengaayo” and a kawwali type song “Mera naam Abdullah".

IR was so stunned saying that how we knew that!

We told him about our endeavour of regular updating of IR-knowledge through papers magazines etc! He was smiling !

After the screening started, we were totally trying to follow the re-recording and discuss within us in husky voice, which IR was watching.

After some half-an-hour or so, suddenly he whispered to us that he had to leave and we can continue viewing the film and said good-bye !

Though a shock, we had to accept that reality.

And IR silently left the hall, in darkness !

Thus came the end of a precious dream sequence of our life !

Moments that Stood Still ! - Part 2

Believe me, as explained earlier, other than radio, (and very rarely a few LP records of our friend), we never had the opportunity to hear songs in good music system in those period.

But the one we were hearing on that day was something really from heaven, the quality of system which we could not define by words.

The quality of music of those songs itself, that I need not express now to you, which you already know.

(some of you youngsters, might not had the opportunity of hearing them so hot and new the way most of the people of my age/period heard in radio and other media).

But the one we heard on that DAY was beyond comprehension!

Particularly, the Darling Darling song, the sound was springing from every side of the hall and playing hide and seek here and there, as the speakers were located separately.

Believe me, at that moment we didn't even know that this song was from Priya and the magic we were hearing was the result of marvelous stereophonic system and that's why emanating from different directions from different speakers ! Same is the case with the other songs also !

The time was flying like anything and already more than an hour had gone.

The fear & worry of ending of the meeting started haunting us.

Suddenly he went to the other room inside the house and disappeared for more than 10 to 15 minutes keeping us in suspense.

We were practically waiting for somebody to come and tell us to "get lost" as the time was over.

Meanwhile we were just exchanging some customary enquiries type of talk with the so called child Karthik, who was just moving in and around in that hall.

At this moment one additional information I would like to share (which I will again recall later also).

When IR was not in the hall, I just walked near the table where he was sitting and had kept the book which he had in his hand earlier. Oh God!

That was a voluminous music theory book, full of WCM notations and exercises.

I could not believe that this already famous person is still studying and learning with all those busy schedules ?!!

Anyway that book and notations permanently registered in my mind ! (which made me to search for WCM theories later in my life)

Then IR again re-appeared in front of us, now neatly dressed, in pant (bell bottoms !) and full hand shirt indicating that he is ready to move out.

So it was ringing in our mind that the inevitable ending had come.

But to our utter surprise, came his other "Offer" !

Moments that Stood Still ! : Part-1

To our utter astonishment, he was a simple person, short, smiling, in lungi and shirt, curly hair, a typical youth of 70’s;

In his hand was a thick bound book (which he might have been reading and interrupted by our visit) and a pencil.

It was a normal start with customary enquiries, and handing over of certain fruits and biscuits by us, and self introductions about us etc.

In between, like in any house, his wife and child were moving in around the house and talking to neighbours in the adjacent portion.

As she called the child by name, we came to know about Karthik, may be of 3 or 4 years old !

When he was ready to start talking, I first apologized profusely for our recent letter and explained him what we had in our mind in writing such letter. I requested him to ignore that totally.

To my utter relief and astonishment, he never uttered anything on that topic.

He totally diverted our attention to the new film songs he had recently recorded and started to play some of the songs from a cassette.

Those period cassette recorder itself was a great luxurious gadget.

What were the things we (self and Sankar) talked with him in the next half an hour or so, I have forgotten now.

But I could guess, by hindsight, that we might have exposed our ignorance of musical knowledge only !

But most of the time, apart from listening what we uttered, he was concentrating in playing many of his new songs one by one, which we were listening (and researching within our mind, some pattern, innovations etc. but with fear to utter, fear of being in front of a Mighty Man of Music).

Just I will list a few songs that remain etched in our memory !

  • Manjolai kilithano
  • Kovil mani osai thannai
  • En kalyaana vaibogam
  • Darling Darling Darling
  • Poo Pole un punnagaiyil
  • Aadudhu Ullam Aasayil Nenjam
  • Thenna marathile Thendral adikkuddhu
  • Melam kotta neram varum
  • Kaadhal ennum kaaviyam

At that time of hearing in his house , we didn’t know the film names of those songs.

We just listened that’s all; and remained awe struck !

Rather we were in a proud moment that

  • we were listening some songs of the famous composer by sitting with him, in his house,
  • whereas the outside world not even knew that such songs are going to hit and haunt them soon!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Darisanam Kidaikkaadhaa !

After nearly 30 years, so many things refuse to come to my memory.

Exact date I don’t remember now, but could have been a Sunday to suit our requirement. Could be last week of July'78.

At this juncture, I must remember with gratitude and thank Mr Ramkumar, (brother of Sankar), who enthusiastically arranged for the trip to Madras and also accompanied us.

He contacted his friend Mr Balu (who was working in SBI at Chennai at that time), who inturn contacted IR's house with the phone number given by us, talked to the concerned there, arranged for the meeting on the specific date and time and finally informed us.

Our journey started from Arcot in the famous bus no. 102 (I hope this number is still maintained for Arcot-Chennai trip !!) in the morning and around noon we were at Chennai and received by Balu.

The timing given to us by IR was 4 O’Clock, evening at his residence at Santhome.

Chennai was new to me (though I had spent my early childhood there in late 1960s). Balu has made excellent arrangement starting from food to auto, bus etc etc. He was our escorter.

We, (ie myself, Sankar, Ram and Balu) started to Santhome. No need to tell, how much we are filled with blood, adrenaline, etc etc with a lot expectations brimming in our mind !

Around 3 pm, we were in Santhome and, started searching the address i.e. 32-KMN Lane !

(Present Chennai residents, who read this, may like to check with the present resident and neigbours of this address etc, and can find out more about IR! Just some curiousity!)

It was nearly 40 minutes and still we could not find the address!

Most of the people asked for the expansion of KMN Lane which we could not explain !

Tension built up like anything with the fear that IR may cancel the meeting and go elsewhere or so and we may lose the lifetime opportunity.

Finally, as a god-sent messenger, we met the postman of that area, who was on the evening distribution of letters to the houses in that locality.

We told about IR and asked the address. He enthusiastically helped us in locating the street and residence.

And exactly 5 minutes to spare to the appointed time, we were in front of his house, where a black (or blue-black ?) color ambassador was parked.

You may not believe me, it was such a simple house (a rented house, that also a portion of the house, I say), where this famous person was living at that time !

Initially we were enquired about by his car driver, who went inside the house with our details and after some time, we were let inside the house and were seated in a small hall. Cool drinks served to us!

Some ordinary sofa and chairs and a table containing a big size Tape recorder and speakers (music system !) were there!

Quite possibly, that hall might be his living room itelf; where he might have just left the hall and gone inside the adjacent room to just get ready himself!

Then HE came!

Is the Paradise Lost ?

The response of IR in that 3rd letter was simply a jolt to me which indirectly tried to say “You too Brutus..!”

Though my aim was different (i.e. to get the maximum answers derived from him to explain his views to the world), I could guess that he might have taken all those questions seriously and presumed that these were coming from us directly etc .

Whether, I was not able to communicate properly, or he misunderstood us, whatever was the situation, damages had been done !!

(Somehow that was the last letter we ever received by us from IR!)

But, again see the best human side of this simple man !

He continued in the next para that but for the time availability, he could have written to invite us to witness his first ever film with stereophonic recording (first time in India!) viz “Priya” !

Oh God , what a golden chance was lost !

Anyhow, using the clue in his letters (that he would have invited us for the recording of Priya), I could guess that certainly we should meet him personally at Madras as soon as possible and convey our sincere apologies for the misgivings created by our last letter!

Thus, our first pilgrimage visit happened !

It was July1978 !

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Translation of Ltr-3 dt July-78

Dear Sankar, Kumar,

Whenever my films are released, I used to get some letters of reviews from my fans. I also usually wait for such letters from my selected fans with good observations!

But, your last letter was unfortunately different from usual letter and I was disappointed a little bit about that.

Though, I also glance “Bommai” regularly, I didn’t know that such a section is there in the journal “Bommai”.

What shall I do by writing replies to your letter ? Shall I have to sent it to “Bommai”? Please inform me.

Last week recordings of songs of film “Priya” (SPT films) took place.

Indeed, I was thinking to call some of my best fans to witness that recording.

I planned to invite both of you for that recording, but due to the lack of time to write letter, I could not do so! Bear with me!

What is important to note here is, the songs of this film have been recorded in Stereophonic system for the first time in India!

On 10th , I am going away for a recording of some Hindi film songs. I will be back by 16th.

Do reply,

Yours lovingly,


Letter-3 JPEG - July1978

Sequence Leading to Third Letter from IR

As you can see that in that 2nd letter, IR had expressed his anguish about such journalism and he didn’t want to waste his energy and time by answering such baseless articles !

Though I was extremely happy to get a reply from IR, but it was painful to know that IR was hurt in his heart-of-heart. (and I could even visualize that then after he would altogether withdraw himself from such interviews and journalists , which in fact had happened!)

As expected, journal "J", neither published my letter to them nor any such letters or articles from his other fans countering its earlier stance. Slowly, I realized that it was futile to expect such things from them.

Though IR had left out the matter as such, I could not leave it just like that.

So I started thinking that in appropriate forum of other journals, IR shall express his views to reach the audience about his hard works, his concepts of music etc etc.

In that period, “Bommai” was one such cine-based-journal which was more popular and a decent one.

Incidentally, I saw a new features started in that journal, in which, the fans can ask various questions to any famous personalities and they used to get the reply for such queries and used to publish!

Usually, I saw fans asking questions to famous actors/actresses. But I found that was the most appropriate chance for me to make IR speak out his heart.

So I painstakingly designed a model questionnaire containing a lot of questions (about his music and his views, approach etc.) which were normally raised by the common people as well as the journalists in their reviews in those point of time.

I sent that questionnaire to “Bommai” and also sent one copy to IR.
I believed I will certainly get some response from IR.

It was July’78!

I indeed got the reply letter from IR, but the response I got, shocked me ! But this time for different reasons !

(for actual letter, please click here)

(for translation, please click here)

Translation of Ltr-2 dt 16-Apr-78

Dear Sankar, Kumar,

I have read your replies to the magazine “______” . In fact, it is very much doubtful that even if I had written the replies, it could have come out well like yours!

I feel that, only with these kinds of fitting replies from real fans like you, we can make these journalists realize their mistakes, who are otherwise purposely, bent upon hiding the truth. Since they could not bear the heat of such letters from lots of fans, they are again trying to justify their stand through “Mr ______” in the next issue of their journal also. They say this will continue further! Please see the tone and tenor of those questions!

Some of the replies I have made (in the interview) are not available there! When he wanted my appointment for the interview I indeed refused them. However, his assistant told me that nothing wrong would be written, and then only I allowed them. While talking to me they were very nice. But later, they have written all these non-sense!

I don’t want to waste my time by writing to these journals! I won’t write in future also! To take care of these people, crores of my hardcore fans are there.

Above them GOD is also there! Let him take care!

Yours lovingly,


Monday, April 17, 2006

Letter-2 JPEG dt 16-Apr-1978

Sequence Leading to Second Letter from IR

In the year 1977 & 78s, Films of IR were started multiplying in leaps and bounds.

Even though, many of the songs were haunting, melodical and totally innovative, every alternative film of his was criticized by some section of people for some monotonous or something that could not be comprehended by them.

Critics of journals were happy to regularly predict his downfall quickly for each of his film released.

No doubt the comparisons were with the giant, colossal figures like MSV and KVM and the contemporaries like SG, VK and newcomers like Chandrabose etc.

But for us, IR was a man of no comparison whatsoever, and who was setting his own grammar/ idioms and phrases of music!

It was the year 1978, in which almost all of the leading magazines were publishing IR's photos on the cover page and were writing numerous articles, interviews, tit-bits etc about him. All journals were trying to utilise his raising fame to their advantages. Some did that in positive way, some in other ways. Certainly IR must be co-operating with all of those journalists community (which may be a strange thing to hear for many of you !)

It was in that period, April’78 to be precise, that the second incident happened which caused the second series of letters exchanged between IR & us !

It all started with an article in a magazine.

The new and popular journal of that period “J” (to avoid controversy, I am hiding the name of the magazine and the name of Critique, here in this write-up as well as from IR's letter) had a detailed article on IR by the famous critique of those period "Mr C", with IR photos on re-recording etc.

[People of that period who knows "C" and his writings can easily imagine, what could have been his writings etc. Only God knows, whom "C" will lift or whom he will put down on the ground and crash ! As I heard that time, one famous actress was virtually on tears regarding his writings in one of the magazine about her dance in one of the sabha. He never left out even famous Carnatic composer-cum- singer also ! ]

So, when heard about the article, I immediately purchased the weekly and started reading with so much tension in mind.

But when I completed reading I was with full of heat with my blood not just boiling but started to evaporate !

Though I don’t remember all its contents now, but in nutshell, the article was full of poison and spitting venom on IR and his works !

It even doubted his ability to compose, musical knowledge about raagams etc and even ridiculing his recording music saying that he could not even manage to get the music effect and swaras from his orchestra members !

As usual, he was raising many queries, about the prayogams of ragam and swarams etc with his flavory languages (like Kedharam-sedharam etc etc)! (Now, I can correlate such things with Modulation and other technical aspects of WCM, but then I was practically a Zero on WCM).

Mr "C" considered that IR, a talented man was wasting his energy in trying to do too many films at a time and compromising and sacrificing the basic requirements of music ! So many such bla-blahs!

It was such an article that I could not take it easily and forget, and I started writing a letter of very forceful, point-wise replies for all the accusations "C" has made and sent that letter to that journal.

Incidentally, since IR’s address was available from his earlier letter, I marked a copy of that letter to IR with a request to IR asking him to write a strong letter to that journal, immediately refuting all those allegations, as all the fans should be told about the truth.

To my astonishment, I got a very quick and prompt reply letter from IR!

A single page letter, dated 16-Apr-78.

(for actual letter, click here)

(for translation of letter-2, click here)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Translation of Ltr-1 dt 16-Mar-78

Dear Sankar & Kumar,

Thank you very much for your letter.

1. You have indicated that the TMS version of “Annakkili” has the interlude which has resemblance to some English tune. But every single bit of the music for that film came from by blood. What you have indicated is very much wrong.

2. You have asked me to take some actions regarding the songs to be broadcast in the Radio. I have no time even to compose. All these shall be taken care of people like you.

3. Please listen to songs of “Thunai Iruppal Meenakshi”. No other song can equate “Sugamo Aayiram”. I feel, it has not got the right place it deserves!

4. The guitar bit in “Devan Thiruchabai” is my composition. “Sholay” came only yesterday. About 10 years back, in one of the Kannada film under the GKV, I have already composed similar such bit and played myself. But, anyhow, my fans may not be knowing all these. OK

5. Annakili, Kavikuyil, Badrakali, Pen Jenmam etc. – I can’t understand what you want to say. You have said don’t compose tune to songs like “Hoy Mama”. I feel that song is an excellent one. Please listen again.

6. You have advised me that I shall do the hard work like “16-Vayadhinile” for all the films. Please remember one thing:

I give importance and do the hardwork for all the films in the same fashion. If the film is hit, then my hardwok is noticed. Otherwise, it just get drowned as if in quicksand.

Uravaadum Nenjam, Deepam, Gaayathri, Katrinile Varum Geetham” etc. in all these films, I have done re-recordings which are different from each of these films, and that also, even before anyone can think of attempting like them.

In the film “Uravaadum Nenjam”, upto the intermission I have just used the minimum instruments like 2 Violins, 1 viola, 1 cello and 1 Base;

and in “Gayathri” not even single violin is used;

In “Deepam” and “Katrinile…”, I have used full orchestra ;

All these efforts of mine with different way of handling of instruments shall show that I am taking equal care and hard work in all these films.

In the film “Kaatrinile..”, I have used a new instrument called “Recorder”, which no other MD is using.

Even in the films yet to be released also, you are going to hear the new effects and sounds of even the existing usual instruments.

I am always working hard to satisfy my fans who come with a lot of expectations by seeing my name in the title, so that I don’t disappoint them ever.

So please change your opinion.

7. Even though I increase my “price” to decrease the films to be signed, they never leave me. What can I do ?

8. I won’t count how many members are going to play in my orchestra, but count only the total effect. It should be different.

9. Happy that (atleast !) songs of “Odi VIlayadu Thatha” are different !

10. “Kannan Enna Sonnan” and “Manjal Araikkum” – I have given the same type Rhythm for both the songs. So It won’t sound different. Are the songs different in their effect ? Then Leave me !

11. “Athai Magal” – No use of counting its for 4th time, 5th time etc. When the producers are asking for such songs what can I do ?

12. 3rd Attempt. You have written about usage of “Voices” in re-recording. You shall see “how” I have used them, that’s more important!

13. There is no connection between Love theme of “Thyagam” and “Mariamman

Thank you for all your comments. Please do write to me. But I cannot assure that I will answer them. I am hard pressed for time. Since you have written such a lengthy letter of lots of pages, I am replying now.

I have sent the photos. Please confirm receipt of them.

Always wishing your love !


Find somebody else who are knowledgeable to be your “Guru”. I am not having that qualification in this life.


Friday, April 14, 2006

Letter-1 JPEG : Page -1 & 2

First Letter : 16-Mar-1978

It was March’78.

And one fine morning at Arcot, Shankar’s brother ( my another cousin, Ram kumar), came flying in his bicycle with a postal envelop in his hand.

He was so excited that he was practically yelling at me that “you both better go to Madras now itself”.

I could not make out head or tail from what he was trying to say!

But when he handed over the letter and I opened the letter, I was absolutely stunned!

It was a 3 page letter, the letter from IR, dt 16-Mar-78, self written in his beautiful hand writing! Shell shocked I was !

I never knew what was the content of the letter sent by Shankar;

but now I was reading IR’s point by point replies to that letter !
(for the actual letter, click here )

(for translation, click here)

(Though much later, I could make it out that this may be Shankar’s work and could guess the likely queries/ observations he would have made in the letter, sequel to our internal discussions at various point of time on IR’s music ! )

Anyhow, It was the treasure in our hand!

Shankar was forced to come on that week-end holidays, just to show this letter !

The letter was read and read and read and……!

How many times we were reading that letter repeatedly, I could not count !
Again I want to reiterate that we were simply ordinary fans who could just appreciate the song for the song that’s all !

We never had extra technical knowledge on music nor we contemplated to acquire such knowledge and experience !

So the queries were staright from our heart and IR has equally reciprocated to his ordinary fans!

It was such an elaborate reply, point-by-point, showing all kinds of his feelings, straight from his heart; just like talking to his fans !

The firmness, politeness, disappointment, laughing at our ignorance, patience to explain, his strategic thinking, etc etc !

All the emotions and feelings he wanted to convey got permanently registered in our mind for ever!

These are still valid for even today's situations!

From that day onwards, we simply became his worshippers!

Then onwards, He started living in our mind and heart! Forever!

Then onwards, any song of him reminded a face very close to our heart !

Any song of him, reminded us the sincerity and hard work he expressed in his letter !

Every song reminded us about the innovations he was trying to incorporate and tried to reach the common people like us !

Every time certain songs were not appreciated for the innovative contents of it, We could visulalise the agony which IR may be having !

We could not believe even today, somebody of IR’s stature and calibre, (at that period, though new, he was the most sought after MD of TFM), can still say that “I am not having the qualification to become your Guru in this life!"

That's IR !

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Raja We Felt in 1977-78 : Part-2

That we could notice IR’s innovations and experiments in those period itself was the boon or god-send-gift to me and Shankar.

Again it was Shankar who used to come with all such observations and I used to supplement them with my observations and interpretations !

Innovations like,
  • new form of music,
  • lengthy interludes/preludes,
  • modified pallavi charanam formats,
  • introduction of new musical sounds/effects,
  • a lot of support instruments playing their own melodies alongwith songs (it took 20 more years to understand that these are called harmony/ counter-points) etc.
The list will be never ending !

Now, you may say, what’s big about that ? IR was always like that only !

See, in those period, IR’songs were generalized and branded as the “Gramathu dappanguthu” and pundits were as usual predicting that this new comer cannot sustain more than a couple of films !

“Kettele Ange” was just compared with “Machaana Paartheengala” !

Unfortunately, following Annakili’s success, a lot of village based movies started swarming the TFM and a lot of other MD’s were also forced/adopted plagiarizing of village based instruments in the name of folk songs.

Really it was a hell !

And now you can realize, how IR could give totally different music with convictions in all the films that followed Annakili in 1976 and 77. But many old timers and hardliners of that period (fans of previous era MDs like MSV, KVM, etc) never beleived that !

We could observe his fraction of seconds harmonized music coming in between the voices and his efforts to bring out such things and make them stand-out in the absence of track recordings facility in those years.

Listen to those string and flute bits etc carefully in “Vizhiyile Malarndhadhu” coming in between the pallavi lines !

Even though he knew such things would get drowned in the chorus and voice of singers, he had taken pain and harmonized the melody and put those counterpoints !

But still what many could not digest in those period was his modulations in songs!

The sudden change in Sarod type instrument in the second interlude of “Vaanathu Meen Ena” song of Vattathukul Chaduram, the beyond comprehension chromatic interludes of “Pesaadhe Vayulla Oomai nee “ of Deepam, or the intderludes of “Then malli poove” of Thyagam etc are some examples !

Believe me, even it got me puzzled, ( as a common listener, paamaran, without much musical knowledge on technical side) that, “why at all, some talented fellow like him, could suddenly, un-conventionally change the shruthi / raagam of music like this ?

Though later on repeated hearings, we could develop our tastes and started liking those "things", it was very very dangerous experiments as far as TFM music of those period was concerned !

In nut shell, like many of the common music listener, we approached IR’s music and had a lot of observations to make and discuss with each other !

Nothing big or technical about that !

But one thing I didn’t know was, that Shankar, during 1978, (who was in his Vellore PT hostel), had time to write a very very lengthy letter on all these finer points with the intention of sending to IR !!!

And he had atlast got some address of IR from one of the film magazine and had the courage to send the letter to that address and forgot that ! This also he never told me !

Thus started the Shower of Surprises in our life !

The Raja We Felt in 1977-78 : Part-1

It was middle of 1977 !

Again it was the fate or destiny that made me to move to Sankar’s house in Arcot for my pre-university studies ! But unfortunately Sankar had moved to Vellore for his poly-technical studies.

It was few week ends in a month we used to meet together at Aroct and listen and discuss IR’s films and songs !

Let me share some of the thoughts we had in that time !

The songs of Bairavi, Durga Devi, Mariamman Thiruvizha, Thunai Iruppal Meenakshi, Odi Vilayaddu Thaatha, Saindhaadamma Saindhaadu etc etc were the rage in those period for us.

I remember almost all of those IR’s films were in B&W. Only later came the colorful (!!) 16 Vayadhinile and their sequels etc.

Stereo / Track recording etc are not the name commonly heard of ! Somehow, IR’s re-recordings started getting the attentions of everybody !

There were some additional reasons also for that !

Due to the competition, various new magazines like Idhayam, Kungmam etc which were started newly in those years. Also main magazines like Ananda Vikatan, Kumudham etc had to improvise a lot in various sections of their magazines to prove their worth and existence.

And Film reviews were one such section which rightly assumed its importance in the magazines.

New generation writers/critiques/ review writers were emerging and these people paid a lot of attentions to the technicalities of films which were not known to common man. Thus allocating marks for various departments of films also started !

Thus re-recordings and songs also got a lot of attentions in the film reviews than ever before ! Thanks to those critical reviews and atentions, IR’s innovations were instantly noticed by everybody of that generation !

Again, in those period, everybody had to mainly depend upon the radio only for such TFM songs. LP records were the other alternative which only certain affluent people could afford.

Cassettes & its recorders were considered as the new-age hi-fi systems and were available to hi-fi people only who had connections with Singapore etc,
What I am trying to say, in spite of all these limitations and the obvious resulting constraints (that people cannot get hi-tech music, etc.) IR was still experimenting all his innovations in music in each of his film and each of his songs.

Had such gadgets (as we are using now) were readily available with mass in those times, many more people would have easily observed and appreciated IR's innovtions at that time itself.

But Still, IR could rule the mass with his songs reaching the hearts of people right through, whether his technicalities are understood or not by them !

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

It's Ooty All the way !

During that summer vacation of 1976, we decided to go for Ooty (my Chithi’s place) alongwith Shankar.

Though all the usual stuff of Ooty like sight seeing and films etc were carried out with our limited resources, the flower show (82nd show) of botanical garden was the targeted attraction for Shankar as he had found out from various posters in the town, that IR with his Orchestra was going to perform on that day !

As usual I was indifferent towards his enthusiasm, as any kind of musical orchestra would have satisfied me !

The D-day came ! There was heavy rush when we reached the Venue and we had to sit in the lawn very far away from the podium. Still we could see the members of orchestra reasonably clear !

That’s our first “darisanam” of IR, the youth, who was swaying the TN to his tunes of Annakili and Badrakali!

The program started with “Devan Thiruchabai Malargale” with Poorani & Indira (who were performing a lot of other songs also) ! I don’t remember the main female singers and only could guess now, the name of Sasirekha . Male voices were represented by Gangai Amaran, Sai Baba, Malasia Vasudevan and of course IR himself. As could have been guessed, IR’s songs were limited at that time and mostly the songs of MSV, KVM etc were performed by them.

IR was all the times at his Synth on the front right corner of the stage, and performing flawlessly all those pieces. I could recollect my tension moments in watching him singing “Poo vizhi vasalil” from Deepam. Tension because, he was so much concentrating on playing the synth, that I sincerely believed he was going to miss his portion of the song. But to my astonishment, he was picking the microphone on his side exactly on time and moving the same nearer to his mouth and let the Jesudas lines out , in micro second precision and again back to his synth very seriously !

It was a treat to watch ! That was the first time I heard his personal voice !

I remember the songs of Anandha Then Katru (manipoor mamiyaar), Nadhamennum Kovilile, Manaivi Amaivadhellam, Kadavul Amaithu vaitha medai etc.

Finally came the announcement that IR’s ‘recently’ composed song (unreleased) for “16 vayadhinile” to be performed by the new comer “Malasia Vasudevan”. Then came the scintillating “Aattukutti Muttaiyittu”. In those period 16 vayadhinile even before its release made a controversial popularity with Kamal’s new role of Chappani in Semi-nude pose with “Kovanam” in most of the magazines at that time.

The programme came to an end with the song of MV and GA who got into full swing with their evergreen “Surangani Surangani” and the whole audience going on rampage!

Anyway, that was the day which changed my life !

There was no other options but to listen and watch this gentleman IR’s songs wherever and whatever it is ! I cannot reason for the change of the chemistry in my brain !

But I remain always grateful to God (and Sankar of course) who gave me those opportunities !

Where and How it started?

That was my "16- Vayadhinile" period ! The year being 1976 !

First time I heard the “Machaanai Paartheengala” in a musical programme organized for the Mariamman Festival of my village (Tharamangalam of Salem District). Usually it’s a week long festival every year where the whole village has nothing to do except participating in the festival with guests and relatives. The schools are also declared holidays for a week !

Every night of those 7 days are ear-marked for some variety programmes like Nadaswaram, drama, devotional music, film music etc. At this age I could not recollect which orchestra performed that song, but I “heard” that was a hit song of that year in Tamil Nadu.

When I say I “heard”, it’s a fact and I am not exaggerating; my attention to Raja was only to that limit !
When I heard first time "Machhanai Paartheengala", even I was not fully aware that song was by Raja ! CSR and so Indifferent to IR ??!! That was true !

I have to digress a little bit to explain all these !

My initiation into film music in a serious way, to be specific, in Hindi film music (HFM) was from way behind 1968 or 1969! Though I used to hear all those Tamil film music songs of that period in the radio, I was not an addict to TFM. I remember the regular fight for radio between me and my sister/other family members with my choice being for Hindi Ceylon and their choice being obviously Trichy / Madras and Tamil Ceylon stations etc !

My initiation to TFM was due to my uncle Ramakrishnan (TVR) who was then a school teacher in Mettur and was a part of the local orchestra team of Mettur Chemicals.

But it was Sankar (my sister Usha’s husband) (who was studying in various schools of North Arcot district) who was the main reason for my sustaining & growing interest in TFM. He was an ardent SPB fan. He regularly introduced me the SPB-MSV hit songs etc of those period say early 1970s. We used to meet occasionally during our school vacation holidays. That was the time for analyzing and discussing our likes and dislikes of various Hindi and Tamil film songs.

It’s the vacation holidays of 1976 which I can recall as the starting point of my association of Raja’s musical memories!

As usual, Sankar was at my village for annual holidays. The way Sankar explained with enthusiasm about Raja’s initial few films, had made some strong impressions in my mind about Raja being the young new comer in TFM. Slowly some of the songs like Oru Naal unnodu oru naal, Kettele ange, Poo vizhi vaasalil etc and other songs of Annakili all got some place in my mind.

However, the HFM still remained a strong preference even though the declining standard of HFM with fading away of RD Burman, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, etc were worrying me a lot at that time.

With this background, the inevitable or fate or destiny whatever you may call it, that happened!


Dear friends,

Our family has been hardcore fans of Isaignani Maestro Ilaiyaraaja (or rather devotees I should say) ever since his music started pervading Tamilnadu in 1976.

Today, I have started this blog to share with you the beautiful moments I cherish from my meeting with him way back in 70s and 80s.

I will post my experiences and feelings in a series of posts.

Your comments are most welcome.