Balki, Hariharan Honour Ilaiyaraaja The Boundless Composer

Gnanathesikan, known to the entire world as  Ilaiyaraaja has  composed more than  7,000 songs  in  nearly 200 films in Tamil  Telugu and other languages.

R Balki who is  the only contemporary  Hindi filmmaker who has coaxed Ilaiyaraaja to crossover  from the South to  North Indian cinema in Cheeni Kam , Paa  and  Shamitabh  pays rich  tributes  to  his most favourite  music composer .

Speaking exclusively  Balki says, “What are  my thoughts  on him? I don’t have thoughts on him. My thoughts are all about him. Like I always tell him he grows younger every year. That’s because his body composition is 98 percent music… 1.9 percent water .. and 0.1 percent everything else.  Happy birthday ,Music!!!!!”

Kamal  Haasan  who has had the privilege of working with  Ilaiyaraaja innumerable  times also had the rare privilege  of singing for the Maestro, and that too at just half an hours’ notice .It all happened in a flash. The team of  the   film Happi featuring Pankaj Kapoor  in  the  title  role  was   in Chennai to record  Ilaiyaraaja’s  composition titled Zindagi Dish written by Jaideep Sahni. Ilaiyaraaja  was not getting what he wanted.The singer who was assigned to do the job wasn’t getting it right.

“Get me Kamal on the phone,” Ilaiyaraja commanded his assistant.Within an hour Kamal Haasan reached the recording studio in Chennai and in half an hour the ‘ditty’ deed was done.

The song that Kamal Haasan  sang  was  for the Pankaj Kapoor starrer Happi which was  a tribute to Charlie Chaplin.And Kamal Haasan is a diehard Chaplin fan. But the real incentive for rushing in where other professional singers tremble to venture was his ardent devotion to Ilayaraja.

 When  I had  spoken to  Kamal Haasan after  the recording  said, “My respect for certain people goes beyond the work place.Shivaji Ganesan, K. Balachander and Ilayaraja are to me, idols.And if they call I run. As simple as that. Ilaiyaraaja to me is   the God of music. There’s nothing he  can’t do.”

What Kamal  Haasan  said  9 years ago remains true  even today. Singer Hariharan has just recorded  the immortal  lines of the  8th Century poet-thinker    Saint  Thirumangai Alvar as composed  by Ilaiayaraja.

Says  Hariharan, “I’ve recorded  innumerable songs  for Ilaiayarja Sir. His  spirit remains  unflagging. I just sang for him the 5,000 years old  scriptures  by  the Saint Alvar.”

Almost for sure Ilaiayarja’s music will be remembered  5,000 years  from now.