80 years of Ilaiyaraaja: 10 fascinating facts about the Indian music maestro you must know

By: FPJ Web Desk | June 01, 2023

As the ace composer and the pride of South Indian cinema turns 80 on June 2, we bring you ten quick facts that you must know about Ilaiyaraaja, if you aren't acquainted to his genius yet

Born as Gnanathesiken on June 2, 1943, Ilaiyaraaja sought training in music under the guidance of Dhanraj master, after he was unable to continue schooling owing to financial constraints

His songs have always subtly hinted at caste politics, with he himself hailing from a Dalit background. As per school records, his name is Daniel Rajaiya. His family was converted from Christianity to Hinduism

As one of the first Asian musicians to debut on Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, he penned the symphony within a month

He forayed into Hollywood with 'Love And Love Only', helmed by Indian-Australian director Julian Karikalan

He is one of the first musicians to deploy the use of African beats in his compositions

Known for his command over Carnatic music, he invented his own raaga called the Panchamukhi

He has over 7000 songs across four decades to his credit, having featured in over 1000 films

A recipient of five National Awards, he has also been confered with the Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibushan

The maestro shares his birthday with his long-time collaborator and filmmaker Mani Ratnam. The duo have worked together in 'Nayakan' 'Mouna Ragam' and 'Thalapathi'. The song 'Rakkamma Kaiya Thattu' from 'Thalapathi' made it to the BBC World Top Ten list

American act Black Eyed Peas sampled Ilaiyaraaja's ‘Unnakkum Ennakum’ from the film 'Sri Raghavendra' into the composition of their 2003 hit single 'The Elephunk Theme'

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