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Happy Birthday Ilaiyaraaja: Glance at earliest days, career, personal life, awards won by musical legend

June 2 marks the 80th birthday of Indian cinema's most noted and eminent musical legend Ilaiyaraaja. On his birthday, we look at his early life, career, awards and more of the musical legend.

Happy Birthday Ilaiyaraaja: Glance at earliest days, career, personal life, awards won by musical legend vma
First Published Jun 2, 2023, 7:30 AM IST

Ilaiyaraaja is best known for iconic songs like Ae Zindagi, Surmayee Ankhiyon Me, and Jaane Do Naa. Ilaiyaraaja is the first Asian composer to score a symphony and a critically acclaimed Indian film composer, vocalist, and lyricist. It is the multi-talented Indian musical icon's 80th birthday today.

In a career spanning more than 30 years, he has composed over 4,500 tracks and provided film compositions for more than 900 Indian films in various languages. He holds a gold medal from the Trinity College of Music in London. June 2, marks his 80th birthday. Making it more memorable, we look at his earliest days, career, awards and personal life.

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Ilaiyaraaja earliest days:

Ilaiyaraaja was born in Pannaipuram, a small village in the Theni district of Tamil Nadu, India, on June 2, 1943. He was born into an impoverished family. He was given the name Gnanadesikan by his parents, Ramaswamy and Chinnathayammal. Ilaiyaraaja’s upbringing in the rural region of Pannaipuram instilled the roots of music within him. He was well-versed in the variety of Tamil folk music prevalent at the location.

Ilaiyaraaja career:

In the 1970s, Ilaiyaraaja worked in Chennai as a session guitarist, keyboardist, and orchestra conductor for renowned film composers, including Salil Chowdhury. Later, he worked as an assistant to G K Venkatesh, a Kannada music director with whom he collaborated on approximately 200 films.

1976 marked the musical debut of Ilaiyaraaja as a film music director when he composed the tunes and background score for the Tamil film Annakkili. His music reached a broad audience of Tamils. He utilised the technique of modern film orchestration to infuse the lyricists’ Tamil poetry with vitality.

Ilaiyaraaja's personal life:

Ilaiyaraaja is wed to Jeeva and has three children: two sons and a daughter. His sons, Karthik Raaja and Yuvan Shankar Raaja, are regarded as two of the finest music directors in the South film industry. Bhavathaarini, his daughter, is a playback vocalist. Gangai Amaran, sibling to Ilaiyaraaja, is a renowned director-lyricist and music composer.

Ilaiyaraaja awards won:

Saagara Sangamam (1984), Sindhu Bhairavi (1986), and Rudraveena (1989) are the films which have all won the National Awards. Ilaiyaraaja has also won the Award for Best Music Direction. Vishwa Thulasi (2005) won the Gold Remi for Best Music Score. Kalaimamani Award presented by the Government of Tamil Nadu, India to the musical legend. Ilaiyaraaja won the Government of Kerala State Government Award in 1995. He got conferred with the State Award for Madhya Pradesh in 1998 and the 2004 NTR National Award.

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