Ilayaraaja is a famous film composer and singer in South Indian cinema especially in Tamil cinema. Ilaiyaraaja is also an instrumentalist, conductor, singer, and songwriter. He has composed more than 6000 songs and provided film music or movie soundtrack for more than 1000 films, particularly being famous for his background music.
Ilayaraaja introduced Western type of music into the Tamil cinema.He is also known for creating music by fusing symphonic orchestration with traditional Indian instrumentation.In 1993 he organised a full symphony performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London and thus became the First Indian to compose a full symphony, with Ravi Shankar being the only other Indian to do so. He is also the first Asian to compose a full symphony performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He has won five Indian National Film Awards (the highest film honor in India); three for Best Music Direction and two for Best Background Score. In 2010 he has received Padma Bhushan, awarded by the Government of India. He is usually referred to by the title Isaignani (English: Musical Genius), or as The Maestro. Ilaiyaraja is a gold medalist in classical guitar from Trinity College of Music, London. In 2003, according to an international poll conducted by BBC, more than half-a million people from 165 countries voted his composition Rakkamma Kaiya Thattu from the 1991 film Thalapathi as fourth in the world's top 10 most popular songs of all time.
In 2015, he was also honoured with the Centenary Award for lifetime achievement at the 46th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) at Panaji, Goa. On December 31, 2015, he was nominated by the Kerala Government for Nishagandi Puraskaram, the top award conferred by the Kerala Government's Tourism Ministry, for his artistic excellence and contributions to the Indian film industry.
Early life and familyEdit
Ilaiyaraaja was born as Gnanathesikan in 1943 in a normal middle-class family in Pannaipuram, Theni district, Tamil Nadu, India. When he joined the school his father changed his name as "Rajaiya" but his village people used to call him as "Raasayya". Ilaiyaraaja joined Dhanraj Master as a student to learn musical instruments and the master renamed and called him as just "Raaja". In his first movie Annakili, Tamil film producer Panchu Arunachalam added "Ilaiya" (Ilaiya means younger in Tamil language) as prefix in his name Raaja and he named as "Ilaiyaraaja" because in the 1970s there was one more music director A. M. Rajah who was a popular one.
Ilaiyaraaja was married to Jeeva and the couple have three children—Karthik Raja, Yuvan Shankar Raja and Bhavatharini—all film composers and singers. His wife Jeeva died on 31 October 2011. Ilaiyaraaja has a brother Gangai Amaran, who is also a music director and lyricist in Tamil film industry.
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