CHENNAI: The 71st birthday of musical maestro Ilayaraja was celebrated in style with the music composer planting saplings and releasing his two Tamil books here on Monday.
The planting of saplings is part of the drive by fans of music composer Ilayaraja who plan to plant 71,001 saplings across the State of Tamil Nadu on the occasion of their Isaignani’s birthday.
The first book titled Ilayarajavai Kelungal is a compilation of Ilayaraja’s letters to his fans while the second, Palli Elluchi Pavai Padalgal is about his collection of songs in praise of Lord Shiva. Both books were published by Kumudam publications and released by director Bala.
Speaking on the occasion, Ilayaraja said the composition for Palli Elluchi Pavai Padalgal was inspired while on a visit to Tiruvanamalai.
“The plan to compose the sacred songs was born during my visit to Adi Annamalai Temple in Tiruvannamalai. It was at 5.30 pm when a thought struck me while I was paying obeisance to the lingam. I felt that this was the place where saints Appar and Sambandar would have sung before Lord Shiva and the stones would have captured it,” he said.
“This gave me a different feeling,” Ilayaraja added. While the idea to compose the songs was born in Tiruvannamalai, it took another three months before it actually happened.
“It happened one day, I composed 10 songs and the next day, another 10 songs,” the maestro recalls. “Later I was asked to complete it with 10 more compositions, and as such that’s how the book came into being,” he explained.
Another highlight of the special evening was when Ilayaraja, dressed in his signature white, shyly refused to cut his birthday cake. But after his fans and celebrities on the dias coaxed him, he finally gave in.
During the event, Ilayaraja hailed producer Panchu Arunachalam who was instrumental in giving Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan’s hit flicks. He also disclosed that it was during one of the occasions when both the actors parted ways that Panchu Arunachalam, unaware of it, had planned to cast them together.
“He had a call sheet and when the two refused to do a film together, he immediately made two separate films. One with Kamal in the lead role in Kalyanaraman, and another with Rajini (Aarilirunthu Arubathu Varai),” Ilayaraja recalled.
When asked whether he could do it all over again, Arunachalam told reporters that it wouldn’t be possible to cast both the actors (Rajnikanth and Kamal) in a single film now. “Both have a separate fan base,” he states, and added, “besides the expectation from the actors would be too large —it wouldn’t do justice to their fans!”
Arunachalam also paid tribute to Ilayaraja while recollecting his acquaintance with Ilayaraja in 1974. “He may be 71,” the producer said, “but I still consider him a 21-year-old. He always tries to bring something new to the table.” We’re sure his fans will agree with a roaring: Hell yes!