The Raja still reigns supreme
Ilaiyaraja's Live-in Concert organised by Jaya TV had the audience craving for more.
MOODS: At home with his fans and holding away. PHOTOS: SHAJU JOHN
"Do you want me to continue," queried a cheerful Ilaiyaraja. And undaunted by the lateness of the hour, the crowd screamed "Yes." It was almost 11.30 p.m. but not many were willing to leave the Nehru Indoor Stadium, Chennai, before it was curtains down. "So is this going to be a Sivarathri for you," laughing aloud the maestro asked. "No ... Raja Rathri," the audience responded. The lively live-in concert organised by Jaya TV, the maestro's first in 25 years, was filled with such light-hearted exchanges between the man on the dais and the 10, 000 strong gathering his ardent admirers all.
Rarely have you come across such an exuberant Ilaiyaraja, so much at home with his fans and holding sway for more than four hours without a moment of lull. Purushottaman left the drumming to Sivamani and took on the role of conductor, with Sundarrajan ably assisting him.
"Geniuses generally go unsung during their life time. Bharatiar was one. I'm glad that we didn't miss this wizard of a composer who can very well be compared to Bharati," said Kamal. The unique aspect about Ilaiyaraja is that his melody has reached every stratum of society and is ringing in its ears still. And that aptly justifies the show's title, `Andrum ... Indrum ... Endrum Maestro Live in Concert.'
"They love you man, you should meet them more often," a moved S. P. Balasubrahmanyam told Ilaiyaraja, pointing to the crowd that went rapturous on Raja's grand entry on stage. Later, after the scintillating `Sundari Kannaal ... ' (`Thalapathi') number SPB recalled an interesting anecdote. The recording for the song had taken place in Mumbai with R. D. Burman's orchestra. When Raja gave them the notes they were so taken in by composition that all the musicians put their hands together in awe. One of them remarked to SPB: "We don't want Ilaiyaraja or you to come to Mumbai. His notes are too challenging and as for you, you finish the recording so quickly that we lose out on our overtime payments."
Vaali's short address described Ilaiyaraja as an "international celebrity." When he added that the great classical musician Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, had patted Raja on his head and hailed him as a `Maha Vidwan' you could well understand the veracity of the words.
As always, actor Parthiban who emceed the show along with Mahathi, displayed his skill at presenting matters differently. His casual comments and off the cuff observations went down well with the buoyant crowd.
Every song new and old was a sensation. Special mention has to be made of Chitra, the unassuming six-time National Award winner, who charmed listeners with the popular `Padariyaen' refrain, and the quiet and placid Uma Ramanan's enticing rendition of `Agaaya Vennilavae' with Madhu Balakrishnan.
It was intriguing why Raja suddenly called upon son Yuvan Shankar to sing the melodious `Chinna Kannan Azhaikkiraan.' The young composer, who was not too sure about it was thankfully helped out by Karthik. Karthik's easy, spontaneous felicity of rendition is always a treat to watch and listen.
Jayachandran and Swarnalatha were flawless and so were the others from the singing glitterati, Hariharan, Tippu, Vijay Yesudas, Bhavatharini, Sadhana Sargam and Shreya Ghosh. Conspicuous by their absence were two singers who ruled the roost when Raja reigned supreme Malaysia Vasudevan and S. Janaki. With Ilaiyaraja around can `Thiruvachagam' be far behind? The audience wanted it and he obliged with the piece, `Maasatra Jothi.'
MELODIOUS JOURNEY: Sadhana Sargam and Hariharan with the maestro at the Live-in Show.
Balu Mahendra had been so much in awe of the mesmerising score from the hardly-heard-of film `Auto Raja' `Thamizh Sangathil ... ' that he requested Raja to use it in his Malayalam movie, `Olangal.' With excellent coordination from the orchestra and chorus, Ilaiyaraja `Dhum Dhum'ed the `Olangal' notes to a grand crescendo. The array of violins, Jerry's and Ramendran's violin solo bits, Napoleon's flute, MSV Raja's sax, Prasad's tabla ... you could go on and on. It's been ages since you saw a live orchestra on such a mammoth scale. (Stage dιcor further enhanced the grandeur of the line-up.)
The crowning glory was of course the maestro's new composition with just three swaras, `sa re ga.' The song, `Paada Pirandhadhu,' had been penned by the inimitable Vaali. Shreya Ghosh sang the song along with Ilaiyaraja and none other than SPB gave the intro to it.
"This will be an unforgettable evening," Ilaiyaraja promised at the outset. It was. Don't miss the spectacular show on Jaya TV because encapsulating the four-hour bonanza in a few words is well nigh impossible.
Send this article to Friends by
Chennai and Tamil Nadu