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Born On: June 2, 1943

Born In: Theni district, Tamil Nadu

Nationality: Indian

Career: Music Director

Ilayaraja is a veteran music director of South Indian film industry. The music maestro has composed over 4000 songs and worked in over 800 films, in a career spanning over three decades. He is accredited with setting a trend for film music in South India, by introducing Western musical nuances into songs. Apart from Tamil, he has also worked in Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi films as a music director. The musician has been awarded the title of Isaignani (‘savant of music’).

Early Life

At the age of 14, Ilaiyaraaja joined the musical troupe owned by his elder step-brother, Pavalar Varadarajan, and was associated with it for the next ten years. Ilayaraja composed his first song - an elegy written by veteran Tamil poet Kannadasan - when he was still working with the troupe. In 1968, Ilayaraja collaborated with Professor Dhanraj to start a music course in Madras. The course concentrated at the overview of Western classical music, study of techniques related to composition of music and instrumental performance. After specializing in classical guitar, Ilayaraja went on to pursue a course in the same, at the Trinity College of Music, London.

First Film

Ilaiyaraja’s break through came when he scored music for the tamil film “Annakkili” in 1976 (P.A .Arts)The movie was a runway success mainly because of the music.Then the producer “Panchu Arunachalam” started singing him up.

Personal Life

Ilayaraja is married to Jeeva and has two sons and a daughter. His sons, Karthik Raaja and Yuvan Shankar Raaja are regarded as two of the best music directors of the present generation. His daughter, Bhavathaarini, is a playback singer. Ilayaraja’s brother - Gangai Amaran - is a renowned director-lyricist and music composer.


* National Film Award for Best Music Direction : “Saagara Sangamam” (1984), “Sindhu Bhairavi” (1986) and “Rudraveena” (1989)

* Gold Remi Award for Best Music Score : “Vishwa Thulasi” (2005)

* Kalaimamani Award from the Government of the State of Tamil Nadu, India

* State Government Award from Government of Kerala in 1995

* Madhya Pradesh State Award in 1998

* NTR National Award in 2004

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