Many believe that Ilayaraja’s praise for Prime Minister Modi and the BJP’s agenda of giving symbolic representation to Dalits led to his appointment.
Basil Islam | TwoCircles.net
KERALA — Veteran music composer Ilayaraja, popularly known as Isaignaani (Tamil for music maestro) was appointed at Rajya Sabha on Thursday July 7th. Other appointments to the Upper House of Parliament include sports icon PT Usha, screenwriter Vijayendra Prasad and spiritual leader Veerendra Heggade.
Beginning his career in the mid-1960s, Ilayaraja remains the greatest figure in the Indian music industry.
Born as a Gnanathesigan into a Dalit family in 1943 in Tamil Nadu, he had to fight against caste discrimination to become a musician. The composer never spoke about his Dalit identity or caste. During controversies about his caste identity, he preferred to remain silent.
Gnanathesigan started his life as a musician at a young age and traveled across South India performing in small kacheris (assembly of musicians and audience in the context of Carnatic music or Karnatick music) and public gatherings with his older brother Pavalar Varadarajan as a member of the music group “Pavalar Brothers”. Later, when his first movie song was released in 1976, he chose Ilayaraja as his stage name.
In search of new perspectives in the music industry, Ilayaraja moved to Madras in 1968 and became a student of musician and instrumentalist. Master Dhanraj. He also became a gold medalist in classical guitar through a distance learning course at Trinity College of Music in London. He began his career as a composer with the film Annakili, directed by the duo Devraj-Mohan. Ilayaraja has come a long way since, with over 8500 songs to his name. Some of his all time hit songs are Rakkamma Kaiyya Thattu of Thalapathi, Thenpandi Cheemayile of Nayakanand Thendral Vanthu Thendum Pothu of Avathraram. He also won the love of Hindi listeners with Aye Zindagi Gale Lagaa Le by Kamala Hasan starring Sadma. Ilayaraja incorporated Indian folk music and traditional Indian instrumentation, relying primarily on Western classical music techniques.
Former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and leader of DMK, M Karunanidhi named him Isaignani, whom Ilayaraja has kept with him until now. Ilaiyaraaja has received five National Film Awards, three for Best Musical Direction and two for Best Background Music. In 2010 he received the Padma Bhushan, the nation’s third-highest civilian honor. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 2018.
Before entering the mainstream, Ilayaraja, along with his brother Pavalar Varadarajan – a member of the Communist Party of India, started as a communist fellow traveler when the state was under the influence of Dravidian movements. He chose to celebrate his birthday on June 2 instead of June 3 (his actual date of birth) out of respect for the late politician M Karunanidhi who also had the same birthday. But he kept himself for a long time out of voice politics. He gradually left the party and denied his oppressed social identity.
In April this year, Ilayaraja recently got into a controversy after he wrote a foreword to a book in which he compares Prime Minister Narendra Modi to BR Ambedkar. “Both have seen poverty and stifling social structures up close and worked to dismantle them, but both are also practical men who believe in action rather than mere exercises of thought,” the great wrote. musician. The foreword also suggests that Prime Minister Modi has “enhanced legal guarantees for socially marginalized communities through a number of laws and constitutional protections”. Many believe that this praise of Prime Minister Modi and the ruling party’s agenda of winning Dalit votes by giving token performances to their community supporters led to Ilayaraja’s decision. nomination in Rajya Sabha.
Basil Islam is a freelance journalist and researcher based in South India. He tweets at @baasiie