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Recently, I made a playlist on youtube of Gangai Amaran written – Ilayaraaja composed songs. This set me thinking. Online, there are quite a few opinions. A prominent exercise involves trying to putting into perspective Raaja’s music with the various lyricists. You may consider this to be one such attempt. I shall try to be as objective as possible. Some of the popularly held beliefs in this topic include, “Raaja owed much of his success in the 80s to his partnership with Vairamuthu”, “Raaja’s humongous successes are with Vairamuthu and Vaali”, “Vaali and Vairamuthu have written the maximum songs for Raaja”. I’m just trying to put all of that to test.

Numbers first. Raaja has composed close to 5,000 songs in roughly 950 movies, mostly all by himself (he has worked with MSV on occasions). This is a humongous achievement in itself. That aside, he has composed music for about 180 films in other languages (roughly 80 in Telugu, 55 in Malayalam 25 odd in Kannada and not more than 15 in Hindi and 2 in Marathi). He was the commercial numer uno in Telugu in the 80s, was briefly a commercial star in Malayalam and Kannada in the early 80s and a commercial colossus in Tamil through the late 70s down to the early 90s. So to pin a person with such a career record down to any one lyricist (who is limited to the language he writes) is questionable.

But having said this is an objective analysis, I intend not to stop with such a superficial statement. Vaali has written more than 1000 songs for Raaja, this being the most prolific association for Ilayaraaja as far as lyric-music goes. Their combination began with Bhadrakali in 1976 and they have worked all the way to a yet-to-be-released film on Ramanujacharya. This was a playlist of 52 songs I did of Vaali’s with IR. A disclaimer I wish to enter here (and this holds to every lyricist I am going to list) is that the playlists I share here are by no means exhaustive in an oeuvre of thousands of songs. However, these can offer a fine bird’s eye view of a track record over the years. A blog post would be insufficient to list and discuss the pros and cons of every single song and I guess the reader understands this obvious caveat and the bird’s eye view stats I provide should suffice as you shall see.

Vaali – Ilayaraaja:

These songs are for leisurely listening pleasure, for every playlist I intend to share runs into a few hours. The Vaali – IR playlist that I have is listed:

Song

Film

Kannan Oru Kaikuzhandhai Bhadrakali
Ore Naal Unnai Naan Ilamai Oonjal Aadugiradhu
Naane Naana Yaaro Dhaana Azhage Unnai Aradhikkiren
Chella Pillai Saravanan Pen Jenmam
Appane Appane Pillaiyaar Appane Annai Oru Aalayam
Vaanam Enge Megam Enge Nenjil Aadum Poo Ondru
Ninaivo Oru Paravai Sigappu Rojakkal
Madai Thirandhu Nizhalgal
Naan Dhaan Ungappanda Ram Lakshman
Sandhana Kaatre Thani Kaattu Raaja
Ilamai Idho Idho Sagalakkala Vallavan
Janani Janani Thaai Mookaambikai
Vaanam Keezhe Thoongadhe Thambi Thoongadhe
Naanaaga Naan Illai Thaaye Thoongadhe Thambi Thoongadhe
Kadavul Ullame Anbulla Rajinikanth
Maalai Soodum Velai Naan Mahan Alla
Raasathi Unna Kaanadha Nenju Vaidehi Kaathirundhaal
Kadhal Kasakkudhaiyya Aan Paavam
Oororama Aathu Pakkam Idhaya Kovil
Nilavu Thoongum Neram Kungumachimizh
Ennama Kannu Sowkyama Mr. Bharath
Aadal Kalaiye Devan Thandhadhu Sri Raghavendra
Thene Then Paandi Meene Udhayageetham
Namma Singari Sarakku Kakki Chattai
Vandhaal Mahalakshmiye Uyarndha Ullam
Kuzhal Oodhum Kannanukku Mella Thirandhadhu Kadhavu
Mandram Vandha Thendralukku Mouna Ragam
Poove Sempoove Solla Thudikkudhu Manasu
Meendum Meendum Vaa Vikram
Oru Poongavanam Agni Nakshatram
Unna Nenachen Paattu Padichen Aboorva Sagodharargal
Unnai Naan Paarkkaiyil Kannukkoru Vanakkili
Kanna Varuvaaya Manadhil Urudhi Vendum
Yen Patharamaathu Chithira Ponne En Bommukutty Ammavukku
Vaa Vaa Vanji Ilam Maane Guru Sishyan
Malayala Karai Oram Rajadhi Raja
Malaiyil Yaaro Chathriyan
Anjali Anjali Anjali Anjali
Sundari Kannaal Oru Sedhi Thalapathi
Amma Endrazhaikaadha Mannan
Potri Paadadi Ponne (All versions) Thevar Magan
Endhan Nenjil Neengaadha Kalaignan
Karava Maadu Moonu Magalir Mattum
Maadathile Kanni Maadathile Veera
Kai Veenaiyai Vietnam Colony
Kaadhal Vaanile Raasaiyya
Kaatril Varum Geethame Oru Naal Oru Kanavu
Kaattu Vazhi Kaalnadaiyaa Adhu Oru Kanaa Kaalam

As you can see from the listed 52 songs (a few of the not-so-popular ones are my all-time favorites), 45+ are all time classics. And for most of the films, Vaali would have written all the songs like Bhadrakali (where Kettele Ange was the bigger chartbuster), Ilamai Oonjalaadugiradhu, Azhage Unnai Aradhikkiren, Thoongadhe Thambi Thoongadhe, Sagakalavallavan, Mouna Ragam, Agni Nakshatram, Aboorva Sagodharargal,Thalapathi, Thevar Magan where almost every song was a superhit and I have not included songs from other chartbuster albums from Chittukuruvi onwards for the case of brevity. If I were to list every hit of this combination, it would take me a 600+ songs playlist. Most definitely a superhit combination and one does stand awed at the range of genres handled by the two.

Vairamuthu-Ilayaraaja:

Another prolific combination, which in its heydays for 6 years, quite dominated but did not monopolize Tamil Film Music:

This is a list with 50 songs, which I list below (would take the same few hours to listen to every song again. At your leisure). The list of Vairamuthu – Ilayaraaja I have as a playlist:

Song

Film

Idhu oru Pon Maalai Pozhudhu Nizhalgal
Aayiram Thaamarai Mottukkale Alaigal Oyvadhillai
Andhi Mazhai Rajapaarvai
Pani Vizhum Malarvanam Ninaivellaam Nithya
Kadhal Panpaadu Eera Vizhi Kaaviyangal
Vaanengum Thanga Vinmeengal Moondram Pirai
Ilaya Nila Pozhigiradhe Payanangal Mudivadhillai
Poo Malarndhida Nadandhidum Tik Tik Tik
Nadhiyil Aadum Poovanam Kadhal Oviyam
Manidha Manidha Kann Sivandhaal Mann Sivakkum
Pothi Vecha Malliga Mottu Man Vaasanai
Vellai Pura Ondru (Both versions) Pudhu Kavidhai
Thakida Thadhimi Salangai Oli
Thanga Changili Minnum Paingili Thooral Ninnu Pochu
Poove Ilaya Poove Kozhi Koovudhu
Geedham Sangeedham Kokkarakko
Kanavu Ondru Thondrudhe Oru Odai Nadhiyaagiradhu
Vizhigal Meeno Raagangal Maaruvadhillai
Kanavodu Yengum Anbe Odi Vaa
Megam Kottattum Enakkul Oruvan
Poovaadai Kaatre My Dear Kuttichaathaan
Paadava Un Paadalai Naan Paadum Paadal
Unnaithaane Thanjam Endru Nallavanukku Nallavan
Pillai Nila Irandum Vellai Nila Neengal Kettavai
Aathaadi Paavaada Kaathaada Poovilangu
Kasthuri Maane Kalyana Thene Pudhumai Penn
Kaalam Maaralaam Vaazhkai
Chittu Kuruvi Vetka Padudhu Chinna Veedu
Oru Jeevan Azhaithadhu Geethanjali
Pon Maane Kobam Yeno Oru Kaidhiyin Diary
Vetti Veru Vaasam Mudhal Mariyadhai
Raasaave Unna Nambi Mudhal Mariyadhai
Poove Poochoodava (Both Versions) Poove Poochoodava
Naan Oru Sindhu Sindhu Bairavi
Poo Maalai Vaangi Vandhaan Sindhu Bairavi
Kalaivaaniye Sindhu Bairavi
Enna Satham Indha Neram Punnagai Mannan
Edhedho Ennam Valarthen Punnagai Mannan
Vaan Megam Poopoovaai Punnagai Mannan
Vanithamani Vanamohini Vikram
Aaraariro Paadiyadhaaro Thaaikku Oru Thaalaattu
Enge En Jeevane Kadhal Parisu
Ye Unnai Thaane Kadhal Parisu
Laali Laali Sippikkul Muthu
Thendral Vandhu Ennai Thodum Thendrale Ennai Thodu
Adi Aathaadi Kadalora Kavidhaigal
Kodiyile Malliyapoo Kadalora Kavidhaigal
Pogudhe Pogudhe Kadalora Kavidhaigal

As you will see, all are classic songs and out of those, 45+ are all-time hits. However, this was a combination that did not last very long. r_inba has worked an extensive analysis of all the songs created by the Vairamuthu – Ilayaraaja combination and discussed every hit song objectively in a much deeper analysis in an Ilayaraaja forum. One may access it through r_inba’s twitter page linked above. This combination worked in less than 350 out of Raaja’s 5000 songs and has an overall hit number of 198 to be precise (from r_inba’s extensive knowledge of IR’s hit ratio from the 1980s). Also, a clarification here. Hit ratio is an objective number. It does not take into account quality of the songs that went unnoticed. So objectivity to this extent is overrated. But however, it does provide an input into mass popularity accurately.

Coming to the point, a hit number of 198 out of possibly 2,500+ hit songs is a miniscule 7-8%. If one is to however take only the years 1980-1986, Ilayaraaja had already composed his 100th film, Moodupani by the time Vairamuthu entered with Nizhalgal and was the established numer uno in Tamil. Vairamuthu hence did not have a part to play in Raaja’s prolific rise. From ’80-’86, Raaja approximately composed 250 films (his 300th film was Udhayageetham in 1985 and his 400th was Nayagan in 1987, so by the time they separated, Raaja could have been in the 350s, 250 more than his 100th in 1980), making for about 1100 odd songs in those 7 years. Going by the same 55% ‘commercial’ hit ratio which we see consistently from 1976-1994, that would mean about 600+ hit songs (again, only commercial hits and I am not even entering into a subjective analysis of quality) only in 1980-1986, prolific without a shadow of doubt.

198 is a sizeable number here and Vairamuthu’s contribution is well acknowledged (heck, some of my all-time favorite, pantheon level songs, as you will see from the list above have been written by him). But even in his heydays in the 80s (he would have another extended peak in the 90s but that is beyond the scope of this post); Vairamuthu could pretty much contribute to roughly 30% of Raaja’s ‘hit songs’; i.e. 70% of Raaja’s ‘commercial hits’ in the early-mid-late 80s from 1980 till 1986 were still written by others. In the light of these facts, the claim of “Raaja owed his success, at least in the 80s to Vairamuthu” goes out of the window, with all due to respect to the excellent songs which Vairamuthu has written only because of the error in such a statement. Of course, Raaja would have had chartbusters in other languages, especially the other 3 South Indian ones and Vairamuthu is a Tamil lyricist. That again shows the mistake of the claim since Raaja was not restricted only to Tamil and was successful critically and commercially elsewhere too, as 3 of his 4 National Awards in Telugu and Malayalam would attest.

Gangai Amaran – Ilayaraaja:

Possibly the most underrated of Ilayaraaja’s partnerships, sharing a big chunk of the remainder of ‘70%’ from 1980-1986 and not restricted to that period alone, like Vaali in every sense. Playlist:

The playlist with 58 songs:

Song

Film
Sendhoora Poove 16 Vayadhinile
Thamthana Namthana Pudhiya Vaarpugal
Poovarasampoo Poothaachu Kizhakke Pogum Rayil
Raman Aandaalum Mullum Malarum
Nitham Nitham Nelli Soru Mullum Malarum
Uravugal Thodarkadhai Aval Appadithaan
Panneer Pushpangale Aval Appadithaan
Oru Iniya Manadhu Johny
Senorita I Love You Johny
Aasaya Kaathula Thoodhu Vittu Johny
Kaatril Endhan Geetham Johny
En Iniya Pon Nilave Moodupani
Poonkadhave Thaazh Thiravaai Nizhalgal
Siru Pon Mani Kallukkul Eeram
Vizhiyorathu Kanavu Rajapaarvai
Kodai Kaala Kaatre Panneer Pushpangal
Aanandha Raagam Panneer Pushpangal
Poonthalir Aada Panneer Pushpangal
Kanavil Midhakkum Eera Vizhi Kaaviyangal
Kalyan Raman Hey Cook Raman Karaiyellaam Shenbagapoo
Vaadi En Kappakkezhange Alaigal Oyvadhillai
Anne Anne Sippaai Anne Kozhi Koovudhu
Ei Aatha Aathorama Vaariyaa Payanangal Mudivadhillai
Vaikaraiyil Vaigai Karaiyil Payanangal Mudivadhillai
Ponmeni Urugudhe Moondraam Pirai
Indraikki Yen Indha Aanandhame Vaidehi Kaathirundhaal
Adiye Manam Nilluna Neengal Kettavai
Poo Maalaiye Thol Serava Pagal Nilavu
Maina Maina Maman Puducha Maina Pagal Nilavu
Vaidehi Raman Kaiserum Kaalam Pagal Nilavu
En Jodi Manja Kuruvi Vikram
Podi Nadayaa Poravare Kadalora Kavidhaigal
Devanin Kovil Moodiya Neram Aruvadai Naal
Chinna Ponnu Aruvadai Naal
Melatha Mella Thattu Aruvadai Naal
Ooru Sanam Thoongiruchu Mella Thirandhadhu Kadhavu
Un Paarvaiyil Or Aayiram Amman Kovil Kizhakkale
Chinna Mani Kuyile Amman Kovil Kizhakkale
Poova Eduthu Oru Maala Amman Kovil Kizhakkale
Seevi Sinukkedutha Vetri Vizha
Oru Kiliyin Poovizhi Vaasalile
Shenbagame Shenbagame Enga Ooru Paattukaaran
Maadi Eri Vandha Per Sollum Pillai
Aaraaro Aaraaro Anand
Naan Enbadhu Nee Allavo Soorasamhaaram
Thenpaandi Thamizhe Paasa Paravaigal
Nallorgal Unnai En Bommukutty Ammavukku
Mama Un Ponna Kodu Rajadhi Raja
Siru Koottula Ulla Kuyilukku Paandi Naattu Thangam
Un Manasula Paattuthaan Paandi Naattu Thangam
Maankuyile Poonkuyile Karagattakaaran
Indha Maan Undhan Sondha Maan Karagattakaaran
Ennoda Raasi Nalla Raasi Maapillai
Sorgame Endraalum Ooru Vittu Orru Vandhu
Oh Maharaja My Dear Marthandan
Uttalakkadi My Dear Marthandan
Aadudhu Paar My Dear Marthanda

As you will note, every single song is a classic and most of the songs are chartbusters and continue to get solid airtime even today, after a few decades. Most of the songs we might not attribute to Gangai Amaran’s (GA) pen at all unless someone told us are by him. He has written 500+ songs for Raaja and is an important cog in the objective wheel of such an analysis, not to be missed at all. That he is missed often times is sad. r_inba has a parallel analysis of 100 of the superhit songs from the GA – IR combo too in the IR forum and he is responsible for awakening me to GA’s contribution. Also, from the list above, GA has written the songs for entire albums of which I have listed only 1 or 2. An exhaustive list would lack in brevity and as it is, I would be asking for extra sheets in an exam hall.

So it is clear that apart from Vairamuthu and Vaali, Gangai Amaran also shares the lyrical credits from some awesome sauce songs from the late 70s down the early 90s. This combination is occasionally active even today. So the claim of “Raaja owing most of the success to Vaali and Vairamuthu’s partnerships with him” is misinformed and not true too, as Gangai Amaran’s lyricography would prove conclusively.

So would it be possible to conclude Raaja’s partnerships with these 3 were alone critical to his success? Not quite, in my opinion, for the objective stats disagree again. These 3 roughly contribute to 2000 of IR’s overall number of songs and I am certain that is less than the total number of ‘hits’ Raaja has in career, leave alone his entire discography. That takes me to the other comparatively “lesser” but important partnerships Raaja has had in his career in Tamil till date.

Panju Arunachalam – Ilayaraaja:

The person, producer-lyricist who introduced Raaja to the film world was Panju. His playlist with Raaja which I created:

The playlist with 30 songs:

Song

Film
Machaana Paatheengala Annakili
Devan Thiruchabai Malargale Avar Enakke Sondham
Vizhiyile Malarndhadhu Bhuvana Oru Kelvikkuri
Kanmaniye Kadhal Enbadhu Aaril Irundhu Arubadhu Varai
Kaalai Paniyil Gayathri
Oru Vaanavil Pole Kaatrinile Varum Geetham
Chithirai Sevvaanam Kaatrinile Varum Geetham
Chinna Kannan Azhaikkiraan Kavikkuyil
Sugamo Aayiram Thunai Iruppaal Meenakshi
Hey Paadal Ondru Priya
Mudhal Mudhalaaga Niram Maaraadha Pookkal
Manadhil Enna Ninaivugalo Poonthalir
Kadhal Vandhiruchu Kalyanaraman
Podhuvaaga En Manasu Thangam Murattu Kaalai
Paruvame Pudhiya Paadal Paadu Nenjathai Killaadhe
Germaniyin Senthen Malare Ullasa Paravaigal
Deiveega Raagam Ullaasa Paravaigal
Kadhal Oviyam Alaigal Oyvadhillai
Kaadellaam Pichipoovu Karaiyellaam Shenbagapoo
Eriyile Elandha Maram Karaiyellaam Shenbagapoo
Pon Oviyam Kazhugu
Aasai Nooru Vagai Adutha Vaarisu
Kadhalin Deepam Ondru Thambikku Endha Ooru
Muthamizh Kaviye Varuga Dharmathin Thalaivan
Kadha Kelu Kadha Kelu Michale Madana Kamarajan
Sundari Neeyum Sundaran Nyaanum Michael Madana Kamarajan
Othaiyila Ninnadhenna Vanaja Girija
Konji Konji Alaigal Oda Veera
Naan Porandhu Vandhadhu Maya Bazaar (1995)

Again, as you will see, most of the songs listed here are cult classics. Panju has written 500+ songs for Raaja which would have a similar hit ratio of 50+%. I have merely included a sample of 30 superb songs to show this combination’s range. Many of the films listed here have all the songs, with mostly every song being superhits, written by Panju. So it becomes apparent that Raaja’s hit combinations extend beyond just one or two or even 3.

Kannadasan – Ilayaraaja:

Arguably the greatest lyricist Tamil film music has seen and one of the very few genuine poets it has had. His combination with Raaja was brief, successful and filled with some everlasting classics. Hence, in addition to the above the list, this great poet too will have to have his say here. The list:

The playlist with 25 songs:

Song

Film
Naan Pesa Vandhen Paalootti Valartha Kili
Sevvadhi Poo Muducha 16 Vayadhinile
Aattukutty Muttaiyittu 16 Vayadhinile
Sorgam Madhuvile Sattam En Kaiyil
Moga Sangeedham Kannan Oru Kai Kuzhandhai
Senthaazham Poovil Mullum Malarum
Indha Miniminikku Sigappu Rojakkal
Oru Thanga Radhathil Dharma Yudham
Aayiram Malargale Malarungal Niram Maaradha Pookkal
Ilamai Ennum Poongaatru Pagalil Oru Iravu
Vaan Megangale Pudhiya Vaarpugal
Azhagiya Kanne Udhiri Pookkal
Endhan Kannil Guru
Aadungal Paadungal Guru
En Vaanile Ore Vennila Johny
Chinnnchiru Vayadhil Meendum Kokila
Kaathodu Poovurasa Anbukku Naan Adimai
Oru Ooril Oru Maharani Garjanai
Thaalaattudhe Vaanam Kadal Meengal
Ramanin Mohanam Netrikkan
Maapilaikki Maman Manasu Netrikkan
Azhage Azhagu Rajapaarvai
Devan Thandha Veenai Unnai Naan Paarkkiren
Poongatru Pudhidhandhu Moondram Pirai
Kanne Kalaimaane Moondram Pirai

As I need not say again, mostly iconic songs in the list, kept to 25 for brevity, but amounting to 100+ overall. Some evergreen superhits again.

I have thus far listed only Tamil. And even in Tamil, there is Pulamaipithan, Mu. Metha and Muthulingam. I am listing their playlists with Ilayaraaja here:

Pulamaipithan – Ilayaraaja:

Mu.Metha – Ilayaraaja:

Muthulingam – Ilayaraaja:

I am listing each song from their partnerships with Raaja from the playlists. I have 22 songs of Pulamapithan’s, 20 of Muthulingam’s and 12 songs of Mu. Metha’s. Their partnerships are not that extensive as the poets mentioned above, but I feel they have their space that needs to be respected as there are chartbusters that get airtime almost every day even today in TVs and radio stations penned by these gentlemen.

Pulamaipithan – Ilayaraaja:

Song

Film

Maalai Sevvaanam Ilayaraajavin Rasigai
Uchi Vagundheduthu Rosapoo Ravikkaikaari
Naan Oru Ponnoviyam Kanden Kannil Theriyum Kadhaigal
Amudhe Tamizhe Kovil Pura
Vedham Nee Kovil Pura
Sangathil Paadaadha Kavidhai Auto Raja
Thazhampoove Vaasam Veesu Kai Kodukkum Kai
Oh Vasantha Raaja Neengal Kettavai
Vizhiyile Mani Vizhiyile Nooravadhu Naal
Raathiriyil Poothirukkum Thangamagan
Kanmaniye Pesu Kaakki Sattai
Maan Kanden Maan Kanden Rajarishi
Koo Koo Endru Kuyil Koovadho Kadhal Parisu
Thenpaandi Seemaiyile Nayagan
Nee Oru Kadhal Sangeedham Nayagan
Naan Sirithaal Deepavali Nayagan
Ammamma Vandhadhingu Per Sollum Pillai
Punjai Undu Nanjai Undu Unnal Mudiyum Thambi
Unnal Mudiyum Thambi Thambi Unnal Mudiyum Thambi
Mazhai Varudhu Mazhai Varudhu Raja Kaiyya Vechaa
Edhilum Ingu Iruppaan Bharathi
Muthulingam-Ilayaraaja:
Maanjolai Kili Dhaano Kizhakke Pogum Rayil
Idhayam Pogudhe Pudhiya Vaarpugal
Kalyanam Paaru Udhiri Pookkal
En Purushan Dhaan Gopurangal Saaivadhillai
Raaga Deepam Etrum Neram Payanangal Mudivadhillai
Boopaalam Isaikkum Thooral Ninnu Pochu
Vaa Vaa Pakkam Vaa Thangamagan
Devan Kovil Deepam Ondru Naan Paadum Paadal
Vaan Sivandhadhu Poo Malarndhadhu Anbin Mugavari
Ada Machamulla Chinna Veedu
Kootathile Kovil Pura Idhaya Kovil
Sangeedha Megam Udhayageetham
Singaara Thaazhampoo Kanne Kalaimaane
Chinna Chinna Roja Poove Poovizhi Vaasalile
Chithirai Chittukkal En Bommukutty Ammavukku
Idhazhil Kadhai Ezhudhum Unnal Mudiyum Thambi
Pattu Poove Mettu Paadu Chembaruthi
Veena Vaani Pon Megalai
Thaalaattu Ketka Naanum Nandalala
Neeraal Udal Kazhuvi Thaandavakkone (co-written with Ilayaraaja)
Mu. Metha – Ilayaraaja:
Vaai Thiravaai Nee Thedum Bodhu
Pon Maanai Thedudhe Oh Maane Maane
Yaar Veettil Roja Idhaya kovil
Pen Maane Sangeedham Paadavaa Naan Sigappu Manidhan
Paadu Nilaave Then Kavidhai Udhayageedham
Malare Malare Ullasam Un Kannil Neer Vazhindhaal
Raaja Raaja Chozhan Naan Rettai Vaal Kuruvi
Vaa Vaa Vaa Kanna Vaa Velaikkaaran
Mamanukku Maylapore Dhaan Velaikkaaran
Pethu Eduthavadhaan Velaikkaaran
Mayil Pola Ponnu Onnu Bharathi
Onnukkonnu Thunai Irukku Nandhalala

These lists have some obscure songs I rate very highly. They however have some all-time classics too that enjoy evergreen status even today and these are songs which will count in any IR list a fan would make. Just saying here that these are penned by these gentlemen listed above and each has penned close to 100 film songs for Raaja.

I would like to end this lengthy exercise by sharing with you folks a playlist which has Ilayaraaja written and composed songs. Since I have a bias towards his devotional numbers among the ones he’s written, I have quite a few of those (which are not likely to be known outside the hardcore IR fan circle). I am hence not listing them here in this blog and will limit myself to listing his film songs, of which there are quite a few hugely popular ones. I leave you to look into and listen at leisure to his devotional songs from the playlist.

The playlist:

The list with its film songs here, numbering to 13:

Song

Film

Idhayam Oru Kovil Idhaya Kovil
Engirundho Azhaikkum En Jeevan Paadudhu
Nila Adhu Vaanathu Mele Nayagan
Kanne Navamaniye En Bommukutty Ammavukku
Jingidi Jingidi Guru Sishyan
Vaa Vaa Manjal Malare Rajadhi Raja
Enna Samayalo Unnal Mudiyum Thambi
Paattaale Budhi Sonnaar Karagattakkaaran
Ennai Oruvan Paada Sonnaan Kumbakkarai Thangaiah
Isaiyil Thodangudhamma Hey Ram
Un Kuthama En Kuthama Azhagi
Pichai Paathiram Endhi Vandhen Naan Kadavul
Neeraal Udal Kazhuvi Thaandavakkone (co-written with Muthulingam)

As you will note, IR himself is an excellent lyricist. This is not to say he could have written all his 5000 songs. However, songs of the caliber of Isaiyil Thodangudhamma rival the best songs ever written in Tamil Film history. Neeraal Udal Kazhuvi is the only veNpA in Tamil Films till date outside the ThirukkuraLs referenced (every kuraL is a veNpA). Raaja has written a veNpA for a film with Muthulingam, not an easy task, speaking of his virtuosity in Tamil literature and I feel mentioning this here in an objective analysis of lyricists would be quite apt.

Summary:

–> To summarize, as one may see from the stats and basic numbers above, for this is in no way exhaustive (all I’ve done is exhaust you folks with mentioning close to 250 of Raaja’s 5000 songs), the claims of “Raaja’s success is with X, Y or Z lyricist” is absurd and downright laughable for I’ve listed mostly evergreen, popular numbers and some sprinkling of obscure gems by 9 different lyricists in Tamil including Raaja himself.

–> AND this is only restricted to Tamil. If I were to go to Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu and pick on ONV Kurup, Chi. Udayashankar, Veturi, Atreya, Seetharama Sastry, not to forget Gulzar and his Sadma and Swanand Kirkire’s latest films of Balki’s, this post would not see the light of its day.

–> This is of course not to belittle any lyricist as 90% of every lyricist’s songs I have listed are accepted classics and every single song here is my personal favorite.

–> In fact, I can prepare a parallel list of 250 obscure gems overall from the lyricists listed above in Tamil and 250 ‘hits’ from other languages with other lyricists. Every lyricist’s contribution and excellence to Raaja’s discography is admirable.

–> However, Ilayaraaja has overall worked with 140+ lyricists/poets across all languages and these include iconic poets like Bharathi, saint-poets like Manickavasagar, Andaal, obscure ones like Chidambaranathan who has written Eri Kara Poongaathe for Thooral Ninnu Pochu and Poonkodiyaan who has written Malaiyoram Mayile, a chartbuster from Oruvar Vaazhum Aalayam.

–> Hence, it would suffice to say that Ilayaraaja’s music for films cannot be contained within any one single lyricist. One may say that their most favorite songs of Ilayaraaja’s of all time are with Vairamuthu or Vaali or with any other lyricist and no one ought to contest it, for it is an opinion.

–> However, the claims I’ve contested which form a part of an internet opinion in wide numbers are preposterous in the light of the facts I’ve shared.

I welcome praises and brickbats. The floor is yours.

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