Wednesday, September 05, 2012

When Ilayaraja dusts his .44

Decades after Clint Eastwood has done the last Dirty Harry movie, a reporter asked him what Harry would be doing now. Eastwood replied that he’d probably enjoying his retirement and probably fly-fishing. No more .44 Magnum, but a fishing rod. Sweet, though I feel the old man is chuckling to himself thinking of penile reference. 

Then he did Gran Torino, where you’d swear that that is old Dirty Harry and he picked up a gun again (granted it was not the Smith & Wesson) and gave us a hell of a treat. And went with a bang, saying that that might be his last acting role.

The truth is, he was never away. He was involved in more interesting projects, having had long left making mainstream thrillers, leaving them to the younger generation.

When Ilayaraja unleashed his masterpiece album, Neethane Enthan Pon Vasantham (NEPV) film songs, I was reminded of Eastwood. While he was away doing interesting projects, I turned away and was involved in my own exploration of music (listening, not playing), only indulging in his 70s/80s.  

The truth is, Ilayaraja never went away. I say this because the media and the Netizens are roaring that he’s back.

Apart from personal projects, he was also involved in other film industries, namely Malayalam, Telugu and getting better recognition that he should have long time ago in Hindi. True loyal fans were following. Once hardcore fan like me had basically lost interest in entire Tamizh film songs and was pursuing other musical stuff  and occasionally we’d go “oh, was it?” when reviews of one of his latest outing comes out.

“We” here referring to those who abandoned him back in 90s, like this idiot writer. And the new album made my conscience hurt as hell.

A very rich, layered, complexly composed album boasting great sound and awesome use of guitars, this album is to be cherished for years and should be sent to space in case for possible Alien invasion, so that they will go back in peace listening to it.

Not that it is as great of his past works, but this is this is what would have happened to all the old songs if he had access to the resources and equipments (not that I want them to remastered, well, ….hmmm). For this, we need to thank Gautham Menon for taking the initiative of no expense spared and making Ilayaraja wear a goddam suit, finally.

The best part of the album is the use of guitars. If not mistaken, this would probably be the most use of guitar in an Ilayaraja album. And it has goddam heavy metal sound/guitar too! Hot damn. Who would have thought that the usually monotonous warbler Yuvan would be awesome!

As a great fan of Ilayaraja, I have a feeling that Gautham want Ilayaraja to not only to reach out to the younger generation, but also reconnect to old lost fans like this knucklehead owner of this blog site. Boy did he succeed or what.

Just like Eastwood picked up that gun and proved who’s the real badass in Gran Torino, Ilayaraja picked up his own .44 and showed who’s the real maestro.

Oh, metal fans, listen to Penkal Endral. If someone were to question me asking if Ilayaraja can do Teutonic thrash metal, I ‘d say, “you betcha!”.

This needs no caption. Seriously.


Sridhar said...

you are so modest about yourself.

this album is a celebration of music, not just because it is marketed properly.every single song is an experience to me.

pengal took some time to grow but oh boy,yuvan singing is so much to talk about in this song.not to forget atilo's guitar.

you have written exceptionally well about maestro in fan's perspective.

Anonymous said...

//When Ilayaraja unleashed his masterpiece album, Neethane Enthan Pon Vasantham (NEPV)//.. I beg to differ,because there are so many masterpieces and if you want to consider 2012 as the benchmark, then already Dhoni was there.
Nice article and luckily i can boast myself as a fan who followed all his works, in this millennium.
Logesh Aravindan

Rakesh Kumar said...

Thanks for reading Sridhar, just stumbled across an article I wrote back in 99/2000 about IR and realised that actually I have not forgotten him, just that out of touch. I hope to reproduce that here.

Logesh, heard two or three tracks of Dhoni in Tamizh, didn't have the same impact. And thanks to fans like you, he is able to continue to be awesome. Thanks for reading

Dr. R. JAYARAJ said...

Great Analaysis! I stopped listening tamil music after 90's. Now I turned up to listen tamil music, because of Ilayaraja! I am surprised the way he produced a gud & pure music! Thanks for the post!

Rakesh Kumar said...

Thanks for reading, Doctor.

ஆம்பூர் எட்வின் / பிரபஞ்சப்ரியன் said...

Cool...Thanks mate...!

Anonymous said...

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Muthu said...

//As a great fan of Ilayaraja, I have a feeling that Gautham want Ilayaraja to not only to reach out to the younger generation, but also reconnect to old lost fans like this knucklehead owner of this blog site. Boy did he succeed or what. //

I felt the same way you did. Tried to list from 97 and see how many I have missed. Expected to have a long gap in listening. But pleasantly , not so.(guilt pang eased :-)) At least key albums I have listened. The quality of music has been good and he was never away. (may be not full blown orchestra due to non-mainstream movies mainly)

I feel one key reason there might not have been many huge commercial hits in the 2000s is that, IR is a director's composer. Never a one to make his music stand out more than the movie demands or emotionally impacts him, he has not worked with main stream directors (read commercial/ heavy impact directors:) during the 2000s. (Read MR, Shankar et al, even though Kamal, Cheran and Bala stayed with him for many movies). This has understandably reduced the reach of the albums. The huge interest generated now is because after a long gap a commercial director is working with him.

See list here:

1997 - Kaadhalukku Mariyadhai, 99- Sethu, 2000- Hey Ram, Kannukkul Nilavu, 2002- Alaghi, Solla marantha kathai, 03 - pithamagan, julie ganapathy, 04 - Virumandi, 05 - Athu oru kana kaalam, 09 - Naan kadavul, 10 - Nandalala, 11 - ASK, Mayilu, 2012 - Dhoni, NEPVSengathu Bhoomiyilae,Maranthan Mannithan