Isaignani Ilayaraja – Biography

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Personal Profile (Personal Biography): Isaignani Ilayaraja
Birth Name: Gnanathesikan
Date of Birth (Birthday): 2nd June 1943
Birth Place: Pannaipuram, Theni District(Tamil Nadu)
Parents: Ramasamy, Chinnathai
Religion: Hindu
Occupation: Film Score Composer, Lyricist, Music Director, Song Writer, Singer and Film Producer
Instruments: Vocals, Guitar, Keyboard, Harmonium, Piano
Number of Movies: 1000
First Movie: Annakkili
1000th Movie: Thaarai Thappattai
Number of Awards: 23

Ilaiyaraja is an Indian film composer, singer, and lyricist. He is regarded as one of the finest music composers in India. Ilaiyaraja is also an instrumentalist, conductor, and a songwriter. To date, he has composed over 4500 songs and provided film scores for more than 950 Indian films in various languages in a career spanning more than 30 years, particularly being acclaimed for his background scoring for Indian films. His songs and background score played a very crucial role in the success of many films. He remains one of the most popular composers ever in the South Indian film industry, and also in the list of world`s top selling music artists.

Ilaiyaraja has been a prominent composer of film music in South Indian cinema since the late 1970s. His works are mainly in Tamil and Telugu. He integrated folk lyricism (in Tamil) and introduced broader Western musical sensibilities into the South Indian musical mainstream. A gold medalist in classical guitar from Trinity College of Music, London, in 1993 he became the first Asian to compose a full symphony performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London`s Walthamstow Town Hall. In 2003, according to a BBC international poll, people from 155 countries voted his composition “Rakkamma Kaiya Thattu” from the 1991 film Thalapathi fourth in the world`s top 10 most popular songs of all time. He was also nominated in the Best Indian album Music Awards category at US based Just Plain Folks Music Organization, which is the largest grassroots music organization in the world, and stood third for his “Music Journey: Live in Italy”.

In the 2000s, he composed a variety of non-film music, including religious and devotional songs, an oratorio, and world music, while shifting his focus to Malayalam and Kannada-language films. He is usually referred to by the title Isaignani, or as The Maestro. He has won four Indian National Film Awards for Best Music Direction, and is a recipient of the prestigious Padma Bhushan Award from the Government of India. He is married to Jeeva, and the couple`s two sons (Karthik Raja and Yuvan Shankar Raja) and daughter (Bhavatharini) are film composers and singers