One of the best music composers in India, Ilaiyaraaja is also a noted singer, songwriter, lyricist, instrumentalist and orchestrator among other talents. He is best known for creating amalgamations of western classical music with Indian classical. The Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan recipient has contributed music in 1000 films, over 7000 songs and also invented a raga called Panchamukhi. On the occasion of his 78th birthday, we take a look at five Hindi songs from the famed composer.
1. Aye Zindagi Gale Lagaa Le (1983)
Balu Mahendra’s Sadma, starring Kamal Haasan and Sridevi, is considered to be one of the best Indian films ever made. It’s a heartbreaking romantic drama about a man’s (Haasan) attempts to cure a girl (Sridevi) of retrograde amnesia. This was Ilaiyaraaja’s first composition for Hindi films. Aye Zindagi Gale Lagaa Le, written by Gulzar and performed by Suresh Wadkar, is the most memorable track from the film.
2. Botany Chhodenge (1990)
Ram Gopal Varma’s Shiva, starring Nagarjuna and wife Amala, a remake of his own Telugu film Siva (1989) deals with intra-college student rivalry, gang violence and the consequences of righteousness. Botany Chodenge, penned by Majrooh Sultanpuri, is one of the most popular tracks from the film. Suresh Wadkar, Udit Narayan and S. Janaki performed the song.
3. Janmon Ki Jwala (2000)
Kamal Haasan’s Hey Ram, which was produced simultaneously in Tamil and Hindi, deals with the Partition of India and Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. The film received three National Film Awards. The above Ilaiyaraaja composition, with lyrics by Sameer, was performed by Asha Bhosle and Hariharan. It depicts Haasan’s character Saket Ram reminiscing about his late wife Aparna (Rani Mukherjee), killed in a communal riot.
4. Cheeni Kum (2007)
Ilaiyaraaja composed both the songs and background score of R. Balki’s hit romantic comedy about an elderly chef (Amitabh Bachchan) who falls in love with a 34-year-old (Tabu). The title track was performed by Shreya Ghoshal.
5. Hichki Hichki (2009)
Swanand Kirkire wrote the lyrics to this Ilaiyaraaja composition for R. Balki’s Paa, performed by Sunidhi Chauhan. The song depicts the bonding between Auro (Amitabh Bachchan), a child suffering from progeria, and his father Amol, played by Abhishek Bachchan.