Sunday, February 22, 2009

Illayaraja vs A.R.Rahman

Yes, Déjà vu.

One of the blog that I read regularly and I respect the views - Yours Musically! I can always expect an unbiased and balanced viewpoint. And a recent post of his drew a lot of attention and I am forced to reopen this topic in 7Swara that we discussed quite a while back!

What pained Suresh so much to write that post was the following comment made by Srikanth.
Dear Vicky,

Long time ago, I used to play the flute in light music troupes in chennai, though I have been fully focussed on practising carnatic music lately. I wanted to listen to the music of the movie "Slumdog Millionaire" today to see why it's being talked about so much. I searched and listened to it online. It left me with a bad aftertaste.

I just felt like cleansing my ears, body and soul by listening to some Raaja music and landed in your blog. Thanks for the wonderful analysis, sound clips. You (and Raaja) made my day.

with love,
srikanth.

The whole point here is, why do you have to put somebody down if you want to praise the other? If A.R.Rahman is nominated for Oscars, why is there a heartburn for the "so-called" Illayaraja fans? Literally, in Tamil, this is called "வயத்தெரிச்சல்". I have seen several A.R.Rahman fans who hear enjoy "Mandram Vantha Thendralukku" as much as "Taxi Taxi". I have heard many many of A.R.R. fans who claim that they like any good music - not just A.R.R., though they love A.R.R. the most.

So, in a set theory, looks like A.R.R. fans are a subset of "music lovers". "Haris Jeyaraj" fans are a subset of "music lovers" and "music lovers" is a big set who loves every genre of music. And there is a "DISJOINT" set - "Hardcore IR fans" who like only Illayaraja's music! They are often pulled up for making disgracing comments about ARR.

For sure, I belong to the 3rd group and I take all the pride to declare that openly. Did I bad mouth ARR? Did I pass disgracing comments about ARR? Do I have "வயத்தெரிச்சல்" that A.R.R's Vande Mataram gets all the publicity and IR's Thiruvasagam doesn't? Do I have "வயத்தெரிச்சல்" that A.R.R. is nominated for Oscars and the first asian to have composed Symphony is appreciated in a meeting with only Nassers, Partheebans and Vaalis?

The answer is "Yes" and "No". In my school & college days, I used to fight ARR vs IR without understanding the essence of music. Nowadays, I hardly get into these discussions and I live in my own Rassaiya's world! But, gone are the days, when we ask why someone drinks alcohol? Today, if someone doesn't drink, he is asked, why he doesn't!

My experience is that I am questioned why I am out-dated and don't open up my ears to other's music! So, I am forced to make my opinion public. And my opinion is MY opinion. Now one can not take offence on my opinion. And my opinion is that Raaja has filled my ears and heart with His music, has invaded my system and he wouldn't let anyone else in. And it is not ME who wouldn't open up, but, it is He who is doing this to me! And I like Him for doing that to Me. So, we have got into a groove and this entire life time is not enough for me to comprehend His achievements and enjoy His divine music!

Knowing some of the other hard core IR fans, I would like to speak on their behalf that hard core IR fans like to speak to other hard core IR fans, they like to live in Rassaiya's world and don't have anything to complain on anyone, unless they are provoked.

The other interesting part is "Recognition". Is it A.R.Rahman's mistake that he will will Oscars before Illayaraja? Should A.R.Rahman be polite enough to turn down the award and make a statement that Illayaraja deserves more than him? Is that what hard core IR fans are wanting?

A big NO. The right answer is: 'ஆதங்கம்" and the often misunderstood expression is: "பொறாமை". Nobody is expecting Raaja to be nominated to Oscars for Nan Kadavul. But, the point is about what recognition has our system and Government has given to Him? What about Bharat Ratna, Padma Shris?

But, wait a minute! Do I want my Rassaiya to stand in dias, first asian to have composed a Symphony, to receive a Padma Shri award after A.R.Rahman, Hema Malini, Vivek, Thotta Tharini, Mani Ratnam, Aamir Khans and 1000s in this league, who received for their contribution in arts?

NO. Didn't you hear what I said?

NO!

68 comments:

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kumar.s.r said...

Absolutely NO !

Vajra Krishna said...

I’ve recently been reading quite a few articles, blogs, posts, comparisons between ARR and Ilaiyaraja… using their contrasting styles of composition as a means to compare which of the two is better… but in very crude terms… as if one must rule over the other… Someone actually went so far as to claim that ARR was a genius for POP music compositions, but IRR is a true film music genius. After having recently watched Ilaiyaraja compliment and applaud Rahman’s achievements, and having watched Rahman send an important message to all tamil film music lovers - to not compare in so vile and violent a manner: link.

I was inspired to respond:

Genius pop musicians, genius classical musicians, genius ghazal musicians…. ah yes… if you ask Jagjit singh, he would tell you that IR and ARR are both nothing, one comes from a jingle world, another comes from an equally deprived film music world… and their music lacks the substance and quality of his ghazals…

Need I go on… these vain comparisons are everywhere and abound… but the entirity of these arguements and these comparisons are focused on the very thing that is so aptly put in “Life of Pi.”

“There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging for a few paise, walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, “Business as usual.” But if they percieve a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astounding. Their resolve is frightening. These people fail to realise that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside.”

These comparisons are the very same fodder of foolishness.

I have heard often that when, after a sudden spark, Illaiyaraja pens a magnificient composition, writing fluidly in a magical moment where the perfection of all the possibilities for the song - infact, the original composition that Illaiyaraja concieves in his head, as he begins to note it down, to place it on paper… in that very act the composition changes, until he is left with something majestically different. And he cannot say for certain which composition was the better one. The one that was in his head, or the one that is now on paper.

And when, roused by the power of the composition, people have asked Ilaiyaraja the secret to his alchemy… he would most often point upwards onto heaven… for he himself knew not the contours of this divine power.

When Rahman is asked about his genius, he atributes all glory to God.

Harris Jeyaraj once mentioned in an interview that sometimes he gets the uncanny feeling that the most part of concieving a composition is actually within the period of “waiting”… for that moment where a revelation is given onto the composer by a higher force. That it is indeed an act of listening, of recieving. Not creating.

So, the genius that lies in any great composer, is not even his to own.

Yet here you are, like fools, adding thickness to the illusion.

Infact, for the most part if you catch a composer at an honest moment - no matter the manner in which he composes (Illayaraja is reputed to write the entire song through a single insight, and Rahman is reputed for his experimental and embracive nature), any composer will tell you that his gift is something that he cannot take credit for.

That is, until the advent of ego. That part of humanity that wants to own, despite all evidences to the contrary. This is why Illayaraja is also known for having fought with a filmmaker or two over why a film was a mega-blockbuster hit. He insisted that it was his music that made the film what it is, and the director would insist that it was his vision.

The truth is, all such sparks of creativity was not theirs…

And creative people, artists who have truly meditated over their gift will attest to this. They will tell you that the more they try to own it, the more they will lose it. The more they leave themselves open, the greater the sparks of genius.

Ilaiyaraja leaves himself open by different means to ARR, 0ther than that their genius lies only in their surrender onto God. Rahman prays before, during, after every composition, every day. He is acutely aware of what I am speaking of, as is Ilaiyaraja.

An erstwhile film journalist recounted his own experience when he once went to interview Iaiyaraja:

“He invited me into his room at Prasad Recording Studio (in Kodambakkam, in central Madras). It is a bare room, with just one straw mat to sit on and piles of the special, personalised notepaper Raja uses to compose on.

“After sitting cross legged on the floor for a bit, he suddenly got up and switched off the airconditioner - in August, mind you, when it is hottest in Madras. Then he sat, in the lotus posture, eyes closed, while I sweltered in the heat of that enclosed room. Suddenly, he opened his eyes and in his trademark soft voice, said, ‘The best music can be heard in the sounds of silence’, and then closed his eyes again to listen some more…”

A passage, “In his short life, Mozart created over 600 masterpieces. Because he was peerless in his accomplisments, like Michelangelo, many in his time claimed his treasured music to be divinely inspired, the voice of God.

“People make a mistake who think that my art has come easily to me,” he once explained. “Nobody has devoted so much time and thought to composition as I. There is not a famous master whose music I have not studied over and over.”

“Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius. ” - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

So, then, are you arguing and comparing who is more capable of love? Rahman or Raja? This does not seem silly to you?

Post continued in:
http://vajrakrishna.wordpress.com/2009/03/27/all-credit-to-god/

Dattaprasad said...

So true. By the way... i'm not a native of tamil... I've heard a.r.rahman, but heard Illayaraja in "Cheeni Kum" only... whenever i try to listen to his music, i find it hard to grasp what's going due to my language handicap... can somebody guide me through his music.

vaish cool dude said...

Common people!! AR Rahman is unique in his own way and Illayaraja is unique in his way! You can't and you should'nt choose who is better!! I am a very big fan of AR Rahman but i never will fail to listen to IR's composition! I would say both are genius! Music is to listen! And i will listen to the best song and not my favourite music director's alone! n i would say that both have contributed to the Indian music!! Rahman became famous because of his few patriotic albums! It is not the matter of who wins oscar award but it is about an INDIAN winning two oscars and making us proud!! Both of them are really wonderful human beings! Both of them don't feel jealous about one another! But it is their fan communities who fight! Even when he won the oscar Rahman was so down to the earth when he mentioned in tamil that"ella pugazhum iraivanukke" that is: all glory to god! Be proud of that Indian as an Indian and a lover of good music!

Music is my life......
Vaishnavi Sekhar

Kart said...

An Ilayaraaja will inevitably be compared only to an ARR an not to KL Sehgel because they are from the same industry and the same genre.Only an Amithabh will be compared to Shah Rukh. Its human nature to compare.Indue course of time Yuvan may get compared to ARR or to IR himself provided he becomes as popular and succeful as either of them.
Each man is entitled to an opinion and this blog is only a medium to discuss the same.Long live IR, ARR, Bach ,Mozart et al.

Kart said...

An Ilayaraaja will inevitably be compared only to an ARR an not to KL Sehgel because they are from the same industry and the same genre.Only an Amithabh will be compared to Shah Rukh. Its human nature to compare.Indue course of time Yuvan may get compared to ARR or to IR himself provided he becomes as popular and succeful as either of them.
Each man is entitled to an opinion and this blog is only a medium to discuss the same.Long live IR, ARR, Bach ,Mozart et al.

Prashanth said...

emjay, you're A man after my own heart!

johngault2605 said...

Comparing IR and ARR is like comparing the effectiveness of the parents of IIT JEE toppers of say 1980 and 2000. The name of the exam is the same, syllabus is the same, institution is the same but situation is entirely different, examination is different and most importantly, metric for comparison of good parenting itself has changed. It is very stupid to compare both of them.
I wish fans understood it. We shouldn't be surprised if there is any kind of jealousy as it is very human and even an accomplished genius such as Ilayaraja Sir cannot help but succumb to such 'humanity'. But it is not right on our part to do draw senseless comparisons and probably lead to sore feelings between the two great composers.
By the way, I am a hard core Ilayaraja fan and want to get married to his voice.

pearlmaharajan said...

dear friends... right from my childhood I am late... here too.. after a long long discussions I have reached this valuable page...

being a guitar student... and 100% Ilayaraja fan... I have to admit he is my music god... but still whenever there is time i listen to good music... composed by anybody... but when I find the transition from inspiration to implementation... Iam really really upset...

just search for the prefix with copycat.. to anybody like IR, ARR, HJ,Yuvan... u will get less things abt IR, to be true Harris and Deva tops the list... ARR too have a considerable thing...

first of all we should not compare IR with ARR... I find more nativity with IR rather ARR.. he is too good in Roja.. in nativity... but slowly it got vanished in years roll on.. its not his fault too... i served what the people wanted... he wanted to do good business and good music what the crowd wants and deserves in the current trend...

and as far as the oscar is concerned... friends... even a small child knows... OSCAR is given for a English movie only... and there is only one category for the FOREIGN movies to get the same... for that... IR has qualified more than ARR. IR has worked in no International film... very recently a short film named "Amma" is gonna be fulfilling that...

according to me IR is the best BGM maker. We people are still speaking about the BGM of Thalapathy... y??? how natural it was??? don't we remember the scene of Srividya, Rajinikanth and Jaishankar in the temple... wow...wow..wow... the bgm tells the feel of the three...

I feel... Maniratnam, with his works along with IR had less dialogues than with ARR...

I love ARR's TAXI..TAXI.. too... but still.. I love a more little that of IR's NANDHALAALAA... Azhagarsamiyin Kudhirai...


Im not against ARR... im verymuch proud that he grabed the OSCAR for all the Indians. But still... IR has already filled my soul...

Additional info: the guitar play of IR makes me learn the guitar... as simple i make it...

CoolSri said...

I am not here for a comparison.But one thing for sure Ilayaraja still last.Just like suprabatham or any other devotional songs which never makes you bored despite continuous listening IR sirs various compostitions are still the lullaby of millions of Tamilian oops if I used wrongly Tamilians i would correct as Indians.Right from Ilaya Nila to Nilave vaa The list of sweet everlasting songs lasts forever ever ever.I would say the pieces IR sir makes comes without an EXPIRY date..Inspite of all there are notable works of other musicians too not Just ARR.So Just listen to good songs whoever makes it let it be a street singer or composer.We are not here for a Comparision between Himalayas and The Alps.

CoolSri said...

I am not here for a comparison.But one thing for sure Ilayaraja still last.Just like suprabatham or any other devotional songs which never makes you bored despite continuous listening IR sirs various compostitions are still the lullaby of millions of Tamilian oops if I used wrongly Tamilians i would correct as Indians.Right from Ilaya Nila to Nilave vaa The list of sweet everlasting songs lasts forever ever ever.I would say the pieces IR sir makes comes without an EXPIRY date..Inspite of all there are notable works of other musicians too not Just ARR.So Just listen to good songs whoever makes it let it be a street singer or composer.We are not here for a Comparision between Himalayas and The Alps.

Endou Kenji said...

well,i like both of 'em,though i love ilayaraja a hundred times better ,he is THE king,afterall
They are different in their styles;ARR has a vibrant and energetic(not implying that his music is not melodious) anatomy ;while IRaja's has a simple and(but?) very moving attributes.Hearing once,people(younglings usually :) ) usually feel that ARR is brilliant(he is,just go on reading);but from my experience(however shallow that might be),IR's melodies will not make as explosive a impact as ARR's did,but it will sink into ur heart,seep into you;soak u;second time,third,fourth,u will start appreciating his style better and better and bettert(its about sustainability,what im talking about and that is why my vote goes for IRaja)..I am a youngling(19 passes,I guess), and I was actually a hardcore ARR fan(the usual herd mentality)(my father used to say IR was the king,how melodious his music is,that i should try listening,blah,blah,blah, and I always thought he wanted to defend his times,So I neve listened),but after I got into college,I thought I might give IRaja a try,and now here I am, converted(ARRism to IRism,say :D ) and believing in it..