Tuesday October 14, 2014

Time-traveling with Ilayaraja across his Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam songs!

Posted by Karthik

I started getting serious about Ilayaraja’s non-Tamil music only in 2010-11. It was a very random effort, no doubt initiated by Geetha’s Jothe Jotheyali. In 2012, I wrote a formal request on Milliblog asking readers to suggest Ilayaraja’s songs from Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada that are worth listening to. Considering the man has composed generously in Telugu and to a lesser extent in Malayalam and Kannada, tons of recommendations poured in the comments section. I have gone on a sustained effort to collect good songs (meaning: songs I like) from all the suggestions and trying on my own to listen to the rest of the soundtracks if I liked one song.

Since 2012, I have made tons of playlists with Raja’s non-Tamil songs and have loved their company on long drives to places like Bandipur, Wayanad and Coorg.

The best part of discovering Raja songs late in life, long after I have saturated on his exhaustive Tamil repertoire is the fact that I get to relive my 80s life! It’s like a road from the 80s that I haven’t visited in a place I lived back then (Sri Rangam, for instance) and finding that road now, in its 80s condition!

It’s a feeling I can’t quite explain – suffice to say, it is magical!

Of course, there are tons of songs that I’m not particularly keen on liking now, in my current state of mind, but there are a LOT of songs that sound absolutely wonderful even today.

So, here’s me finally listing those songs that have given me immense joy. When I was speaking to a friend recently, he said he has never heard of Raja’s non-Tamil songs but for the stray Geetanjali types (one of the reasons no song from the film features in the list), that too because of its Tamil version. This was a predominant sentiment back then when I was in Tamil Nadu – there was very limited exposure to Kannada, Malayalam and Telugu film music and our limited exposure to those film industries was mainly through Doordarshan’s Sunday afternoon ‘award’ films (I still recall seeing the Kannada film Thabarina Katha on DD, the film tha gave Charuhasan a National Award!).

The following list is also firmly pre-2000 Raja repertoire and is in no way meant to be complete. These are just the few that I managed to listen to and liked enough to recommend to you. You could very well shout aloud, ‘How dare this doesn’t include Guru’s Devasangeetham?’. It was suggested and it was in my long list, but as I said, this is just an introduction. Now that I have exposed you to Raja’s non-Tamil music, if you liked what you heard here, feel free to go on a trip on your own and explore the rabbit hole.

If you think I’m missing some obviously good songs, do add them in the comments. Chances are I may have heard it, but it was way below in my favorite list… but if I do find a good song that I haven’t heard, that’d be a super bonus to this post!


01. Emani ne – Mantri Gari Viyankudu
This is that song which I’ll name as my most favorite Telugu song by Raja. The kind of song that has me going weak in my knees! Irresistable in every way – the magical tune, the interludes… everything!

02. Eduta neeve – Abhinandana
I prefer this melancholic version of this tune in Abhinandana (1988), compared to the more masala version in an earlier Telugu film, Anveshana (1985), where Raja made the same song as ‘Ilalo’. It completely baffles me as to why the man would reuse the tune, that too in the same language, and that too both starring Karthik! But I’m thankful that he did!

For the record, Ilalo, from Anveshana.

03. Kalaya nijama – Coolie No.1 (Dil churaliya)
The video for this song is severe kasamusa matter, so watch it only you are alone 🙂 But what a song!!! A sorta of precursor to Avatharam’s Thendral vandhu and very very similar to Chatriyan’s Maalayil yaaro, in form! For some reason, I also continue singing a Hindi song after ‘Anigunna aadathanamaa ikanaina melukonuma’, for some odd reason. The song happens to be M M Keeravani’s ‘Dil Chura Liya Saathiya‘ from Saaya!

04. Suman prati sumam – Maharshi
A song that sounds like a Telugu commercial version of Karpoora mullai ondru… a must-hear!

05. Keeravani – Anveshana
Absolutely mind-boggling Keeravani-based song by Raja. The interplay between SPB’s singing and the music… the violin interludes and the way the violin joins at the end of every line in anupallavi… all absolutely delectable!

06. Nirantaramu vasantamule – Preminchu Pelladu

07. Ade neevu – Abhinandana
Even though Raja created this song in Tamil first, for a 1985 Vijaykanth starrer (Amudha Gaanam), it is in the Telugu version that I love the song (KJ Yesudas sings in Tamil, while SPB sings in Telugu!). There’s something very-Bharathiraja about this song – as the chorus starts, I imagine angels in white dancing in the background! Abhinandana seems to be one of those films that has a knock-out soundtrack – almost every song is brilliant!

08. Alli billi – Chettukinda Pleader

09. Ekkada ekkada – Ladies Tailor
The song starts only at 1:31… you have been warned, given the extremely corny video! Lovely song, but!

10. Mata rani mounamidi – Maharshi
Raja used the same tune in a Tamil film too, in the same year! In the Ramarajan starrer Shenbagame Shenbagame, for the song ‘Manja podi‘, but with the song’s pace reduced!

11. Manasuna palikina sarigamale – Sankeerthana

12. Urakalai godavari – Abhilasha

13. Vennello godari – Sithara
A song that strongly reminds me of Manadhil Urudhi Vendum’s Kanna Varuvaaya! Same Gowri Manohari raaga? The song is of course reused from Nizhalgal’s ‘Dhoorathil naan kanda un mugam’ that preceded the Telugu version.

14. Nee meeda naaku – Rakshasudu

15. Eppudu eppudu – Aakhari Poratam
A delightful mixture of Punnagai Mannan’s Mamavukku kuduma and Rajathi Raja’s Malayala karayoram!!


01. Geetha sangeetha – Geetha
My all-time fave Kannada song – even overtakes Jotheyali! SPB’s voice, the guitar and the anupallavi is to die for!

02. Jotheyali jothe jotheyali – Geetha

03. Hero hero – Ajeya
Kick-ass 80s attitude 🙂

04. Naguva nayana – Pallavi Anupallavi
This being Mani Ratnam’s debut, Tamil folks may have heard this song. This song is also special because of its view of 80s Bangalore!

05. Ee daaha – Shikari
Couldn’t find a YouTube link! This is Raja’s own Engeyum Eppodhum!

06. Sringara henninda – Nagara Bayalu

07. Nanna neenu gellalare – Nee Nanna Gellalare
I believe this is the only Rajkumar film which had music by Raja!

08. Oh preme – Pallavi Anupallavi

09. Kanavarisu – Shikari

10. Yava shilpi kanda kanasu – Januma Januma Anubandha
I prefer this over crowd favorite Thangaali, from this film! Strong memories of Oh maane maane from Vellai Roja!


01. Thumbi vaa – Olangal
This song has been reused by Raja in almost every language, but the original (I believe this is it!) is still the best!

02. Poovaai virinju – Adharvam

03. Swapnangal – Season
Very, very free-flowing Raja!

04. Thaimavin thanalil – Oru Yatramozhi
Magical music!!!

05. Kalkandam chundil – Onnanu Nammal

06. Konji karayalle – Poomukhappadiyil Ninneyum Kathu
Strongly evokes Ilamai Kaalangal’s Isai Medayil, another equally deadly song!

07. Thamara kili paadunnu – Moonaam Pakkam
Such a sweet song!

08. Thazhampoothaalil – Oomakkuyil

09. Vezhambal kezhum – Olangal

10. Puzhayorathil – Adharvam
Raja did resuse the tune in a Tamil song (Sariya thavara naan kaadhalichadhu), but the Malayalam version is in a different level!



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