The unknown side of Ilaiyaraaja

Published Jan 21, 2014, 8:09 pm IST
Updated Mar 19, 2019, 7:32 am IST
Isaignani Ilaiyaraaja organised an exhibition in the city, featuring a collection of breathtaking photographs clicked by himself

That Maestro Ilaiyaraaja is a world renowned musician is common knowledge. But Isaignani has an interesting side to him which has been kept under wraps all these years. Raja is an expert photographer and his passion was evident when some of the photos taken by him was on view at a recent exhibition of his works, titled Naan Paarthapadi, at the Art Houz Gallery in the city.

Raja, who has recovered from his ill health, unveiled his works and interacted with the press at the gathering. Having started this hobby in 1978 and taken more than 5,000 pictures in various genres, Raja says he didn’t hunt for these snapshots as he didn’t have the time for that. “All these pictures were taken only during my travelling time.  I love to take pictures of nature,” he says. The ace composer reveals that whenever a new camera is introduced in the market, the next moment he is keen to possess it. “Those were different times, and after everything became digital, I stopped taking pictures,” he says.


Reacting to a query whether anyone was critical of his hobby, he says with a smile, “Did anyone ask me why I am composing music. The same thing is applicable here. I just pursued my passion.” Among the still photographers, he says Raghu Rai is his favourite, and in films, he adores P.C. Sriram and Balu Mahendra’s works. “Balu and PC have appreciated my love for the art,” he says.

The Padma Bhushan awardee has strong opinions on how photos or movies taken on a film roll is more of a challenging task than digital photography. “When you develop the negatives from a film roll, the depth and output of the pictures are superb. This is lacking in the digital format. What can one do? All good things are being destroyed.”


Asked if he yearns to take pictures of any particular actor/actresses or a popular leader, pat he replies, “No, I don’t like to take such pictures.” Quiz him if he would extend his hobby and turn cinematographer, and he laughs loudly, “Oh no! That’s not my cup of tea. What I know in my life is only music.”

Has any particular picture disturbed him? “Many! More than that, I have missed out on many true moments to capture with my camera. I took a picture of a girl who was crying on the road in Bengaluru. I finished taking the picture quickly and looked around for her to give her some money, and she was missing, she was nowhere to be seen,” he says. The exhibition which started on January 15 is on till January 22. Plans are on to hold it in Kovai and also abroad, in cities, such as Singapore, Dubai and London.