Who is a greater musician - A R Rahman or Ilaiyaraaja? This is often the focus of vigorous contention between fans of these extremely talented music directors. There are many parallels in their career and their lives have intertwined in interesting ways. Both hail from Tamil Nadu, and began learning music under Master Dhanraj. They were both awarded the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian honor in 2010. Incidentally, both lost their fathers at an early age and were brought up by their mothers. Both have three children.
In his formative years, A R Rahman worked as a keyboardist in the troupe of Ilaiyaraaja and Ilaiyaraaja rented musical instruments that once belonged to Rahman's father.
|A R Rahman||Ilaiyaraaja|
|Awards||Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan, from the Government of India. 2009 Oscar award and two Grammy Awards 25 Filmfare awards||Padma Bhushan, from the Government of India. 1994 Honorary citizenship and key to the Teaneck township by Mr. John Abraham, Mayor of Teaneck, New Jersey, U.S.A.|
|Date of birth||6 January 1966||2 June 1943|
|Occupations||Composer, record producer, music director, singer, instrumentalist, arranger, programmer||Film score composer, lyricist, music director, instrumentalist, arranger, singer|
|Origin||Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India||Theni, Tamil Nadu, India|
|Religion||Muslim (born Hindu)||Hindu|
|Place of birth||Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India||Pannaipuram, Theni district, Tamil Nadu, India|
|Education||He began early training in music under Master Dhanraj. Graduated with a degree in Western classical music from the Trinity College of Music.||In 1968, music course with Master Dhanraj in Chennai. A gold medalist in classical guitar from Trinity College of Music.|
|Instruments||Keyboard, piano, guitar, harmonium and the synthesizer||Keyboard, piano, guitar, harmonium|
|Children||Three; Two daughters (Khadijah, Rahima) and a son (Aameen).||Three; two sons (Karthik Raja and Yuvan Shankar Raja) and a daughter (Bhavatharini)|
|Nickname||Time magazine has referred to him as the "Mozart of Madras" and several Tamil commentators have coined him the nickname Isai Puyal (Tamil: இசைப் புயல்; English: Music Storm).||Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi(1988) conferred the title Isaignani (English: A man with great knowledge in music), or as The Maestro.|
|Music style||Carnatic music, Western classical, Hindustani music and Qawwali. Symphonic orchestral themes, fusing traditional instruments with new electronic sounds and technology, uses of counterpoint, orchestration and the human voice.||Interfusion of Western, Indian folk and Carnatic elements. amalgamated elements of genres such as Afro-tribal, bossa nova, dance music doo-wop, flamenco, acoustic guitar jazz, march, pathos, pop, psychedelia, and rock and roll.|
A R Rahman’s early life
A R Rahman was born A. S. Dileep Kumar in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, on 6 January 1966, 2nd child of R. K. Shekhar and Kashturi. They belonged to a musical Mudaliar Tamil family. Rahman lost his father at the age of 9 and his family rented out musical equipment as a source of income. When his younger sister fell severely sick and as per the advice of a family friend, the family prayed at a mosque and vowed conversion to Islam if she got well. The prayers were answered so he along with other members of his family then converted to Islam in the year 1989 at the age of 23 and changed his name to Rahman.
- He started learning the piano at the tender age of four.
- He began early training in music under Master Dhanraj.
- He served as a keyboard player and an arranger in bands such as "Roots", with childhood friend and percussionist Sivamani, John Anthony, Suresh Peters, JoJo and Raja
- He joined, as a keyboardist, in the troupe of Ilaiyaraaja.
- He dropped out of school altogether when he was doing his 11th grade.
- He also played on the orchestra of M.S.Vishwanathan, Raj-Koti and Ramesh Naidu and accompanied Zakir Hussain and Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan on world tours.
- He got a scholarship to the famed Trinity College of Music at Oxford University from where he obtained a degree in Western Classical Music.
- He was a part of local rock bands like Roots, Magic and Nemesis Avenue.
- From 1987 he had a 5-year successful stint in advertising (jingles).
Ilaiyaraaja’s early life
Ilaiyaraaja was born as Gnanadesikan in Pannaipuram, Theni district, Tamil Nadu, India on 2 June 1943, 3rd son of Ramaswamy and Chinnathayammal. Growing up in a rural area, he was exposed to a range of Tamil folk music. He was an introvert, constantly exploring his skills in music. His eldest brother, Varadarajan died when the family faced extreme poverty. He produced some movies later in his life under the banner of Pavalar Productions in the memory of his brother.
- At the age of 14, Ilaiyaraaja joined a travelling musical troupe headed by his elder stepbrother, Pavalar Varadarajan.
- While working with the troupe, he penned his first composition
- In 1968, he began a music course with Professor Dhanraj in Madras (now Chennai)
- He specialized in classical guitar and had done a course in it with the Trinity College of Music, London. He got a gold medal
- In the 1970s, he played guitar in a band-for-hire.
- worked as a session guitarist, keyboardist, organist for film music composers and directors such as Salil Chowdhury from West Bengal.
- As the musical assistant to Kannada film composer G. K. Venkatesh, he worked on 200 film projects, mostly in the Kannada language. During this period, he also began writing his own scores.
Rahman is skilled in Carnatic music, Western classical, Hindustani music and the Qawwali style. Symphonic orchestral themes have accompanied his scores, where he has employed leitmotif. His compositions bring out the uses of counterpoint, orchestration and the human voice, evolving Indian pop music with unique timbres, forms and instrumentation. Rahman is arguably more adept at using synthesized sound and beats in his music, and his music has gained wider national (India) and international popularity.
Ilaiyaraaja's music is characterized by the use of an orchestration technique that is a synthesis of Western and Indian instruments and musical modes. He uses electronic music technology that integrated synthesisers, electric guitars and keyboards, drum machines, rhythm boxes and MIDI with large orchestras that feature traditional instruments such as the veena, venu, nadaswaram, dholak, mridangam and tabla as well as Western lead instruments such as saxophones and flutes.
A R Rahman has won fourteen Filmfare Awards, four National Film Awards, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe, two Grammy Awards, and two Academy Awards. He has also been awarded Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan from the Government of India.
Ilaiyaraaja has won four Indian National Film Awards for best film scoring, and is a recipient of the prestigious Padma Bhushan Award from the Government of India.
Early in Rahman's career - when he was 24 - he was profiled in the Doordarshan program Surabhi.