Gautham Menon Picks His Top 5 Ilayaraja Songs

The writer-director lists his favourite songs of the maestro
Gautham Menon Picks His Top 5 Ilayaraja Songs

Thendral vandhu theendum pothu

'Thendral vandhu theendum pothu' is like an all-time favourite, it's right on top of the list. I probably would listen to it 3-4 times a week. It's just the way that the song is constructed musically, there is so much of a Western Classical influence. You can't say influence because he is that himself – so beautifully etched, you know. It works with the film and even if you leave the film aside, it's just a song you can make youngsters listen to. I just really wish we could do a new-age version of the same song with newer voices and stuff.

Kodai kaala kaatre

'Kodai kaala kaatre' is another song which whenever we sit and jam, or on a show, this is the first song that I would probably sing or talk about. Again, 70s or early 80s, so the production is a little of that time. But there is still so much of soul in that song – the melody, the way it's constructed.

En iniya pon nilave

And these are all guitar based songs right, so it really strikes a chord. Likewise, 'En iniya pon nilave' – from the picturisation to the mood that's created. And the song itself in Yesudas sir's voice, it's an all-time favourite of mine.

Kaatrai konjam

'Kaatrai konjam', from my own film, is a study of Raja sir because I know the way I sat with him. And it's a small song in the film. I had said, "It's a journey that he's taking to meet this girl whom he hasn't met in 4-5 years and he is in this angst of what will happen – I'm going towards her, will she treat me nicely? Will she talk to me?" and he said "Let's do a pallavi," and we made that song.

We recorded Karthik's voice in Bombay after composing in Chennai on his harmonium. While he was recording the song, I stopped the session and I asked him, "Sir, can we compose a charanam?" He said, "But you don't have the space." I said, "Even if it's not in the film, it's okay, I want the charanam for the album." So we sat and we wrote it, and that charanam came up in 15 seconds. It was unbelievable. Then we took it to London. And the way that the Orchestra worked, I think it's a beautiful song! Karthik sang it so beautifully.

Uravugal thodarkathai

'Uravugal thodarkathai', for the situation. I can still watch that even though the actors are not…I mean Sripriya is ofcourse mind-blowing. But Sivachandran is on the piano and it's not done well and all that stuff. And he's actually the wrong guy – he's actually cheating her in the film. But still, he gets a great song, which bothers me. In that number 5 slot, I can give you a whole list of songs, you know.

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