It’s unlikely that one grows up in Tamil Nadu in the 80’s and 90’s and not become an Illaiyaraaja fan. Yuvan Shankar Raja, the composer’s son, is no different. But are his favourites the same as yours? Excerpts from an interview where we tried to find out:

What’s your favourite Illaiyaraaja folk song?

It has to be ‘Maankuyile Poonkuyile’ from Karakattakaran.  My uncle (Gangai Amaren, who directed the film) told me once that if a tune can be sung as both a happy song and a sad song, then it’s surely going to be a hit. In ‘Maankuyile’, if you make the lyrics sad, it would have become a great sad song. The same way, if you want to make it a duet, then it could have become a duet. It’s a universal song in that sense.


Indian classical song?

The songs from Sindhu Bhairavi, obviously. Also, the songs of Salangai Oli.  ‘Paadariyaen Padippariyaen’ is special… it takes you to so many places. I like that approach.

Western Classical

‘Poongathave Thal Thiravai’ from Nizhalgal.


‘Raja Rajadhi Rajan Indha Raja’ from Agni Natchithiram. Aishwarya Dhanush wanted me to remix that song for her film Vai Raja Vai. It’s a song that still sounds fresh and I asked Aishwarya if she was sure we meddle with it. I went up to my dad for his NOC for the remix and he said, “But what are you going to do with it?” I tried so many things but it wasn’t working out. Whatever I touched, I felt like I was disturbing the song. I then went to Aishwayra and said let’s not try this…fans might get really upset if we get it wrong. So instead of that, I composed ‘Move Your Body’ in its place and got dad to sing it as well.


‘Idhu Oru Nila Kaalam’ from Tik Tik Tik. I once asked appa how he recorded that song and he said, “It was nothing. I just composed the tune, and the orchestra was there. So I said let’s try this with the chords, the groove and the bass.” He explained it like it was created after a lot of jamming….it was that instant.  I love funk so I really like that song.



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