Houstonians Experience the Spiritual Musical Journey of Ilayaraja!

Padma Vibhushan Ilayaraja with Rajender Singh of Star Promotion

Padma Vibhushan Ilayaraja with Rajender Singh of Star Promotion. Photos: ROY Photography

By Vanshika Vipin Varma

HOUSTON: How must we refer to a 74-year Padma Vibhushan recipient who is an instrumentalist, a conductor, a singer, a songwriter, and a film composer who has worked across several regional genres, composed over 6500 songs and provided film scores for more than 1000 films. A living legend and God of music! And that is Ilayaraja! 

Across his career panning several decades the maestro Ilayaraja has enthralled his fans with seemingly unending sources of innovation, talent and inspiration, but that’s not only all makes him a legend and a genius. He has ‘invented the wheel’ of specific instruments like violins, flute, guitar and many more. His compositions, arrangements and orchestration are a magical blend of western symphonies coupled with the traditional and distinctive forms of vocals and choral effects.

For the first time ever, Houstonians got a chance to experience Ilayaraja’s mesmerizing melodies at the Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land, on Saturday, March 10. The mega-event was organized by Rajender Singh of Star Promotion, and was aptly titled, ‘Raaja, The OneMan’. Rajender, has successfully organized more than a hundred events across multiple cities. His shows have been the talk-of-town- well received and accepted amongst the public; hence his success stories are a long list.

Houston was looking forward to the much-anticipated Raaja, The OneMan. Raaja Sir, as the God of music is fondly referred to, mesmerized the crowd with several musical flavors, which was an ecstasy for music listeners. This grand musical night had loads of magical moments in store for the enthusiastic audience. And it began with a traditional ritual of Ganesh Vandana, with Ilayaraja playing a harmonium. The maestro sang notes from the era of the 70’s, to the recent ones.

The audience was wowed by the magnanimous size of his team that included over 85 musicians, of which a 60-member symphony orchestra had teamed up from Budapest, Hungary, with conductor Laslov Kovach and super talented Indian classical musicians from India. His composition is always a treat to experience and so was this grand event. He was accompanied by singers K.S. Chitra, Mano, Haricharan, Rahul Nambiar, Sharath and Santosh. Each one of the singers touched his feet to seek his blessings before they began singing.

Their simple attire and a spectacular performance established the fact that outstanding talent shines with or without a mask of glamour. Ilayaraja has so many musical accolades to his credit that as soon as a song would take off it would be welcomed with a roaring applause from the audiences. And, in between his enthralling composition, Ilayaraja would have the audience in splits with his punch lines. His aura proved that he has all the strings of his troupe controlled thoroughly, and that is an honorable achievement by itself.


The God of music, a gold medalist from Trinity College of Music, London, has been accredited with setting a trend for film music in South India, by introducing Western musical nuances into songs. Apart from the regional Tamil compositions, he has also done some remarkable music direction work in Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi films. Early last year, Ilayaraja had suffered a mild cardiac arrest at his residence in Chennai. Inspite of this, he sprung back into action and continued his passion and journey of music. The President of India honored him with the Padma Vibhushan, on the eve of India’s Republic Day this year.

The soul touching concert included hit songs like Om Sivoham (written by Ilayaraja in Sanskrit), Ninnu Kori Varnam, Vidiyum Neram, the popular Hindi track- Aay Zindagi Gale Lagale, Dhak Dhak– that was sung in Telugu & Hindi simultaneously, Priyathamaa (the Telugu hit that received loads of applause), Mate Man Trabhu. As a tribute to the screen legend, late Sridevi, Rahul sang Surmai Akhiyo se and mentioned that it was his dream come true to sing for Raaja Sir. His last song, an icing on the cake was from the hit solo from Kamala Hassan’s movie Nayakan. The evening took the audiences on an enchanting, spiritual and inspiring experience.

The troupe will be performing at other cities including, Dallas, San Jose, Chicago, Connecticut, and Toronto. Delighted at this successful show, Rajender mentioned, “I am thankful to the legend Mr. Ilayaraja for giving me the opportunity to work with him. After watching his concert I truly believe he is not only a legend, but also the God of Indian music Industry. I found his singing to be very divine and soulful. We are blessed to have him in our industry. A special thanks to Consul General of India Dr. Anupam Ray, and Deputy Consul General Surendra Adhana for coming and supporting the event. Finally, a big thanks to all sponsors, supporters, and to the Houston audience”.

The concert proved that music has no language and boundaries and the diversity of India was so marvelously depicted through the event.
The upcoming concerts from the house of Star Promotion include Mubarkan featuring Hans Raj Hans and Navraj Hans on May 4, Raju Raja Ram Aur Main (comedy play) featuring Sharman Joshi, on May 11, Shaan Live in concert on July 7. For further information, sponsorship and tickets call Rajender Singh at 281-222-4500 or visit starpromotioninc.com