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Rewind with Raja: Crowning glory- Cinema express

Rewind with Raja: Crowning glory

Ahead of the upcoming Ilaiyaraaja concert, Isai Celebrates Isai, the Isaignani, in this column, reflects on an old photo of his from the TNIE archive

Published: 24th May 2019

Kalaignar Karunanidhi was the one who gave me the epithet, Isaignani. In 1988, they conducted a function to honour my contribution to cinema and Kalaignar was the chief guest. On his way to the function, he had read my books, Vetta Velidhanil Kotti Kidakkudhu and Sangeetha Kanavugal, and once he reached the venue, he met me in person and shared he really liked my work. On stage, he surprised me by giving me the title ‘Isaignani’. He reasoned it out saying he believed I was an expert in both music and spirituality. After the function, I told him ‘Isaignaniyar’ was the title given to the mother of Sundarar, one of the 63 Nayanars. He replied, “Of course, I know that. That’s why I gave you that title.”

I also wish to share an undisclosed incident here. Kalaignar had written the songs for Uliyin Osai, which had music by me. When we played those songs to him, he was elated upon watching the Naan Oru Sirpi track, which plays out in the film when a sculptor confronts a dancer and lists out the historical books based on dance. I had sung the song in a single take. After the screening got over, Kalaignar called his secretary Shanmuganathan and director of the film, Ilavenil, and said, “Isaignani-ndra pattathukku ivar dhaan ya thagudhiyaanavar. Ivar ipdi irukradhunaala dhaan indha madhri velipaadu varudhu.”

(As told to Navein Darshan) 

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