Rewind with Raja: A penny for a song
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
'This picture was taken during the shooting of Sigappu Rojakkal. Before I came to Chennai, amma had called me and my brothers (Gangai Amaran and Bhaskar) and asked, "What will you do in Madras?" I replied, "We'll play music for cinema, drama or kacheri. We will use all opportunities that life throws at us. Even if we don't get any chances, we can always perform on the streets." A tad distressed on hearing my response, she said, "Enna pa ipdi laam solreenga?" (Why are you saying such things?) Since we were incredibly optimistic, I replied saying, "Ada 'platform-um' medai dhana ma. If the Communist party stages where we played when we were young were a kind platform to showcase our talent, the actual 'platforms' are just another kind. The listeners are going to be the same, irrespective of where we perform." Time rolled by, we came to Chennai, and I finally got my break as a composer with Annakili. Two years after my debut, we were reminded of this conversation and decided to put our words into action. We took our instruments and went straight to the beach to perform. During that time, Kamal Haasan, who was also there shooting for Sigappu Rojakkal, noticed us performing and called Stills Ravi to click pictures of us. Ravi insisted that we paused for a while, spread a mat on the floor and asked everyone including Kamal to throw coins on it to make the picture look interesting. The picture here was shot right after that performance.'
(As told to Navein Darshan)