Ilaiyaraaja is the greatest Indian film composer of all time. His biggest strengths include an eminent knowledge of the raagas, simplicity in compositions (despite many of them having complex frameworks), wonderful collaborators, and exceptional talent as both a music director and a singer. His music is known to evoke feelings of romance, nostalgia, happiness, and pain. Isaignani, as he is affectionately called, speaks to me with his craft on a level so intimate and personal that no other musician in the world of cinema has been able to recreate that relationship with me.
With over 7,000 songs to his name (this doesn’t include his astounding background scores, by the way), Ilaiyaraaja’s respectable discography has made this list one of my most challenging efforts as a writer, which is why I’m especially glad to present to you 30 of my absolute favorite songs from one of the most fascinating geniuses of the music world.
30. Solam Vethakayile – Pathinaaru Vayathinile (1977)
Let’s start the list off with Ilaiyaraaja’s most underrated work. The legendary composer himself sings this folk song, which is one of my personal favourites from the genre. Solam Vethakayile plays during the opening credits of Pathinaaru Vayathinile. It describes a rural Indian village with just the instruments and musical style, and incorporates the excellent background score of the film into its first few seconds. I only wish it went on for longer.