ILaiyaraaja-Vamshi : The Eternal Combination!

This combination has been the most peculiar, intriguing, artistic and amazing things which ever happened to Telugu Film Music! Right from Sitara (When they teamed up) to the recent Anumanaspadam, ILaiyaraaja-Vamshi never failed to amaze the audience with the spectacular songs from their albums! While we saw the Music taking us to the World of Classical dance till heavenly bliss from the album Aalapana, we experienced the chills of real Horror movie in terms of breathtaking Music for Anweshana. We saw the pain of failed lover and the agony of his through some mind-blowing music through Maharshi, the struggle of an orthodox woman becoming an actress and her love story wonderfully explained through music in Sitara! We saw Music can also be extremely funny through the prodigious usage of rhythm and sounds giving a new dimension to comedy in albums such as Ladies Tailor and April 1st Vidudala! It is needless to say the raagam “Keeravani” became popular in the general telugu public only after the song “Keeravani” from Anweshana!

This duo brought the “Remastering” concept of old songs (I’d rather not call it remix because that’s what we are hearing these days and have to decide again that the original is always the best- but that is not the case here!)  in the movie Sri Kanakamahalakshmi Recording Dance Troupe. These remastered versions of old songs are so beautiful and fresh that we appreciate the original tracks much more after listening them in the sound of ILaiyaraaja!

I am sure if I go on like this, I will end up naming out all the movies which came in this enthralling combination!

Apart from Music, Raaja sir and Vamshi share the interest of Photography and nature as well which made them great friends. Vamshi said he was always amazed by the way ILaiyaraaja gets fascinated by nature and how he composes music with such an accuracy and efficiency!Vamshi never misses to acknowledge ILaiyaraaja for his success and also believes strongly that his movies were successful mainly due to the presence of the Maestro’s music.

Recently, there was a very interesting programme named “Ee Paata Ela Puttindhi” (meaning:How was this song born) on MAA TV, a popular Telugu channel with director Vamshi where he spoke at length about his bonding with the Maestro. I was surprised to see Vamshi narrate some of the incidents which happened during the composing of movies like Anweshana, and Aalapana which made me feel that how can Raaja sir compose with such spontaneity and amazing perfection instantly! Though I heard about similar instances where The Maestro did fantastic job in exceedingly short time, it was a pleasure to hear from Vamshi, who remains to be not only ILaiyaraaja’s colleague at work, but also a great friend.

I would like to post some excerpts from Vamshi’s words about ILaiyaraaja from that interview in English so that it would be easy for non-telugu readers!

About Kinnerasani Vachindhamma ( Sitara) :

“The song Kinnerasani was initially composed for the movie Sagara Sangamam. But during that time only the Pallavi was composed at that time. The producer Yedidha Nageshwara Rao (of Poornodaya Art Creations who produced both Sagara Sangamam and Sitara) is very fond of that song and requested me to include it in Sitara (Which was released after Sagara Sangamam). I requested ILaiyaraaja to compose the charanam as well for the song and that’s how Kinnerasani song came into being. “

About Composing of Anweshana (Paadum ParavaigaL in Tamizh):

“ For composing of every movie ILaiyaraaja used take me for tours to some place or other such as Madurai, Senkotai, Namakkal Alayar Dam and at times even forest areas. But for Anweshana, we were travelling around Madurai on train. During the early morning, ILaiyaraaja asked me to open the shutter of window (in the First Class Compartment which we were travelling) and then we saw a breathtaking sight of dawn, an ancient fort at distance. In that brilliant atmosphere, The Maestro started explaning me about the place and then suddenly he aksed me to take out his Harmonium and that was the time the song ‘Ekantha Vela’ took birth.”


In this instance, he even mentions “Edhalo Laya” from the same movie is a truly experimental song where the bird sounds are converged to the tune and is an amazing composition.

About Preminchu Pelladu:

“I was having a great comfort in working with ILaiyaraaja and we both got tuned to each other. Though the producers wanted either SPB or Sathyam to compose for the movie, I insisted them that ILaiyaraaja is the only one I want. This went on and on and in the last minute after so much of convincing, the producers finally agreed. I hurried to ILaiyaraaja’s place but was apprehensive about that it has been already late and whether the songs could be completed in time. But the Maestro composed the songs for this movie in 45 minutes- and each song is brilliant in the movie. People like ILaiyaraaja are born to make such wonders”


About the birth of Aveshamantha- from Aalapana:

“As I mentioned earlier about me and ILaiyaraaja going on tour everytime for composing, this was another such brilliant incident. ILaiyaraaja said let us go to some natural place instead of staying in hotel. Hence we went to a nearby place which had an old neem tree below which we sat together. It was 7:15AM in the morning. Clad in white, the Maestro was looking divine while he was playing the harmonium. I was sitting in front of him like a devotee amazed by his presence. Then a songbird started singing in such a way that it was answering what ILaiyaraaja was playing. It was a brilliant sight and that’s how Aaveshamantha song came into picture!”

About Ekkada Ekkada- from Ladies Tailor:

“During those days the Maestro used to be so busy with work that even if we got one hour time it was like a miracle. There are four songs in the movie and three songs were recorded by that time. As we were running short of time and budget to record the song in Madras and again come back for filming, we wanted to film the unrecorded song as well in Rajole ( A place in Godavari District). So based on the tempo in which the song was tuned, I filmed the song and then recorded it going to Madras the next day. After finishing editing during that same day in afternoon, I showed the finished song to ILaiyaraaja during 8PM on the same day. He was surprised and asked how I did it. I told based on the tempo in which the song was tuned, I filmed the song accordingly. That was how the song was recorded after it was filmed”.

About Maharshi’s songs:

“The song Sanskrit Disco was written and tuned initially by writer Jonnavitthula during our college days which I used to sing during cultural functions as a student. I wanted to have it in the movie because a teasing song in Sanskrit was never used previously. When I requested The Maestro for the same, he asked to give the lyrics and will compose a new tune for it. That’s how this wonderful song took its birth.”

“During the composing of Saahasam song, when we went for an outing the Maestro asked me to write a lyric for which he would compose. Keeping the tamizh song “Vannile Thenlia” in mind I roughly wrote a lyric spontaneously  for which ILaiyaraaja tuned the song. This song was improvised later in lyric by Sitararama Sastry garu. Ram Gopal Varma told me that he was so fascinated by this song that he got it recorded continuously in both side A and side B of the cassette and used to hear it all the time”


There are many other interesting anecdotes which Vamshi shared apart from the aforementioned aspects. The Love Theme BGM (From Aalapana) was used as a full song (Kalala Karagala) in Kanakamahalakshmi Recording dance troupe and the theme music of Swathi Muthyam was improvised as full song “Ye Naadu Vidiponi” in the latter.

A short aalap bit of SPB in Aalapana was improvised as “Alli Billi Kalala” in Chettu Kindha Pleader as well.

Hoping that ILaiyaraaja-Vamshi combination would never fail to enthrall us, I am posting the video here for everybody’s viewing pleasure.

The second part of this programme would be telecasted this Sunday afternoon on Maa TV..

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About Navya

An ardent lover of music, books,photography and a thousand more things and trying to get a grip on all!
This entry was posted in Music and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to ILaiyaraaja-Vamshi : The Eternal Combination!

  1. Aakarsh says:

    Nice post, condensing all the anecdotes he shared in recent Tv programme(s). Vamsy has very distinctly differentiated himself, in his film-making style and also in the way he picked up some tunes from Ilaiyaraaja. I cant think of any other director, who is capable of leaving a stamp, that is as much or infact at times more dominating that composer’s stamp itself, on the song. Even today, if you listen to Vamsy’s songs in his current films, you can see him first instead of the composer.
    It is indeed sad that Vamsy & IR are no longer coming teaming up for dishing out a treat for us. And it is very sad that Vamsy is picking up composers who cant hold a candle against Ilaiyaraaja’s brilliance!

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