Jan 6, 2022

My Favorite 9 : Ilaiyaraaja love duets

Happy New Year! Let's start the year on a melodious note! Love duets composed and sung by the Maestro Ilaiyaraja !

A difficult task of shortlisting my 9 favorite love duets from all the songs that I love from Maestro Ilaiyaraaja's compositions. The important fact in this list is that these songs are also sung by the Maestro himself...Ilaiyaraaja has a unique timbre quality in his voice that make the compositions special and he easily lifts the songs to a different level with the expressions he infuses into his melody effortlessly! 

1. Naan thedum sevandhi poo idhu - (Movie : Dharma Pathini, 1986) Ilaiyaraaja with S.Janaki ; Lyrics by Kanmani Subbu.

One of my most favorite songs...A semi classical composition based on Hindolam raagam with western orchestration mixed with classical embellishments! Raaja preludes the song with a divine aalapanai that sets the mood. The female voice of S.Janaki is a perfect complement to Raaja's voice. I have sung this song once on stage during Sobha Utsav.

2. Poo maalayae thozhsera vaa (Movie : Pagal Nilavu 1985) Ilaiyaraaja with S.Janaki ; Lyrics by Gangai Amaran.

Truly a masterpiece that enthralled me from my childhood. The burst of violins playing in two different octaves gives the song a dramatic start and this magic continues in every interlude throughout the song.  A song that demonstrates voice counterpoints - both male and female portions simultaneously flow with overlapping different melodies. 

The first time I sang this song on stage was with my junior Vennila during a music show at SAP during my masters. 

3. Thendral vandhu theendumbodhu - (Movie : Avadharam, 1995 ) Ilaiyaraaja with S.Janaki; Lyrics by Vaali.

Another Raaja masterpiece that takes a bit of simple 'folk'-ish melody and marries it with western "symphonic" orchestration to deliver an out of the world composition and experience to listeners. Click here to listen to Movie Director Nasser's interesting account of his experience in the making of this song. 

4. Oru Jeevan azhaithadhu - (Movie : Geethanjali, 1985) Ilaiyaraaja with K.S.Chithra ; Lyrics by Vaali.

An amazing romantic melody that has remained fresh even after 36 years and gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. 

5.  Kannamma-  ( Movie : Vanna vanna pookal, 1992) Written and Sung by Ilaiyaraaja along with S.Janaki.  One of the best compositions rendered in Raaja's voice.. No one could have sung it like Raaja has...! Mesmerizing is the only word! 


6. Adi aathaadi - (Movie : Kadalora kavithaigal, 1986) Ilaiyaraaja with S.Janaki; Lyrics by Vairamuthu.  A super hit number in Sivaranjani ragam. Effortless singing in high to low octaves with beautiful expressions!

7. Andha nilavathaan - (Movie : Mudhal Mariyadhai 1985) Ilaiyaraaja with K.S.Chithra; Lyrics by Vairamuthu

A folk style composition in Natabhairavi ragam... its peppy and playful and uplifts my mood whenever I hear it! 

8.  En Ganam indru arangerum ( Movie : Eera vizhi Kaaviyangal 1982) Ilaiyaraaja with Jency ; Lyrics by Vairamuthu

An underrated song (infact the entire album) that did not become popular in its time but was rediscovered more recently and was raised to cult status by Rajaa fans! 

9. Sangathil paadadha kavidhai (Movie : Auto Raja, 1982 ) Ilaiyaraaja with S.Janaki; Lyrics by Pulamaipithan; Another heart touching composition in Kaapi ragam by Raaja that has stayed evergreen for the last 40 years

The song was first composed by Raaja for the malayalam movie 'olangal' as "Thumbi vaa". The tune was immensely popular and was reused in Tamil, Telugu (Nireekshana, 1986) and Hindi (Aur ek prem kahani, 1996) as well. In 2009 Balki again used this song in Hindi movie Paa in a new contemporary avatar!

Just for the record, some of the other songs that came close on the list are:
1. Oru ganam oru yugam ( nadodi thendral)
2. Kadal ovium ( alaigal oivadhilai)
3. Siruponnani asaiyum (kallukul eeram)


  1. I wasn't familiar with any of these and I've really enjoyed listening. They are lovely and wonderful choices.

    1. Happy to hear you enjoyed the choices Jean :)

  2. Thanks for sharing! And good luck with your book!

  3. It's interesting to hear the music, so different to what we usually her here. Thanks for sharing! Valerie

  4. I knew you could do it. The very best with your new book.

  5. Best wishes for a great year ahead!

  6. That's starting the year at full pace friend Ashok.
    Let it continue, let it continue.
    Happy new year.
    Best regards.

  7. These are wonderful to listen to and it is great to bring a little of the world to me. Thanks.

    1. Happy to know u liked them Erika :)

  8. Congratulations on your new book. I listened to some of these - a few mintues in and wow the violins in that second one in the beginning are amazing. Your country's music is so different than ours - and so intriguing and nice to listen to.

    1. Glad you could listen and be intrigued Sandy :) True,The Music here is unique and different to western ears..

  9. I listened to some of your music choices; a lot of instruments are used and it is very different to the music we hear in the UK, it is much more cheerful and fast paced.

    1. Thanks Betty, keep listening :) will keep sharing more in future posts !

  10. Nice post thanks for sharing !!!
    Happy New Year Ashok !!!

  11. He is a genius, no wonder, the song takes the listener to ecstasy. Thank you for sharing here.

  12. Congrats on your new book! Thanks for sharing the videos :-)

    Best wishes!

  13. A superb list... Ilaiyaraja is a genius...