Ilaiyaraaja Age, Wife, Children, Family, Biography & More

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Age: 80 Years
Hometown: Pannaipuram, Tamil Nadu
Wife: Jeeva


Real NameGnanathesikan, Daniel Rajayya
NicknameRaasaiya, Raaja
Profession(s)Music Director, Songwriter, Playback Singer, Lyricist, instrumentalist, Film Producer
Physical Stats & More
Height (approx.)in centimeters- 162 cm
in meters- 1.63 m
in feet inches- 5’ 4”
Weight (approx.)in kilograms- 60 kg
in pounds- 132 lbs
Eye ColourBlack
Hair ColourGrey (semi bald)
Personal Life
Date of Birth2 June 1943
Age (as of 2023) 80 Years
BirthplacePannaipuram, Madurai District, Tamil Nadu, India
Zodiac signGemini
HometownPannaipuram, Tamil Nadu, India
CollegeTrinity College of Music, London
Educational QualificationMusic Course (1968), Degree in Western Art Music
DebutFilm: Music Director in 'Annakili' (Produced by Panchu Arunachalam)
TV: Music Composer in 'Thenpandi Singam' on Doordarshan (1996)
FamilyFather- Daniel Ramaswamy
Mother- Chinnathayammal (Expert in Tamil Folk Songs)
Brothers- Pavalar Varatharajan (Poet), Amar Singh (Gangai Amaran) (Music Director and Lyricist), Daniel Bhaskar
Ilaiyaraaja With His Brothers Amar Singh (Gangai Amaran) And, Daniel Bhaskar
Sisters- Kamalammal, Padmavathi (Writer- Life of Music)
CasteScheduled Caste
Musicians A. R. Rahman
Ilaiyaraaja With A. R. Rahman
Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig Van Beethoven
Girls, Affairs and More
Marital StatusMarried
WifeJeeva (Died on 31 October 2011)
Ilaiyaraaja With His Family
ChildrenSons- Yuvan Shankar (Composer), Karthik Raja (Composer)
Daughter- Bhavatharini (Composer, Singer)
Ilaiyaraaja With His Wife Jeeva (L), Sons Yuvan Shankar, and Karthik Raja (Standing), Daughter Bhavatharini (Sitting Front)
Money Factor
Net Worth $94.8 Million (9.48 crore)


Some Lesser Known Facts About Ilaiyaraaja

  • Does Ilaiyaraaja smoke?: Not Known
  • Does Ilaiyaraaja drink alcohol?: Not Known
  • He is one of the most famous music composers in South Indian cinema whose compositions have been used mostly in Tamil and Telugu films.
  • He belongs to a poor rural Dalit family.
  • Since his childhood, he has a great interest in Tamil folk music.
  • In his teenage, he joined and spent time with the theatre artists as well as music group headed by his elder step-brother Pavalar Varadarajan. Ilaiyaraaja With His Music Group at Marina Beach, Chennai
  • At the age of 25, he moved to the Southern Movie Capital in Chennai. Ilaiyaraaja
  • His first composition was an adaptation of an elegy created by a famous Tamil poet Kannadasan for Jawaharlal Nehru (first prime minister of India).
  • He got the training of playing instruments and learned different forms of music from his Guru Dhanraj Master who gave him the name Raaja.
  • He learned the classical guitar at Trinity College of Music, London. Ilaiyaraaja
  • In 1968, accompanying Professor Dhanraj in Chennai, he started a music course that comprised western classical music, instrumental performance, and compositional training, etc.
  • During the 1970s, he worked as a keyboardist, session guitarist, and organist for different composers and directors in West Bengal.
  • He worked as an assistant music director with G. K. Venkatesh, a Kannada film composer and involved in 200 film projects.
  • He used to orchestrate the melodic outlines created by Venkatesh and also wrote his own scores.
  • In order to listen to his compositions, he used to hire instruments from R. K. Shekhar, a famous composer, and father of A. R. Rahman (a prominent composer) who later worked with him as a keyboardist.
  • In 1976, he got an offer to compose the songs of a Tamil film, Annakili, produced by Panchu Arunachalam. For this film, he used the technique of modern music orchestration and Tamil folk song melodies. The most popular song in this film is “Machchana Partheengala” sung by S. Janaki. Ilaiyaraaja's Initial Career Movie
  • Richard King, a sound engineer and five-time Grammy award winner, called him the ”Musical Face of India.”
  • His dramatic and evocative melodies give texture through subtle background music to the different scenes in films.
  • In 1993, he got a gold medal for his expertise in classical guitar (from Trinity College of Music, London).
  • In 1994, he discovered a new raga named ”Panjamugi .”
  • He is the music composer of over 6000 songs and provided background music in more than 840 movies of different languages. Ilaiyaraaja
  • He is the first Asian who created a Symphony with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) in London in 1993.
  • With the help of 200 musicians from India as well as Hungary, he composed an album ”Thiruvasagam – A Symphonic Oratorio” with Symphony Orchestra of Budapest, which is a beautiful synchronization of eastern and western music. He has also blended the music of west with Tamil folk lyricism.
  • By 1980s, he won popularity as a reputed film composer and music director in the South Film Industry of India.
  • Not just for Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam films, he also composed music for the famous Hindi movies like Sadma, Mahadev, Lajja, Cheeni Kum and Paa.
  • He has worked with famous lyricists like Kannadasan, Gulzar, Veturi Sundararama Murthy, T. S. Rangarajan (Vaali), Vairamuthu, and Sirivennela Sitaramasastri.
  • He has also worked with famous film directors such as Mani Ratnam, Bharathi Raaja, K. Vishwanath, Vamsy, Singeetham Srinivasa Rao, K. Balachander, and Balu Mahendra, etc.
  • For the movies Saagara Sangamam in 1984, Sindhu Bhairavi in 1986, and Rudraveena in 1989, he won the National Film Award for the Best Music Director, and for Pazhassi Raja (2010), he won the award of the Best Background score.
  • The governments of Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh honoured him for his great contribution to the music industry.
  • In 1988, M. Karunanidhi the former Chief Minister of TamilNadu gave him the title ”Isaignani” (English: Savant of Music) and he also received the Kalaimamani Award for excellence in the field of arts.
  • Citizens from 155 countries voted his famous composition “Rakkamma Kaiya Thattu” (1991 film Thalapathi) and ranked it on number four in the top ten list of world’s famous songs.
  • In March 1994, Annamalai University, and in 1996, Madurai Kamarajar University of Tamil Nadu, gave him the Degrees of ”Doctor of Letter.”
  • ”Just Plain Folks Music Organization” (in the United States), which is one of the largest music organizations in the world, chose him as a nominee in the Best Indian album Music Awards category.
  • During the 2000s, he also composed non-film music in different varieties like devotional and oratorio.
  • His famous non-film album- ”How To Name It?” (1986) is the fusion of Carnatic form with the Bach partitas and Baroque musical textures. The other one ”Nothing But Wind” (1988)’s music corresponds different forms of air currents. Ilaiyaraaja's Non- Film Hit Album- ''Nothing But Wind''
  • He has given his own voice to over 400 compositions.
  • The well-known playback singers such as P. Susheela, S. Janaki, Lata Mangeshkar, S. P. Balasubramaniam, K. J. Yesudas, K. S. Chitra, S. P. Sailaja, Swarnalatha, Asha BhonsleShreya Ghoshal, and many other prominent vocalists have lent their voices to his music.
  • He has also composed music for the events like 1996 Miss World in Bangalore, India.
  • Under his film production company “Pavalar Creations,” he produced a few Tamil movies like Rajathi Raja (1989) and Singaravelan (1992). He has another film production company named ” Ilaiyaraaja Creation’s.”
  • In 2004, he performed live at the Teatro Comunale di Modena, Italy, where he played a song with just three notes (sa, re, ga) and was telecasted throughout the world.

  • On 16 October 2005, he performed live in a four-hour concert held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai. Similarly, he expressed his great talent in different parts of the world.

  • At the starting days of his career, he has also done charity concerts and small-scale shows in Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
  • He, along with film composer M. S. Viswanathan, won the Gold Remi Award for Best Music Score of the film Vishwa Thulasi in 2005.
  • He received the ‘Padma Bhushan’ award (2009) from the Former President of India Pratibha Patil for the “Best Background Score” category in the Malayalam film Pazhassi Raja. Ilaiyaraaja Receiving Padma Bhushan From Pratibha Patil The Former President of India
  • He has written the story and songs of a popular Tamil language film ”Nadodi Thendral” directed by Bharathiraja in 1992.
  • In 2010, Orissa government gave him ”Akshaya Samman,” a musical award.
  • John Abraham, Mayor of Teaneck, U.S.A. offered him the honorary citizenship and key to the Teaneck Township, New Jersey.
  • In 2012, he got Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for his experimental musical works.
  • In 2013, a poll conducted by CNN-IBN in which he was voted (49%) the greatest music composer of India.
  • He was greatly influenced by the philosophy of Ramana Maharishi of 20th Century and called him his ”Zen master.”
  • In 2018, he has been nominated for Padma Vibhushan (the second highest civilian award after Bharat Ratna in India).
  • In July 2022, he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the President of India.