Bharat Ratna for Maestro Ilaiyaraaja sign now

This is a petition requesting the Government of India to confer the prestigious Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honor, on the legendary music director, Maestro Ilaiyaraaja.

Ilaiyaraaja fans all over the world are pained to note that he has not received any civilian honor from the Government of India in his 33-year long illustrious career. A look at his works and achievements would convince anyone that such recognition is long overdue.

Having composed over 4,000 songs and provided film scores for around 875 Indian films in various languages in a career spanning more than 30 years, Ilaiyaraaja is the most prolific music composer in the world today. He is a gold medalist from Trinity College of Music, London and is the first Indian to score a symphony. Ilaiyaraaja's composition, Rakkama Kaiya Thattu from the movie Thalapathi (1991) was amongst the songs listed in a BBC World Top Ten music poll. He composed the music for Nayakan (1987), an Indian film ranked by TIME Magazine as one of the all-time 100 best movies. He has thrice won the Indian National Film Award for best music direction. He was conferred the title Isaignani ('savant of music') in 1988 by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi. He has also received State Government Awards from the Governments of Kerala (1995),Tamil Nadu (Kalaimamani Award), Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh (The Lata Mangeshkar Award) (1998) for excellence in music. In 1994, he was presented with an honorary citizenship and key to the Teaneck Township by Mr. John Abraham, Mayor of Teaneck, New Jersey, U.S.A.

Following his debut in 1976, he virtually monopolized the South Indian music industry for over a decade. The year 1985 saw a mind-boggling 50 films carrying Ilaiyaraaja's musical score. Besides Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada films, he has scored music for Hindi (or Bollywood) film productions such as Sadma (1983), Mahadev (1989), Lajja (2001) and Cheeni Kum (2007).Critics feel he has revolutionized Indian Film Music with the use of Western classical music harmonies and string arrangements. He attaches as much importance to background music (BGMs) as he does to songs and he has been instrumental in increasing the significance of BGMs in Indian Films. Apart from being a critically acclaimed music director, Ilaiyaraaja is also an occasional lyricist and a leading playback singer with over 400 numbers to his credit.

Ilaiyaraaja's first two non-film albums, 'How to Name it?' and 'Nothing But Wind' were explorations in the fusion of Indian and Western classical music. His recent album, Thiruvasagam is an oratorio which brought to life, ancient poems written by renowned Tamil poet Manickavasagar in praise of Lord Shiva.


Through his unique composing skills, Ilaiyaraaja has impressed fans and music stalwarts alike. Here is what a few legends had to say about him.

Dr.BALAMURALIKRISHNA (Eminent Carnatic Vocalist, India)- As far as i am concerned, I would say Ilaiyaraja is the composer of the century. If there is one single authority on 'orchestration', it can only be ilaiyaraja.

HARIPRASAD CHAURASIA, (exponent of Hindustani Classical Music, India) - It is a treat watching him (Mr. Ilaiyaraaja) work - he does everything, composing, arrangement of instruments, orchestration and conducting - that too without the help of any assistants and a stopwatch.

LALGUDI JAYARAMAN (Eminent Musician, India) - The speed with which he writes notations have always baffled me.

NAUSHAD ALI (Doyen of Hindi film music, India)- That this man has achieved is 100 times more than what any of us have achieved; only time can tell the quantum of his achievements.

RICHARD KING (Sound Engineer of Thiruvasagam in Symphony, Winner of 5 Grammy awards) - Even his thoughts are musical. Ilaiyaraaja is the musical face of India, which the western world is really stunned at!!!

SEMANGUDI SRINIVASA AYYAR (Eminent Carnatic Vocalist, India) - Raaja has that unique gift to please common man and carnatic experts alike. Shri Ilaiyaraaja is a great film music director - his expertise in diluting Carnatic Ragas without diluting their native merits, is well known to me - and a thorough expert in Carnatic music.

ZUBIN MEHTA (Music Conductor, Israel Philharmonic) - I was bewildered after listening to his 'Nothing But Wind' and 'How to Name it'. He belongs to the 21st century and perhaps beyond.

As fans of Ilaiyaraaja, we would say his music has made us cry, has made us laugh, has made us think, has made us jump in joy, has calmed us down, has comforted us while in distress, has given us company in times of solitude.

For all that has been stated above, we, the fans of Ilaiyaraaja, sincerely feel that it is high time the Bharat Ratna was conferred on this Living Legend.

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