‘I readily badmouth Ilayaraja now’
Chennai: It was a red-letter day in the life of G Rajeshwaran.
The middle-age, typical Tamil guy, who had been listening to A R Rahman music for over 15 years, finally felt that he has become a true fan of the maestro.
‘It’s a highly emotional moment for me, as it has been a long and eventful wait for me,’ Rajeshwaran gushed. ‘Admittedly, Rahman’s music takes a long time to grow on a person. My bad, it took nearly 15 years for his music to fully take roots and establish itself in me. Probably I didn’t have the right manure for his kind of music’ Rajeshwaran quipped.
Though he is now smiling, things were not all that rosy over the last decade or so for Rajeshwaran. There were periods during the 15 years when Rajeshwaran almost came close to giving up on Rahman and felt that he could never attain the exalted state of being a typical fan of the musician.
During those dark days, Rajeshwaran made do with by fiercely following the likes of Deva, Sirpi and S A Rajkumar, those sterling pillars of Tamil film music, who helped you listen to different kinds of world music, by bringing them here to Kollywood under their own names. Of course, the ingrate world termed their artistic social service as ‘copying’. But luckily their services did not actually go unrewarded as the Tamil Nadu government, which consistently backs high art, rightly provided them with Sodexo coupons for getting a Kalaimamani award in the nearest departmental store.
Anyway, in the Indian music world, the acme of fanboyishness is to be a faithful follower of Rahman. ‘The world of cricket is peopled by just two sets. One group is comprised solely by Sachin Tendulkar. The other group is made up of his fans. To be part of the cricket world, the rule is simple: Either you have to be born as Tendulkar or be his fan. There is no room in cricket for anyone else. It’s a similar story with Rahman as far as film music goes in India,’ Rajeshwaran philosophically pointed out the inescapable realities in this part of the world.
‘On one desperate occasion, I even thought of faking my feelings, like several others did, by claiming that I loved Jai Ho, and Ringa Ringa,’ Rajeshwaran recalls those days of doubt and dilemma. ‘But then I realised it will not stop with Jai Ho, I may even have to feign interest in the songs of Blue, Kisna and Komaram Puli. Well, such tastes take a lot of time to acquire,’ he added matter of factly.
As these things happen, Rajeswharan’s puberty as a Rahman fan arrived unexpectedly, when he was decidedly unprepared for it.
‘Day before yesterday, after lunch, I was aimlessly browsing the internet when there was a bile of unease in my stomach. But I didn’t bother much as I was reading the Rediff comments page. The surge of bile is inevitable on such occasions,’ Rajeshwaran said.
‘Soon enough, the bile began to vehemently stream up and eventually poured out in the form of some hard and strong words (in a musical discussion page) for Ilayaraja. When I could readily badmouth Ilayaraja, there was no hiding it. I knew the Rahman fan in me had arrived,’ he explained rationally.
Choicest words for Ilayaraja has to be the inviolable benchmark for qualifying to be a true-blue Rahman fan. ‘It’s nothing new in India, nah? To be a Rajnikanth fan, you have to positively detest Kamal Haasan. Such things come with the territory. The world of music is united in only one thing: In its wholesome admiration for T Rajendhar, especially when he is not scoring music,’ Rajeshwaran said cheerfully, as he got ready to fulminate against Ilayaraja for his full-nasal voice and how he usurped all the good tunes for his own singing. ‘Of course, I will also use the line ‘Ilayaraja killed the career of T M Soundarrajan’ when the discussion gets all heated up,’ Rajeshwaran said with gusto.
The hormones have completely taken over him now, and today Rajeshwaran has quickly evolved into a full-blown Rahmaniac and he is now ready to stoutly defend even 127 Hours, whose music was nominated for the Oscars this year.
‘When we all know that Rahman’s music takes time to grow, it’s a mistake to have nominated 127 Hours so early for the Oscars,’ he said and added ‘127 Hours music will surely appeal to the Oscar committee in 2022. The world in general is that late’.
Rajeshwaran said the rule for Rahman fan has to be: never give up. ‘When I first heard the songs of films like Uzhavan, Taj Mahal, Kangalal Kaidhu Sei, they never created any stirrings in me or anybody else for that matter. Now you know they are part of the pantheon of all-time Rahman classics,’ he said. ‘Rahman music not only takes time to grow on you, but also grows without anybody realising that it has indeed grown,’ he added.
As a parting shot, he said, who knows, one of these days, even the songs of Parasuram will be labelled as classics.
Well, this is the vehemence of the newly-converted.
(Disclaimer: If you didn’t like this piece, read it again. Again. Again. Again. Till it grows on you. Also, don’t forget to badmouth other humour writers)