Director and music composer Gangai Amaran has been in the news in recent months, beginning with his explosive statement against AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala and family as the battle for the CM's chair heated up following Jayalalithaa’s death.
Recently, Gangai Amaran was nominated as the BJP's candidate in the RK Nagar constituency in the upcoming bye-poll. And the debutant politician has now hit the headlines once again - this time, for lashing out against his older brother Ilaiyarajaa's actions.
Ilaiyarajaa, a world-renowned music composer, had sent legal notices to singers SP Balasubrahmanyam, SPB Charan and KS Chitra, for using his compositions in concerts without taking prior permission.
Speaking to The News Minute, Gangai Amaran maintained that Ilaiyarajaa's demands were unreasonable.
"You were singing compositions by MS Viswananthan, Thyagarajar, Muthuswamy Dikshithar - did you speak of copyright then? Did you give them any money? What is this new rule you're talking about? What are you going to do with this copyright?" he questions.
Gangai Amaran is dismissive of Ilaiyarajaa's claim that he holds the copyright for his songs and that legally, he should receive royalty for the compositions.
"What do we mean by copyright? The composer only creates the tune. The poet writes the lyrics, the singers sing it. Royalty has to go to all these people. You've already been paid for this - why do you want to take away from what other people are getting paid now?" asks Gangai Amaran.
Gangai Amaran adds that he thinks someone is misguiding Ilaiyarajaa for personal gains.
"Music is like the wind. It is breath. It is light. It is the breeze. It is everything. You cannot say someone is breathing my air...this is like asking money for breathing. And what about those ordinary light music orchestras who make a living by singing his songs onstage? He (Ilaiyarajaa) is a genius and nobody can dispute that. But he has no brains. He's listening to what someone's telling him and behaving in this idiotic manner," he alleges, adding that he thinks it's Ilaiyaraaja's lawyer who is egging him on to do such things.
However, Ilaiyaraaja's lawyer had clarified previously that the composer was not going to stop light music orchestras from performing his songs and that his demands were limited to professional singers who earned in lakhs for the shows that they did.
Gangai Amaran feels even this is indigestible.
"It is their right to earn that money," he says. "If you buy a Toyota car and it's running well, will the car manufacturer come and ask you to pay money for it again and again?"
He emphasizes that the people Ilaiyarajaa is surrounded by are playing a game and that they are encouraging him to do such acts so they make money out of it.
Gangai Amaran notes that Ilaiyarajaa has only upset fans of his music by this salvo.
"They only know he has said that his songs should not be sung. They don't understand his terms and conditions. Why can't people sing his songs so people world over can listen to his music? Why is he asking for money for this? We get the wind and the rain for free...this is like the rain saying no, I won't pour down on you unless you pay me. We consider Ilayrajaa's music to be like nature when we listen to it," he says.
Gangai Amaran adds that Ilaiyarajaa managed to make his music because of the efforts of many people - producers, poets, singers, musicians - and that something which belongs to everyone cannot suddenly become one person's property.
"We consider Ilaiyarajaa to be common for us all," he asserts.
Shifting gears and speaking of his political debut in Tamil Nadu, Gangai Amaran says, "The political parties contesting against me in this election are all money-minded and not interested in justice. They're only interested in safe-guarding their own wealth and not in doing any good for the people. If they had the public in mind, they would have already done what needs to be done...they could have made it a constituency without any problems."
Gangai Amaran alleges that the DMK has not put up anyone who has actually worked hard for their party. He also says there will be four candidates who "fight with Jayalalithaa on their posters".
"So which Jayalalithaa will it be? Sasikala Jayalalithaa, Panneer Jayalalithaa, Deepa Jayalalithaa or Madhavan Jayalalithaa? They have split the votes amongst themselves. They're all here for wealth, not to serve the people," he says. "That's a plus for me. The people will like the fact that a clean person like me is contesting."
Asked about the image of the BJP as a party that doesn't care about Tamil Nadu - a contention which was apparent during the jallikattu protests - Gangai Amaran flares up and says, "It was the Congress government which was responsible for the ban. It was the Modi government which gave suggestions on how to move against this. Why are you blaming the Modi government for what the Congress did? It was Modi who brought jallikattu back. Why doesn't your tongue speak about this? I ask the public this."
Considering Gangai Amaran had spoken up about Sasikala's corruption in the recent past, will this be something he focuses on during his campaign in RK Nagar?
Gangai Amaran says, "It's not to redeem my property that I'm contesting in the elections. Corruption is a problem. If someone like me can be harassed for property like this, what is the state of ordinary people? Whatever I've lost is lost forever. Isn't it enough for them (the Sasikala family) to have an 8-feet room to live in? Why do they need to harass people like me? Why can't we have houses or gardens? How can they just take what they like?"
Gangai Amaran alleges that the Sasikala family has enough money "to buy the whole of Tamil Nadu" and that the people of Tamil Nadu should understand the extent of their corruption.
"The judgment which has come now is punishment for what they'd done then. If they were to pay the price for what they've done since, they'd have to be in jail forever," he declares.
Why has Gangai Amaran, a man of arts, decided to get into politics?
"I used to delight people with my music. Now I have come to serve the people because that's what I wished to do. That's why I've joined a clean party like the BJP," he concludes.