As the 42-year-old composer pushes the frontiers of his craft further and gears up for his directorial debut, fans can’t wait to see the ‘Yuvanisms’ in store for them.

Music composer Yuvan Shankar RajaFile photo
Flix Music Friday, March 04, 2022 - 20:59

Music composer Yuvan Shankar Raja, who is known for his versatility, recently celebrated the completion of 25 years in the Tamil film industry. Yuvan announced on March 2 that he is exploring new territories as an artist and would soon be making his debut as a filmmaker. Extending his gratitude to filmmakers and others from the film fraternity, he announced that he will also be entering the world of NFTs.

The youngest son of legendary music composer Ilaiyaraaja, Yuvan made his debut as a composer when he was only 16 years old, with the 1997 film Aravindhan. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Yuvan probably learnt to sing before he could speak. After all, he hails from a family of musicians including his brother Karthik Raja, who studied music, and his sister Bhavatharini, who is also a singer.

Having worked in over 100 films, Yuvan has been conferred with titles like ‘BGM king’ and ‘Little Maestro’. In the early years of his career, he got recognition as the music composer who skillfully blended western beats and hip-hop influences into his Kollywood compositions, an image he continues to hold to this day. For instance, romantic tracks like ‘Chudidhar anindhu’ and ‘Irava Pagala’ gained traction at the time of their release for being cosmopolitan and understanding the pulse of the younger audiences. Recent compositions such as ‘Anbae Peranbae’ from NGK and ‘High on Love’ from Pyaar Prema Kadhal, have also made a mark.

A versatile composer

There is no denying that the 42-year-old has won legions of listeners with romantic numbers, especially the ones sung by him. The long list of soothing melodies includes ‘Pogathey’, ‘Arabu Naade’, ‘Oru Kal’, ‘En Kadhal Solla’, ‘Kaadhal Endral’, ‘Iragai Pole’, and ‘Kadhal Aasai’, among many others. The unique texture of his voice, and prolonged notes where he is fashionably off-pitch at times, and songs where he has pitch-perfect expression to a range of emotions, have all become part of Yuvan’s distinct style that has inspired both his contemporaries, as well as up and coming artistes.

Fans have been equally awestruck with his ability to shine in other genres. ‘Oororam puliyamaram’, 'Ayyayyo' and other zingy and folksy songs from Paruthiveeran, Kunguma Poovum Konjum Puravum, and Kattradhu Tamizh, broke the image Yuvan had among audiences as a composer who primarily caters to urban sensibilities.

As Yuvan has acknowledged in multiple interviews in the past, it is inevitable that the yardstick for his performance would be set high and parallels would be drawn between his discography and his father’s body of work. Moving, emotional tracks such as ‘Aarariraro’, ‘Oru Naalil’, ‘Dheivangal Ellam’, ‘Or Aayiram’, ‘Aanandha Yaazhai’, and ‘Vaanthooral’ have arguably created the same kind of impact that many of Ilaiyaraaja’s compositions have had over generations of Tamilians.

Yuvan is also known for introducing remix music to Tamil cinema, long before others jumped onto the bandwagon. Case in point:  ‘Aasai Nooru Vagai’, ‘Kadhal Vanthirichu’, ‘Theepidikka’ and ‘Enga Area’, among others.

Frequent collaborators

Yuvan got his first big break in 2002 with the release of director Selvaraghavan’s Thulluvadho Ilamai, which marked Dhanush’s acting debut. The successful collaboration of the trio resulted in other albums like Kaadhal Kondein, Pudhupettai, and Yaaradi Nee Mohini.

‘Devathaiyai Kandaen’ and ‘Kadhal Mattum Purivathillai’ — tracks that have stood the test of time and remain popular till 2022 — were credited for being reminiscent of Hollywood music at the time of their release. While Yuvan has set to tune soul-stirring compositions in projects where Selvaraghavan donned the director’s hat, he has also set the stage for Dhanush’s image as the poster boy for ‘soup songs’ with ‘Engeyo Partha’ and ‘Vennmegam’ from Yaaradi Nee Mohini, long before ‘Why this Kolaveri Di?’ came out in 2011.

Smoldering with vengeance, Dhanush’s performance as Kokki Kumar was elevated by Yuvan’s music in Pudhupettai which was composed in Thailand. With the music composer’s Chao Phraya Symphony Orchestra of Bangkok and the use of Thai musical instruments like khim and saw u, Pudhupettai boasts of many firsts in Tamil cinema.

It is quite difficult to put one’s finger on whether it is the fun ‘Raja Rajadhi Rajan indha Raja’ from a hilarious sequence from 7G Rainbow Colony that is more memorable, or if it is Yuvan’s compositions in the film that soar and melt, and cover everything from joy to heartbreak. But the songs from 7G Rainbow Colony seldom fail to make it to the list of Yuvan’s evergreen music.

His collaboration with Silambarasan started with the latter’s popular 2004 film Manmadhan. Its huge success led the actor-composer duo to once again team up for Vallavan, which marked Simbu’s directorial debut. The adrenaline-charged songs and entertaining dance numbers in both the films have turned out to be memorable musical hits. In the following years, they have also worked together in Anbanavan Asaradhavan Adangadhavan (AAA), Silambattam, Vaanam, and Maanaadu.

Dheena, Billa, Billa 2, Mankatha, Nerkonda Paarvai and most recently, Valimai; the Ajith-Yuvan collaboration has resulted in numerous commercially successful songs. Sharing his thoughts on teaming up with Ajith, Yuvan said in an interview with Times of India in 2021, “It feels nice and it’s great that our combination is working well. I also take some special effort when we come together.”

As the 42-year-old composer pushes the frontiers of his craft further and gears up for his directorial debut, fans can’t wait to see the ‘Yuvanisms’ in store for them.

READ: Understanding Ilaiyaraaja: His music, politics and impact

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