Just yesterday I saw the legendary singer S P Balasubrahmanyam participating in a music program on Vijay TV – it was the Super Singer junior program and he had come as the celebrity judge. There is something magical in his voice and all my favourite songs in Tamil have been sung by him. Almost all my favourite songs in Tamil have also been composed by Ilayaraja…. probably amongst the greatest music composers of all times. SPB and Ilayaraja were inseparable for almost 50 years till a piece of paper came between them.
I was almost heart broken when I read the news item over social media that Isaignani Ilayaraja had served a legal notice to SPB that he had to pay some royalty if he sang songs composed by him at concerts. My first thought was – why the heck did he have to serve the notice? Couldn’t he have just called his friend up and sorted the stuff out ? or couldn’t SPB call his friend and sort out the matter rather than posting it on FB? Was a friendship of 50 years so fragile ? After all they have known each other when they were nobodies and have gone through the ups and downs in life together. Sad.
Here’s the gist of the issue –
From friends and other sources in Chennai, I found out that SPB was paying this royalty to A R Rahman for many years now but wasn’t paying to Ilayaraja and thats why Ilayaraja got miffed. Breach of trust ? Ofcourse ! If you are willing to pay royalty to one music director in order to sing his songs during a concert, the same rule then applies to other music directors too and in this case SPB’s best friend. So if Ilayaraja felt cheated, he is probably right in feeling that way.
All that said – I still wonder why was it so difficult to pick up the phone or walk into each other’s houses and thrash things out ? Its like infidelity in a marriage – partners stray, but as long as there is love and mutual respect, there is always room for forgiveness. If someone is a just sleeping around indiscriminately then there is little scope to make up but an indiscretion or two can be overlooked and people do move on. Deep loving friendships can work things out.
I just cannot wrap my head around this lost friendship – call me crazy, but I do hope that one day either SPB or Ilayaraja will walk into the other’s house and hug each other, cry, slap each others back and get back to being the friends they were. The magic they created together is unparalleled and for the millions of fans like me they can’t be thought of separately. I also heard their sons had a falling out and created this situation – well, smack the boys on their heads. Neither SPB’s son nor Ilayaraja’s sons are a patch on the fathers. Let them sort themselves out !
SPB himself has said, “Ilayaraja was born for me, and I was born for Ilayaraja”…. then why not pick up the phone or walk into each other’s house ? Time for a “jaadu ki jhapi” (a tight hug), some tears and just getting back together. Leave the egos outside with the shoes.
Endrendrum Raja-SPB !