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Interesting story behind Ilayaraja”s name!

Volume: LII
Telugu Swag H.O Hyderabad
Date: 1976

ILAYARAJA (born as Gnanadesikan) born on 2nd June 1943, changed his name to Rajaiah during his schooling. After his studies, he landed in Chennai with his two brothers in search of a job, Chinnaswamy (Bharathiraja) a friend from their village Pannaipuram gave shelter to the brothers. Bharathiraja introduced him to S.P. Bala Subramanyam, a budding singer trying to make his mark in movies, Balu accepted him into his troop as a harmonist. Later a singer in the troop introduced him to Panchu Arunachalam, who was about to produce a movie in a village backdrop. Panju Arunachlam’s brother was reluctant to give him a chance, but he insisted Rajaiah to give a live performance. Rajaiah obliged and gave a live performance to the producers, spellbound to his tune, producers gave an opportunity to Rajaiah as a music director for the movie Annakili in 1976. The producer suggested him to change his name from Rajaiah to Raja, but there was already a famous music director with the name  A.M. Raja, so Panchu Arunachalam added “Ilaiya” (means” Younger” in Tamil) as a prefix to the name Rajaa and named him Ilayaraja. Annakili was a musical blockbuster in Tamil, Ilayaraja never looked back for about four decades.

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