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How the Isaignani is gearing up for ‘Rock with Raaja,’ Chennai’s first big concert in two pandemic-influenced years

There are signs of music everywhere in Ilaiyaraaja’s new tastefully-done studio in Chennai’s Kodambakkam. Murals of instruments adorn the walls of most of the rooms. A wall facing the recording rooms has an illustration of the music legend himself, the art bustling with notes of music.

Inside, the 78-year-old musician is busy with last minute preparations for his upcoming concert: ‘Rock with Raaja,’ which will be the first big concert in the city after two years of the pandemic.

“These last two years were a dark phase for many people,” says Ilaiyaraaja, popularly known as ‘Isaignani’ for his musical expertise. He adds, “Even during that time, my music was their companion. Now, it is a chance to give them an opportunity to experience the same in person… I believe this will give them hope for better times ahead.”

Though he participated in thousands of concerts across the world, this one will be different, he promises. In a marked departure from his gentle melodies, this time he says he is focussing on “fun” — promos have him urging people to ‘dance to his songs’. “Yes, that’s a clue,” he smiles, “But I cannot elaborate on that.” While fans will miss singers like the late SP Balasubrahmanyam on stage, ‘Rock with Raaja’ could throw up a few surprises, with a line-up of singers that include names like Mano, Karthik, Shweta Mohan and Devi Sri Prasad, among others.

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