Ilaiyaraaja, the legendary film music composer and Rajya Sabha member, has lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the prana Pratishta (consecration) of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. While expressing his admiration for the historic event, Ilaiyaraaja’s remarks have sparked criticism from followers of the Dravidian ideology, who have launched the castiest attacks against him on social media platforms.
Speaking to media persons in Chennai, Ilaiyaraaja described the Ram Mandir inauguration as a momentous day, emphasising its significance not only for Tamil Nadu or North India but for the entire world. He expressed his belief that the event would bring historical accolades to Prime Minister Modi, asserting that the achievement was a divine blessing.
Ilaiyaraaja’s praise extended to questioning the accomplishments of past Indian prime ministers, stating, “There have been many prime ministers in power in India. You may analyse what they have accomplished that stands the test of time.”
The temple of Prabhu Shri Ram in Ayodhya fulfills the 500-year yearning of the masses, realized by our Hon PM @narendramodi.@ilaiyaraaja Ji not only acknowledges the blessings of Bhagwan Shri Ram but also the unwavering efforts of our beloved PM Modi in fulfilling the dreams of… pic.twitter.com/wBF5etU8eW
— MyGovIndia (@mygovindia) January 23, 2024
Ilaiyaraaja termed the day of the Ram Mandir inauguration as historic, asserting that the significance extended beyond regional boundaries. In his impassioned statement, he remarked, “Today is a historic day. When we say historic, it is not only in Tamil Nadu or North India. It is for the entire India and the world.” He attributed the successful accomplishment of this event to divine blessings, specifically lauding Prime Minister Modi.
Expressing his admiration for the Prime Minister, Ilaiyaraaja questioned the achievements of previous Indian prime ministers, stating, “There have been many Prime Ministers in power in India. You may research what they have accomplished that stands in history. You may analyze who has done more for India.” He went on to express tears of gratitude when discussing Modi’s accomplishments.
Ilaiyaraaja drew parallels with historical temple construction by kings in India, emphasizing the uniqueness of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya. He compared it to temples built by various kings in their respective regions, highlighting the special significance of a temple constructed for the entire nation.
The composer expressed regret at not being present in Ayodhya for the grand event but expressed pride in attending the celebration in Chennai. He considered it a divine blessing, expressing immense pleasure for the opportunity.
While Ilaiyaraaja’s comments garnered praise from some quarters for acknowledging the historical significance of the Ram Mandir, they also faced criticism from Dravidian followers. Social media platforms witnessed a flurry of castiest remarks and trolling against the composer for his stance.
In response to the social media reactions, Tamil Nadu BJP Chief Annamalai expressed support for Ilaiyaraaja’s comments. In a social media post, he stated, “Isaignani Thiru @ilaiyaraaja has not only acknowledged the supremacy of Bhagwan Shri Ram but also the unrelenting effort of our beloved PM in enabling the dream of crores of Indians.”
Bhagwan Shri Ram temple in Ayodhya brings to an end the 500-year longing of the masses & was realisable by our Hon PM Thiru @narendramodi avl.
— K.Annamalai (@annamalai_k) January 22, 2024
The vile comments, largely from supporters of Dravidian ideologies, include derogatory terms such as ‘senile’ and attempts to demean Ilaiyaraaja’s caste background. Alleged journalist Aravindakshan took to social media to criticise the maestro’s speech, labelling it as ‘blabbering’ and accusing him of being ignorant of the country’s affairs. Aravindakshan further suggested that Ilaiyaraaja had fallen at the feet of the BJP and was unaware of the consequences.
One social media activist, C. Rajashekaran, a practicing lawyer and vocal supporter of the ruling DMK, spread fake news suggesting that Ilaiyaraaja was banned from entering the Ram Mandir. Rajashekaran’s post carried a thinly veiled reference to the maestro’s caste, stating, ‘Music has no religion, no caste & no bias,’ while also suggesting that Ilaiyaraaja was an opportunistic individual who would never learn from insults and humiliations.
Where is #Ilaiyaraaja ? Why Music Maestro Legend .@ilaiyaraaja is Banned Entry in #AyodhaRamMandir Music has no religion,no caste & no bias. Unfortunately these opportunistic people will never learn lessons inspite of being insulted & humiliated for ever. Pl Follow VIP invitees. https://t.co/tTLuURIW1v
— C.Rajashekaran’s Official Account (@irajashekaran) January 22, 2024
Director C Sebastian Amudhan, known for directing election propaganda films for the DMK, took a condescending tone, stating that he could ‘understand & forgive’ Ilaiyaraaja’s perceived senility. Amudhan added that the maestro was created in the crucible of Dravidian and communist thought, implying that he would eventually come to their side when the time demanded.
He will never be yours whatever even He may say. We understand & forgive his senility. He was created in the crucible of Dravidian & communist thought… his music & creative forces are forged in empathetic ideologies. He will come home when the time demands. https://t.co/YuWTqRgtsn
— CS Amudhan (@csamudhan) January 23, 2024
Journalist Damodaran Prakash of Nakkheeran, a publication known for sensational reporting, attacked Ilaiyaraaja based on his caste (Scheduled Caste). Prakash asserted, ‘When everyone gets fame, he wants to be a Brahmin. He acts like them. No matter whether he sings the praises of Sri Rama or praises the BJP, only religion can change in India. Caste does not change. That is Sanatana.’
Other social media users, including one named Nandakumar, accused Ilaiyaraaja of being a religious fanatic, claiming that he cannot hide his true colours and labelling him as narrow-minded and dangerous to society.
Illayaraja has proved that he is also a religious fanatic. They can not hide their color for long. Now they're clearly visible. One can't trust them.They are narrow-minded and dangerous to society.
— Nanda Kumar (@NandaKu53991398) January 23, 2024
In another post, BR Aravindakshan, a self-professed BJP hater and a TV anchor, urged Ilaiyaraaja to ‘wake up’ and criticised him for falling at the feet of the BJP. Aravindakshan insinuated that age-related ramblings might be influencing Ilaiyaraaja’s statements and questioned his credibility, stating, “it is amazing.”
காலில் விழுந்தது போதும்-இனியாவது
கண் திறந்து பாருங்கள் ராஜா
மனிதர்களுக்கு வயதாகிவிட்டால் உளறுவார்கள் என்று தெரியும்..
காகத்தை வெள்ளைப் புறா என்று கூறும் அளவுக்கா பிதற்றுவார்கள்…
ஆச்சர்யம் தான் !
— Aravindakshan B R (@RealAravind36) January 22, 2024
The attacks on Ilaiyaraaja come amid claims of freedom of speech by Dravidian parties, particularly the DMK. The contradiction between their rhetoric on free expression and the venomous attacks on a respected personality like Ilaiyaraaja has raised concerns about the level of intolerance within certain segments of the political landscape. Ilaiyaraaja had previously faced severe trolling for expressing appreciation for PM Modi’s development efforts, highlighting the persistent challenges faced by individuals who deviate from prevailing political narratives.