At one point during the music launch of Shamitabh, four living legends of Indian cinema shared the stage — Rajinikanth, Amitabh Bachchan, Kamal Haasan and Ilaiyaraaja. They had come together for Ilaiyaraaja, who completed 1000 films with the launch of this album.
The evening on the lawns of Taj Land’s End in Bandra started with a narrator saying, “Deviyon aur sajjanon, namaskar.” The audience didn’t have to wait for the familiar baritone voice to introduce himself. Amitabh Bachchan went on to play the perfect host by moderating a session, between Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, on the maestro.
Rajinikanth remembered his old drinking buddy as a mischievous character who suddenly transformed into a saint. “We started calling him Raja swami, that day onwards,” he said. Kamal Haasan shared an anecdote that affirmed the genius of the music director. For ‘Hey Ram’, Kamal Haasan already had a composer on board, but as the director, he wasn’t happy with the music even after the movie was shot. As a last attempt, he went to his old friend ‘Raja’, but didn’t have the budget to reshoot the song sequences. Ilaiyaraaja came up with a solution. He composed songs that would sync with the actor’s lip movements.
What made the event truly special was how it paid Ilaiyaraja a fitting tribute by celebrating film music itself. It was a relief to hear singers — Shreya Ghoshal, Suraj Jaggan, Caralisa Monteiro and Bachchan — sing live, as opposed to the usual lip-syncing that is done to pre-recorded tracks.
The event also doubled up as the launch of Shamitabh’s second trailer — where we finally got to see Dhanush speaking in the Bachchan baritone. Among the audience were Jaya, Abhishek and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Gulzar, Tabu, Sridevi and nearly half of the Hindi film music industry.