Ilaiyaraaja Biography, Height, Age, Wife, Children, Family, & More

Ilaiyaraaja is a famous Indian artist known for making music for movies, especially in Tamil and Telugu films. He’s a talented musician, composer, singer, and more. Over his long career of 47 years, he’s created more than 7,000 songs and scored music for over 1,000 movies. On top of that, he’s performed in 20,000 concerts. Throughout three decades, he’s made over 4,000 songs and contributed to 800 films. In a span of 30 years, he’s composed more than 4,500 tracks and created music for over 900 Indian movies in different languages. In this article, you’ll find a comprehensive Ilaiyaraaja biography.

Ilaiyaraaja Biography

Ilaiyaraaja, a revered music director in the South Indian film industry, is esteemed as one of India’s finest music composers. Alongside composing, he’s skilled as an instrumentalist, conductor, singer, and songwriter. Known as “Isaignani” (the musical genius) and titled “Maestro” by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, he’s recognized for blending symphonic orchestration with traditional Indian instruments, often performed by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra.

With Jeeva, he has three children who are film writers and artists. While he primarily focuses on Tamil cinema, he’s also contributed music to films in Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Malayalam, and Hindi. On November 8, 2022, Ilayaraja assumed the role of the collector of Indore. Prior to this, he served as the collector of Jabalpur and Rewa.

Ilayaraja Picture
Ilayaraja Picture

Personal Information

Real Name Gnanadesikan, Daniel Rajayya
Nickname AKA Raasaiya, Raaja
DOB (Date of Birth) 3 June 1943
Age (as of 2024) 81 Years
Birth Place Pannaipuram, Madurai District, Tamil Nadu, India
Zodiac Sign Gemini
Nationality Indian
Hometown Pannaipuram, Tamil Nadu, India
Religion Hinduism


School High School
College/ University Trinity College of Music, London
Education Qualifications Music Course (1968), Degree in Western Art Music

Physical Stats


Feet & Inches 5’ 4”
Meter 1.63 m
Centimeters 162 cm
Weight (approx.) in kilograms- 60 kg
in pounds- 132 lbs
Eye Color Black
Hair Color Grey (semi bald)
Figure Measurements 34-26-35

Family Information

Father Name Daniel Ramaswamy
Mother Name Chinna Thayammal (Expert in Tamil Folk Songs)
Siblings Brothers- Pavalar Varadarajan (Poet), Amar Singh (Gangai Amaran) (Music Director and Lyricist), Daniel Bhaskar, Sisters- Kamalammal, Padmavathi (Writer- Life of Music)
Marital Status Married
Wife Jeeva (Died on 31 October 2011)
Children Sons- Yuvan Shankar (Composer), Karthik Raja (Composer)
Daughter- Bhavatharini (Composer, Singer)


Girlfriend N/A


Profession Music Director, Songwriter, Playback Singer, Lyricist, instrumentalist, Film Producer
Net Worth 24 million


Color Black and Red
Food Butter Chicken
Drink Kokum Sharbat
Actor/Actress Pooja Hegde (Telugu cinema)
Songs O Maahi (From “Dunki”)
Movies Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
Hobbies Reading Books, Traveling, Watching Cricket
Ilayaraja Young Age Picture
Ilayaraja Young Age Picture
Ilayaraja With his Wife Picture
Ilayaraja With his Wife Picture
Ilayaraja With his Children Picture
Ilayaraja With his Children Picture
Ilayaraja With his Brother Picture
Ilayaraja With his Brother Picture


Ilaiyaraaja was originally named Gnanadesigan when he was born into a Tamil family in Pannaipuram, located in what is now the Theni district of Tamil Nadu, India. When he started school, his father changed his name to “Rajaiya,” but the people in his village continued to affectionately refer to him as “Raasayya.”


Ilaiyaraaja was born on June 3, 1943, into a humble family in the small village of “Pannaipuram” within the Theni district of Tamil Nadu, India. As of 2024, he is 81 years old.


Following his studies at Madras Veterinary College, Ilaiyaraaja succeeded in passing the IAS exam. From there, he ventured into various fields, contributing his expertise to areas such as IAS, Health, Education, and Smart City initiatives.

Height and Weight

He stands at a height of 5 feet 4 inches and weighs 60 kilograms.

Ilayaraja Social Media Account

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Wife and Children

Ilaiyaraaja tied the knot with Jeeva, and together they have three children—Karthik Raja, Yuvan Shankar Raja, and Bhavatharini—all successful film composers and singers. His upbringing in the rural surroundings of Pannaipuram nurtured his early passion for music. Sadly, his wife, Jeeva Rajayya, passed away on October 31, 2011. He was deeply rooted in Tamil folk music, deeply influenced by the local sounds. His brother, Gangai Amaran, also works in the Tamil film industry as a music director and lyricist, but they had a 13-year period of estrangement.


In the 1970s, in Chennai, Ilayaraja started as a guitarist in a band that took on gigs. He also worked as a session guitarist, keyboardist, and organist for various film music composers and directors, notably with Salil Chowdhury from West Bengal. Chowdhury had a strong belief in Ilayaraja’s talent and even predicted that he would become India’s best composer.

Later, Ilayaraja became an assistant to Kannada music director G.K. Venkatesh, contributing to around 200 film projects, mainly in Kannada cinema. While assisting Venkatesh, Ilayaraja not only orchestrated but also started crafting his own music compositions. He absorbed Venkatesh’s guidance on composing, developing his skills by listening to his own compositions through the session musicians.

During this period, he began creating his own scores and even borrowed instruments from R.K. Shekhar (who happens to be A.R. Rahman’s father). Shekhar later joined their orchestra as a keyboardist. Ilayaraja was persistent in having Venkatesh’s session musicians play snippets from his compositions during their breaks to listen and learn from his work.

Net Worth

As of now, Ilaiyaraaja stands as the highest-paid music composer in India, with a net worth of 24 million dollars, which translates to approximately 178 crore INR in Indian currency.

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