Harris Jeyaraj
Interviewer : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar & Hemananth | Coordination : Hemananth | Camera : Xavier | Text : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar | Video Editor : Jesi
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Success seems to have stayed on with music director Harris Jeyaraj. Having started his career with Minnale, the gifted composer has come a long way. Film after film, Harris continues to drown his audience with a mellifluous musical experience. Fresh after the success of Udhyanidhi’s Oru Kal Oru Kannadi, Harris chose to speak to Senior Editor Jyothsna Bhavanishankar on his films, musical journey, his upcoming projects and a myriad other subjects.

OKOK album is also a hit. How do you feel?

We are all happy as a team. By the time I absorb this success, I have to get onto my next project. We are glad about the tremendous response that OKOK is getting from audience. I should thank all my fans, viewers of behindwoods, and Thamizh people for the success.

Status of Maatraan music

85% of Maatraan music is over. In a month’s time, I will be completing the rest of the work and in about 45 days, the audio would be ready for release.

Working with Selvaraghavan for the first time in Irandam Ulagam

I know Selva for the past five years and we were to team up for Pudhupettai and another film. However things did not materialize. I am now happy that we have come together through Irandam Ulagam. And work in Irandam Ulagam is also half complete. After a long time, I am working with Vairamuthu sir. Irandam Ulagam will be a musical treat for all music lovers. We have six songs with good lyrics and it is getting better day by day and we are all excited about the project.

Irandam Ulagam will be a

musical treat

Endrendrum Punnagai

Well, it is just a working title. I am going to start composing in a couple of days. The film is directed by Ahamad and it is a light hearted romantic film. I have made it a point to do a light hearted film after a couple of mega budget films.

How choosy are you about your scripts?

It’s not only about the script but also the team. So basically, it’s about choosing the team. When it comes to Team, director plays a huge part in it. I will also look for how my music is going to contribute to the film as such; it’s not about whether the film is good or bad. The questions like whether audience would accept me in a particular film will go on in my mind. Thankfully, my decisions have been fairly good and it has been a good run so far.

Ohmahaziya and randakka are


Usage of new words in your music

It’s a good question. It all started with Kalabha Kaadhal and new words like Kuviyamila follow suit. They are all Thamizh words but are pretty new to this generation. I also belong to the current generation and don’t know such words. When working with lyricists, they would throw in such words but would not be sure about the response. But sounds of such words would surely help the music as such. Leave ohmahaziya and randakka aside. They are all gibberish to enhance the mood of the song. When unfamiliar Thamizh words are used, it renders a mellifluous and fresh feel. These new Thamizh words are the culmination of a pursuit.

How do you feel when some of your good songs don’t get enough mileage because the film is not good enough?

Once I finish with one project, I move on to my next and don’t find time to know about the status of my old work. I recall about it only when people tell they like a particular song or when I get an award for the song. Today with the advent of radio stations, even servants are constantly listening to songs. They are not concerned about the film but only the songs. Songs from the films like Engeyum Kaadhal or Vaaranam Aayiram which did not do well at the box office were well received by the audience. To me a film is different and songs are different. A bad film does not affect the popularity of a good song.

A bad film does not affect the

popularity of a good song

When are we going to see the singer in Harris?

When Music Director Harris Jeyaraj approves singer Harris Jeyaraj, I will start singing. As of now, I am singing in my shows and would want to retain that exclusivity for now.

Directors believe in me

Has it ever happened that you have recorded a song and the director decided not to have it in the film?

By God’s grace, it has not happened till now. But I have changed a few songs just before going for recording. For instance, in 7aum Arivu, I had composed a different tune but changed in the last minute to give ‘yemma yemma’. Same is the case with Vaseegara in Minnalae. I am happy that directors believe in me.

Your take on releasing 'singles' before the full audio CD

It’s a good thing and is quite normal in West. I am happy about the trend which I started long back in Lesa Lesa. But as the single is released much before the rest of the album, its popularity becomes more than the other songs. Hence I stopped this. But I think it works for other films and I am happy about it.

Usage of rap in Tamil songs

It’s a trend for a particular time period. In the 60s, it was the Bharatnatyam song; while in 70s, it was the pathos; in 80s, ghazal; in 90s disco songs and now it’s the hip hop. These things are for a decade and every decade there would be a change. As long as the audience approves and enjoys this, such trends will continue. We don’t know what’s going to rule in the next decade.

Have you thought of an album outside cinema?

Of course, I have thought about this after I finished my first film itself. But as I don’t find time and keep moving from one project to other, I am not able to concentrate on this.

Introducing new talents

A fresh voice lends a new dimension to a song. There is also a flipside to it. The new voice should be good enough to complement a song. In the 90s, audience was reluctant to accept a new voice. But thankfully, it’s not the case anymore and we music directors are able to introduce a lot of new talent now. For the audience, a song matters the most rather than the music directors or singers. And also new singers are very energetic and there is fire in them. I am happy to work with new singers.

A fresh voice lends a new

dimension to a song

I like Ghibran’s work in Vaagai

Sooda Vaa

In the current crop of music directors, who appeals to you the most?

Yeah, there are many. I like Ghibran’s work in Vaagai Sooda Vaa. I also like G V Prakash, Dhanush and S Thaman’s work. There are many and but I don’t know their names. It’s a healthy time for music now.

Why is there a déjà vu feel in your songs these days?

A fifth or a sixth child (in a family) is sure to resemble the 1st child. Once I am done with a song, I forget it. My directors would remind me of this. And secondly it’s my signature and also the audience’s taste. To a larger extent, I have understood what the audience wants from me.

I have understood what the

audience wants from me

We need a hit song and a hit film

When a song is criticized, it becomes very popular. This is unexplainable. That particular song brings the audience to theatres which plays hugely in the success of the film and increases the excitement levels. At the end of the day, we need a hit song and a hit film. Leave the criticism and critics aside. To me the audience’s response is most important. Their correction is much better than everything.

Will you work with Gautham Menon again?

Of course! He is a very good director and if such an opportunity comes, I would definitely work with him.

I would definitely work with

Gautham Menon

About your concert tour

Yes, I started the ‘Harris on edge’ last year and we have successfully completed it in Chennai, Coimbatore and Dubai and next it would be going to Australia and New Zealand. I have postponed it for now due to my film commitments.

Maatraan composition was done

in 6 countries

Where did you do Maatraan composition?

Very interesting question! I am happy to say that a Tamil film’s composition was done in 6 countries as we were going on a cruise and the ship used to touch many countries in its journey and it was mostly along the Mediterranean Sea. And the idea was entirely director’s. We finished 3songs in 7 days. It was very nice working for Maatraan.

Did you enjoy the cruise trip?

No, it was not a pleasure trip but it was only work. Although the ship touched many countries, we were just confined to our rooms with just a window and were completely immersed in our work. It’s only work and not holiday.

For the first time, you have composed a kuthu number- Vena Machan- in OKOK. What made you do this?

Actually, there was not any situation in the film that required the song. Rajesh and I were discussing and as Udhayanidhi was being launched as a hero, we realized that we need to have songs that would cater to all kinds of audience. Already we had composed 4 songs and they were like Sathyam and Inox types and we wanted a number for Kasi also.

We wanted a number for Kasi


I am not a big fan of kuthu song or gaana numbers. But I felt such a song was essential when you are launching a newcomer and also to bring a good opening for the film. I insisted on such a number and that’s when Rajesh came up with a fishermen theme. And I am happy to say that I gave the opening lines of the song and Naa Muthukumar developed on it and congrats to him. But we never expected this song would overtake the rest. And I am again thankful to my fans for its success.

Thuppaakki will be loved by

Vijay fans, Murugadoss fans and

music lovers

Thupaakki experience

I am working with Vijay after Nanban and with Murugadoss, it is after Ghajini and 7aum arivu. Thuppaakki is a big and much awaited film. It is an action and commercial flick. Thuppaakki will be loved by Vijay fans, Murugadoss fans and music lovers. We have composed four songs and recorded two songs. The work will get over in 2 months.

When I composed a number, I felt it would be nice if Vijay renders his voice and when I told him, he felt I was kidding. Later I convinced him and the recording was done at Mumbai. It’s a club song and was shot in five pubs with the beautiful camera work of Santosh Sivan. All other songs have also come out well.

Your favorite song

I don’t have any favorite song and I don’t listen to my songs. I listen to world music.

I don’t listen to my songs

Family support

Yes, family is a big support to me. The very fact that they don’t trouble me is a biggest support. I have a sweet family. I have two kids- Nicholas and Nikitha. My wife is Suma. My mom is Rachel who prays for me every day. My father Moses Jeyakumar is an Evangelist. My parent’s prayers have given me all the blessings.
Tags : Irandam Ulagam, Harris Jeyaraj, Gautham Menon, Maatraan, Thuppaakki
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