Yuvan Shankar Raja

  • Actor, Music, Producer, Singer

Aug 31, 1979  in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

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One of the most versatile music composers of South Indian cinema, Yuvan Shankar Raja is an Indian film score and soundtrack composer, singer, and lyricist who predominantly works in the Tamil film industry. The youngest son of the acclaimed music composer Ilaiyaraaja, Yuvan Shankar began his career when he was only 16: making his debut with the movie Aravindhan (1997). He has since then established himself as a successful music composers of Tamil cinema and has given several hit movies including Thulluvadho Ilamai (2002), 7G Rainbow Colony (2004), Chennai 600028 (2007), Goa (2010), and Biriyani (2013). The composer is referred to as the "Youth Icon of Tamil Film Music" and is credited for introducing Hip hop to the Tamil music industry. In 2006, he also achieved the feat of becoming the first Indian composer to win the Cyprus International Film Festival Award for the movie Raam.

Early Life
Yuvan Shankar Raja was born to Ilaiyaraaja and Jeeva in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. He is the youngest amongst his siblings - Karthik Raja, who is also a music composer and Bhavatharini, who is a singer-composer. He is the nephew of the noted south Indian director and film composer Gangai Amaran and R.D Bhaskar while Premgi Amaren, Venkat Prabhu, and Parthi Bhaskar are his cousins.

He went to St. Bede`s Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School in Chennai, India, but he chose to discontinue education after passing the 10th class and pursued music. He took classes from Master Jacob and also learned piano at the Musee Musical in Chennai.

Personal Life
On March 21, 2005, Yuvan Shankar Raja married to Sujaya Chandran, his long-time girlfriend - a London-based singer and the daughter of Dr. Sarojini Chandran and Dr. C. R. Velayutham. The couple had met at a music cultural program in London in 2002 and had secretly wed in 2003 in London. However, in 2007, the couple filed for a divorce citing irreconcilable differences.

On September 1, 2011, Yuvan Shankar married Shilpa Mohan, a B. Pharm graduate from the University of Adelaide. However, their relationship didn`t last long and the composer married for the third time in January 2015 to Jaffrunnisha, a Malaysia-based designer.

Movie Career
As a Composer
It was in 1996 that Yuvan Shankar, at the age of 16, began his career in the music film industry after producer T. Siva offered him the film Aravindhan. The composer was offered the film after the producer heard few of the tunes that he had composed for an album. However, the young composer failed to impress the audience and received average reviews. Being the son of one of the most successful composers of Tamil cinema, Yuvan Shankar, however, struggled during the initial years of his career. After having a bleak few years, in 1999 Yuvan Shankar received appreciation for the movie Poovellam Kettupar directed by Vasanth. The music of the movie was much appreciated by the audience and the songs "Chudithar Aninthu" and "Irava Pagala" became popular among youngsters and children. However, it was only in 2000 that the composer delivered the first major hit of his career - A. R. Murugadoss` directorial debut Dheena. The movie which went on to become a blockbuster was also noted for the background score: the film`s music was cited as one of the reasons for its success.

In the next few years, he composed music for films such as Thulluvadho Ilamai (2001), Nandha (2001), April Maadhathil (2002), and Kadhal Samrajyam (2002). His 2003 movie Kaadhal Kondein garnered him critical and commercial appreciation and went on to become a blockbuster hit. The music of the movie, especially the background score, became popular cementing Yuva Shankar as one of the promising artists of Tamil cinema. Owing to the appreciation of the background score, a separate CD was released consisting several score pieces - making it the first of a kind for an Indian cinema. Following this, he gave another hit Kurumbu (2002).

In 2004, he received the Best Music Direction Award at the Filmfare Awards (South) for his work on the movie 7G Rainbow Colony. Yuvan Shankar was only 25 at the time - and became the youngest recipient of the award. In the following year, the young composer achieved another feat by winning the Best Musical Score in a Feature Film Award at Cyprus International Film Festival for his `soul-stirring` compositions in the movie Raam. He became the first Indian music composer to do so and continued to deliver outstanding compositions in movies such as Arinthum Ariyamalum (2005), Kanda Naal Mudhal (2005) and Sandakozhi (2005). However, his last release of the year Pudhupettai - consisting of 10 tracks - was hailed to be a musical masterpiece and is considered as one of Yuvan Shankar`s finest work. His 2007 release Chennai 600028, a coming-of-age sports comedy film directed Venkat Prabhu, also a commercial success with critics citing the film`s music to be one of the primary elements for its success. In the same year, he also worked on the movie Billa directed by Vishnuvardhan. He was yet again praised for the stylish music with one of the reviewers stating: "Yuvan Shankar Raja has etched an intricate musical feast to compliment the tale - and quite a feast it`s turned out to be, a la the original".

With multiple releases every year, 2008, also turned out be highly successful for Yuvan Shankar with the releases Saroja and Aegan. His song "Oru Kaal Oru Kannadi" from the 2009 movie Siva Manasula Sakthi went on to become the most popular song of the year. The following year the composer won the Special Jury Award at the 2010 South Filmfare Awards for his work on the movie Oy! In the same year, he worked on Venkat Prabhu`s comedy movie Goa with his composition Idhu Varai being nominated for the Popular Song of the Year Award at the 2011 Vijay Music Award. His other release of the year, Boss Engira Bhaskaran (2010) also received positive response.

In 2013, the soundtrack of the movie Biriyani was leaked online that eventually led to the cancellation of the initial audio launch event. Nonetheless, the album was released later and received unanimous appreciation. The following year he was nominated for the Vijay Award for Best Music Director for the movie Anjaan (2014). The soundtrack also featured the song "Ek Do Theen" sung by Suriya - this was the actor`s first attempt at playback singing. In 2015, he worked on the movie Massu Engira Masilamani, a supernatural comedy movie directed by Venkat Prabhu. Yuvan Shankar was once again appreciated with Indiaglitz calling it as `completely wacky`. His 2016 releases include the movies Dharma Durai, Yaakkai, Chennai 600028: Second Innings and Taramani. In 2017, he worked on the movies Sathriyan and Kadamban.

In 2018, Yuvan scored the music for the critically acclaimed Mammootty starrer Peranbu and the commercially successful Dhanush starrer Maari 2. The ensemble thriller Super Deluxe (2019), the Suriya starrer NGK (2019), the Ajith Kumar starrer Nerkonda Paarvai.

As a Singer
Besides being a successful music composer, Yuvan Shankar Raja is also an acclaimed singer. He has primarily sung songs that he has composed and has also collaborated with his father Ilaiyaraaja and his brother Karthik Raja. He made his singing debut as a child artist in 1988 with the movie En Bommukutty Ammavukku - Yuvan Shankar was 8 at the time. He went on to sing for the movies Anjali (1990), Chatriyan (1990), and Thalattu (1991). Although Yuvan Shankar has sung songs for other composers, he is better known as a singer for his own compositions. Some of his popular songs as a singer have come with the movies April Maadhathil (2002), Azhagai Irukkirai Bayamai Irukkirathu (2006), Siva Manasula Sakthi (2009), and Paiyaa (2009).

As a Lyricist
Yuvan Shankar has also written a few songs including "Natpukkullae" from the movie Chennai 600028 (2007), "Cheeky Cheeky" and "My Life" from Saroja (2008), "Vilaiyaadu Mankatha" from Mankatha (2011), and "Nahna Na Nah" from Biriyani (2013).

Independent Projects
Apart from composing for movies, Yuvan Shankar has also made several personal music albums. In 1999, he released the album The Blast which featured vocals by Unnikrishnan, Kamal Haasan, and Nithyashree Mahadevan. However, the album went unnoticed then. In 2010, he collaborated with the former President of Indian A. P. J. Abdul Kalam and worked on the video album "Song of the Youth" - the song written by Abdul Kalam was composed by Yuvan Shankar. The album which was trilingual - produced in Hindi, Tamil, and English - however, remains unreleased. He has composed music for the 2017 horror movie Nenjam Marappathillai directed by K Selvaraghavan.

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