SP Balasubramaniam is likely to sing for composer Ilaiyaraaja’s 76th birthday celebration event scheduled to be held at EVP Film City in Chennai on June 2.
A source close to Ilaiyaraaja told Silverscreen, “The word has spread already but we must wait for official announcements. We are working for this to happen, and we hope for the best.” This is likely to be SPB’s first public event with Ilaiyaraaja since their fall out over royalties. In 2017, during SPB’s concert in the US, the composer sent a notice to SPB to stop singing his songs in events without his permission. SPB, who had not paid him royalities, wrote a Facebook post saying he was not aware of the legalities and would stop singing the composer’s song hereafter.
Ilaiyaraaja, who is the copyright owner of his songs, is entitled to claim royalties from anyone who sings them particularly for profitable events. The composer asserted this several times and even approached the Madras High Court last year, which lead to an injunction against five music labels. In December, he released a three-minute video repeating that as per the rights granted by South Indian Cine Musicians Union, he was allowed to take legal action in the matter. “If artistes sing my songs in free concerts, they don’t have to pay me. But when they’re earning, why shouldn’t I have a share in it? I think this will be a beneficial move for upcoming artistes too,” he said.
Soon after this, six producers including PT Selvakumar and R Chandrasekhar filed a civil suit against Ilaiyaraaja stating they had the rights over the films for which he composed, and therefore they must receive 50 percent of his royalty share. SPB too said in a meeting organised by Indian Singers’ Rights Association that singers were entitled to royalties when their songs played in public. Ilaiyaraaja has, however, stood his ground on his rightful share for his compositions.
On the occasion of Ilaiyaraaja’s 75th birthday, a mega event was organised by the Tamil Film Producers’ Council in February this year. The big names in the industry attended the event, but SPB backed out. His 76th birthday event is likely to see SPB’s participation, with KJ Yesudas, Chithra, Mano and others.