Happy Birthday Harris Jayaraj! My Second Favorite Tamil Composer (Sorry, You All Come After ARR)

This is the first non-Rahman Tamil composer whose name I learned. Partly because it is a very memorable name (“Harris”) but also because his music is extremely good.

Harris Jayaraj’s birthday is a few days after Rahman’s, and in the same way his whole career sort of followed Rahman’s path. Like Rahman, he was the son of a studio musician. Like Rahman, he was a child prodigy, training in classical carnatic music from age 6 and working as a professional guitar player (his instrument of choice) from age 12 on. Like Rahman, he worked in a variety of roles while getting his start (arranger, ad music composer, musician), before finally finding his director/muse that changed everything. For Rahman, that was Mani Ratnam. For Harris, it is Gautham Menon. Once his first soundtrack came out (Minnale/Rehna Hai Tera Dil Main), his career was established.

The differences start from there. While Rahman works in every industry and internationally, and writes dozens of songs a year, Harris is more exclusive. He has stayed almost entirely within the Tamil industry and does only a few soundtracks a year at the most. That’s the delightful thing about Harris, Mani Ratnam you probably already know most of his songs (no matter where in India, or the world, you are from), there aren’t many hidden gems left. Harris, you may not have even heard of half the films he worked on, there is so much still left to discover (unless of course you are Tamilian)! This post is just going to be a handful of songs that I have already heard from Harris, not his best or most important, just the ones I know.

This is the first Harris song I consciously heard and it immediately captured my attention and made me go “who is this composer????”

And then I discovered he had written a few songs that I had vaguely known for years and years, from the all time classic Rehnna Hai Tere Dil Main. His first soundtrack, Minalle, translated into Hindi.

And of course the song that introduced Maddy to the greater Indian world, “Zara Zara”.

Another one that had stuck with me, without my realizing the origin, “Kwabon Kwabon” from Force. Yes, I know the original Tamil movie and song is better, but this is the one I know. And anyway, John looks really cute in it.

This also explains why I found the love songs for Spyder so much better than the rest of the romance (one of Harris’ few Telugu soundtracks).

See???? Even the stalking song!

And he made the hero seem much cooler than he turned out to be.

I like the Spyder soundtrack better I think, but my goodness can Vijay dance to the Harris rhythms in Thuppaki!

And then there’s the movie where I really love Harris’ music, Yennai Arindhaal. It’s not his best soundtrack, or the best movie, but it is the movie where I most feel the advantage of the combination of his sound with the film.

Something as simple as the difference between a second love coming in midlife.

Versus a first love surprising you in youth.

5 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Harris Jayaraj! My Second Favorite Tamil Composer (Sorry, You All Come After ARR)

      • It was his second film, made right after Minnale – Majunu, and in fact the music was similar and nice, but the movie not so much – typical boy meets girl, fights terrorists (one of them young Sonu Sood) flick.


        • Thanks! And The Internet tells me, it also featured Rinke Khanna. One of those faces I can’t stop looking at and trying to track back her parents.

          On Tue, Jan 8, 2019 at 4:09 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  1. Thanks. Harris is also my one of my favorite composer – enjoyed him mostly through his Tamil->Telugu dubbed/remade movies like Minnale/RHTDM, Anniyan, Kaaka Kaaka, Varanam Ayiram, but also Telugu straight movies like Vasu, Orange, Spyder, Sainikudu.

    Ghajini made him a star composer – the songs were played for years in Telugu.


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