HC succeeds in resolving Ilaiyaraaja’s recording theatre dispute amicably

The composer and the landlords agree to bury differences and put a quietus to the issue

The Madras High Court on Wednesday succeeded in solving amicably a dispute between music composer Ilaiyaraaja and the owners of Prasad Laboratories over accessing a building used by him for more than three decades to compose and record music.

Justice N. Sathish Kumar permitted the composer to visit the building for a day along with his assistants and take away all his belongings after preparing an inventory with the assistance of court appointed Advocate Commissioner V. Lakshminarayanan.

The judge also directed the Commissioner of Police to provide protection at the site on the day of the visit since there was apprehension of a large crowd gathering due to the huge fan following that Mr. Ilaiyaraaja commands.

He recorded the submission of senior counsel P.S. Raman, representing the composer, that the latter would withdraw the criminal complaints as well as the civil proceedings initiated against the landlords for abruptly preventing his access to the recording theatre.

Though Mr. Ilaiyaraaja refused to personally file an affidavit to that effect, he agreed to abide by the undertaking given by his counsel. He was hurt that the landlords had insisted upon an affidavit from him fearing that he might change his counsel in future and go back on his words.

“In my 77 years, I have never once gone back on my word and the entire film industry in India will stand testimony to this in my almost six decades of experience. Indeed, I may state before this honourable court that of almost 1,000 films which I have worked on, I have a signed contract in less than a 100,” he told the court.

Appearing on behalf of Prasad Laboratories, senior counsel P.H. Arvindh Pandian accepted the memo filed by the composer’s counsel and said though the recording theatre had now been converted into an IT room, the landlords would ask employees to stay out for a day and permit Ilaiyaraaja to spend time over there due to his emotional attachment with the place.

Justice Kumar commended the senior counsel and also the counsel on record Sanjeev Kumar, Abdul Saleem and S. Elambharathi for assisting the court in resolving the dispute through talks rather than harping upon ego and precipitating the issue forever through multiple litigations.

It was Mr. Ilaiyaraaja’s case that he was permitted to use the recording theatre inside the campus of Prasad Laboratories by its founder L.V. Prasad on the basis of an oral understanding between them but the latter’s legal heirs had unceremoniously prevented his entry since last year.

Though the composer categorically made it clear that he was not seeking any right over the property, he was disturbed by the way in which his access to the theatre was cut off. This forced him to file a civil suit in City Civil Court and also lodge police complaints.

It was only when he filed yet another suit in the High Court early this month seeking damages, Mr. Raman said the composer would be contended if he was allowed to meditate for a day in the building used by him as a recording theatre.

The landlords were initially hesitant to accept the request and insisted that he should give up his claim for damages against them. After the judge prodded the counsel to attempt for an amicable settlement, both sides decided to bury their differences and put a quietus to the issue on mutually agreeable terms.

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