AR Rahman can leave dinner midway if inspiration strikes & other anecdotes about the reticent music maestro
AR Rahman Music World
- Academy award singer, composer and now director AR
Rahmanhas sold an estimated 150 million records.
- He founded the music school KM Music Conservatory in Chennai that also has a project, The Sunshine Orchestra, for underprivileged children.
- For a man of few words, he has been subtly expressive about ‘Bollywood gangs’, and why he hates the term ‘Bollywood’.
AdvertisementAcademy award winner AR Rahman, arguably the most famous introverted Indian composer and singer, turns 56 today. He has sold an estimated 150 million records, according to Berklee Today.
Known as the ‘
Rahman’s ad jingles
Rahman composed ad jingles for Airtel, Titan watches, Premier pressure cooker and Renault, among others in his initial years. On being asked about whether he was hesitant to step into movie music composition, he said, ‘I felt underqualified to take on a big movie, I felt I needed to learn more.”
‘Mani Ratnam my real mentor’
An invitation to score the 1992 movie Roja by Indian director Mani Ratnam opened the door to a film-composing career for Rahman. ‘Mani Ratnam was like a real mentor for me. He taught me from a director’s point of view how to create music and mix things to click with the people’, he said in an interview to Berklee Today. He met the director through Sharada Krishnamoorthy, who was a cousin of Ratnam’s.
Can ditch family dinner for a song
AR Rahman’s marriage to
Revived Asha Bhonsle’s career
The revered singer Asha Bhonsle was facing a dry spell in her career before the 1990s. It was AR Rahman’s entry into the Hindi music world with the film Rangeela that gave her the second innings of her career.
He gave popular singer
Indian Carnatic and film musician Sid Sriram was given his first break by Rahman. Previously a student at Berklee College of Music, it was Rahman who called him to sing for the Mani Ratnam film ‘Kadal.’ When I was in Berklee, I sent him (Rahman) an email with some of the original music I was releasing at the time. I never expected a response, so when he did respond I couldn’t contain myself.’
Winning global accolades
He is the first Asian to win two Oscars for the movie Slumdog Millionaire. He has also composed for Hollywood movies like 127 hours, Pele, The 100-Foot Journey, Million Dollar Arm and People Like Us, to name a few. He has collaborated with Andrew Lloyd Webber on the musical Bombay Dreams, staged in London’s West End and on Broadway. Rahman has shared the stage with stars such as Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger.
A man of no words
Famed journalist Karan Thapar shared that Padma Shri winner AR Rahman was his ‘most difficult interview’. Rahman only answered in monosyllables. ‘His answers were “Ummmm”. When I asked him the second question, he answered, “Hmmmm.” When I asked him a third, it was “Ummmmmmmmmmm”, wrote Thapar in his book ‘Devil’s advocate’.
Not so silent anymore
AdvertisementAR Rahman has become more vocal about his views. Upon being awarded ‘Icon’ at Confederation of Indian Industry, Rahman said, ‘I think India is India. For me, it doesn't matter. Somebody does good here, and north Indians benefit, somebody does good there, we benefit, the borders are broken,’ he said. He also hates the term ‘Bollywood’ as it is generic and condescending in its description of India’s diverse heritage.
Furious at Masakali 2 music remake
The movie ‘Delhi 6’ released in 2009 was a hit due to its groovy album composed by AR Rahman, sung by Mohit Chauhan, and lyrics penned by
Enjoy the original #Masakali https://t.co/WSKkFZEMB4@RakeyshOmMehra @prasoonjoshi_ @_MohitChauhan https://t.co/9aigZaW2Ac— A.R.Rahman (@arrahman) 1586362696000
‘A Bollywood gang against me’
AdvertisementRahman broke his silence after Sushant Singh Rajput’s passing away. He composed music for SSR’s movie Dil Bechara. ‘I don’t say no to good movies, but I think there is a gang, which, due to misunderstandings, is spreading some false rumours…I am doing dark movies, because there is a whole gang working against me, without them knowing that they are doing harm,” he said in an interview with Radio Mirchi.
KM Music Conservatory in Chennai
Established in 2008 by the A.R. Rahman Foundation, KM Music Conservatory (KMMC) offers world class music education in Chennai. Lydian Nadhaswaram, the child prodigy from Chennai-based KM Music Conservatory appeared on World’s Best on CBS and won a $1 million prize in 2017.
The Sunshine Orchestra
AdvertisementThe Sunshine Orchestra was also founded in 2008 by the A R Rahman Foundation. Socially and economically-deprived children with an aptitude in music are provided free musical training through KM Music Conservatory. The group has played for many events and Rahman’s films, including Cobra, Sanju and Shikara.
AR Rahman’ directorial debut Le Musk
Rahman also made his debut as a director for a multi-sensory virtual reality film, Le Musk - at the 2022 Infinity Festival Hollywood. Inspired by the love for perfume he shares with his wife Saira Banu, Rahman used scent as a narrative device “creating a feature-length cinema VR experience that pushes boundaries of storytelling and incorporates multiple senses.”
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