The long list of honors including the two Oscars, a Golden Globe and making it to Time magazine’s choice of the 100 most influential people in the world, has not changed anything in namma Chennai’s music maestro A.R.Rahman. The down-to-earth musician has plans to build a team of young creative professionals and develop innovative, refreshing scripts that are a far cry from existing stereotypes.
When I was featured along side Obama and Oprah in Time, I casually asked her if she had ever been to India? She said no and asked if I would be willing to bring her here. I replied in the affirmative. If she does make that trip, I would take a week off from work and show her around. I admire and respect Oprah for the woman that she is and for voicing her concerns on various global issues.
I’m not collaborating with any composers in Hollywood. I’m just doing independent films with a few renowned names in Hollywood. Some of them are getting released this Christmas. I will certainly reveal the names later. And no, it’s not the new James Bond film quotes ARR.
Q : Post the Oscars, people have started considering you as a demi-god of sorts. Comments?
ARR : I don’t think that’s true. As of now, there’s a lot of pressure in work. Previously I could attend to all calls whether personal or professional and even answer every email. Today I get about 400 emails every day and it may not be possible to reply to each one.
Nobody will appreciate me if I don’t do my music, which has always been my first priority. So I shut myself off from everything else and devote maximum time for it. I hope people don’t get offended if I don’t respond as I am not ignoring anyone; it’s just that I need to fully focus on my music now.
Q : What about people in the industry who think you are unapproachable?
ARR : I’m trying hard to balance my Indian and Hollywood projects. Right now, I have several commitments on hand — like Mani sir’s Ravana, Shankar’s Endhiran Gautham Menon’s Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaaya and Sultan the Warrior. There’s also the Bollywood film Blue.
Q : Most western films only have background scores and no songs. As you were acclaimed more for your songs, do you think it’s an impediment to accepting foreign films?
ARR : Luckily for me, Slumdog Millionaire fetched Oscars in both departments. The filmmakers have put their trust in me on both aspects. I hope I can live up to the same.
Q : In Hollywood, Intellectual Property rights are a big thing.
ARR : What do you think needs to be done here? I feel the practice of reusing an old song for a new film without getting the permit for the same must change. In Hollywood, a permit needs to be sought for everything. A whole team of music editors, supervisors and associates oversee the product.
Q : Two songs from Gautham’s upcoming film are circulating on the Internet. Do you know about this?
ARR : I haven’t given any songs to Gautham as yet. How can they be circulated? That apart, when technology is used for wrongdoing, there will be others who would work for its protection as well.
Q : Being a Chennaiite, when all other states felicitated you after the Oscars, do you have any hard feelings that Tamil Nadu government did not do anything?
ARR : (Evasively) Representatives of the governments of Maharashtra and New Delhi called on me and and congratulated my work. Even top politicians from TN did that. I don’t have the luxury to think about such things as my work takes most of my time.