1978: An 11 year old kid, with some hesitation, moves into a recording studio in Kodambakkam. Many masters are waiting for him.
“Come on Dileep. We’re waiting for you. There’s some problem in the synthesizers you brought. Could you please look on to it?” asks Arjunan master to Dileep. Dileep starts to work upon the problem in the synthesizer by dismantling the parts in a classy way. After some moments, it’s working fine. Arjunan master hugs Dileep and says “You’re a brilliant boy”
Tears roll down from Dileep’s eyes, so does Arjunan master on seeing him and asks “Dileep, thinking of dad? What to do? It’s fate, this isn’t the age for him to pass away from all of us. It feels that your father is still with us”. Arjunan master gives some money to Dileep, it’s for letting the music instruments like Univox, Claviolin.
With that money Dileep buys chocolates and biscuits for his sisters and comes home. Gives the remaining money to his mother. On seeing him, his mother moves and wonders “In this small age he carries the family on his shoulders. On a studying age, I send him to recording studios”, worries Dileep’s mother. But on seeing the visionary eyes of Dileep, she understood that her son goes in the right path.
Dileep isn’t jovial at home. His world is all about the musical instruments. His favorite game is to dismantle the parts of musical instruments and join them again in his room. He has no other time pass such as cinema, playing cricket other than music.
Dileep enters his room and starts playing a tune in the harmonium. That’s Bethlahamil Raavil, composed by his father. On hearing her son playing that tune, she thinks as if her husband is back. Added to that, little Dileep does some modification to that tune and plays it, hearing it takes her to another world. At once, she comes and hugs her beloved son, shedding happy tears.
“It’s lovely hearing you play, but I’m a bit afraid too” says Dileep’s mother.
“Why are you afraid, my ma?” asks little Dileep.
“Your dad was such a talented person. He should have gone places. But this world didn’t understand him till the end. In this small age, you have lot of skills. I can understand it. But am afraid that the world will understand your talent or not” says Dileep’s lovely mom.
The world understood that child; it’s ready to welcome this musical genius with two open arms. Glittering future for this kid was already constructed. At a small age of 4, Dileep was sent to piano classes by his parents. Having studied music from Dhanaraj Master, Dileep is going to join London Trinidad musical school and get graduation in Western classical music. Dileep is going to work with English bands in Chennai like Roots, Nemesis Avenue and Magik.
Dream ~ In some years, he’ll get an opportunity to be a keyboard player to MSV Illayaraja as a music-assistant. His talent will make him reach to the greats like Vig Vinayak Ram, Kunnakudi Vaithiyanathan, Zakir hussain. He’ll travel with them worldwide for musical tours. After that, he’ll compose jingles for over 300 advertisements. By the name, “Panchatam” he’ll start his own recording studio.
There he’ll meet Mani ratnam and get the chance to compose for ‘Roja’. This musical will change Indian style of music. He’ll get national award in his very first film. After some buzzing moments in his life, he’ll change his name from Dileep Kumar, a teenager to Allah Rakha Rahman.
The journey, which starts from Roja will even exceed Oscars.
All these happened just like a dream for him. For Kareema Begum her heart moves whenever she thinks of these moments.
“My son is humble right from his young age. He’ll always look into his father’s recording studio. His dad will proudly say to his neighbors that his son plays harmonium. His father took him to Sudharsanam master once.” says Dileep’s mom.
Dileep’s age was 4 then. “Hey Kid, you play harmonium so well, is it? Come on play now” asks Sudharsanam master to Dileep.
Without any hesitation, he played at once. Sudharsanam master was taken aback at the kid’s talent. He hided the harmonium chords with a cloth and asked Dileep to play. Still Dileep played it with ease. Everybody was dumbstruck.
“His father always gets surprised by the kid’s talents and tells me that he’ll become a big icon one day. “It still rings in my ears. Having realized this, we joined him in piano class. It all started from there and now it stands at the Oscar” remembers the proud mom of Rahman.
Dileep’s age was 4 then. “Hey kid, you play harmonium so well, is it? Come on play now” asks Sudharsanam master to Dileep.
Without any hesitation, he played at once. Sudharsanam master was taken aback at the kid’s talent. He hided the harmonium chords with a cloth and asked Dileep to play. Still, Dileep played it with ease. Everybody was dumbstruck.
“His father always gets surprised by the kid’s talents and tells me that he’ll become a big icon one day. It still rings in my ears. Having realized this, we joined him in piano class. It all started from there and now it stands at the Oscar remembers the proud mom of A R Rahman.
Indian film industry has so many musical geniuses. All are unique and no one short of any talent. But Rahman is called as “First among equals” due to many reasons. Oscar award is just a rail that came to his station. Crossing that, he’ll travel many miles in the world of music. With his first film ‘Roja’, he introduced the genre ‘Reggae’ into Tamil albums. Following that he introduced western classical, Hindustani, Arabic, Sufi, qawwali, jazz, carnatic, ghazal, hip hop, rock, opera, blues, African beats firmly. Like him, there’s no other Indian music director who has collaborated with westerners more. Michael Jackson, Andrew Lloyd Webber, PCD, Nusret fateh ali khan, Adnan sami, Dominick miller, Akon, kylie minogue, etc are some of the westerners with whom Rahman has collaborated.
Famous Hollywood director Spike lee used AR’s ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ in his film inside man. Added to that, AR has composed music for films like Lord of the Rings, Warriors of heaven and earth & Slumdog Millionnarire.
In the fifteen years of musical journey he has won 4 national awards, 25 film fare awards, golden globe, BAFTA and on top of all 2 Oscars. Hard work, new technologies, interest in new instruments, introducing new singers are some reasons for his continuous success. All these qualities were present in his father in the yesteryear itself is a co-incidence.
“I am a small part of my dad’s vast musical knowledge, given by god to me. Whenever i think of him, tears roll down my eyes,” recites Rahman.
“Without making any fizzle Sekhar churned out many hits in the Malayalam film industry. His history remains as a light inside a pond” says famous Malayalam writer, musical critic and Rahman’s friend, Shajji.
1992: Rahman constructed a beautiful recording studio in his house named Panchathan, one of Asia’s best recording studios. Leo coffee, Boost, Alwyn, Premium Pressure cooker, MRF Tyres, The Hindu, Asian Paints is some of Rahman’s hit jingles that season. Saradha trilok, Advertisement producer of Leo coffee got an award for AR’s jingle. Then, Mani Ratnam was searching for a new music director for his nextfilm, Saradha trilok introduced Rahman to Mani Ratnam. He asked Mani Ratnam to visit Panchathan studio, if he finds time. Mani Ratnam totally forgot that meeting. After some six months, he visited Panchathan studios. He didn’t expect such a hi-tech studio; the working of the studio surprised him. Having heard Rahman’s jingles, he fell in love with it instantly. He at once made a decision that Rahman’s the next music director for his upcoming film and the rest is history!
Hit Combination: Rahman-Mani combo is always a super. For example, it was 1998 economic crisis, Bollywood music sales was in an all time low. Then came Dil Se. Within a week 2 million records were sold out. In the next six months, 6 million records were sold out. It made its way to the UK top 10.The world journey of Rahman started then. Till now, he has sold 100 million CD’s, 200 million cassette’s. He’s right on the all time top 25 list, having sold so many audio records.
To be continued…
Originally translated by Satya