A Honorary Doctorate from Middlesex Uni

16 07 2009

A visit from an Indian superstar brought Middlesex University and its students to a standstill yesterday. AR Rahman is an Indian composer, record producer, musician and singer and is probably best known as the winner of two Academy Awards for the music he wrote for the smash hit film Slumdog Millionaire.

AR+Rahman with Vice-ChancellorHis visit to Middlesex University in Hendon, London had two purposes. Along with Middlesex’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Driscoll, he signed a Memorandum of Understanding between his KM Music conservatory in Chennai, India and the University. AR, as he is known, was also awarded an Honorary Degree, making him a Doctor of Middlesex University, the highest honor the University can bestow.

Middlesex is an extremely popular British university throughout India and hundreds of Indian students come to study on its London campuses. When the word got out that their musical hero, AR Rahman, was coming to receive his honorary degree, excitement started to mount. When he arrived on campus, there were scenes reminiscent of Beatlemania; women screamed and men mobbed him for an autograph or just a glance in their direction!

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Lata Didi is Everywhere ~ A R Rahman

2 06 2009

When the Nightingale of India’ lends her voice to the Mozart of Madras’, the result is bound to be magical as seen in Dil Se’ and Lagaan’. As A R Rahman gets ready to perform at the Times of India Jai Ho concert to be held at Balewadi on Sunday evening, TOI met the maestro and Lata Mangeshkar, and their interaction too turned out to be as magical as their songs on the eve of the show.

A R Rahman with Lata MangeshkarWhen TOI requested them to pose together for a photograph as it was a historical moment, Latadidi as she is fondly called said: “Together? I’m nothing before him.” Taken aback by the compliment, Rahman shook his head vigorously, saying, “No… no”.

Lata told Rahman that she has a lovely photograph of his in which she is seen singing in his ear. “Oh! She must have been teaching me music… sa re…,” Rahman smiled. Asked about their first meeting, Rahman said, “You don’t meet Latadidi. She is everywhere”. Recalling their first meeting at his home for the recording of their first song together, Rahman said, “I think it was Khamoshiyan Gungunane Lagi, was it?”

“No it was Jiya Jale..,” Lata reminded him, to which Rahman added, “Yes, actually both the songs were recorded in a span of a week.”

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Oprah off to India with A R Rahman

31 05 2009

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.

Oprah with AR Rahman

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.

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The Golden Boy of India ~ A R Rahman

20 05 2009

He’s the man who helped make “Slumdog Millionaire” an international hit, scoring the soundtrack of the Oscar winning film. Despite his performance at the Oscars ceremony and being caught up in all the glitz and adulation, Rahman is a reluctantGolden Boy Rahman star.

He’s worked on films since he was a teenager, taking over the role of family breadwinner after his father died and followed in his footsteps as a composer.

While he had stints writing advertising jingles in India, composing for films has been his life’s work so far, yet from his studio in Chennai he admitted to CNN he didn’t want to score films.

“I kept saying next year I’ll quit, next year I’ll quit. And finally because I was sucked into it more and more, now I have the Oscars,” he said. His Oscar performance and acceptance speech was one of the most memorable at this year’s awards.

“I thought if I get it I’ll be quiet, if I don’t get it I’ll be quiet, so I was training my mind not to get over-emotional. So when I first got it I didn’t feel it at all, it was like a rehearsal for me. When I finished my performance then I felt at ease and then I became very philosophical as you know, and I chose love over hate and all this stuff,” he told CNN.

Feted by many in media, his hit “Jai ho” was covered by the Pussy Cat Dolls, but the softly spoken Rahman doesn’t find it hard to remain grounded.

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Passage ~ A R Rahman’s next Holly Flick

16 05 2009

Shekhar Kapoor is on cloud nine. He has just finished a short film in Argentina, for which the music was by A.R. Rahman, and has been asked to sculpt a structure inspired by the film that will join likes of Salvadore Dali and Picasso in a museum in Europe.

Passage. A R Rahman

Speaking about the music of Passage, Shekhar Kapoor quotes “Rahman composed a classic opera song that he recorded in India in an Indian female singer’s voice from his KM music institute in Chennai. When I played the song in Argentina, they said, ‘Oh My God, what a great opera and an operatic voice ‘ Their jaws fell open when I said both were Indians”

The 25-minute film “Passage” stars Haley Benett, Lily Cole and Julia Stiles.

Synopsis : Three estranged sisters reunite one night when the oldest, Ella, comes back for her two younger sisters after leaving them years before in mysterious circumstances. Ella’s absence has taken its toll and the two younger sisters now struggle to find their way in the world without her.

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Farhan Akhtar to sing for A R Rahman

15 05 2009

Farhan AktharFarhan Akhtar can’t stop smiling these days. Don’t blame him. He received a call from Oscar winner AR Rahman, who asked him to sing for him for the film Blue.

Caught completely off guard by the call, it took time for Farhan to realize that it was indeed Rahman who was talking to him on the phone.

A source said, “Rahman told Farhan that his voice suits a ‘cool’ number that he wanted him to record for Blue. Farhan, of course, agreed immediately. It was too good an offer to resist. In fact, Farhan and Rahman met two days ago and spoke at length about the song.”

Farhan, who is currently shooting for Kartik Calling Kartik, is looking forward to the recording.

Confirming the news, Farhan said, “I am damn excited about singing for Rahman. I have been a great admirer of his work and have thoroughly enjoyed his music.Our meeting was wonderful. Rahman said that he decided to use my voice for his composition in Blue after he heard the Rock On!! album.

He was extremely soft-spoken and humble and spoke about how the past few months have been a whirlwind ride for him. He also briefed me about the song but I don’t know whether it will be right on my part to reveal anything about it.”

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A R Rahman ~ Straight from Dil Se !

12 05 2009

A R Rahman Dil SeNothing’s changed about the man. If anything, Allah Rakha Rahman is still the shy and humble person he was before Slumdog Millionaire happened. The only difference is that with two Oscars and a BAFTA and Golden Globe each, the security cover around him has thickened.

And  rightfully so. If the crowd reaction in Hyderabad on Saturday night was anything to go by, Rahman needs a barrage of bodyguards.

In town to be part of a ceremony to honour him for his achievements on the world stage, Rahman was a picture of calm and dignity.

India’s very own Pied Piper who enjoys demi-god like adulation from zillions of music buffs across the country and who was instrumental in showing the world that music is not about language seemed overwhelmed with the love and respect shown to him. “I’ve not come here for any gold crown, but for the gold mine (Padmabhushan Dr P Susheela) sitting here right next to me,” said Rahman.

“After I came back from the Oscars, Susheela Amma called and told me that she wanted to organise a ceremony for me. I did not question her about anything. I just told her, ‘you can do any ceremony. Just let me know when to come.’ That’s how much I adore her.”

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