Happy Birthday Allah Rakha Rahman !

9 01 2010

Some 18 years ago, singer Unni Menon was given a call way past midnight, awoken in his slumber, and was told that accomplished director Mani Ratnam is recording songs for his new film and Menon’s voice was required for one of those numbers. Who works at this hour, Menon asked himself.

Happy Birthday ARR

But due to the fact that the name involved was called Mani Ratnam, Menon freshened himself up and rushed up to the mentioned recording studio, where he saw a young composer calling the shots.

Mani Ratnam, who so often works with Maestro Ilayaraja, has discovered a new talent to associate with in the music department. Menon wondered continuously if this young guy- whose name is AR Rahman, could really live up to the humongous expectations of having to compose for a Mani Ratnam film. He was given the song lyrics, the tunes were discussed, and on the wee hours of that one day back in 1992, Menon recorded a song called ‘Pudhu Vellai Mazhai’ (A new white rain), and went back home, back to his slumber.

The doubts that he had before recording the song existed even after that- he didn’t think he had sung the catchiest of tunes. Little did he know, that when he went to sleep that day, just like lyrics of the song proclaims, he has witnessed a new white rain, that will reign the Indian music arena over the following two decades.

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The Journey of a Musical Genius.

27 07 2009

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 Arjunan56 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.

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A R Rahman : The Musical Storm

24 07 2009

AR Rahman : The Musical Storm by Kamini Mathai
Penguin Publishers | Price: Rs 499 | Pages: 280 | Official : No

Writing about Allah Rakha Rahman requires one to be a hound rather than a fox, a sleuth rather than an artist. And yes, it requires the patience of a saint to wait for hours at his Kodambakkam home along with directors, producers, wannabe singers and his large and ever-growing staff. The genius, when he appears, is chatty, cheery and charming enough. But he is not given to revealing too much about himself, whether it is about his faith or the way he works.

The best way to get to know him is to speak around him, which is exactly what Kamini Mathai has done. So yes A.R. Rahman: The Musical Storm may look like a quickie and even smell like a hard-headed business move rather than a long-nurtured editorial decision but it is still enlightening about one of India’s most private public figures, who began by earning Rs 50 as a record player operator and can now put any figure on desperately preferred bank cheques.

What it is rich in is a lot of trivia for Rahmaniacs. Of how he was about to go to the Berkeley School of Music before Mani Ratnam offered him Roja or how he made Subhash Ghai stay up for 58 nights in a row while working on Taal or how he once dyed his ponytail red or even how the K.M. in his K.M. Music Conservatory stands for a 16th century Sufi saint, Khalishah Mastan, who had the same name as Rahman’s mother’s guru, Kareemullah Shah Qadri.

Mathai does have a muckraking sort of sensibility but clearly Rahman is the wrong guy for it. The vilest thing that can be said about him that he would sometimes have a Read the rest of this entry »

A R Rahman: On a Song and a Prayer

26 01 2009

Kareema Begum, formerly known as Kasturi, is a slight woman, clad in a shiny blue zari-edged sari, every square centimetre of her worn fingers studded with diamonds, her sparkling toothy smile belying the struggles of her past.

In the sets of Connections

In the sets of Connections

A single mother since 1976, she kept her four children together by renting out the two keyboards her husband, music composer R.K. Shekhar, had left her when he died of stomach cancer.

Times were tough and her prodigiously talented son, then known as A.S. Dileep Kumar, was barely 11 when he started performing in public. “It got to the point where I had to go take him out of school every day to take him to performances,” she recalls, speaking in Tamil, translated rapidly by Dileep Kumar a.k.a. Allah Rakha Rahman’s imperious 12-year-old daughter.

“He was in Class X. He told me I should either let him study or let him perform. We had to survive. He had to drop out of school,’’ recalls Kareema. “I will always regret it.”

What kept her going was what gives 43-year-old Rahman strength even today. Prayer and work. Influenced by a Sufi mystic, Karimullah Shah Qadri, in whom Kareema found solace as she battled her husband’s illness, she converted the family to Islam in 1987. That faith drives her son today, with everything from the door to his recording studio to his mobile number bearing the holy numbers 786.

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Golden boy goes global, scripts history

13 01 2009

Bollywood music director A.R. Rahman became the first Indian to win the Golden Globe Award, for best original musical score in Danny Boyle’s movie “Slumdog Millionaire”.

2The honour bestowed on the maestro has brought much cheer to the Indian film industry.”The Golden Globe is a coveted award and it is a rare honour for an Indian music director. By winning it, competing with composers from around the world, Rahman has not only proved his worth, but has also conveyed to the world that, given a chance, an Indian music director can deservedly vie with any composer in the world,” fellow composer Anu Malik told.

Rahman won the prestigious award for his musical score in the song “Jai Ho”, for which Gulzar penned the lyrics. The song is a typical Rahman number and the composer stuck to his signature style while composing it.

Sukhwinder Singh, who has sung the song, told “Rahman has churned out treat songs even in the past but he did not get an award so I feel that he truly deserves this one. I am very happy for him and when he comes back to India, I will meet him.

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When Mani Guru blackmailed A R Rahman

24 07 2008

At the time of recording the songs of Guru, Rahman was black mailed by his master Mani Ratnam. A funny blackmail though. Being an ardent fan of Nusrath Fateh Ali Khan, Rahman dedicated the song “Tere Bina” to Nusrath Fateh Ali Khan. When Rahman began working on the soundtrack of Guru, he happened to listen to one of Nusrat saab’s softestARR songs called Sajna Tera Bina. He was really inspired by it and started composing Tere Bina.

Originally, the song was about 25 minutes long. ARR often write six or seven mukhdas and then there are many variations. He also recorded the song Ay Hairathe for the film but Mani Ratnam felt it was too heavy to be at the start of the film. So Mani thought of using Tere Bina.

Suddenly, the song got a life of its own. But there was one hurdle for Rahman. He had recorded it in the voice of Qadir Khan and Qadir did an excellent job, according to Rahman . But Mani wanted Rahman to sing it. Rahman added “I said, Qadir will get hurt, and I did not want to hurt him. But there was no way of getting out. It became something like: Either you sing it or it won’t be there.”

Asking whether it was a black mail from Mani Ratnam, Rahman replied “But in a good way (chuckles). I also told Mani sir that I was fasting then and didn’t have the energy to sing it. He said he would wait.

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Rotary Club of Madras honors Rahman

25 06 2008

Rotary club honored Rahman

A R Rahman was conferred the Life Time Achievement award by Rotary Club of Madras for his contribution to Indian music. Man of simplicity and nobility, Rahman said, ‘ I still have a long way to go’.

The man who carved a niche for himself coming out with back to back hits ever since he was introduced in Mani Ratnam’s Roja was at his usual best. ‘If you can start playing the piano at four, you can accept a Lifetime Achievement Award at 40,’ said Indra Subramanyam, President, Rotary Club of Madras, summing the musical lifespan of the genius, thus far.

A God-fearing individual, Rahman said, ‘ Whenever I’m confident about something, I know I am wrong. It is when I’m insecure that I produce something special.’ Rahman said he listens to music from different genres, from The Carpenters to M S Vishwanathan and compositions of Kannadasan and Naushad.

The music genius added that he did a lot of research for ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ and didn’t use any of it in the end.

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