India’s gift to world music , composer Allah-Rakha Rahman, aka AR Rahman, whose work is beyond legendary is set to dazzle the UAE next month. Mathrubhumi will be hosting the event at the Sharjah International Cricket stadium on March 17.
“I have been asked to do mostly South Indian songs, so it’ll be mostly Tamil and a couple of Malayalam songs, and of course, there will be Hindi too,” said AR Rahman while talking to City Times in Dubai yesterday.
The maestro also told us how, at 50, he finds the energy to compose music for millennial love stories like OK Jaanu, “I am a creative actor. I have to act whatever the script demands. I change myself as a composer leaving all the baggages aside.” Excerpts from our conversation:
You do shows across the world, work in international and Indian movies, run your school and a production company. When do you sleep?
I think you have to trust your team. Building a team is something that I learnt with time. We just started with two people in a studio, and now I have a school with many people. By having these people, we are training them and we are also getting something beautiful from their energy. This is how I have been handling so much work for the past 10 years. I have seen such growth by respecting human values. It is not easy, sometimes you get frustrated, but then you have more people so they can take turns not sleeping.
You come across as a calm person. Do you get angry at times?
Anybody who is a leader has to get angry. Not angry, we have to become stern in our demands because ultimately we are like pilots and we have to handle the entire crew. In a way, I think I am a pilot whenever I take a project, because there is so much trust and money involved. When things don’t get done, I get stressful and people get the message. I don’t like to do that, but sometimes when you take a job, you are responsible for others’ money. But I try to be as loving as I can.
You recently performed with Coldplay in Mumbai. Tell us a bit about the experience?
It reflects the spirit of global citizenship. The organisers suggested that we do the song together. I thought it was a great idea. These things are said a lot of times and generally it never happens, but they kept their commitment. I was glad that we could do that. I felt happy when people said how great it was. It was two completely contrasting cultures meeting together and singing. It was very sweet of Chris Martin to do it.
You are extremely spiritual. Does that manifest in your work as well?
It does. As an artist, I cannot run away from the reality of chaos. But in my mind, I can go to places, which are not here. The training of spirituality has taught me to get away from the chaos and the hatred. It allows me to separate myself from the negative energy and go to something that is beautiful and reflect that in my music so people can enjoy.
Can you update us on movies from your production company?
The first movie that we started in 2010 is being made now. It took a lot of time to get the vision right. The second one is a virtual reality movie. The first release would be a movie titled One Heart, which is a concert movie.
The entry tickets for A R Rahman’s concert will be available at platinumlist.net . The show will start at 7 pm.
AR Rahman on his ‘crazy’ experience of playing at Oscars
You performed at Oscars thrice. Once with the band there. What’s your takeaway from the experience and being part of the orchestra with global musicians?
I performed once with Hans Zimmer, once for 127 Hours and then for Slumdog Millionaire. I respect Hans for what he is. I also had a room in a Los Angeles studio for a couple of years in 2000 before I built my own place there. Hans and I were neighbours. We would drop into each other’s studio. We share a comfortable relationship. He asked me if I was interested in being part of his band. We had the whole LA Session Orchestra, Sheila E on percussions and Esperanza Spalding on the bass. It was surreal. In Oscars, we need to have scores for all the films that are nominated, and whenever a movie’s title is mentioned, we have to quickly move our sheets to that particular score and start playing. It was like a circus. It was exciting!
On collaborating with Iranian director Majid Majidi for two movies
“Agreed Indian cinema has so many beautiful things while Hollywood has its own charm, so do French and Chinese cinema. But in Iran, with all those restrictions, they come up with some of the most beautiful movies. They stun you with their craft. Working with Majid gave me an opportunity to learn about their craft. I had heard about Iran being a very closed country and suddenly I get invited to the biggest movie ever made in Iran. I was pleased with the opportunity. There is so much beauty in their zone of love, beauty, food and ancient wisdom. I went to Iran three times, each time for around 15 days. I went to the city of Mashhad and the shrine to experience what the cast and crew were experiencing.
Yes, Rahman loves travelling …
I love travelling. I don’t know how much more I can travel as we get older. Travelling exposed me and made me learn many things that I would have not learnt through books. Looking at people and how civilised they are in their own way. Their dos and don’ts. Their trials, sorrows, happiness. That’s what teaches us the bigger picture about life. We start getting judgmental about one community, but when we put everything together, there is so much beauty in them.
© Arti Dani | Khaleej Times