Come fame or flak, AR Rahman moves to the beats of his own drum. Filmfare tries to catch the music in his words.
AR Rahman: The Spirit of Music is an authorized biography. For someone so painfully shy, how difficult was it to allow someone to peep into your life and mind?
The whole idea while writing this book was that it should make sense to the person reading it and be a positive exercise. And to make it positive, I had to give them the whole route.
Did it take much convincing on the part of the author?
First of all, I agreed to do it because Munni was writing it and also because sheâ€™s multi-cultural. I too have both Indian sensibilities and a certain global understanding because I have lived abroad too.
What other goals have you set for yourself?
Weâ€™re celebrating 20 years of my music career. Iâ€™m going into another direction which is giving back to society. My music school KM Conservatory is moving forward.
How much do you get affected by criticism?
If there is no criticism you become lazy. But it should be constructive and it should be the truth.
Your theme song for the Commonwealth Games got a lot of flakâ€¦ There were probably certain things we overlooked. Everyone was expecting an international song and we wanted it to be motivational. A lot of people were so drowned in Shakiraâ€™s Waka waka that they found Jiyoâ€¦ very desi.
Does genius also err?
(Laughs). It is good to err. But making music in a film is not one personâ€™s decision. They work as a team, but if the main guy, the director, goes terribly wrong then everyone hates the music and everything else associated with the film.
Did you feel terrible when Jhootha Hi Sahi and Raavan came a cropper after your Oscar win?
Thatâ€™s how it is. But around the same time, I was working on 127 Hours which got an Oscar nomination.
Were you prepared when you lost the Oscars for 127 Hours?
I was prepared for it because I knew that after winning two Oscars, they wouldnâ€™t give it to me again. So, after the awards, we skipped the governorâ€™s ball and went to a Malayali restaurant and feasted on morkozhambu, rasam and sambar.
What is your take about the must-have item song in movies?
(Smiles) Thatâ€™s the culture nowadays! If youâ€™re making a commercial movie and people are enjoying it, itâ€™s fine.
Have you heard Munni badnam Hui or Sheila ki jawani?
I liked Sheila ki jawani very much.
Heard youâ€™re planning to produce filmsâ€¦
Yeah itâ€™s an aspiration. For the past six months Iâ€™ve taken a break and going through ideas. Weâ€™ll mostly kick the venture with one Tamil and one Hindi film.
Would you remix an RD Burman song? Whatâ€™s your stand on remixes?
No! As a composer, Iâ€™d rather do a new song. Sometimes, a remix is good because it reaches a whole new generation. But when it gets too much, itâ€™s irritating.
Apparently, Mani Ratnam has gone back to Illayaraja for his next film…
No, Iâ€™m doing the movie. Hopefully.
Your collaboration with Mani Ratnam is magical.
We struck a rapport with the first movie. The movie that we are now working on is a typical South Indian one. So thereâ€™s going to be a lot of South Indian classical and folk music.
How often do you thank the Sufi saint Moti Baba (in Chennai) because itâ€™s there your mother first saw your wife Saira?
(Laughs) Moti Baba! Man! I canâ€™t complain to him when things go wrong. But seriously marriage is not just a physical thing. (Giggles) The institution of marriage works better when thereâ€™s a spiritual connection.
What kind of a father are you?
I am a friend when I need to be a friend, a father when I need to be a father and a musician when music calls. I switch roles accordingly.
Is it true that when you take your kids to Disneyland and elsewhere you film it, so that they donâ€™t accuse you of not spending time with them later?
I have said this in the book in a cheeky way. You always cherish good memories. I thought it was important to have some documentation of whatever little I do.
Do you feel guilty of not spending enough time with your family?
(Laughs) No, Iâ€™m not guilty at all. At least they have a father. I didnâ€™t have one. Itâ€™s not a perfect life. And thatâ€™s what makes it special. Thatâ€™s what makes us more human.