Few composers connote world music as film scoring like A.R. Rahman. A musical prodigy in his native India, Rahman would become an acclaimed, Oxford-educated performer whose intoxicating, joyful rhythms touched a transcendental consciousness of melodic grooves appreciated the world over. Writing the soundtracks for numerous Indian films in the midst of a busy pop career, Rahmanâ€™s film stylings would first impress Western ears with the imports â€œWarriors of Heaven and Earthâ€ and â€œLagaanâ€ before making a true international breakthrough for the regally innovative score of â€œElizabeth: The Golden Age.â€
When Danny Boyle decided on a native composer to complement the Indian street cred of his film â€œSlumdog Millionaire,â€ A.R. Rahman was a natural choice. The resulting soundtrack was used hip, highly danceable takes on the countryâ€™s ancient rhythms that translated to Oscars for Best Score and Song, not to mention the international hit â€œJai Ho.â€ While Rahman took a pleasant Hollywood rest stop in the â€œCouples Retreat,â€ his next film for Boyle has made the composer face one of his greatest scoring challenges in the deepest recesses of a Southwestern canyon, where a trapped adventurer has no room to move his arm, let alone dance. The result is an intense, rhythmically hypnotic score that plays his ensuing, fateful â€œ127 Hoursâ€ as the ultimate trip inside a manâ€™s soul, where Rahmanâ€™s music faces his past and a hopeless future before taking drastic, and spiritually enervating action. Itâ€™s an inner miasma of spare acoustics, surging rock guitars and transcendent orchestrations that beautifully surface to the light with Dido in the song â€œIf I Rise.â€
Now basking in the acclaim of this truly interior film, A.R. Rahman talks about the challenges of taking the unexpected, and powerful journey of â€œ127 Hoursâ€ to show himself as a composer capable of taking any risk, on any continent.