Oscars, Grammys, BAFTA, Golden Globe, National Awards… AR Rahman’s achievements read like a laundry list of global honours. With seven nominations at the upcoming GiMA (Global Indian Music Awards), he talks about achievements, new projects and the process of composing music.
After all the honours you’ve won internationally, what do awards mean to you now?
It feels good to be nominated and awarded. Also, there’s a fanatic following that wants you to succeed. It’s a blessing. Also, winning an award is a high for the team of engineers and musicians who’ve worked with you.
What was it like to work on Yash Chopra’s Jab Tak Hai Jaan?
Yash Chopra has an amazing passion for love stories and Adi wants the movie to cater to a younger audience. The music has been composed keeping that in mind.
Did you work with new singers for the soundtrack?
Neeti Mohan will be making her Bollywood debut. Then, there’s Shakti, Javed Ali and Harshdeep Kaur. Rabbi is also there.
What is the process of exchanging ideas and briefs with filmmakers like?
Each team has its own way of working. First, I talk to them about what they are looking for. I ask them which songs of mine they have liked in the past and what kind of songs could work for their film.
Since music directors have to compose keeping the storyline in mind, do you ever feel restricted?
If I felt restricted, I’d make music and put it on YouTube. Even if a song doesn’t get through in one film, it never goes waste. There are always opportunities to use it later.
What was it like to compose for Raanjhana?
After Lagaan (2001), this is the first time I got to work on folk-classical music. The film brings out a fascination for Banaras through the music.
Which international projects are you working on?
Work on Monkeys of Mumbai is going great. There are a few other projects, but I can’t speak about them yet.
You are also making a TV appearance in an episode of MTV Unplugged. What was it like to perform your songs with acoustic music?
I had wanted to do that for a long time. The experience has been great.
How do you juggle concerts, recordings, composing and shoots?
(Laughs) I never miss any opportunity to make music. It’s a form of catharsis.
How do you think your sound evolved has over all these years?
The standards were always high. I have to keep working hard and rediscovering myself to maintain the standard.