A passion to promote Indian classical music among the youth is what drives Oscar winning musician AR Rahman. Films and shows are the means to reach that end, says the Mozart of Madras.
After touring 16 countries, Rahman’s “Jai Ho: The Journey Home” world tour will join the 150th anniversary celebrations of the arrival of the first Indians in South Africa.
The musician who had the world up and dancing with Jai Ho, the song which won him an Academy Award, said that he is putting in his all for the project.
“I have a school which trains students in classical music and my whole reason for doing all these shows is to collect money for building the school,” Rahman said during a brief stopover in Johannesburg to promote his forthcoming shows in South Africa.
“India does not really have a proper school of that kind. I started in a small way two years back, and we have 200 kids studying there. We want to expand and that will cost a lot of money. That motivates me to do shows and films and endorsements,” said the 44-year-old musician.
Confirming that Indian classical music was still his first love, Rahman said, “It is evergreen. I want the next next generation go even further in spreading this.”
Though Rahman believes that music unites people, some of his experiences have shown him otherwise too.
“When I did my first American show, organised by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, an organisation promoting Indian unity, a couple of Tamil people said I was singing too many Hindi songs; the Gujaratis said I’m singing too many Tamil songs and so on,” said Rahman.
“Now I get all types of people at my shows, North Indians, South Indians, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and others. Of course people who want to complain will still do so. In my South Africa shows, I want the audience to go one step further, I want them to bring some of the indigenous communities too,” said the musician.
His show is an amalgamation of Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi and English languages as well as genres like rock, hip-hop and orchestral music.
“Even Americans, black and white, have come to my show and said they had never seen anything like it and wanted me to come back for more” said the musician.
Rahman said that he is overjoyed by the reaction to ‘Jai Ho’, across the globe.
“When I do the show they keep waiting for Jai Ho as the last number and demand an encore. Indians and non-Indians, dance with feelings of joy to the song. They love to dance even if they do so clumsily. I even saw one video on You Tube where there are a whole lot of corporate people dancing to it,” said Rahman.