He may be a global phenomenon, but music maestro AR Rahman is a very private person. You understand this when you ask the Oscar winner about his children venturing into singing career. His son Ameen sang a track for the Hollywood film, Couples Retreat, while his daughter Khatija lent her voice to a song for South hit Enthiran.
But Rahman laughs when you ask him if he trains them: â€œNo, not really. I think when they learn they have to be very strict with the training. And Iâ€™m trying to be strict. How much that can work out in the end, weâ€™ll have to see.â€
In the city to present Bismillah of Benares, a 50-minute documentary on classical musician Ustad Bismillah Khan, with director Nasreen Munni Kabir, Rahman opens up about the genre:â€œHe was one of my favourites from the time when I was working with Ilayaraja. I wanted to learn the instrument shehnai, so I bought it and when I played it, I started coughing for a week. Itâ€™s a difficult instrument, not meant for everyone. Then when I started listening to him, I realised he made it seem so easy. I invited him when he came for a concert in Chennai; he charmed us all. When I learnt that Munni was making a documentary, I knew I had to join hands with her.â€
Rahmanâ€™s latest collaboration with Western rocker Mick Jagger on Satyameva Jayate was another feather in his cap. Would he work with Mick again? â€œThe albumâ€™s just released and it depends on the reception it gets. Even then itâ€™s a huge statement from India. Iâ€™m sure that more people will be inspired to do such cross-cultural collaborations. I was quite sceptical about it, I wasnâ€™t sure people would like it. Iâ€™m so glad they did,â€ he says.
Heâ€™s also here to launch his album Connections. But as of now, Rahman is busy building his academy back in Chennai, where he teaches classical and Sufi music, into a rock solid one.Wouldnâ€™t he want to open an academy in Mumbai? â€œOnce I perfect the one back home, things might change. Till then Iâ€™ll enjoy the Chennai heat!â€ he signs off.