AR Rahman insists heâ€™ll never stop composing for India, even when busy making music internationally.
Itâ€™s your 20th year and such exciting work is coming from you. Was it all planned?
No it wasnâ€™t. Itâ€™s been a while that Iâ€™ve been doing the one thing that I truly love the
most, which is composing music, and I have enjoyed every bit of it. I feel blessed and humbled that people have loved my music. Nothing would be possible without their acceptance.
From Roja to 127 Hours â€” these 20 years trace your journey from Bollywood to Hollywood. And you are ruling the roost in two industries simultaneously.
Whatever little I have achieved, I thank Allah and my fans for that. But I donâ€™t think it is right to say that Iâ€™m ruling industries. Iâ€™m in the industry to entertain people and experiment with music â€” ruling it has never crossed my mind. No one can rule the industry. Itâ€™s dynamic and every day, exciting talent is bursting into the scene, which I find is really exciting. Iâ€™m continuing to learn more about music â€” itâ€™s an ocean and you can never really say that you know everything. Iâ€™m grateful that Iâ€™m still living and making music among the greats.
What is your prediction for our industry?
Itâ€™s an age of convergence and as time goes by, more and more Indians will stamp their name globally. There is a great deal of respect for our music abroad. They love the kind of work we produce in India because itâ€™s rich and diverse. The West wants that, but we have to retain our Indian-ness. Thatâ€™s our USP. The buzz of India is strong in the West and they are educating themselves more and more about our music.
Donâ€™t your achievements put pressure on your kids?
I want my children (Khadijah, Rahima, and Aameen) to make their own name and write their own destiny, and Iâ€™m sure that they will do it. Right now, Iâ€™m just giving them a childhood they deserve and I hope that they never feel any pressure. I hope they give their 100 per cent in whatever they do.
You are shy, and so is your family. Does everyone just hate the spotlight?
We are normal people. We donâ€™t really deserve to have the spotlight on us all the time. I compose music for films and by the grace of God, Iâ€™ve got a few awards. Thatâ€™s it. We donâ€™t let ourselves ever forget that the most important thing is family, and we want to keep it that way. I donâ€™t want to expose my personal life. Itâ€™s best that people know me for my work. My family doesnâ€™t want to be surrounded by cameras. We want to live like any other family.
Your wife Saira Banu has been truly inspirational. How much credit do you give her for your successful career? Your mother too played a great hand in shaping your values…
She is my pillar of strength and Iâ€™m always at peace because of her. Iâ€™m always assured that she will always be there, taking care of everything. It is because of her that I have been able to achieve whatever little I have. My mother (Kareema) is someone from whom I have got my spiritual bent. The person I am today is because of her. She went through a lot of hardship while raising me (Rahmanâ€™s father, composer RK Shekhar, died when Rahman was just nine. The family would rent out his instruments to make a living) and she has instilled her values in me. She is our guiding light.
Apparently, you are too expensive for Bollywood.
That is not true. Indian films are my first love and I can never turn them down just because of money. I did not come into the industry for money and I never will do that.
The industry also feels that you are inclined to do more Hollywood movies these days.
Because of my world tour and other commitments, I havenâ€™t been able to dedicate too much time here. But I will never quit composing for Indian films. I cannot think of doing work only in Hollywood and passing films from here. There is no truth to it.
You are expanding your music school, we hear?
There are plans to have a bigger campus and innovations on what we could do with our course. But itâ€™s too early to talk about it.