Oscar and Grammy Award-winning composer Allah Rakha “AR” Rahman fell in love with South African after watching the movieInvictus.
Rahman, who splits his time between his homes in Los Angeles and Chennai, will tour the country in November, kicking off The Jai Ho – Journey Home World Tour in Johannesburg.
He began the tour in New York in June and will be the first international artist to perform at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Dubbed the “Mozart of Madras” by Time magazine, he redefined contemporary Indian music and received international acclaim for his work on the award-winning score of the Oscar film Slumdog Millionaire , which featured the popular song Jai Ho. He collaborated with the Pussycat Dolls on the English version of Jai Ho .
Speaking to the Sunday Times Extra during a promotional visit to the country this week, Rahman expressed his admiration for Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi and their contribution to the country.
He said he learnt a lot about the country by watchingInvictus.
“I never knew about the history of this country, and when I watched the movie, I got to know about this beautiful principle of Mandela and what he did. People can learn from his personality, which changed the world.”
He first visited SA in 2006 to attend the International Indian Film Awards, but didn’t get a chance to experience the country.
He is looking forward to performing in the country for the first time. He said fans of Indian cinema in South Africa would enjoy his music, which has featured on many Bollywood soundtracks.
“Even if they have not heard any of my songs, it will be interesting because they have universal sensibilities.”
He said the concert was an American-Indian collaboration and had an international crew. “It’s like a rock show meets Broadway meets circus.”
He received mixed reviews for Jiyo Utho Badho Jeeto, the theme song of the Commonwealth Games held in New Delhi earlier this month.
“It took some time for people to get used to it. Once they got it, they loved it and I got great feedback from Australia and the United Kingdom. Initially they felt let down, but now it’s all good. I guess they wanted Shakira – they didn’t like my hips. By the time Waka Waka came, everyone loved it. I didn’t want to take that route. I wanted India to have a motivational song.”
Rahman, who rocketed to international fame after his Oscar and Grammy wins for Slumdog Millionaire, described his success as having “sugar stuffed on my face for a year”.
He saidhis school, KM Music Conservatory in Chennai, was close to his heart.
He will perform at the Sun City Superbowl on November 20 before moving to Grand West Casino & Entertainment World in Cape Town on November 24 and the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on November 26.