It started little late but the launch of AR Rahman’s book in a Juhu hotel was worth the wait. Rahman’s mother Kareema, wife Saira, sister Raihanah and bro-in-law flew down for the occasion â€“ release of a biography byNasreen Munni Kabir and published by Om Publishing House.
Others who came to wish the two time Oscar winner were Rahman’s mentor Mani Ratnam, showman Subhash Ghai,Â Ram Gopal Varma, Ashutosh Gowarikar, Imtiaz Ali, Govind Nihalani, Shyam Benegal, Javed Akhtar and Shivamani to name a few. Mani Ratnam opened the lovely evening recalling his association with a `shy young’ child called Rahman who invited him to his so-called studio â€“ a small shed with a swing outside it. “The music he made me hear that day is as good as his music is today. I am his big fan, but I am a greater admirer of him as a humble human being”, declared Mani Sir. We briefly chatted up with Rahman post the event. In place of the shy and reserved music maestro is a suave and confident person who’s beaming with positivity.
Don’t you feel too young for a biography?
No. I started working from the age of 11 and that’s a long time back. The book explores the spirit of music, which is my being and I love to talk about it.
Considering your hectic schedule, howÂ long did it take to complete the book?
Guess Munni got down to writing, like she says, about fourÂ years ago. But I don’t keep an account of time. But yes, I had to give her a deadline. And only deadline makes you stop procrastinating.
Any special part in the book?
Everything related to my life is special to me. But yes, the most memorable part in my life was 1989, a turning point in life. I finally got my own studio, but the only problem was that it was empty. There was no equipment in it. I would be sad and often go and sit there wondering how I would fill it up. I needed Rs. 4 lakhs which is equivalent to Rs. 4 crore today. My mother came to my rescue. She sold of all the gold jewellery that she’d kept for my sisters wedding. And with that money I bought my first Fostex 16-track mixer/recorder. Life changed for me.
You returned that money?
Of course! So much more than that…
You have also ventured into theÂ Hollywood market. How comfortable you are there?
I am comfortable in both the environment. When I was scoring `Couples Retreat’ there, it was little difficult as I was trying to coordinate fromÂ India with the production team in LA. But now I have a home there, thank God! I have met some wonderful people in the West. And I am glad that I have experienced the best of both the worlds.
How do you deal with the pressures considering your hectic schedules?
I visit a Sufi dargaah, located near Mahabalipuram which is next to the sea. I derive my sanity from there. Just stepping inside is therapeutic for me. It removes all my stress.
Anything specific you indulge in other music?
Music is the only passion I shamelessly indulge in. However, for recreation I enjoy watching movies. ‘Wizard of OzÂ ‘ was the first film I ever saw, followed by the `Â BondÂ ‘ movies. I also watch a lot of World cinema through DVDs mostly brought by one of my best friend who’s now based inÂ Toronto. I also like catching up with my old friends, walking all by myself and being with the family.
You are also starting a film company?
Yes. And my vision through the production house is toÂ provide a platform forÂ new ideas and change the perception of music implementations in films in such a way that it can bring back the old charm. Beautiful film music can be made relevant to any period. I am keen that we produce family entertainment that enriches our lives. I am also hoping that my vision will change the status of musicians in India. A musician is a professional, whether he or she is successful or not. The profession itself must be regarded as a stable job.