My laziness is my toughest competition: A R Rahman
Praveen Rao |Â Monday, 05 July , 2010, 11:39
Great timing. Amazing good luck. Sheer genius. All of this had a role to play in making A R Rahman the global phenomenon that he is today.
Though the west has never been unaware of Rahman, a â€˜smallâ€™ film called Slumdog Millionaire changed things overnight. Now the 44-year-old Oscar winner has worked with over 60 international musicians, including Quincy Jones and Lionel Ritchie, in a charity single, is planning to collaborate with Usher and Dido, and is touring the US and Europe as part of his â€˜Jai Ho Concert: The Journey Home World Tourâ€™ concert.
Sify.com caught up with the maestro on a brief visit to his hometown, Chennai. Excerpts from the interview.
A little about the â€˜Jai Hoâ€™ concert. Why did you plan it?
This concert was a chance to interact with the best talent out there. It was also the right timing and exposure. My last tour was in 2007, so everybody wanted another one and people kept asking me. So we thought of doing this in a different way.
Weâ€™ve seen a lot of Rahman the performer on this tour. Are you enjoying performing?
Yes, I am enjoying it. We have a director who wants the best from everybody, so we are all forced to give our 100 per cent.
Do you plan to perform in the remaining cities of North America?
We will be going back in September and performing there.
Your next stop is Zurich. What are they to expect from the Isai Puyal?
I have already given a press meet and they asked some great and interesting questions. I have got great support from them. This is the first time we are all going to this country.
We recently saw pictures of you all dressed up and trying dance moves. Is that you experimenting or did you just succumb to pressure?
Well, it goes with the theme. They wanted me to be like a ring master in a circus, literally. So, initially, when I heard the creative I felt it was ok – it was out of the box. And then when I saw some of the footage, I liked it.
A memorable incident from your tour.
There have been lots – the first two months of rehearsal, the first show. It was like going into another world.
How are fans reacting to you? Is the audience mostly Indian?
Weâ€™ve had a mix actually. Itâ€™s mostly been a desi audience, but there has been a significant amount of improvement from what it was before.
Have the Oscars changed people’s perception of you?
I think in a way, yes, it has given me more exposure. People know me even if I donâ€™t know them.
The music of Raavan got mixed reviews. Your reactions?
Everything new gets mixed reviews. It is true that it did not have any of the normal duets and the kind of stuff that you have in Manijiâ€™s films, but I think when they see the film they will understand what the music score is about.
However, there have been a lot of very kind remarks about it, too. And about the last song, which has not been released yet. Some of the music was not released because there was still work to be done. Now we are going to release the other five tracks, which will make it to the album.
We have heard AR Rahman loves working when the world sleeps. Any particular reasons for that?
Thatâ€™s because communication is a lot easier with the other end of the world. I mean, I work with people in the US and stuff, but now the reasons have changed
Is there anything left for you to achieve?
Well, I donâ€™t consider achievement; I consider the whole path to be a beautiful journey. Because achievements can be broken, somebody else can do better things.
I donâ€™t consider music to be like sports – that I have done 100 meters in 2 seconds or things like that. So sometimes you just relax and see what youâ€™ve done and sometimes the simplest things give you the most satisfaction.
But the good thing about the whole thing has been the opportunity to give back. I now have a music school and that is good.
Were you happy with how the Pussycat Dolls made Jai Ho? Did it really need a ‘western’ version?
It was intentional. Initially, it sounded weird but it helped the song reach out to younger audience. It was number one in 17 different countries.
Who according to you is your competition?
My laziness is my toughest competition. I try to overcome that compulsorily and do something and get satisfaction out of that. And I might just give my 10 per cent, but there is always a question that comes your way and, when that happens, it gives you inspiration to work harder.
From Roja to the presentâ€¦ how has the journey been?
The journey has been good with good wishes, blessings and encouragement given by people. Thank you for that.