AR Rahman on making experimental music with Imtiaz Ali, his two upcoming international releases, Mani Ratnam’s next and a music album that releases later this month.
He’s getting ready to walk the red carpet at the Berlin Film Festival with Highway director Imtiaz Ali and leads Randeep Hooda and Alia Bhatt. “It’s cold here but not freezing, the sun is out,” says AR Rahman, talking to Mirror from the German capital.
Back home, he has surprised many by appearing in the music video of Pataka Guddi with Alia. Is an acting career on the cards? “That’s a different trip. I’d rather continue with my musical journey. There’s so much left to explore” says the maestro.
He points out that the film offered him a lot of creative freedom to experiment with different things before they landed up with the final list of songs. “Even more challenging was the minimalistic background score. There were places where we decided not to have music and let the ambience speak,” he reminisces.
After this road trip through six states, Rahman will set out on The Hundred-Foot Journey based on Richard C Morais’s novel. The Mozart of Madras is looking forward to this adventure drama starring Helen Mirren, Om Puri and Manish Dayal. “I’m a great admirer of the Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom who’s been nominated for the Oscars for My Life as a Dog and The Cider House Rules. His sensibilities are unique. I’m really excited,” he exults. Produced by Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Juliet Blake, the film opens on August 8.
Before that, the composer will have another international release on May 16–Walt Disney Pictures’ biographical sports drama, Million Dollar Arm. “I’ve worked with a lot of artistes on this score, collaborated with rappers from the West. It’s in the Slumdog Millionaire genre but goes forward and beyond. It’s based on a true story (of baseball pitchers Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel discovered by sports agent JB Bernstein after winning a reality show) which made it more interesting,” he says.
For all those who believe that Rahman is on a highway to the West, he points out that there’s the Rajnikanth starrer, the one of-its-kind Kochadaiyaan – The Legend. “It’s not real live-action and has been in the making for long but I’m proud to be associated with it,” he asserts. He’s also given the nod to Mani Ratnam’s bilingual starring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
Confirming the news Rahman says, “It’ll be nice to be working with Mani Sir again on an exciting, young project.”
He’s also given the nod to Imtiaz’s Window Seat starring Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone. And there’s Shekhar Kapur’s Paani. “I’m glad this ambitious project is in the right hands now, it will happen the way it’s meant to,” he avers.
And if that’s not enough, Rahman will also be releasing an album, Raunaq, on February 27 but won’t divulge details. You’ll hear it soon,” is all he will say.
With all that’s happening, it’s not surprising his son Ameen would want to stop a music session so his dad could get seven hours of sleep. “Living in a family we tend to take each other for granted till we get a wake-up call like this. Then it’s like wow, this is what a family is about,” he says.
But cruising down the highway of life, as we see in Imtiaz’s upcoming film, can be an eye-opener and a mind-opener. “I’ve been travelling for the last 15 years, not on a truck but on an aeroplane. My kids miss me when I’m away but I don’t mind living out of a suitcase. The UK, US, France, Germany, Iraq… it’s such a thrill meeting people of different cultures, learning about and from them,” he muses. “It’s changed my perception about life, humanity and spirituality.” Jai Ho!
Meanwhile, buzz is, he had objections to Sohail and Salman Khan using the title Jai Ho for their film? Rahman says, “After Slumdog Millionaire, Jai Ho became such a huge hit that I copyrighted the title. I gave an NOC to Sohail and Salman for their film, but if anyone outside India wants to use it, they will need my permission.”