A.R. Rahman’s journey took a detour. The Bollywood composer and international superstar put together a lavish tour called Jai Ho: The Journey Home. It proved too big for one venue in Detroit; back in July a large portion of the stage show’s lighting rig collapsed, delaying the remainder of the tour. But Rahman, whose profile in America went mainstream with two Oscar wins for his work on Slumdog Millionaire, is back on the road. His journey passes through the Toyota Center on Friday. Prior to Slumdog the producer, composer, singer and musician, 44, had sold tens of millions of albums from his nearly two decades working as one of the busiest musicians in the Bollywood industry in India.
Q: Has your pace changed since Slumdog? It seemed you were composing and producing more prolifically before.
A: In a way, yes, I’ve slowed down. There’s so much process in all of that, working with these movies. And I worked hard and was very productive, which was great. But so much about this year was touring.
Q: How have the shows been received?
A: Very well. I’ve been doing them for about 13 years. But I’ve been getting very good vibrations from these shows. I just wanted to push what I’d done further. And to mix these two creative teams, one from India and a great creative team from America. I hope it’s a good mix of both cultures. It required a lot of planning. Almost four or five months were just planning. The show thing is very different from recording. Many times people buying the tickets have wanted to see you for a long time. Your music changed their lives in a way or influenced their lives in a way. For some it’s healing in a way. So they come to the show not just to see something great but for that feeling of, it’s almost like owning an artist. But it’s also a celebration. It can be like a big family coming together. So we try to get all that done in three hours.
Q: I heard you and Michael Jackson were planning to work together. Did anything come of that?
A: That was so unfortunate. I met him last year; we had two meetings. He wanted me to write some songs. But mainly we were talking about humanitarian things, bigger things in life. Unfortunately his death terminated everything.
Q: I believe your father was a composer. Did you feel like a career in music was inevitable?
A: Not as a child. I never thought I’d take up music. At first I wanted to be an electronic engineer. That was a fascinating world to me. Of course, music technology lets me continue to be involved in that.
Q: And it seems the music thing has worked out pretty well, too.
A: Yes. (Laughs.) It turned out to be a good decision for me.