The difference between buying an Oscar and buying love

By May 31, 2011 No Comments

Just back from the A.R.Rahman concert in Bangalore. Every time I attend one I’ve always wanted to be “up there” instead of “down here” in the audience. But the latter’s not a bad place by any means for someone who even remotely appreciates music. This post is not about the concert, so to put it in a nutshell, the concert was one of the best weekends I’ve ever had.

This post is about something that seems to have happened during the weekend of the concert and irked every fan of the legend. From Facebook statuses to Tweets, everyone is fuming at Ismail Durbar’s comments about Rahman.


I am writing this post as someone for whom film music was defined by A.R.Rahman’s songs, for whom musical inspiration means trying to unearth the different layers in Kannathil Muthamittal (the song) or the filter attack over the drum loop as Theendai reaches a crescendo, for whom musical nirvana is singing for the man. I am writing this post as a fanboy who looks up to his idol and not as an upcoming singer whose musical dreams were partly realized by singing chorus for him. So musicians and people from the industry, pardon my addressing the legend as Rahman and not Rahman sir, just like you would call Sachin Tendulkar by his first name and not Tendulkar sir.


Coming back to Ismail Durbar, he was the one who made me fall in love with Shreya Ghoshal the first time I heard her voice (though I doubt she would want to sing for him again and feel safe about it). I still haven’t fallen out of that love. Devdas is still one of my favourite albums. Now why someone with so much talent and musical prowess( I am using Devdas as a yardstick for judgement) would want to attract cheap publicity by claiming Rahman “bought” the awards beats me. Also what I can’t comprehend is why someone who knows his music would not sustain after giving the album of his lifetime. But I am not going to waste time analyzing this. I am a Rahman fan, so what I will do is listen to good music and think of ways to perhaps create some good music if I can. At least I will benefit from the process. If I want publicity, I want it by singing a song or composing it and finding that people like it… you know, the kind of publicity that earns you dignity and doesn’t require you to strip yourself of it to gain more.


There are some things that people like Ismail Durbar need to know about true Rahman fans. We are a meek lot. We don’t retaliate by swearing on forums, spreading hate mail and the likes. In fact, we don’t even like to retaliate when someone speaks ill about our idol. Because we know he wouldn’t want us to. But that doesn’t mean we will stay silent every time you provoke us. Especially when the allegations are as serious as buying an Oscar. We can get sarcastic in our retorts, but I doubt you would be educated enough to catch it.


We like Rahman because the first time we heard his music, we wanted to know who the man behind the music was. And every single time there was some new music that we really liked, we checked out who it was and discovered it was this same meek looking silent unassuming man. Eventually, instead of listening to the music first and being pleasantly surprised to discover it to be a Rahman composition, we started looking forward to every Rahman release and found ourselves never once being let down by this man.


With time we discovered that there was more to this man than just his music. So we decided to learn from his good qualities. His philanthropy had an effect on our attitude, his humility taught us that no achievement is too great to gloat about, and the art is always greater than the artist. The charity work being done by some of our fellow fans is something Mr.Ismail Durbar probably couldn’t have imagined to be a consequence of one man’s music, no matter how much his scheming brain tried to think. Because at the root of it all, we are fans of a man whose intentions are noble, whose music touches an emotional chord deep down in our hearts, who we look up to for his music and for the person he is, and not for the awards he has brought. National pride, Filmfares, Oscars were all just a consequence, and reasons for us to celebrate. But they aren’t the reasons we are fans of this man.


So what’s an Oscar to Rahman fans? It is a sense of pride, it is an important milestone yes, but under no circumstance is it more important to us than the man himself and his music! The Oscar was a just another feather in his cap. A gust of wind may try to blow it away but it is the bearer of the cap that we are fans of! That having said, I would also like to mention here that the Oscars have had a history of reaching people rather late, sometimes not necessarily for their best work and sometimes not reaching them at all. Martin Scorcese, Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Stanley Kubrick, Charlie Chaplin, Peter O Toole are just a few names I can think of immediately. Of course there is not even a need to justify all this to someone like Ismail Durbar right now. Maybe we’ll give him another twenty years just to make more good music if he is capable of that, and then make statments about Rahman getting Oscars. Hopefully by then we would’ve moved on to greater works from Rahman and the Oscar would be a mere formality.


I speak on behalf of every true Rahman fan when I say this. We may get hurt by allegations and attempts to taint our idol’s name, but nothing will stop us from shedding a tear when Swarnalatha sings Porale Ponnuthai, or paying silent homage to H.Sridhar sir while mavelling at Pachai Niramey’s mix, or loading our ipods with Yeh jo des hai tera and Des Ki Mitti when we leave our country. We will probably retaliate with posts like this if you continue to provoke us more. But we wont take it any further than that. We will just wait for Rahman’s next album and enjoy it. You are too less important for us to bother going beyond facebook posts! Here’s wishing Ismail Durbar speedy recovery from whatever it is that is bothering him and hoping he gets back to making music.


By Vijaynarain Rangarajan

Leave a Reply