Mumbai: The Mozart of Madras now has a home in Mumbai, and you can visit it whenever you wish. Apart from being a place to delve into the life and works of Indiaâ€™s best-known music composer, AR Rahman, the 3,000 sq-ft space in Vasai also doubles as a resource centre for underprivileged students to mirror the legendary musicianâ€™s altruistic side.
The AR Rahman Library and Gallery houses a life-size painting of Rahman in Bollywood-poster style, three albums of the Oscar winning composerâ€™s pictures, a large repository of newspaper and magazine articles, an audio-cassette collection, and about 20 frames capturing Rahman in various moods.
Six months old, the library has been created by Santosh Kumar Pandey, 28, a Vasai resident and an ardent Rahman fan. In fact, such is his adoration for his guru, that Pandey has also embraced Islam, â€œjust like Rahman sirâ€.
Located in a flat in Rashi Residency housing society in Vasai (East), the space has been donated by Yogesh Bosmiya, who is the director of the society. Bosmiya agreed to Pandeyâ€™s request of creating the library after being impressed by the latterâ€™s years-long dedication to the subject.
The Vasai youthâ€™s admiration for Rahman began with the 1994 film Rojaâ€™s soundtrack. â€œI was blown away by the music. It was so divine and soulful, it touched my heart,â€ said a mesmerised Pandey, dressed in a white kurta, attar-soaked cotton tucked in his ears, and his surma-lined eyes gleaming at the mention of the name of his guru.
In the 16 years since, Pandey has kept track of everything Rahman. â€œI used to segregate clippings and articles on various topics at night, and would then cut and stock them categorically the next day,â€ Pandey said.
Apart from the musicianâ€™s compositions, what brought Pandey closer to Rahman was his simplicity and humility, and his discreet efforts to reach out to the societyâ€™s underprivileged. â€œThe AR Rahman Foundation in Chennai raises funds for disaster relief and for the education of poor children, but without much hullabaloo,â€ Pandey said, adding that he too wants to contribute to the society like his guru.
That is why, besides music, the library has a modest collection of articles, pictures and books on subjects ranging from science, history, sports to commerce and computers for students with insufficient means. The reading room draws students from Vasai, Nallasopara and other adjoining areas. â€œMany school students also come for assignments and project work,â€ said the self-confessed â€˜Rahmaniacâ€™.
Though he has not met the composer in person, Pandey claims Rahman has replied to his messages posted on the latterâ€™s website. â€œHe thanked me when I told him about the library, and when I wished him Eid Mubarak, he said, â€˜thanks Santosh Kumar Pandeyâ€™. I am glad that among millions of fans he at least knows me by name,â€ an excited Pandey said, adding, â€œI would be lying if I say I donâ€™t want to meet him. But I prefer being a fan who makes his guru proud.â€