A.R. Rahman

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At present, this article is (temporarily) only about ARR and the Grammies. It is only a fragment of the ultimate article which, it is hoped, readers will expand it to after Indpaedia is thrown open to all readers.

This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.


The sources of this article are…

1. BBC <>Amita Nair, Ravikanth3

2. [1] <>- Amann Khuranaa

3. ‘‘The Times of India’’

4. India Today, January 23, 2009, Kaveree Bamzai

Early life

Being the boy who played in several orchestras for a living in the past to be the man who has conquered the capital of the entertainment world and later becoming the first Indian to win the Golden Globe for his score in Slumdog Millionaire. Rahman’s world is as multicultural as it is multiplying.

A newly launched music label allows him to give a platform to new talent. And his own work, usually composed at night while the world sleeps, in his private studio at his Kodambakkam home in Chennai, reaches newer heights.

What makes him the finest among our musicians (who can go from a Meera bhajan to a Sufi Khwaja mere khwaja in Jodhaa Akbar) also distinguishes him as an Indian. A devout Muslim, his first public performance was in a church on the keyboard for his teacher, and for many, his best works remain the stirring rendition of Vande Mataram, the flag swaying in the wind in tandem with his hair.


Noell James , former singer of many Rahman jingles, has worked with him for 22 years and been his manager ever since he can remember.

T. Selvakumar , a former keyboard player who would source his instruments for him, is now the CEO of the KM Music Conservatory.

Vijay Mohan Iyer , a friend for 14 years, now runs his music label.

Deepak Gattani , introduced to him by singer Hariharan 16 years ago, handles his concert and endorsements.

Liz Cook , formerly with the US Government, takes care of his film work. And yes, two recent acquisitions, the law firm of Collins Long and the agents Sam Schwatrz, take care of the global brand he is becoming.

“It’s not about me. It’s about how as a team we survive and excel. That’s when you can do good things,” Rahman says.


As Rahman has evolved, so has his amazing ability to synthesise sounds, taking Carnatic, Western classical, Sufi, Indian classical, jazz and pop and then putting it all together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle at his Fantome keyboard while the sound engineers burn up the Neve 88R console. His working style is more collaborative, allowing the musicians to jam together and interpret a piece of music the way they want to. It explains the layers and subtext to his songs.


The KM Music Conservatory: Full-time foundation and part-time preparatory courses train youngsters in music. Three of the 40 full-timers who pay Rs 2.5 lakh each have already been signed on to apprentice with Rahman.“Investing in education is the best thing ever,” says Rahman.

The AM studio: A high-tech studio where everyone from John McLaughlin to Vishal Shekhar (for Om Shanti Om and Aaja Nachle) have recorded. The phenomenally well-equipped studio is named after his Sufi guru.

Publishing rights: Rahman tries to retain the publishing rights of his music wherever possible so he can reuse it free of cost. His fee for a soundtrack is usually Rs 2 crore.

Endorsements: He is the face of Airtel, has represented Worldspace for a year, and has a strategic partnership with Nokia. Global concerts are organised by long time promoter Deepak Gattani.The last one was in 2007.


The Golden Globe has only reiterated Rahman’s genius

Roja (1992)

Mani Ratnam takes a chance on a youngster whose coffee ad jingle he likes.

Rangeela (1995)

Ram Gopal Varma introduces Rahman to Hindi films. His legend grows.

Vande Mataram (1997)

Maa tujhe salaam redefines nationalism. Flag waving suddenly becomes cool.

Bombay dreams (2002)

Thanks to Shekhar Kapur, Andrew Lloyd Webber asks him to compose for the musical.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Danny Boyle meets him in Chennai in June, Rahman composes the score at his home in London in July.

Grammy award

2010: Rahman made India proud by wining two Grammys at the same time. For Slumdog Millionaire, the Chennai composer bagged one Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album (shared with sound engineers H Sridhar & P A Deepak) and the other one for ‘Jai Ho..’ in the Best Song Written for Motion Picture category (shared with singers Sukhwinder Singh, Tanvi Shah, Mahalaxmi Iyer & Vijay Prakash and songwriter Gulzar).

What makes A R Rahman more special than other Indians who have won Grammies is that A R Rahman collaborated with Indians unlike his predecessors who did with western musicians. Thus, his was a purely Indian Grammy.

Rahman won two Oscars, a Bafta and a Golden Globe in 2009 for his soundtrack to the multi award-winning Slumdog Millionaire.

"This is insane, god is great again," Rahman said as he accepted his award.

He later told the BBC it felt "so good, because the Grammies are meant to be the greatest music awards".

Rahman beat such rivals as Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds and rock star Bruce Springsteen in the soundtrack and best song categories respectively.


Also in 2010, Rahman was shortlisted for an Oscar nomination for his Tamil song NaNa from the Hollywood film, Couples Retreat. The song vied with 62 others for the nominations.

Some information about Rahman

1. He sleeps from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., starting work only at 6 p.m. every day.

2. His mother could afford to send him to guitar lessons only after his elder sister Raihanah had to drop out. “I didn’t mind,” she says.

3. His first public performance was at the age of 11 in a church where his master Jacob John had taken him.

4. He changed his name to Allah Rakha Rahman on the credits of the soundtrack of Roja in 1992.

5. His first stop in any new city is either an electronic store where he likes to buy the latest equipment or a mosque


Fatwa for “Muhammad: Messenger Of God”

The Times of India

Rahman stresses belief in tolerance

A R Rahman composed music for Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi's film “Muhammad: Messenger Of God”. In a post on his Facebook page, Rahman said his decision to compose the music for this film was made “in good faith and with no intention of causing offence“. “I am not a scholar of Islam. I follow the middle path and am part traditionalist and part nationalist,“ Rahman wrote in his onepage statement on his Facebook page. The statement had several quotes from the Quran like: “Nothing shall ever happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us.“ Rahman said, “I didn't direct or produce the movie `Muhammad: Messenger of God'. I just did the music. My spiritual experiences of working on the film are very personal and I would prefer not to share these.“ He also sought to remind his detractors about the mutual tolerance for faith that existed among communities in the Indian sub-continent.“We are indeed fortunate and blessed to live in a country like India where religious freedom is practised and where the aim of all communities is to live in peace and harmony sans confusion and violence.“ Mumbai-based Raza Academy initiated a fatwa against the Iranian film director, Majid Majidi, Rahman and other film co-workers. Rahman recalled an in terview given by Raza A cademy member Saeed Noorie who had said that “it was imperative for Muslims to do something about it...so that later when they face Allah, they would not be chided by Him for doing nothing to stop this from happening.“ Rahman said the decision to compose music for the film was based on a similar point of view as expressed by Noorie.

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