Joined: 01 May 2006
|Interview : Rahman is still unequivocal
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Excerpts from an interview:
Rang De Basanti's album has been well liked. How do you feel about it?
I wanted the music to get admired and accepted and I had put in my strenuous effort for it. But for the success of the music I have to give partial credit to Rakeysh Mehra. His enthusiasm has been my force and energy. The music workshop before composing helped me in a great way to understand the sequence better and compose likewise. I went ahead and experimented and put a slow song just before the interval and it worked positively. I'm happy that Rakeysh Mehra treated the music in the film so well. Lyricist Prasoon Joshi, Rakeysh and me were adamant that the songs of RDB have to be chart busting.
Your equation with Aamir is good and may be that's the reason you always give good music for him.
Yes for Lagaan we surely did justice to each other. But Mangal Pandey received a mixed response. Being a composer I was not satisfied with the way the music was treated in the film. My favourite track 'Maula' was chopped, but these things are not in my hand.
What are the Indian films that you're composing for?
I've restricted most of my works for musical and period films. There is Ashutosh Gowariker's 'Jodha-Akbar', Shyam Benegal's 'Chamki Chameli', Raj Santoshi's 'London Dreams', Mani Rathnam's 'Guru' and Rakeysh Mehra's 'Bhairavi'. For all of them I'm composing different music based on lots of research.
You also played in the US universities last month. How was it?
They have been playing my music for sometime now and were interested to do a world concert with me. I performed at the Global Rhythms in Michigan and at the Utah University. 152 people performed on stage in Tamil, Hindi and English.
Are you going to concentrate more on international project?
Hindi and Tamil films will always be a priority to me. Other international projects will only come next to it. I'm getting lot of overseas assignment but my work here is also important. I've invested lot in my Chennai studio, the only thing left to be done is to manage time.
Copyright 2006 by MusicIndiaOnLine.com
Joined: 01 May 2006
Joined: 01 May 2006
Subhash K Jha
How did Rang De Basanti's soundtrack turn out so special? It was a special effort. Very rarely does one come across filmmakers who excite and enthuse you as much as Mani Rathnam, Ram Gopal Varma and Rakeysh Mehra. Just before shooting we did a workshop with all the music I had composed for my film. I discovered there was a slow song just before interval which was a no-no according to trade pundits. They were wrong. Earlier I had thought people would walk out in Tu hi re (Roja), O paalan haare (Lagaan) and now Lukka chuppi (Rang De Basanti). I was wrong. It all depends on how the director treats the music.
Your music has achieved the crossover which our cinema hasn't. I hope so. Doing music for Deepa Mehta's trilogy Fire, Earth and Water was also very satisfying though doing songs for these films was a kind of sacrifice for me. They were put in the background. Most of my fans hate that. They ask me not to do that. I've been rather unfortunate with some scores that I worked hard on and they never got released. I've become some what conscious of the projects I take up. If my songs get a raw deal I'd rather just do the background music.
During our last conversation you had said Chennai would always be your home. You never know. I'm trying to cut down drastically on my travelling. Though it was a learning experience I need to be at home more now. The kids are growing up. I need to be with the family more often. A year back I didn't allow my kids to be anywhere near me. Now they're all over the place while I compose! I think it's very important for them to absorb the ambience.
Are your children musically inclined? They've just started learning classical music from Ghulam Mustafa Khan saab. Just last week he came and took over their training.
Is doing the background score as satisfying as doing songs? Unfortunately that era when a composer could create something as durable and enduring as Lara's Theme (Dr Zhivago) is almost over. But I'm sure great themes will come back. Internationally, my career did take off after Bombay Dreams. It was an A R Rahman musical. It allowed me to go into a direction no one had gone before. Now of course I can compose for international projects from my home in Chennai.
Your slow pace used to be a problem for Bollywood filmmakers. How can my working methods be a problem for anyone? It's like saying, 'sitting and eating is a problem, so let's stand and eat'. Every person has his own rhythm of work. I believe Naushad saab did just only 47 films in his lifetime. And he never regretted it. And look at what he did to film music. I have my own way of working. It's a matter of priority. When I'm doing something that I don't enjoy doing, when I'm not in control, then the quality of work might suffer. I'm at my best when I'm in control of my work. Change of course is inevitable. That's why I keep renovating and innovating.
What are you doing in Hindi? Rakeysh Mehra has given you to do an entirely Indian classical score in Bhairavi? This was one of the scripts we wanted to do earlier. Now the whole concept has changed and it's far more exciting. Most of the work that I'm doing is for musicals. And yes, a period film too, Ashutosh Gowariker's Jodha-Akbar. It's a romantic film, and romantic films always work. I also have Chamki Chameli which is being produced by Sanjay Gupta and directed by Shyam Benegal. It's a full-on musical. I also have Raj Santoshi's London Dreams. There I've to recreate British underground music. I'm collaborating with music producers from Birmingham to get the London underground feel to the score. Right now, I'm doing Mani Rathnam's Guru where I'm again working with Gulzar saab.
Do you understand his lyrics? I do. I'm not that dumb any longer (laughs).
Guru is again a period film. There are different kinds of period films. There are romantic period films, and patriotic period films. Guru is partly period partly contemporary. No one wants to watch patriotic period films anywhere.
Do you think international success has eluded you? It can't happen overnight. My agent keeps telling me I'd get a lot of work in LA if I went there. But what I'm doing here is more important. I've invested a huge amount in my studio in Chennai. I need to invest time in it.
How does life look to you? Life is always a struggle. I feel I'm just starting out. I can't afford to get lazy at 40. Lots of things have changed. Lots of young people love music, and that's a good thing. But music doesn't sell, and that's a bad thing.
Do you think you've achieved what you had set out to? I didn't set out to achieve anything. It all happened on its own. I always go with the flow.
What do you think of Himesh Reshammiya's music? He fills a lacuna in Hindi film music, just like Nadeem earlier on. He's trying to mix a lot of genres. People like his music. It's good. There're audiences for large genres of films. And he's doing a good job.
Himesh says he won't sing for any outside composer except you. I'm flattered!
Joined: 01 May 2006
From L to R(foreground) - Chitra, Sadhana Sargam, Unknown, Madhushree, Alka Yagnik, Kailash Kher, AR Rahman, Shankar Mahadevan, Hariharan(in the dark).
There was excitement in the air when I woke up yesterday morning (or was it afternoon :D....well almost). I was going to a Live music show (my first one) and more than anything it was AR Rahmans show. A few months before the movie Roja released, I heard news from many sources that a new Music Director who has great potential had given music to Roja. I chose to ridicule that claim, the staunch Ilayaraja fan that I was. But it was not long before I accepted Rehman as a class act. This however did not change my view of Ilayaraja. From Roja, AR Rahman has come a long way and has gone on to become a global achiever.
The venue was the Rod Laver Arena (better known as the main court for the Australian Open Tennis) and the time was 7 pm. The show started about 10 mins late but it started with a bang. ARR made a grand entry in white and in his shy voice said hi to the Melburnians who welcomed him in grand fashion. He immediately started off with Fanaaaaaaaa Fanaaaaaaaaa.......wow Whatta Start!!!!!!! The singers who had come were Shankar Mahadevan, Hariharan, Kailash Kher, Blaaze, Sadhana Sargam, Alka Yagnik, Chitra and Madhushree. There were non stop hit numbers right from Bombay to Lagaan, Taal to Swades, Dil Se to Mangal Pandey, Kandukonden Kandukonden to Rhythm, Mahanadi to Boys. The singers were very good as well. They were improvising a few songs, mixing a few songs in Hindi and Tamil, adding a few rap bits in some others.......
Humma Humma..., Chaiyyan Chaiyyan...., Thaniye Thannathaniye..... were a few songs that got the crowd on their feet. Shankar Mahadevan showed just how versatile he is and his stage presence is worth mentioning. He was interatcing with the crowd. Hariharan was not far behind, he had his moments with the crowd too and his voice.......just fantastic. Among the ladies, Sadhna Sargam was very good and Chitra was melodious as usual. ARR was performing on the synthesiser, the piano and was also lending his voice for certain bits. He also sang Ye Jo des hai tera and Humma Humma and a few other numbers. In reply to a vocie from eth audience that said "I love you Rahman", ARR replied in a shy and coy manner "I love you tooooo" :)
At about half time, while the troop was on a break, Sivamani - the percussionist performed a solo for about 10 mins and his performance is beyond words. He just confirmed to me that he is the worlds best. He was just Fantabulous. After this break, ARR performed the theme song for the UNO Poverty Eradication program, a tune that he had composed with Blaaze. Fantastic again. The crowd got into the mood as well. As we didnt have candles with us, we used the display lights of our mobile phones and were swinging away. It was a wonderful sight and very creative I must say.
A jugalbandhi between Shankar Mahadevan (vocal) and ARR (piano) - Ghanana Ghanana....from Lagaan, was very engrossing. Then an improvised version of the same song with a very fast beat (ARR's tune incase the movie had to show that it actually rained) - Shankar was tremendous.
A section of the crowd was not happy with Tamil songs being sung and were shouting for Hindi songs. To me, this was ridiculous. With ARR, one should expect a few Tamil songs atleast. I thought ARR did well to choose Tamil songs that were also dubbed in Hindi, so that the crowd could relate to them better. About 50% of the songs were Hindi numbers, 25% of the songs weremixed (parts in Hindi and parts in Tamil), about 10% were Tamil songs which were also dubbed in Hindi and the remianing 10% were purely Tamil songs. The crowd complaining was ridiculous given the minimal % of songs that were purely Tamil. The majority of the crowd were Tamilians (guaged from the applause and acceptance that each Tamil number received).
By now it was 4 hours of fantastic entertainment, not just songs but also a few dances in the background. A fitting finale was Vande Mataram from the man himself and all the artistes joining them on stage for the grand finale. In all it was a very exciting evening and the fact that the show was for a cause (charity) made it so much better.
posted on Sunday, September 11, 2005 12:24 PM
Joined: 01 May 2006
A Passion for Quality Music
S.R. Ashok Kummar
(for 'The Hindu')
With his mop of dusky curls, t-shirt and jeans, he looks like a
teenage college student, but the very first film for which he
scored music fetched him the National Award. It and his subse-
quent films were also musical hits. The young music director of
the South, A.R. Rahman, who shot into limelight with "Roja" for
blazing a new trial in film music, has grown in stature and in
undoubtedly here to stay.
Question: How did you come into films?
A.R.Rahman: My father, R.K.Shekar, was a music director in Malayalam
films. He assisted Salil Chowdhary, Devrajan and others. He
died when I was nine. At 11, I came to the field, playing on the
keyboards and later as an accompanyist. I worked under under
various music directors in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam - Ramesh
Naidu, M.S.Vishwanathan and Illayaraja. It started becoming a bit
monotonous. I thought advertising would be a good alternative.
This went on for three years. I built my studio and took to dif-
ferent forms of music - pop, rock and so on. It was then that I
met producer Tirlok Sharadha, cousin of ManiRathnam at a party.
He (Mani) came to my studio and heard some of my tunes. We agreed
to work together though we did not then decide on which movie.Only
later he told me it was to be "Roja" which he was directing for
Passion for Quality Music
S.R. Ashok Kummar
Q: Despite your success, you do not seem to be working in a lot
ARR: Rather than making money, I believe in making people happy;
all other things are secondary. That is why I am not interested
in a lot of movies but only in one at a time. I like directors
whom I can vibe with. Ten years of experience in this field has
made me quite frustrated. I have evolved a technique which re-
quires a lot of time. Other music directors record a song in
seven or eight hours. But I am different. we do a basic sitting
and we record it. we record the voice and I add instrument by in-
strument to improve the quality.
Q: Will not the producers say that you are delaying their projects?
ARR: My process involves a lot of time. The delay is not inten-
tional. That is how I get my results. When people say that in
"Gentleman" and "Thiruda Thiruda" the music is good and not like
the usual beats, I feel happy. Abroad, in some places, they take
three months to make an album.
Q: Do you use computer in your films?
ARR: No. Not computers. The technique involved is different. In
fact, they say the music in "Roja" was computerised. As I said
earlier the recording takes time. You can hear the same flute
here in a different way. It is not computerised music. Nearly 40
persons sang 'Veerapandi Kottayile' (a song from "Thiruda Thiru-
da") that does not sound like computer music. 'Vellai Mazhai'
(from "Roja") is sync oriented. I do not restrict the musicians,
but ask them to play whatever they feel. Then I record what I
want. I spend a lot of time on lyrics too. It takes around four
days. We write something in the first instance and then improve.
So it takes about a week to complete a song.
Q: Then you will be working only in perhaps half a dozen films a
ARR: What will I do if I work for more films and only a few
click? I do not want my energy to be wasted. I want every film to
be a musical hit. In fact, "Thiruda Thiruda" songs have created a
record for any Tamil film - 25,000 discs were sold in Malaysia.
They are going to give us platinum discs.
Q: You say you are choosy, but you also go in for popular songs.
Why is it so?
ARR: Different people need different songs. I want to go down to
the people at various levels. When I toured Tamil Nadu, I found
that people wanted songs that would make them happy. Also noth-
ing vulgar. There is nothing vulgar in "Sikku bukku Sikku bukku
raile" (a song from "Gentleman").
Q: So you want to be with the masses?
ARR: No, rather I want my music to reach everywhere. If I play
rock, only youngsters will understand, while older people will
say "Why is he shouting like this?". Each category of music
reaches only one circle: for the class audience "Thiruda Thiruda"
and for the masses "Gentleman".
Q: Does basic knowledge of Carnatic music help?
ARR: Sure. I am learning Carnatic classical music from
Dakshinamurthy and Hindustani from Krishnan Nair. I like tradi-
tional music much.
Q: Why is it that the songs these days go out of people's mind
soon unlike the old numbers?
ARR: In those days, the lyrical value was greater in songs.
Q: You want to be called number 1 in the industry?
ARR: No. Numbers are not decided by me, but by the grace of God
and by the people. I want my job to be interesting and fun. I
just do not want to get stuck again in monotony.
Joined: 01 May 2006
We offer a valentive for fans of Indian cinema. No superlative seems quite enough to describe A. R. Rahman, India's phenomenal composer of film and popular music, who has composed music for nearly 100 films in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu, revolutionized Indian film music, released albums of unprecedented popularity, composed for the stage in London and beyond, and won the Padmashree, one of the Indian government's highest cultural awards, all before the age of 40. This tribute, in conjunction with Stanford Film Studies, will include a retrospective of his film achievements and an on-stage interview followed by Q&A.
Joined: 01 May 2006
The producers claim that the show is ready to take the next big step. To find out for certain, tune in on Saturday.
Joined: 01 May 2006
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