Posted: 08 July 2006 at 12:19am | IP Logged
AR RAHMAN, the man who has redefined contemporary Indian music, is the pride of the Indian nation and a role model for millions around the world. In a country where film music is the most popular form of music, Rahman is truly the emperor. AR Rahman, hailed by Time as the 'Mozart of Madras,' is one of the most successful artists of all time and, according to a BBC estimate, has sold more than 100 million albums of his works, comprising music from more than 50 movies.
Rahman was born into a musically affluent family and started playing the piano at a very young age. His father, RK Shekhar, was a composer, arranger, and conductor for Malayalam movies. Unfortunately, his father died when Rahman was only nine and the family started renting out musical equipment to make ends meet.
Young Rahman then joined noted composer Ilayaraja's troupe as a keyboardist and computer programmer. After working with several renowned composers, such as Ilayaraja, Vishwanathan-Ramamurthy, Zakir Hussain, and L Shankar, he set out on his own to compose jingles and scores for popular Indian television features. During this period, he also obtained a degree in Western classical music from the Trinity College of Music, London, and went on to set up his own in-house studio, called Panchathan Record-Inn at Chennai, which is arguably Asia's most sophisticated and hi-tech studio.
In 1991, noted filmmaker Mani Ratnam offered Rahman a movie, Roja, which was a run-away success and brought nationwide fame and acclaim to the composer. The movie also led Rahman to receive the Indian National Award for the best music composer, the first time ever by a debutant. Since then, Rahman has gone on to win the Indian National Award three more times (for Minsaara Kannavu, Lagaan, and Kannathil Muthamittal), the most ever by any composer.
The "Bombay Theme," from the movie Bombay, was prominently featured in the movie Lord of War, starring Nicolas Cage. The track "Chaiyya Chaiyya," from the movie Dil Se, was featured in the recent Spike Lee movie Inside Man, starring Oscar-winner Denzel Washington.
Rahman's foray into Hindi movies started off with a big bang in the superhit Rangeela, followed by Dil Se, Taal, 1947/Earth, Pukar, Lagaan, Zubeida, Meenaxi, The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Yuva, and Tehzeeb, among others, all of which had huge album sales. His more recent releases include Swades, Ah-Aah, Bose: The Forgotten Hero, The Rising, Water, and Rang De Basanti, all of which have been critically acclaimed and well received.
In 1997, to commemorate 50 years of Indian independence, Sony Music signed Rahman as its first artist in South Asia. The result was Vande Matram, an album that instantly made Indian youth relate to it and succeeded in rekindling the spirit of patriotism. Being Indian was fashionable among the youth again.
Rahman is involved in various charitable causes. In 2004 he was appointed as the Global Ambassador of the Stop T B Partnership, a project of the World Health Organisation (WHO). He also supports charities such as Save the Children and does his part to alleviate human suffering. As a producer on the single "We Can Make It Better" by Don Asian alongside Mukhtar Sahota, Rahman showed his charitable side again with all proceeds going to the tsunami victims, as did his 2004 tsunami relief concert in India.
Rahman's popularity can be judged from the fact that he has had three world tours of his concerts in the last six years and has performed to packed audiences almost everywhere including Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Dubai, the UK, Canada, and the U.S.A.