Joined: 01 May 2006
Delhi rocks to pop patriotism, Rahman style
NEW DELHI, JANUARY 27: When an all-white A R Rahman comes to
town, one can expect flashbulbs to pop and overworked camera crews to
cross wires. When he comes to declare his love for the country once
again, with 30 different renditions (by artistes as varied as Lata
Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle and Pandit Jasraj) of the national anthem, you
can expect everyone to stand to attention.
That's exactly what happened in the Capital on Thursday, when the man
who makes Michael Jackson's ringlets seem passe, made an appearance
to release his latest album Jana Gana Mana 2000. That was just before he
whizzed off to sing for Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee at the National
Stadium and then to do namaaz at the Hazrat Nizamuddin dargah.
Giving him company was G Bharat of Bharatbala Productions, who takes
pride in the fact that he has re-packaged patriotism into pop music, thus
taking pop patriotism literally. Also present at the five-star function were
Sudha Raghunathan, Shobha Gurtu, Hariharan (sansthe ponytail) and
Pandit Jasraj, the latter looking none the worse for the mauling he received
at the hands of a posthumous Protima Gauri Bedi in Timepass.
Lata Mangeshkar and sister Asha Bhonsle, both of whom have lent their
voice to the album (together in one sequence), did not turn up, though.
While Rahman said the album attempted to bring out the inherent soul in
both the vocal and instrumental renditions of the national anthem, he also
reiterated that the music was totally unlike Vande Mataram which had
been adapted to modern beats.
''The album was more like a producer's job since it involved putting all the
renditions together. Though it took us three weeks to record, the
production took us three months. While Vande Mataram was a popular
album, this one is a completely non-commercial venture. It was something
I wanted to do. It is not pop patriotism.''
Unlike Desh Ka Salam, which, he says, was produced for the soldiers in
Kargil and was updated to match today'ssounds and music. ''But this is
not the case with Jana Gana Mana 2000
.After all, it is our national anthem and we didn't change its music or try to
give it a modern touch. Its rendition was made slower, though, purely to
give it soul. And it is meant for the people, as the album is not my
Bharat believes, like Rahman, that the idea behind Jana Gana Mana and
his previous Vande Mataram, was to direct latent nationalism towards the
mainstream. Which is why the album has greats like Hari Prasad
Chaurasia, Bhimsen Joshi, D K Pattamal, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha
Bhonsle, Begum Parveena Sultana and Pandit Jasraj. It also has
Rabindranath Tagore's original rendition as well as an instrumental version
of the national anthem. Combining Hindustani, Carnatic and folk music,
the album also comes complete with a small booklet which has been
designed by Milind Moudgill.
In a burst of real national integration, the video has been shot not in
Rajasthan like Vande Mataram, but inLadakh, where Bharat has filmed a
40-piece string orchestra performing the national anthem. Which is why
both Rahman and Bharat insist on calling it a collector's item. One
supposes it's only time before they decide to do the same favour to Sare
Jahan Se Achcha.
source:Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.
Joined: 01 May 2006
Effort to popularise national anthem - New Delhi, January 27 (UNI)
TWO YEARS ago, "Vande Mataram" was on everyone's lips. Last year, it was
"Desh ka salaam". But the aim this year is to make the national anthem, "Jana
gana mana" the song that unites every Indian.
Mr Bharat Bala, who created history of sorts when United Radio and Television
Networks in a unique venture on August 15 last to pay a tribute to martyrs,
gathered thirty classical and folk singers to render the national anthem in their own styles.
An information booklet on the national anthem along with audio and video compact discs rendered by the artistes was released at the special sitting in the central hall of Parliament by President K.R. Narayanan this morning.
Renowned vocalist Pandit Jasraj, one of those who have sung the anthem,
rendered it at the session, held to mark fifty years of the promulgation of the Indian Constitution. Mr Narayanan expressed happiness that so many artistes had come together on the project.
Later in the afternoon, Pandit Jasraj gave copies of the album to some of the
artistes who had come to the Capital along with Mr Bharat who also addressed the press meet.
The album has been brought out in collaboration with the department of culture of the union government. The artistes present were: A.R. Rehman, Hariharan, Shobha Gurtu, Ustad Sultan Khan, Pandit Kartick Kumar, Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan and Sudha Raghunathan.
Mr Bharat said his aim was to take a national theme and turn it into a mainstream and popular idea. He said the renditions were also available on the home page of Satyam Online. Both Mr Rehman and Pandit Jasraj lauded the unique effort that had brought so many different artistes together.
The album also contains the "Jana gana mana" in the voice of Gurudev
Rabindranath Tagore. Other artistes involved with the project include singing queen Lata Mangeshkar and her sister Asha Bhonsle, Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, S.P. Balasubramaniam, Pandit Shiv Kumar, Dr Balamuralikrishna, Bhupen Hazarika, Jagjit Singh, Begum Parveen Sultana, and Kavita Krishnamurthy.
Joined: 01 May 2006
by E Vijayalakshmi, Chennai
Cameras whirred and flashlights popped as the A.R. Rahman sound track for direc-tor Rajiv Menon's latest Tamil film Kandukondein Kandukondein was released. But trouble was brewing in paradise as an ace lyricist of the Tamil film industry rose to speak. "I agree wholeheartedly that Rahman is a great composer," said Vairamuthu. "But I do wish his music would not totally swamp my lyrics to the extent that nobody can make them out."
I hate the discrimination between south, north, Tamil, Hindi. If I represent India that is good enough for me. But we should cross all these barriers.
There was a collective gasp from the audience. And then indignation. "In most cases it is Rahman's music which carries the film," a veteran film journalist remarked. "And today's lyrics are hardly worth listening to anyway. It was most rude on Vairamuthu's part to have made that comment." Said director K. Balachander: "The present generation is able to sing Rahman songs without any difficulty. That is what is important."
And what was Rahman's reaction? As usual, a beatific smile and a barely noticeable shrug. This boyish, podgy 33-year-old is as well-known for his composure as for his explosive music.
Ever since his music career took off in 1992 to the lilting notes of Mani Ratnam's hit film Roja, Rahman has weathered criticism of every shade and colour. He was accused of being too technical, too modern, too westernised, too repetitive, of lacking soul and even of plagiarism. He beat back censure with studied silence; but it hardly signified indifference.
When purists sneered at his first album with its soul-stirring Vande Mataram track, Rahman was quick to point out that he never meant it to replace the original. Critics who overemphasised his western leanings were silenced when he delivered songs in the Carnatic genre. Even today, the Ennavale... number from Kaadalan is considered a masterpiece. More recently, Mudhalvan showcased the perfect ease with which Rahman mixed the traditional and the modern. If Azhagana Rakshsiye used the Reethigaulai raga, Shakalaka baby... set many a foot tapping.
His strength is the way he designs sound. He has revolutionised film music. He is perpetually on a quest to get the best out of you and makes you feel at ease which is important. I have sung some of my best songs for him.
Perhaps the only criticism which has stuck is that he is "slow". As Rahman himself admits, sometimes it is just a matter of days and sometimes months for inspiration to strike. Industry sources recall how Bharathiraja's film Kizhakku Cheemayile was held up because Rahman's music was not ready in time.
Rahman was initiated into the world of films while still a toddler named Dilip Kumar. His earliest memories are of tagging along to studios with his father R.K. Sekhar, an assistant music director in Malayalam films. Once a music director overheard the four-year-old trying out a tune on a harmonium. He quickly spread a cloth over the keys. Undaunted, the child repeated the tune, this time running his fingers confidently over the cloth. "Who would have thought then that he would scale such heights?" said film chronicler 'Filmnews' Anandan, who knew Rahman as a gawky youngster.
Ironically, Rahman had never been interested in a career in the film industry. His father's illness and death, however, forced him to drop out of the Madras Christian College School while in the XI standard, and fend for the family. He began by working in studio jam sessions and then migrated to the ad world. He composed jingles for 300 commercials including the Allywn Trendy watch and Kapil Dev-Sachin Tendulkar Boost campaign.
East meets west: (From top) Guitarist Dominic Miller, Kanika Bala and Rahman
He returned to film music when in 1987 Viji Manuel, the main keyboard player for music composer Ilayaraja, hired him. Rahman picked up computer music programming and put together the first Tamil computer song, Punnigai Mannan, for Ilayaraja. Today he may have eclipsed his one-time master, but Rahman's respect for the composer runs deep. For, it was under Ilayaraja's strict guidance that he learnt the virtue of discipline.
Over the years, constant comparisons with Ilayaraja have been the bane of Rahman's career. Although nobody denies Ilayaraja's arrogant genius, Rahman's arrival on the scene "is like the idea whose time has come," said Anandan. "After M.S. Viswanathan, came Ilayaraja, then Devaa and now Rahman. It is nature. The cycle has to keep going."
Among the many who obviously shared the view was Mani Ratnam. Like veteran film-makers Bharathiraja and K. Balachander, he had been an Ilayaraja regular until he chanced upon Rahman. The story goes that Rahman approached the director with an invitation to visit his recording studiothe Panchathan Record Innat his house in Kodambakkam.
Six months, later Mani Ratnam was scouting round for fresh talent for his film Roja and remembered Rahman. He also recalled that his cousin Sharada, of Trish Productions, had raved about Rahman's talent after hiring him for a few jingles including the Leo coffee ad. The rest was history. "I must have listened to Roja a dozen times," said Hindi film director Govind Nihalani. It later prompted him to sign Rahman for his first commercial venture Thakshak.
Roja was as much a turning point for Mani Ratnam as for Rahman, who received the national and state award for best music director for the film. Mani Ratnam, who had hitherto failed to make an impact in the north, now found that with Rahman's radical music his films were making Bollywood sit up and take notice. Thiruda Thiruda, Bombay and Dil Se took the duo deeper into the north.
Bollywood came a calling at Rahman's studio, probably the most sophisticated in India. Beginning with Ram Gopal Verma's Rangeela, Rahman churned out one chartbuster after another.
Soon it was not just India which was dancing to his tune. When Rahman released his first album, Maa Tujhe Salaam, Sony Music Entertainment signed him in a trice and marketed it in 20 countries. In 1999, king of pop Michael Jackson shared the stage with Rahman at a concert in Munich, Germany, and crooned Ekam Satyam (One Truth) with him.
A year later Rahman has touched a new high. World renowned composer Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, enthralled by Rahman's Dil Se and Taal scorethe latter entered the UK top 20suggested that director Shekhar Kapur and they work together on a musical titled Bombay Dreams. At a party in Mumbai to launch the project, Webber and Rahman played the song Chaiyya Chaiyya from Dil Se on the piano.
"His music has that international quality which is absolutely stunning," said Douchan Gersi, director of The Return of the Thief of Baghdad, a Chiranjeevi starrer to be shot in English. Step by step, Rahman is achieving his ultimate goal, "promoting Indian music in the western world". These are also opportunities for the composer to save himself from writing music for masala movies, and give free rein to his creativity.
When the maestros met: (Left to right) Rahman with Ilayaraja and music director M.S. Viswanathan
In January President K.R. Narayanan released Rahman's second album, Jana Gana Mana 2000, to mark 50 years of the Indian republic. The albums have brought out the best in Rahman. Produced by school chum Bharat Bala and his wife Kanika, they have almost transformed him into a pop icon of Indian patriotism.
It is exciting times ahead on the film beat too. Having completed work on Mani Ratnam's Alai Payudhe, Rahman is moving on to Shyam Benegal's Zubeida, Khalid Mohammed's Fizaa, and the Tamil comedy Tenaali featuring Kamal Hasan.
Fortunately Rahman doesn't suffer from ego vertigo at the dizzying heights of popularity. He has his feet on the ground, and steadying him constantly are his family and faith.
In 1990, when his sister fell ill, the family turned to a pir, Karimulla Shah Kadri. The girl's almost miraculous recovery led to the family's conversion to Islam. Although Rahman prefers not to wear his religion on his sleeve, there is ample proof of its primacy in his life. His studio is decked with Islamic icons and symbols and he wears a chain with an inscribed locket round his neck. On his trip to Delhi to receive the Padma Shri, he offered namaaz at the Hazrath Nizamuddin Dargah. In 1995, his mother chose Saira Banu as his bride. The couple have two daughters.
Rahman zealously guards his privacy. His house is protected from prying eyes by an imposing gate and guests are ushered through a side gate into a small and austere office. Ask him to pose for a photograph in his well-manicured lawn, and he very politely but firmly shakes his head. "He just wants to be left alone with his music," said James Noell, a long-time aide. He would rather the hype and hoopla surrounded his music than his persona.
But his shy demeanour hides a generous heart. Associates remember him stopping at a busy Mumbai intersection to give alms to beggars lining the street. "He just thrust his hand into his pockets and gave them all the money," said one. Another time in Chennai he got out of his car to help a cyclist who lay in an epileptic seizure.
Despite global acclaim, Rahman will always remain a Chennai boy at heart. Recently he dispelled rumours that he was planning to settle abroad. "How can I leave? It is only my work which takes me to other places." Yes, his work and his fame.
Joined: 01 May 2006
He's divine and simple - by Subhash Ghai
Rahman has a strange kind of spirituality within which he lives. I worked with him for 58 nights for Taal and he would compose music from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. He knows technique, has a rare sense of sound and a great ear. He can make any besura (tuneless) voice sing well. This is obvious from singers who have sung beautifully for his albums but have not done well later.
He has a sharp intellect and understands not just the sound of music and quality of voice but also the market forces and how to move from post to post. That is the need of the hour. I have had the opportunity of working with Pyarelal, one of the greatest composers of India, but he had no understanding of the market.
After Roja I was the first Hindi film director to approach him with a project in 1994. It was for Shikharwith Jackie Shroff and Shah Rukh Khanwhich unfortunately did not materialise. When I met him for the first time I found him so divine and so simple. "Let us work first, then we'll talk about money," he told me then. It is strange now that he is the highest-paid music director in the history of the Indian music industry!
He has brought a new sound to the advertising and film industry, and he will do the same for theatre now. His project, Bombay Dreams, with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, is definitely going to promote him as a new musical response from India. Very soon he will be known as an international composer as good as Yanni or better than him. I'm confident he can do it.
I love him both as a composer and as a friend. He is very sweet to talk to. The only thing is you talk and he listens! (Laughs.)
(As told to Maria Abraham)
Joined: 01 May 2006
Techno-brat seeking soul -S. Sreedhar, who won the national award for sound engineering in Dil Se, talks about the Rahman he knows
I had known Rahman many years before I started working with him on Roja. While he was doing jingles, we would often meet and compare notes on music trends and synthesisers.
Rahman's biggest asset is that he treats each song as his first song. He prays before each session. I believe there is some power in his God, faith and religion. I can give you countless examples when he became so inspired after his prayers.
When we were working on Bombay, the mixing was being held up since the background score was not ready. For three days, Rahman sat in his studio from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., but nothing would work. He needed to deliver a score which would bind the film, but was having a creative block. There was some tension. He tried fiddling around with the theme he had composed, but nothing worked. So we would sit and chat for hours about things other than music.
We decided not to work on the fourth day. At 10 p.m. he invited me over to his place. We sat chatting again, but this time I felt there was something which had not been there on the other days. He said, "Let's go into the studio." The theme was played again. He said, "Let's put lyrics into it and let's have a song." That was absolutely brilliant. We had a lyrical rendition of the background score. Rahman must have been truly inspired to do that.
He is very open-minded about what a song needs and gives each song a completely individual taste. It is the way he soothes you into a song that I call his signature. There is a visual texture in his mind when he composes music. When you see the song picturised you can immediately connect. The Dil hai, Bechain hai song in Taal is a perfect example of this. Even as you hear it, the scene unfolds in front of youthe fog lifting, the girl appearing....
I remember another instance connected with Bombay. We had recorded Hariharan for the Uyire song picturised on Arvind Swamy and I was mixing it. As we had used a lot of electronics, I was cleaning up the track of all breathing sounds and 'dirt'. When Rahman heard it, the first thing he said was, "There is something missing." I told him about my cleaning exercise and he said, "What the song needs is a lot of air." So I put all the 'dirt' back, and truly the song had much more life especially since it was picturised against the beautiful forts and sea. With my cleaning I had taken the life out of the song! Even now I get goose bumps when I think about it.
Rahman allows musicians to be themselves. He understands their soul. He also has a fabulous way of getting notes out of a musician without telling them in so many words. Time and again I have heard him ask a singer, "Why isn't there pain in your voice?" and instinctively the singer understands what he is referring to.
Rahman and I have a fine understanding; I may not be with him when he is composing a song, sometimes in the middle of the night. When he puts on his headphones and seems deep in concentration, I know I should leave him alone. Otherwise, we keep dabbling, fiddling, ripping apart every instrument we get! We experiment with new sounds; he has a thirst for creating new rhythm tracks. We ask questions like, "Why can't a sitarist play with a rock guitar," or "Why can't a jazz guitar be teamed with the south Indian violin?" His search is endless.
Rahman never ceases to amaze me. He is such a fine musician apart from being a music director; his strength is fusion. He is also a techno-junkie. If you give him a set of headphones he will most probably rip it apart to understand why it works so well! I sometimes say that we are techno-brats. But Rahman knows that a song shouldn't speak the technical language but should have soul.
Rahman is humble and very generous with money. He hates to see people suffer. I think his philosophy is that people should derive happiness from his music, even if it is a sad tune. He has this tremendous need to be perfect. Of course, we also differ in our views; I criticise his music if I feel it lacks his signature and this irritates him sometimes.
Joined: 01 May 2006
Dr. Hande is writing a book on the ''mischief done by the Congress(I) to the Constitution during the Emergency period''. The other day, speaking on Constitution review, he railed at the Congress(I) for ''daring to change the basic character of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar's Constitution''. His claim is that the book will expose the party's present stand in opposing the Constitution Review Committee.Some may recall that Dr. Hande had at one stage in his career, announced his retirement and wanted to work on the Kamba Ramayanam. ONE OF the regular participants at official events is the Union Minister, Mr. Murasoli Maran. His absence at some recent official functions led to some gossip. However, he was back at the opening of the two flyovers in Chennai a few days ago, and that set things at rest. Mr. Maran is a man in hurry and talks of quick changes in the way things work. Perhaps he should drive more often through many of the roads of Chennai or TIDEL city, to see how badly they are in need of repairs by the Corporation and the State Highways.
By Sudhish Kamath, V. Prem Shanker, K. Ramachandran and S. Vydhianathan.
Joined: 01 May 2006
"Michael Jackson & Friends" Press Release:
Jun 18, 99: Hinduja Foundation Sponsors An Indian Performance At "Michael Jackson & Friends" Charity Event.
The Hinduja Foundation has sponsored an Indian performance titled 'Ekam Satyam' in an international charity concert by Michael Jackson in support of the world's needy children. The concert that is taking place in Munich on 27 June will be in aid of the International Red Cross Society., Nelson Mandela's Children's Fund, and the UNESCO.
Vinod S. Hinduja, who conceived the project said, "My family has believed from generation to generation that understanding, tolerance and respect of different cultures is the key to world peace, not conflict and violence. I am, therefore, keen to follow in the footsteps of my father, Srichand P. Hinduja and my grandfather Paramanand, who practise these principles. My brother Dharam, who dreamt of helping needy children, actually motivated my creative spirit. I believe that entertainment is an excellent medium to foster this understanding, since it is also capable of promoting economic growth and social welfare."
'Ekam Satyam' is set to music by A. R. Rahman and produced by G. Bharat (Bala) and Kanika Myer Bharat. It will focus on the commonalties between different religions and the openness of the Universal Truth. The concert symbolises and offers a unique opportunity to the worl to benefit from India's rich culture, which enshrines the principles of peace and harmony. Other artists who will perform at the concert along with Michael Jackson include Shobhana, Prabhu Deva, and their troupe of dancers.
The Hinduja Foundation, a part of the worldwide Hinduja conglomerate, is active in many charitable projects across the globe, particularly in education, health, sports, vedic research, and multi-cultural understanding.
Joined: 01 May 2006
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