AR Rehman made an impact with his debut in 1992, although not many believed he would be around for too long. Today, he has become the heartbeat of the nation. He chats about his past, present and future.
Q. What is it about the music industry that makes you angry?
A. I have stopped getting angry. There is no point blaming others. I believe in being the change, not the observer. One person can inspire others, just like one candle can light a million candles. Just be true to yourself. The Internet helps people to focus on their objectives, and to consolidate elements to make a difference.
Q. The Internet is a boon and a bane, what with free downloads.
A. The Internet is like your mind. It can be filled with either good thoughts, or bad thoughts, or both. The Internet is a personal thing.
Q. How do you strike a balance between South Indian films and Bollywood, when it comes to your work?
A. It is terrifying, trying to maintain in both. I am working in a team, the director helps. If I were to work alone, then it would have been difficult.
Q. Do you still work at night?
A. Not anymore, no.
Q. What are your forthcoming Tamil releases?
A. There is one film named 'Sakarkatti', and an animated film named 'Sultan' that Rajnikanth's daughter, Saundarya, is making.
Q. It must be more difficult to compose music for an animation film.
A. Not really. It is the same thing, in fact, you can use your imagination more freely.
Q. Now that you have Hollywood films, have Tamil and Hindi films taken a back seat?
A. In a way, yes. I used to do six to seven Tamil movies, and three to four Hindi films, annually. I have reduced my work by half, and am taking things easier. There is much less stress.
Q. The dubbed version of 'Sivaji' will have Hindi songs with Tamil tunes.
A. Yes, because the Tamil culture should be obvious. We are not trying to set it in a North Indian environment. It is dubbed only so that people can understand.
Q. What are the other releases that you are looking forward to?
A. The album, 'The Lord of the Rings'. It is releasing on December 10, and it is going to be a huge event.
Q. Whom do you like better, Rehman the music director, or Rehman, the singer?
A. That is a difficult question. If you like yourself too much, then you get into trouble, and if you don't, then you get into trouble anyway. So, I am critical.
Q. How do you prevent yourself from getting too complacent?
A. I have always been clear about one thing – I am just an instrument, and God controls me. If I am lazy, just sitting in one place, then I am like a battery that has not been charged. There has to be excitement, which is why I take up projects that are exciting.
Q. How do you deal with critics?
A. The Internet has helped a lot – we can check blogs, and see what people have written, what the negatives and positives are. When we make a film with a big star, we have to make sure the music is in his favour. We cannot then experiment.
Q. How do you adjust to the different environments that you work in?
A. When you are an adult, you speak in varied tones to your child, wife, or intellectual. You become a different person within each situation. That is a simple analogy for the way I work.
Q. Tell us about 'The Lord of the Rings'.
A. It is probably one of the most complex projects that I have been involved in. It is good composition. The whole team was in Chennai recently to complete the mixing. It has more than 15 tracks.
Q. There are rumours of differences between Aamir Khan and you.
A. Just because I am not composing his next film does not mean we have fallen out.
Q. The music of 'Elizabeth – The Golden Age' seems deliberately loud.
A. When we began, the music sounded very arty, and I felt that the film would drag if we continued with the same music. The film itself is artistic, so the pulsating, throbbing music is in contrast to the feel of the music. It was a creative decision to make the film enjoyable.
Q. What are your other forthcoming films, besides 'Ghajini'?
A. There are a few – 'Jane Tu Jane Na', 'Jodha Akbar', 'Yuvraj', 'Aadab', 'Dilli 6', and the Hindi version of 'Sivaji'.
Q. What are your favourite top 10 projects?
A. Very difficult to choose, when it is your own work, but here goes – 'Roza', 'Bombay', 'Taal', 'Lagaan', 'Zubeida', 'Rang De Basanti', 'Dil Se', and 'Rangeela'
-Rajnee Gupta & Sonu Anand (SAMPURN)