A. R. Rahman

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A. R. Rahman
A.R.Rahman at 57th FF Awards.jpg
Background information
Birth name A. S. Dileepkumar
Also known as A. R. Rahman, A. R. R., Allah Rakha Rahman
Born (1967-01-06) 6 January 1967 (age 47)[1] Madras, Tamil Nadu, India[2]
Genres Film scores, electronic, dance, classical
Occupations Singer, songwriter, composer, record producer, music director, arranger, conductor
Instruments Vocals, guitar, percussion, drums, harpejji, continuum fingerboard, keyboard, piano, accordion, goblet drum, concert harp
Years active 1987–present
Labels K. M. Music Conservatory
Columbia Records
Sony Classical
Associated acts Nemesis Avenue, SuperHeavy, will.i.am
Website www.arrahman.com

Allah-Rakha Rahman (About this sound pronunciation , born A. S. Dileep Kumar 6 January 1967) is an Indian composer, singer-songwriter, music producer, musician and philanthropist.[3] Described as the world's most prominent and prolific film composer by Time,[4] Rahman's works are noted for integrating Eastern classical music with electronic music, world music and traditional orchestral arrangements. Among his awards are two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe, four National Film Awards, fifteen Filmfare Awards and thirteen Filmfare Awards South. Rahman's body of work for film and stage has given him the nickname of "the Mozart of Madras", and Tamil commentators and fans call him Isai Puyal (English: the Music Storm).[5] In 2009, Time included Rahman on its list of the world's most influential people.[6] The UK-based world-music magazine Songlines named him one of "Tomorrow's World Music Icons" in August 2011.[7]

With an in-house studio (Panchathan Record Inn in Chennai) arguably one of Asia's most sophisticated and high-tech, Rahman's film-scoring career began during the early 1990s with the Tamil film Roja. Working in India's film industries, international cinema and theatre, Rahman is one of the world's all-time best-selling recording artists.[8][9][10] In a notable two-decade career, he has been acclaimed for redefining contemporary Indian film music and contributing to the success of several films. Rahman is one of the highest-paid composers in the motion-picture industry[citation needed] and has become a notable humanitarian and philanthropist, donating and raising money for a number of causes and charities.

Early Life

Two smiling men holding a record award
Rahman (left) receiving a platinum award at the MagnaSound Awards; MagnaSound released his first film soundtrack, Roja, in 1992.

Rahman was born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India to a musical Mudaliar[citation needed] Tamil family. His father, R. K. Shekhar, was a film-score composer and conductor for Tamil and Malayalam films; Rahman assisted his father in the studio, playing the keyboard. After his father's death when Rahman was nine years old, the rental of his father's musical equipment provided his family's income.[11] Raised by his mother, Kareema (born Kashturi),[1] Rahman was a keyboard player and arranger for bands such as Roots (with childhood friend and percussionist Sivamani, John Anthony, Suresh Peters, JoJo and Raja)[3] and founded the Chennai-based rock group Nemesis Avenue.[12] He mastered the keyboard, piano, synthesizer, harmonium and guitar, and was particularly interested in the synthesizer because it was the "ideal combination of music and technology".[13]

Rahman began his early musical training under Master Dhanraj,[14][15] and at age 11 began playing in the orchestra of Malayalam composer (and close friend of his father) M. K. Arjunan.[16] He soon began working with other composers, such as M. S. Viswanathan, Ilaiyaraaja, Ramesh Naidu and Raj-Koti,[15] accompanied Zakir Hussain, Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan and L. Shankar on world tours and obtained a scholarship from Trinity College London to the Trinity College of Music.[1] Studying in Chennai, Rahman graduated with a diploma in Western classical music from the school.[17] Rahman was introduced to Qadiri Islam when his younger sister was seriously ill in 1984. He converted to Islam (his mother's religion) with other members of his family in 1989 at age 23, changing his name from R. S. Dileep Kumar to Allah Rakha Rahman (A. R. Rahman).[1][18]



Rahman's film career began in 1992 when he started Panchathan Record Inn, a recording and mixing studio in his backyard. It would become the most-advanced recording studio in India,[19] and arguably one of Asia's most sophisticated and high-tech studios.[20] He initially composed scores for documentaries and jingles for advertisements and Indian television channels. In 1987 Rahman, then still known as Dileep, composed jingles for a line of watches introduced by Allwyn.[21] In 1992, he was approached by director Mani Ratnam to compose the score and soundtrack for his Tamil film, Roja.[19][22] During its filming cinematographer Santosh Sivan signed Rahman for the Malayalam film Yodha, directed by his brother (Sangeeth Sivan) and released in September 1992. Rahman received the Rajat Kamal (Silver Lotus) award for best music director at the National Film Awards, unprecedented for a film-composing debut. Rahman received a record three more Silver Lotuses: for Minsara Kanavu (Tamil) in 1997, Lagaan (Hindi) in 2002 and Kannathil Muthamittal (Tamil) in 2003.[23]

Roja's score was critically and commercially successful in its original and dubbed versions, led by the innovative theme "Chinna Chinna Aasai". Rahman followed this with successful scores for Tamil–language films for the Chennai film industry, including Ratnam's politically-charged Bombay, the urban Kadhalan, Thiruda Thiruda and S. Shankar's debut film Gentleman (with its popular dance song, "Chikku Bukku Rayile").[24][25][26][27] Rahman collaborated with director Bharathiraaja on Kizhakku Cheemayile and Karuththamma, producing successful Tamil rural folk-inspired scores; he also composed the saxophone score for K. Balachander's Duet.[28][29] The 1995 film Indira and romantic comedies Mr. Romeo and Love Birds also drew attention.[30][31][32] Rahman attracted a Japanese audience with Muthu 's success there.[33] His soundtracks are known in the Tamil Nadu film industry and abroad for his versatility in combining Western classical music, Carnatic and Tamil traditional and folk-music traditions, jazz, reggae and rock music.[34][35][36][37] The soundtrack for Bombay sold 12 million copies worldwide,[38] and "Bombay Theme" would later reappear in his score for Deepa Mehta's Fire and a number of compilations and other media. It was featured in the 2002 Palestinian film Divine Intervention and the 2005 Nicolas Cage film, Lord of War. Rangeela, directed by Ram Gopal Varma, was Rahman's Bollywood debut.[39] Successful scores for Dil Se.. and the percussive Taal followed.[40][41] Sufi mysticism inspired "Chaiyya Chaiyya" from the former film and "Zikr" from his score for Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero (which featured elaborate orchestral and choral arrangements).[18] Rahman's score for the Chennai production Minsaara Kanavu won him his second National Film Award for Best Music Direction and a South FilmFare Award for Best Music Direction in a Tamil film in 1997, the latter setting a record of six consecutive wins; he later went on to win the award three consecutive additional times. The musical cues in the scores for Sangamam and Iruvar used Carnatic vocals, the veena, rock guitar and jazz.[42] During the 2000s, Rahman composed popular scores for Rajiv Menon's Kandukondain Kandukondain, Alaipayuthey, Ashutosh Gowariker's Swades, Rang De Basanti[43] and songs with Hindustani motifs for 2005's Water. Rahman has worked with Indian poets and lyricists such as Javed Akhtar, Gulzar, Vairamuthu and Vaali, and has produced commercially-successful soundtracks with directors Mani Ratnam and S. Shankar (Gentleman, Kadhalan, Indian, Jeans, Mudhalvan, Nayak, Boys, Sivaji and for Enthiran).[44]

In 2005 Rahman expanded his Panchathan Record Inn studio by establishing AM Studios in Kodambakkam, Chennai, creating the most cutting-edge studio in Asia.[45][46] The following year he launched his own music label, KM Music,[47] with his score for Sillunu Oru Kaadhal.[48] Rahman scored the Mandarin-language film Warriors of Heaven and Earth in 2003 after researching and using Chinese and Japanese classical music,[49] and won the Just Plain Folks Music Award For Best Music Album for his score for 2006's Varalaru (God Father).[50] He co-scored Shekhar Kapur's first British film, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, in 2007[51] and received a Best Composer Asian Film Award nomination at the Hong Kong International Film Festival for his Jodhaa Akbar score.[52] Rahman's music has been sampled for other scores in India,[53] appearing in Inside Man, Lord of War, Divine Intervention and The Accidental Husband. His score for his first Hollywood film, the 2009 comedy Couples Retreat, won the BMI London Award for Best Score.[54] Rahman's score for 2008's Slumdog Millionaire won a Golden Globe and two Academy Awards (a first for an Asian), and the songs "Jai Ho" and "O... Saya" from its soundtrack were internationally successful. His music on 2008's Bollywood Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na was popular with Indian youth; that year, his score for Jodhaa Akbar won critical acclaim, a Best Composer Asian Film Award nomination and IIFA awards for best music direction and score. In 2010, Rahman scored the romantic Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa, the sci-fi romance Enthiran and Danny Boyle's 127 Hours, composing for the Imtiaz Ali musical Rockstar; the latter's soundtrack was a critical and commercial success.[55] In 2012 Rahman scored Ekk Deewana Tha and the American drama People Like Us,[56] and collaborated with director Yash Chopra on Jab Tak Hai Jaan.[57] all were positively received.[58] By the end of the year his music for Mani Ratnam's Kadal was critically acclaimed, and the album topped the iTunes India chart for December.[59] In 2013, Rahman had two releases: Raanjhanaa and Maryan. Both were successful, with the former nominated for a number of awards[60][61][62] and the latter the iTunes India Tamil Album of 2013.[63]

Background Scores

In addition to highly successful soundtracks, he is also known for innovative background scores and is considered as one of the finest-ever background-score composers in India.[64] Rahman is considered to have revolutionized the art of scoring, bringing a unique, fresh sound to his film scores with vocals, unusual instruments & sounds and restrained orchestration.[64]

He often employs contemporary instruments such as Guitars, Cello, Flute, Strings, Keyboard, Finger board, Harpejji, Santoor and traditional indian instruments such as Shehnai, Sitar, Mrudangam, Veenai & Tabla for background scores.

He is one of the earliest Indian composers to record scores in 5.1 channel output. He is also one of the earliest to introduce computerized recording techniques in film scoring which enabled him to produce rich orchestral background scores for many films.

A number of his background scores have earned him high critical acclaim and recognition.[65] Some of his highly acclaimed background scores include Roja, Yodha, Thiruda Thiruda, Gentleman (film), Bombay, Kadhal Desam, Indian, Iruvar, Ratchagan, Jeans, Dil Se.., Kadhalar Dhinam, Mudhalvan, Padayappa, Kandukondain Kandukondain, Lagaan, Warriors of Heaven and Earth, The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Swades, Mangal Pandey: The Rising, Guru, Sillunu Oru Kadhal, Sivaji (film), Jodhaa Akbar, Slumdog Millionaire, Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa, Enthiran, 127 Hours, Kadal, Maryan and Kochadaiiyaan.

Apart from getting high critical appreciations, several of Rahman's background scores have earned him many prestigious awards ranging from Academy awards to Filmfare awards.[64][66]

Year Recipient Award Result
2003 The Legend of Bhagat Singh Filmfare Award for Best Background Score Won
2005 Swades Filmfare Award for Best Background Score Won
2008 Slumdog Millionaire Academy Award for Best Original Score Won
2008 Slumdog Millionaire Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score Won
2008 Slumdog Millionaire BAFTA Award for Best Film Music Won
2008 Slumdog Millionaire Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media Won
2007 Guru Filmfare Award for Best Background Score Won
2007 Guru IIFA Award for Best Background Score Won
2009 Jodhaa Akbar Filmfare Award for Best Background Score Won
2009 Jodhaa Akbar IIFA Award for Best Background Score Won
2010 127 Hours Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score Won
2012 Rockstar (2011 film) IIFA Award for Best Background Score Won

Performing and Other Projects

Male singer with female singers and dancers
Rahman at the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Concert

Rahman has also been involved in non-film projects. Vande Mataram, an album of original compositions released for India's 50th anniversary of its independence in 1997,[67][68][69] is one of India's bestselling non-film albums.[70] He followed it with an album for the Bharat Bala–directed video Jana Gana Mana, a collection of performances by leading exponents and artists of Indian classical music.[71] Rahman has written written advertising jingles and orchestrations for athletic events, television and Internet media, documentaries and short films,[72] frequently using the Czech Film Orchestra and the Chennai Strings Orchestra.

In 1999, Rahman partnered with choreographers Shobana and Prabhu Deva and a Tamil film-dancing troupe to perform with Michael Jackson in Munich, Germany at his Michael Jackson and Friends concert.[73] In 2002 he composed the music for his first stage production, Bombay Dreams, which was commissioned by Andrew Lloyd Webber.[74] The Finnish folk-music band Värttinä collaborated with Rahman on the Toronto production of The Lord of the Rings, and in 2004[23] he composed "Raga's Dance" for Vanessa-Mae's album Choreography (performed by Mae and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra).[75]

Singer and guitarist in front of effects smoke
Rahman at 2010 Sydney concert

Since 2004 Rahman has performed three successful world tours before audiences in Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Dubai, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and India,[23][76] and has been collaborating with Karen David on her upcoming studio album. A two-disc CD, Introducing A. R. Rahman (featuring 25 of his Tamil film-score pieces), was released in May 2006[77] and his non-film album Connections was released on 12 December 2008.[78] Rahman performed at a White House state dinner arranged by US President Barack Obama during an official visit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 24 November 2009.[79] He is one of over 70 artists on "We Are the World 25 for Haiti", a charity single to raise relief funds in the wake of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.[80] In 2010, Rahman composed "Jai Jai Garvi Gujarat" in honour of the 50th anniversary of the formation of Gujarat State,[81] "Semmozhiyaana Thamizh Mozhiyaam" as part of the World Classical Tamil Conference 2010,[82] and the theme song for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, "Jiyo Utho Bado Jeeto".[83] Rahman began his first world tour, (A. R. Rahman Jai Ho Concert: The Journey Home World Tour) on 11 June 2010 at Nassau Coliseum in New York; 16 cities worldwide were scheduled.[84]

Some of Rahman's notable compositions were performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra in April 2010.[85] In February 2011 Rahman collaborated with Michael Bolton on Bolton's album, Gems – The Duets Collection,[86][87] reworking his "Sajna" from Couples Retreat.[88]

On 20 May 2011 Mick Jagger announced the formation of a supergroup, SuperHeavy, with Dave Stewart, Joss Stone, Damian Marley and Rahman;[89] its self-titled album was scheduled for release in September 2011.[90] The album would have Jagger singing on Rahman's composition, "Satyameva Jayate" ("The Truth Alone Triumphs").[91]

In January 2012 the Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg announced that it would join KM Music Conservatory musicians for a 100-member concert tour of five Indian cities (Germany and India 2011–2012: Infinite Opportunities), performing Rahman's songs. The marked the centennial of Indian cinema and Babelsberg Studio, the world's oldest film studio.[64]

In Summer 2012 Rahman composed a Punjabi song for the London Olympics opening ceremony, directed by Danny Boyle, part of a medley showcasing Indian influence in the UK. Indian musician Ilaiyaraja's song from the 1981 Tamil-language film Ram Lakshman was also chosen for the medley.[92]

In December 2012 Rahman and Shekhar Kapoor launched Qyuki, a networking site which is a platform for story writers to exchange their thoughts. Cisco invested ₹270 million in the startup, giving it a 17-percent share. Qyuki uses Cisco's cloud infrastructure for the site.[93][94][95] On 20 December he released the single "Infinite Love" in English and Hindi, commemorating the last day of the Mayan calendar to spread hope, peace and love. Rahman's 2013 tour, Rahmanishq, was announced on 29 July 2013 in Mumbai. Beginning in Sydney on 24 August, the tour moved to a number of cities in India.[96]

Musical Style and Impact

Skilled in Carnatic music, Western and Hindustani classical music and the Qawwali style of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rahman is noted for film songs amalgamating elements of these and other genres, layering instruments from different musical idioms in an improvisational style.[18][97] Symphonic orchestral themes accompany his scores, occasionally using a leitmotif. He is one of the few Indian composers to use symphonies in background scores, primarily using the key melody of a song in his background scores—converting the melody into an orchestral piece and incorporating it into the film. This technique increases a film's song's prominence, giving continuity and fluency to the story and enabling a song to fit a situation simply and subtly. During the 1980s Rahman recorded monaural arrangements in common with his musical predecessors, K. V. Mahadevan and VishwanathanRamamoorthy. In later years his methodology changed, as he experimented with the fusion of traditional instruments with new electronic sounds and technology.[18][98]

Rahman's musical interests and outlook originate in his love of experimentation. His compositions, like other Chennai film composers, have an auteuristic use of counterpoint, orchestration and the human voice, melding Indian pop music with a unique timbre, form and instrumentation. With this syncretic style and wide-ranging lyrics, the appeal of Rahman's music crosses classes and cultures in Indian society.[99]

His first soundtrack, for Roja, was listed on Time's all-time "10 Best Soundtracks" in 2005. Film critic Richard Corliss said that the composer's "astonishing debut work parades Rahman's gift for alchemizing outside influences until they are totally Tamil, totally Rahman",[100] and his initial global success is attributed to the South Asian diaspora. Music producer Ron Fair considers Rahman "one of the world's great living composers in any medium".[101]

Director Baz Luhrmann said:

I had come to the music of A. R. Rahman through the emotional and haunting score of Bombay and the wit and celebration of Lagaan. But the more of AR's music I encountered the more I was to be amazed at the sheer diversity of styles: from swinging brass bands to triumphant anthems; from joyous pop to West-End musicals. Whatever the style, A. R. Rahman's music always possesses a profound sense of humanity and spirit, qualities that inspire me the most.[102]

Rahman introduced 7.1 surround sound technology to South Indian films.[103]

On 21 May 2014 Rahman announced that he has partnered with former Black Eyed Peas’ Will.i.am to recreate an early popular track 'Urvashi Urvashi'. Track is 'Birthday'. [104]

Accolades from Prominent Persons

[105] Popular director Mani Ratnam - "I have found that Rahman is a favourite because he is new and above all different. He knows the pulse of the audience. He has a very good sense of tune. He knows what kind of orchestration is necessary for a scene and what music suits the mood of the scene.He has the music in his mind, and uses every musician as an artiste, probably because he has been an instrumentalist himself. He tries to extract something extra from every one of his musicians as well as his playback singers. He believes in their additional input. Rahman improvises. I found in him a new and different composer who never compromises on quality. Rahman is every director’s dream."

Acclaimed Bollywood movie director Subhash Ghai - "Rahman is the biggest representative of Indian music. He is an example for future generations. He is the best fusion of art and science in music".

Nadeem-Shravan - "The most amazing quality about Rahman is that he has been able to create a 'national sound' which in spite of his strong south-Indian feel appeals to a pan-Indian audience".

Composers Jatin-Lalit - "He totally changed the sound of Indian film music."

Director Shankar (director) - "A.R.Rahman - the name speaks for itself. He knows what clicks and what does not. He composes music according to the demand of the situation. He slogs so much to see that a song is good. He does not want to give anyone in the world the chance to tell him that his compositions are bad. What I like best in Rahman is his fighting spirit and 'never say die attitude' ."

Veteran Bollywood director Shyam Benegal - " I admire three things about Rahman. Among the young composers he probably is the most original. He has a strong sense of melody and his harmony is unbeatable. Finally he gives his music a rich tonal color, richness through his combination of instruments, a character to the music."

Director Bharathiraaja - "Illaiyaraja is a born genius. I wanted a change and that's why I shifted to Rahman. There is something in his music that intoxicates you. You work with him once and you will never want to work with anyone else after that."

Popular Director Ram Gopal Varma (in his blog) - "It is a challenge to picturize songs set to Rahman's music. The aesthetics of his song tracks are beyond compare to any other music director’s. I can never forget a line of Rahman’s, which he said to me while at his studio, “I’ve decided that whatever goes from here has to be good”. He said it with neither arrogance nor extreme confidence. It was just so very simply said just as a decision he took and that single sentence made me understand A.R’s greatness, more than his music itself. I have known many including myself who said, thought, and wished the same, but with the exception of A.R I have yet to meet a single man who practiced it and continues to practice it. Jai Ho!"[106]

Popular composer Ilaiyaraaja (In A.R.Rahman's felicitation program) - "Even if they place a golden crown on Rahman's head (and he deserves it too) in a function, it would still not match this evening. Not all buds bloom and not all those that bloom become fruits. Awards have no value without composers. But for the first time, a person from here has gone to the west and commanded the honour. We need to honour that."[107]

Harris Jayaraj (Acclaimed Music director) - "I have learnt many things from many music directors. If you single out A.R.Rahman, I can quote his relentless labour, high enthusiasm, and commitment to the tasks at hand. He would never compromise on the quality of a song. He is quality-conscious and individualistic. I have worked for many composers including Rahman. Most of them would give us the notation... you had to play it ... get your payment and come away. There was nothing more. But Rahman would not expect us to stick to the notes given... he would allow us to improvise and if he liked it he would ask us to play it our way. So I think in a way it was probably working for Rahman that made me realise that there was a composer in me."

Noted director and lyricist Gulzar - "He is a milestone in Hindi film music. He has single-handedly changed the sound of music in the movies. He has broken the mukhda-antara-mukhda scheme of composition and replaced the traditional patterns of tuning. He can tune to a near identical rhythm in two different songs. But these songs will still catch the listener off guard even when played immediately after each other. Instead of having the fixed format, the song can also run like free verse with his kind of music."

Internationally acclaimed Indian Tabalchi Ustad Zakir Hussain - "He was barely 19 years old then but had mastered many different styles of music - western classical, jazz, rock and Carnatic. Even after his work was done he would stay in the studio, sitting through other musicians' pieces, eyes and ears tuned in, constantly imbibing. Very intelligent, smart and creative. He started as a young boy working with great composers like K V Mahadevan, for example. He knows the public pulse and has given the public a very intelligent combination package. This reminds me of R D Burman. These guys made it possible to bring together all elements of world music."

Singer Lata Mangeshkar (known as the 'Nightingale of India') - " Rahman is known to record only during the night time. But he records with me during the daytime... when my voice is fresh. I don't like recording at night. And I've heard that Rahman records mostly in the night. But he made an exception for me. When an artiste shows such consideration for another artiste, it feels good. Aur kaam bhi achha hota hai. (Even the work done is good), Rahman doesn't take long over his recordings. Jiya jale was recorded in 40 minutes."

Veteran singer S. P. Balasubramanyam - "The man responsible for the variety in today's music is A. R. Rahman."

Veteran singer K.S.Chitra - "I have worked with all the music directors in the south before Rahman came in. When I sang for him the first time I found that I was doing something really different from what I had done before. I like Rahman, the music director. But I like Rahman the person even more. I don't how he manages to keep his feet firmly on the ground even after tasting so much success in this field. He is the only Indian composer whose stuff stands out."

Acclaimed singer K. J. Yesudas - "He is a genius musician knowing the psychology of youth."

Javed Akhtar (Noted lyricist) - "I think he is an all rounder, I mean his grounding is very very solid. He knows Indian classical music, he is in touch with Indian folk music, he knows about western music and he has really studied western classical also. He knows about Middle Eastern music. So there is no wonder you see different colours in his songs. But Indian music has borrowed albeit being influenced by Middle Eastern music in past also. But, you see, when Rahman takes a raag or if he takes a folk tune, or if he takes notes of say Arabian music or South American music. When this music comes to Rahman, it becomes Rahman's music his influences are beyond film music and he has a kind of courage where he is not afraid to experiment, he is not afraid to fail and that is why he succeeds. We remember only those people who were not only successful but they have brought something to the arena that is new. Now this is a another leap, a quantum leap that Rahman has taken and he has given a kind of new sensibility to Indian music listener and the music maker. The sound, the orchestration, the very structure of the song. He has challenged the basic structure of Indian film song and he has altered it, changed it. And, I think his contribution is totally unprecedented. Successful people come and go. Ultimately it's the pathbreakers who're remembered with the passage of time. People who have walked on untrodden roads. Success is worshipped momentarily, and then forgotten. It's not enough to be successful. It's important to attempt something new. Rahman's contribution to film music will never be forgotten. He has given a new dimension and understanding to sound. Working with him is definitely a great pleasure. I get along very well with him. He is one person who is only interested in his work. Inspite of his stupendous success, he is so humble and down-to-earth."

Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy (Popular bollywood music director trio) - "Rahman is a great musician, a great human being, his music is fresh, and honest. That's very important, writing something from the heart. He's a genius, his personality reflects in his music, it's fantastic, his music is so pure, it's from the soul. He knows exactly what he's doing, he's very well versed in classical as well as western jazz, all kinds of stuff. And he's open minded."

Director Rajeev Menon - "He'll remain my only choice and preference. He's part of my family. We've been working together for the past 14 years. In fact he was the one who got me into filmmaking, while I called him for a lot of my advertising assignments. Music comes to him instinctively. When you see him play, his skill is such that you really believe God exists in his work."

Veteran singer Asha Bhonsle - "He understands the youth of today, he has brought about a freshness, a new sound to film music. He's always experimenting, doing something different which is very inspiring for the playback singer."

Composer Sandeep Chowta - "Rahman revolutionized sound. He's a trend-setter in more ways than one. The only thing common between us is the fact that we started out in advertising and moved on to films. There's just no comparison otherwise. Rahman is a legend of sorts. Rahman is unique. He doesn't have set ragas. Yet his chord progressions are beautiful. People sometimes compare me to A R Rahman, it happens. People like Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and even Andrew Lloyd Webber have paid tribute to him and called him a legend. I can't even begin to fathom the reasons for the comparison. He's in another zone altogether, he is amazingly brilliant. If people compare me to him, I'd take it as a compliment. "

Classical turned film singer P. Unnikrishnan - "I have sung more than 500 songs till date but this first song of mine is something I will remember and cherish all my life. The most wonderful thing is that today ARR is the most sought after Music Director in the whole country but as a person he has not changed and even today he is the same calm, composed, humble, committed, unperturbed ARR. Thanks to Rajiv Menon for having introduced me to such a wonderful artist."

Singer Srinivas - " He's totally absorbed in his music and there's nothing else that affects him. For him music is God. And he gets the best out of a singer. 1992, in Coimbatore, was when I went to see Maniratnam's Roja because it was a Maniratnam movie. Dreams of playback singing had taken a back seat; I was in Coimbatore and travelling and didn't know how to approach it now. I was just taken aback by the freshness of Roja's music. After a long time, I had bought a tamil film audio cassette. This new person, Rahman, had introduced so many singers; the re-entry of Sujatha, Hariharan , Minmini and Unnimenon. Immediately, I realized that this person has an attitude towards introducing new artists, his music sounds fresh and he was definitely here to stay! On one of my official trips to Chennai, I got hold of Rahman's address and went to see him directly. At that time, he was very accessible (he had just started working on Pudhiya Mugam). He conducted a voice test; I sang a Mehdi Hassan ghazal and he liked it. I mentioned that I lived in Coimbatore and he said that if I moved to Chennai, he might be able to work with me. By the time I came to Chennai in 1994-95, he had shot through the roof! The gates had become bigger at Rahman's place . It was difficult to even get through to his office. With persistance and a little bit of luck, I was finally able to see him again. As soon as he saw me, he remembered. That's Rahman!.. He's human... and he's got GOD inside him as well! He slowly started giving me singing assignments. Rahman's approach is totally different which now many people have started following. For example, Raja Sir has the whole thing in his mind from the very beginning. You don't have a doubt about what you should sing and you better not! (laughs). Two totally different schools of music. With Rahman, when you go in, nothing is ready. He just feeds in some basic chords. When you listen to them on your headphones, you are transported to some other world. Within two minutes, he creates a masterpiece of a loop. Those chords are just magic. You feel like singing so much! He incredibly motivates you when singing, which is also the reason why artists (singers and instrumentalists alike) give him the very best."

Vairamuthu (Acclaimed lyricist) "I am considered to be a great poet, but I don't have any words to describe his genius. A.R.Rahman is not a normal music director. He has some God given gift in him. Otherwise, how can he compose such soul-stirring numbers? He is a rare pearl in an ocean of music.When one composes a song he is always worried as to whether the song will click or not. But Rahman is one composer who does not care about the commercial success of the song. He is always confident that if a number is composed wth a good heart and self-confidence it will be a big hit. He is like a younger brother to me. The total submission of his (A.R.Rahman) life for the cause of music; his thirst for creating not any chaff but only grains appeals to me the most!"

Another acclaimed lyricist Vaali - "I have been in this field for decades and have seen a lot of music directors come and go.. But this young boy has held me spellbound! His talent, energy, enthusiasm is a lesson to all youngsters. He is always experimenting and is always open to new ideas."

Gangai Amaran (brother of another prominent composer Ilaiyaraja) - "Rahman's music is of the computer age. It is digital but intelligent, not noise. He concentrates on his melodies and has not totally deviated from Carnatic traditions".

Grammy Award winning instumentalist, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt - "Rahman has a good understanding of both Western and Indian classical music. I was asked to play for Mani Rathnam's film Anandam (renamed "Iruvar") which Rahman has scored. He has high regard for others, and gives due respect to other forms of music. I find Rahman very innovative, and wouldn't mind doing more films with him."

Vishal Dadlani - "I've listened to the music of Dil Se.. a hundred times and, each time, I learn something new. It is like an encyclopedia on production."

Director Suresh Krissna - "Rahman's manner of working sounds very unusual. Generally music is composed, lyrics are readied and the recording is done. But with Rahman it is not so. Far from it, Rahman composes and mixes the voice with a basic rhythm track. Then he goes on adding the music making innovations, inclusions and improvisations till the very last minute, or rather till the cassette stage itself. At every point the workaholic in him keeps goading him to feel that 'there should be something more to it.' The singer, under Rahman's direction, is given incredible scope to delve into every conceivable variation and the whole of it is recorded. This system of working was a revelation for me."

World famous guitarist, Jeremy Spencer - 'The only contemporary Indian composer I know of and like is A.R.Rahman. His 'Vandemataram' was brilliant'.

Lyricist Mehboob - "If there is one person whom I revere after God, our prophet, and my family then it is Mr. AR Rahman. He is like a brother to me. I adore him so much that I have no words to describe my feelings for this gentleman."

Veteran singer Manna Dey - "I do not think too much of today's melodies. I do admire A.R.Rahman, for he is a master of rhythm. He is extremely experimental, and leaves no stone unturned in trying out new things."

Composer Vishal Bharadwaj - "A. R. Rahman has elevated the quality of film music to an international level. When you hear Michael Jackson and Rahman at one go, you can't tell the difference in sound quality. Rahman is a terrific composer. He is a genius."

Popular drummer Sivamani - "Our association began when we both were really young. We had this band called Roots. We just make very good music together. He is a master of laya(melody) and taala(beat). The recognition that I enjoy today is because of Rahman. There are so many talented people behind a film music score. I played for Illayaraja for very long, but my name never figured on the screen or the cassette cover. Rahman changed it all. He gives credit to every single member of his team for whatever part they play, big or small. That makes him really special. People came to know about me only because of him. I thank him for that."

Indian-born Canadian director Deepa Mehta - "Brilliant, I think he is the most consummate composer that I know of in the world. His music comes from the characters and is an extension of them. I think he is the best.He is the most brilliant film composer in India today and is in such demand that he has altered his normal working day to begin at six in the evening and go through the night, so that he can compose undisturbed by producers' calls. A.R.R. is a very young man of prodigious talent with an immense sensitivity to the film's context and characters. Whatever I say about his genius will be stating the obvious. He finds the sound for every character in the film. He finds the character's sur. Raag, rhythm, reggae, folk, classical, he's got it on his finger tips. He's so cinema literate. He can discuss Ingmar Bergman's Autumn Sonata and he can talk about Subhash Ghai's Taal, all in one breath."

Singer Alka Yagnik - "He's a one-man-show. Once he's taught you the song, he gives you a free hand. He lets you sing it the way you want to."

Bollywood composer Anu Malik - "I appreciate A.R's work. He has a penchant for being international. I think he is talented. A.R. has taught me the value and meaning of sound in my recording and thanks to him, today I am my own arranger."

Sound engineer H. Sridhar - "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. 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. 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. 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."

Popular director Karan Johar - "The only music composer from the current lot who will be remembered for a long time is A.R.Rahman."

British-based international chart star, Apache Indian - "He's very talented as a songwriter and singer. I think he can do great things."


Man sitting on couch, with two Academy Awards on table in front of him
Rahman at his home in Chennai, with Academy Awards for Slumdog Millionaire

Rahman was the 1995 recipient of the Mauritius National Award and the Malaysian Award for his contributions to music,[108] and was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for his first West End production. A four-time National Film Award winner and recipient of six Tamil Nadu State Film Awards, he has fifteen Filmfare Awards and thirteen Filmfare Awards South for his music.[108] Rahman has received a Kalaimamani from the Government of Tamil Nadu for excellence in the field of music, musical-achievement awards from the governments of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and a Padma Shri from the Government of India.[109] In 2006, he received an award from Stanford University for his contributions to global music.[110] The following year, Rahman entered the Limca Book of Records as "Indian of the Year for Contribution to Popular Music".[111] He received the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rotary Club of Madras.[112] In 2009, for his Slumdog Millionaire score, Rahman won the Broadcast Film Critics Association Award, the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score,[113] the BAFTA Award for Best Film Music and two Academy Awards (Best Original Score and Best Original Song, the latter shared with Gulzar) at the 81st Academy Awards. He has received honorary doctorates from Middlesex University, Aligarh Muslim University,[114][115] Anna University in Chennai and Miami University in Ohio.[116] The composer has won two Grammy Awards: Best Compilation Soundtrack Album and Best Song Written for Visual Media.[117] Rahman received the Padma Bhushan, India's third-highest civilian honour, in 2010.[118] His work in 127 Hours won him Golden Globe, BAFTA, and two Academy Award nominations (Best Original Music Score and Best Original Song) in 2011.[119][120][121] Rahman is an Honorary Fellow of the Trinity College of Music.[122]

During his 7 May 2012 acceptance speech of his honorary doctorate from Miami University in Ohio, Rahman mentioned that he received a Christmas card from the family of the President of the United States and an invitation to dinner at the White House.[123] A street was named in his honour in Markham, Ontario, Canada in November 2013.[124]

Personal Life

Man in grey jacket and woman in sari
Rahman and his wife, Saira Banu, at the 2010 soundtrack release of Enthiran in Kuala Lumpur

Rahman is married to Saira Banu and has three children: Khatija, Rahima and Ameen.[125] Ameen has sung "NaNa" from Couples Retreat, and Khatija has sung "Pudhiya Manidha" from Enthiran.[126][127] Rahman is the uncle of composer G. V. Prakash Kumar, the son of his older sister A. R. Reihana.[128] Kumar's first film work was singing on Rahman's "Chikku Bukku Rayile", from his score for 1993's Gentleman.[129] Reihana's film debut was singing on "Vidai Kodu Engal Naadae" from Kannathil Muthamittal, and she is a music director. Rahman's younger sister, Fathima, heads his music conservatory in Chennai. The youngest, Ishrath, has a music studio.[130] Rahman is the brother-in-law of film actor Rahman.[131]

An atheist during much of his childhood, in 1989 Rahman converted to Islam (the religion of his mother's family). After the early death of his father, his family experienced difficult times; Sufism influenced his mother and, eventually, his family.[132][133] During the 81st Academy Awards ceremony Rahman paid tribute to his mother: "There is a Hindi dialogue, mere pass ma hai, which means 'even if I have got nothing I have my mother here'."[134] He said, "Ella pughazhum iraivanukke" ("All praise to God" in Tamil, a literal translation of the first sentence of the Quran) before his speech.[135]

Humanitarian Work

Rahman is involved with a number of charitable causes. In 2004 he was appointed global ambassador of the Stop TB Partnership, a WHO project.[23] Rahman has supported Save the Children India and worked with Yusuf Islam on "Indian Ocean", a song featuring a-ha keyboard player Magne Furuholmen and Travis drummer Neil Primrose. Proceeds from the song went to help orphans in Banda Aceh who were affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.[136] He produced the single "We Can Make It Better" by Don Asian with Mukhtar Sahota.[137] In 2008 Rahman opened the KM Music Conservatory with an audio-media education facility to train aspiring musicians in vocals, instruments, music technology and sound design. The conservatory (with prominent musicians on staff and a symphony orchestra) is located near his studio in Kodambakkam, Chennai and offers courses at several levels. Violinist L. Subramaniam is on its advisory board.[138] Several of Rahman's proteges from the studio have scored feature films.[139] He composed the theme music for a 2006 short film for The Banyan to aid poor women in Chennai.[140] In 2008 Rahman and noted percussionist Sivamani created a song, "Jiya Se Jiya", inspired by the Free Hugs Campaign and promoted it with a video filmed in a number of Indian cities.[141]


See also


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External links