AR Rahman in conversation with WION's Archith Seshadri. Photograph: (WION)
When it comes to taking Indian music to an international level, AR Rahman has set the bar high.
He's the only Indian to win a Filmfare, Oscar, Grammy, Golden Globe and BAFTA award. To add to his feather, ARR recently picked up a SIIMA award in Abu Dhabi for his Tamil film "Achham Yenbadhu Mmadamayadda" (AYM).
ARR will perform a two-hour concert in New York at the IIFA Awards on July 14 to honour 25 years of contribution to Indian music. ARR was in Delhi to promote the awards which honours Indian cinema on the global stage.
In an exclusive interview with the musical maestro, AR Rahman said, "I think music is a combination for me at the same time innovation. It's [also about] not losing its earthiness, the connectivity to myself and to the listener."
A man who is not known for his words, ARR lets his music do the talking. Over the past 25 years, ARR has worn many hats besides just music composer. He can sing, write, produce, perform and entertain audiences. He's fondly known as the "Mozart of Madras" and made his debut with Mani Ratnam's Roja back in 1992.
The music composer has given many memorable hits after including "Gentleman", "Bombay", "Rangeela", "Indian", "Minsara Kanavu", "Dil Se", "Taal", "Lagaan", "Guru" and "Slumdog Millionaire". A musical featuring his music, "Bombay Dreams", debuted in 2002.
So how does one man create so many different genres of music from classical, sufi, pop, techno and folk? He says, "When you follow simplistic rules it becomes boring so you have to dodge and find ways to do that again and again and still sound new. It's a challenge and a pleasure."
Well, the challenge has certainly paid off as directors yearn to work with ARR who is quite selective about his projects. ARR has also worked on several music videos including "Maa Tujhe Salaam," "Pray For Me Brother," and "One Love."
ARR has even voiced many of his compositions including the song "Tere Bina" from "Guru", "Dil Se Re" from "Dil Se", "Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera" from "Swades", "Vellai Pookal" from "Kannathil Mutthamittal", "Fanaa" from "Yuva", "New York Nagaram" from "Jillunu Oru Kadhal" and "Mental Manadhil" from ("OK Kanmani")/"OK Jaanu" title track, to name a few.
Known to experiment and try new sounds, ARR will unveil a new type of musical concert at the IIFA stage in New York. The concert will feature popular Bollywood singers including Hariharan, Kailesh Kher, Mika Singh, Mohit Chauhan, Jonita Gandhi, Neeti Mohan, Javed Ali, Haricharan Seshadri and Kamaal Khan. ARR says "the 18th editionof IIFA in New York is very special to me and I look forward to sharing the IIFA Rocks stage with such talented names in the industry. I am honoured to be a part of the IIFA celebrations."
So what can we expect over the next 25 years when it comes to ARR's music? One thing's for certain -- whether it's "Chaiyya Chaiiya" ("Dil Se") or "Kehna Hi Kya/Kannalane" (Bombay) or "Jai Ho" (Slumdog Millionaire) -- ARR certainly knows how to arrange music for all ears and tastes. He's composed in Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Malayalam and English.
"My journey for 25 years has been about composing but I'm also an educator I have got a conservatory, and also a school for under priviledged children. We have many other children open for composing and become composers and we also have a company [where] some of the alumnis want to join me and composed a TV episodical thing called "Daughters of Destiny" for Hollywood director Vanessa Roth. So all this stuff is happening and I wanna go 50-50 I wanna be this mentor and the composer singer."
Adding to his collection of more than 100 awards, AR Rahman recently received a SIIMA award in Abu Dhabi which honours South Indian film stars (WION)