Iconic composer-singer A.R. Rahman, who has not just mesmerised music lovers and is credited with changing the sound of Indian film music, but also made the country proud with his Oscar and Grammy wins, turned 50 on Friday. His close associates shared their thoughts on the artiste whom they consider “god’s special child”.
Rahman is known for fusing Indian and western sounds in an efficient way, and also introduced many new talents in the industry. One such name is singer Sukhwinder Singh, who made his mark in 1999 with the song “Chaiyya chaiyya”. He continued his journey with Rahman and sang “Jai ho” — the Oscar-winning track from “Slumdog Millionaire”.
Asked what makes Rahman stand out, Sukhwinder said: “The world has acknowledged his genius and I have been fortunate to work with him on numerous occasions. His understanding of music is so vast that he can perhaps capture any mood in one song. Also, the fact that his music grows on you, is a quality all composers should imbibe.”
Versatile singer Sonu Nigam, who has lent his voice for many of Rahman’s compositions like “Ishq bina”, “Hai guzarish”, “In lamhon ke daaman mein”, “Saathiya”, “Khamoshiyan gungunane lagi” and “Satrangi re”, called the musical genius “god’s special child”.
He said: “Everything about him is inspirational. His talent, his composure, his exclusivity, his foresight and moreover how he is protected by the universe because of his detachment to the material things in life… That’s what makes him an icon of this generation.”
It is interesting how Rahman has worked with various genres — be it Indian classical, folk to electronic music and orchestral arrangement, and touched all the right emotional chords through his various songs. Be it the naughty “Kuchi kuchi rakkamma” to exploring different shades of romance through “Ye haseen waadiya”, “Roja” and “Tere bina” to capturing the vulnerability of a young man through “Naadaan parindey”, a spiritual number like “Kun faaya kun” and the evergreen “Maa tujhe salaam (Vande mataram)” — Rahman has done it all.
Appreciating his contribution to Hindi film music, popular composer Rajesh Roshan said: “His power is in his innovative approach towards music. Taking a bit of risk to create some new melody is his signature (style), and that is what he is acclaimed for. I appreciate it.”
Rahman is also known for collaborating with some iconic film directors, and together they have given powerful original soundtracks. The list includes names like Mani Ratnam, Ashutosh Gowariker, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and Imtiaz Ali.
Recalling their collaboration for films, Mehra said: “It is never like we are working together just for a film, but we get connected by spending time together and exchanging ideas. So, that reflects on the creative process of a film later on.
“Whether it is ‘Rang De Basanti’ or ‘Delhi-6’, I shared the story and he interpreted them musically. So, the music became an integral part of the narration.”
Citing the example of the soulful track “Arziyan” from “Delhi-6”, Mehra said: “We added the song almost at the end of the album when we were close to ending it. We were looking for a song that conveys the essence of the film, and we weren’t getting it.
“One day, around 5 a.m., he (Rahman) called me saying, ‘I want you to hear this, I got this tune in my dream’. He played a 37-minute long piece from where we get the song ‘Arziyan’ — that’s Rahman for you. He thinks about music even in his dreams.
“Music is the extension of his personality. If you want to know about Rahman, you can know him the best through his music.”