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interview: chennai news 15.03.2000


Making music with A R Rahman "I am excited about working with Weber"

Think of a chartbuster and you think of this guy. Yes, we're talking about the undisputed King of Movie Scores, A R Rahman (nee A S Duleep Kumar). A R Rahman is the kind of guy who wants to let his music do the talking. Now he's been commissioned by Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber to compose for a musical A R Rahmanbased on the theme of Bollywood (for a project in collaboration with Shekhar Kapur tentatively titled Bombay Dreams). In the last three years, just the sale of his albums crossed the 40 million mark. He also has to his credit two dozen hit singles over a span of eight films. After sounding repetitive for quite some time, he bounced back last year with Taal, 1947 Earth, Thakshak and Pukar. Here, the unassuming genius talks of his all-encompassing passion for music and his evolution as a musician, singer and a human being.

How does it feel to be working with Weber?

Actually, I was looking for a new twist; a new direction and this came at the right time. It sounded exciting to work with a legend. I will be composing the music and Weber will produce it. In a way, we will be working together. He will guide me accordingly. I haven't decided on the singers yet, but they will be finalised only after the script is ready.

What about the other films you have?

Lagaan, Zubeida and One Two Ka Four. And yes, Water, if that happens. I will take leave for six months and then go back to film music again.

1999 was a fabulous year for you. Besides Taal, there was 1947 Earth, Pukar and Thakshak. How do you look back at those films?

It took me a while to get used to north Indian music. Earlier in my career, my songs in Roja, Bombay and Rangeela were successful. But they weren't specifically aimed at the Hindi film audience. They were made with south Indian audiences in mind, or they were just converts of Tamil songs. Taal, Earth and Pukar were aimed at all kinds of audiences

How do you go about composing a song?

I tell my musicians to play whatever they feel. Then I record what I want. I spend a lot of time - around four days - on the lyrics too. Altogether it takes about a week to complete a song. And I don't use computers. My music is synthesizer-oriented.

There has been criticism that your music is not original?

No one can be completely original, because the notes are already there. I do a lot of fusion from different traditions including Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, reggae, rock and Carnatic music - my favourites. As far as possible, I try to be original. The rest is up to Allah.

You seem to go for populist songs...

Each category of music reaches only one circle. If I play rock, I will be catering only to youngsters while older people will think it's just noise. I want my music to reach everywhere and so I want to go down to people at various levels. I make it a point to keep on learning and growing. Now, I am learning Carnatic classical music from Dakshinamurthy and Hindustani from Krishnan Nayar.





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