|A.R.Rahman is one of the foremost musical artists in India. In a music industry dominated by film scores, Rahman has churned out more than two dozen hit singles over a span of 8 films, all of which surpassed sales of 2.5 million units. With his mop of dusky curls, t-shirt and jeans, he looks like a teenage college student, but his first film score, Roja, fetched him the National Film Award in 1992 , and thrust him into the limelight. In the five years since Roja, he has created music for blockbuster Indian films including Roja, Pudhiya Mugam, Gentleman, Kizhaku Seemaiyilae, Duet, Kadalan, Bombay, May Madham, Indian, Muthu kadhal Dasam, Love Birds ,Dil se, Tal , Takshak, Pukar and others. His 1995 soundtrack for Bombay crossed 5 million units and Rahman had arrived as the "King of Indian Pop" with sales of more than 40 million albums over a period of 3 years.|
AR Rahman is today the most sought after music director in the business. Roja proved that traditional tunes can also be blockbuster hits. Songs such as "Thiruda Thiruda", "Gentleman", "Rangeela", "Kadhal Desam" and "Minsara Kanavu" established him as a prodigy. Modest, religious and totally dedicated to his craft, Rahman has a great penchant for fusing music of different traditions. Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, reggae, rock and Carnatic music are his musical preferences.
His inspirational, infectious numbers have won him nationwide praise in India. The Tamil film Minsara Kanavu got Rahman the award for Best Music at the 44th National in May, '97. Rahman also been honored with a Rajat Kamal Award for Best Music Director, the Filmfare award, Cinema Express award, Telegu Academy Purashkar award for the year 1992-94, Bommai Nagi Reddy award, Sumu award, Rajiv Gandhi awards and others.
Renowned world artists including Nusrat Fateh Al Khan, with whom he performs a duet on Vande Mataram, have hailed Rahman as a musical genius. Rahman has in collaborations with artists such as L. Shankar, Zakir Hussain, David Byrne, Talvin Singh and Apache Indian - both recording and on tour. On a recent trip to India, David Byrne met Rahman and was so impressed that he went on to record some sessions with Rahman for a project he is currently completing (as yet unreleased).
Singing has always been Rahman's personal passion and very few of his fans are that he has sung on a number of his film tracks. Vande Mataram, his first pop album, will also be the first to showcase Rahman the singer, and his ambition is to put his unique Indian sound on the world music stage. Today, Rahman restricts his work to only 2 or 3 film tracks a year and has made only a few live stage in recent years. A sold out concert was held in Kuala Lampur (Malaysia) in October 1996, where he performed to an audience of 40,000 fans.
AR Rahman, 30 years old, was born into a musically affluent family. His father, K.A. Sekar, was a well known music director based in the Southern India. Growing up in a background filled with music, Rahman began playing music from his early childhood. After his father died when he was only 9, Rahman began performing on the keyboards, and later as an accompaniest for various music directors in the South Indian film industry including Ramesh Naidu, M S Viswanathan and Illaiyaraja. His work with these musicians placed him in good stead through some very difficult years. Finally, Rahman overcame these hardships and qualified for a scholarship to the Trinity College of Music (London).
Afterwards, Rahman returned to Madras with a dream to bring an international and contemporary world perspective to Indian music. He established a state of the art sound and recording studio and began experimenting in sound engineering, design and production. He also began a collection of sound samples, creating one of the most comprehensive sonic libraries in Asia.
Rahman started his commercial musical career in advertising, where he spent 6 years composing jingles. Some of his memorable ad campaigns were with leading Indian corporations such as Parry's, Tata, and Titan Watches. It was a chance meeting at a party with Trilok Sharadha, cousin of Mani Rathnam, brought him in contact with the renowned director and launched his stunning debut as the music director of Roja.
AR Rahman was born A.S. Duleep Kumar, but adopted the name AR Rahman when he coverted to Islam. Ar Rahman is the first of a thousand names of Allah, and Rahman is a profoundly religious person. As an individual, Rahman leads an extremely devout religious life and credits all his musical inspiration to Allah. He comes across as an extremely reticent and humble individual and says, 'Music speaks, statements don't. Nobody can be completely original because the notes are already there ... from the notes we form a raag and from the raag a tune ... it is a process. As far as possible, to my conscience, I try to be original. The rest is up to Allah.'
As Rahman considers taking his new project, Vande Mataram, to the world, he reflects on his immense popularity on the sub-continent and whether the rest of the globe will follow his musical lead, "music is international - only cultures are different".
. Within the first couple of years of his Bollywood career AR Rahman established that he was here to stay, with his digitized sound based on pop-rock and reggae fused with traditional Indian - mainly Carnatic-folk idioms. Carnatic is a classical Indian music form whose leading international proponents include L Shankar (the violinist of Shakti fame), M S Subbalakshmi - the vocalist, Vikku Vinayakam (the percussionist from Shakti). To quote one of the leading South Indian music directors, 'Rahman's music is of the computer age. It is digital but intelligent , not just noise. He concentrates on his melody and has not deviated totally from his traditional sounds."
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