WE’VE GOT A NEW RAHMAN
Breaking out of the tedium of Bollywood music made only for money, the composer reinvents himself
Composer and singer AR Rahman loves to take on new challenges, and hates being repetitive. Apart from the fact that Hollywood and the West gave him a different sort of challenge, Bollywood was offering him nothing new, which is why we’ve been hearing less of Rahman’s music in the recent years. The first week of September has brought Rahman back in a new avatar — now he’s a filmmaker who has made a movie, titled One Heart, out of his concert tour.
“Everyone was offering me very similar kind of movies,” says Rahman. “[Some] films like Rockstar (2011) were different, but most were similar. There was a thirst in me to do something. I was being told to do things. This ‘told to do thing’ had to stop.”
Rahman also believes that composers today are forced to make music that would generate revenue, and that the Indian elements of music are disappearing from Bollywood. “Composers are being asked to compose for films, half of which have been shot in Europe. They don’t get to use the Indian classical music because of that,” he says. “Not that you can’t have Indian classical music in Romania, but then the filmmaker wants the movie to make 100 crore [rupees],” adds Rahman. “There are many insecurities like this.”
The composer, aside from being an Oscar-winner — he won for both Original Song and Original Score in 2009, for the film Slumdog Millionaire — is also a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, US, which awards the Oscars. This has kept him busy in the West.
About his decision to direct a film, he says, “I judged short films at the Oscars. I’ve been judging London West End, and Broadway shows (in the US). So I was kind of rubbing shoulders with the best, and that’s where this idea of what I wanted to do came from.”
At 50, Rahman believes that he’s now more “daring”. He says, “I love doing commercial cinema, but I want to do alternative stuff. I want to make music to stop people from going to the loo, buying popcorn, when a song plays in the theatre. I want to engage people with my music.”