On Modi’s Bandwagon?
Music maestro AR Rahman unveiled a 19-minute music piece titled “The Flying Lotus”, based on Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s move to demonetize high value currency notes. The Oscar Awardee, who had earlier made a reference to demonetization in his new version of the popular 1994 track “Urvasi Urvasi”, has taken inspiration from it for his latest music piece in collaboration with the Seattle Symphony, one of America’s leading symphony orchestras. However, knowing the message that may come out from this act, the music maestro makes it clear that he is not making any judgmenton Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the piece.
On this occasion Natalia Ningthoujam talks to AR Rahman and fishes out some interesting information for our readers. Edited excerpts:
What inspired you to associate with The Flying Lotus?
The Flying Lotus is an impression of the rise of India... the whole journey of India. I wanted to do something on what was going on in India during demonetization and what will happen in the future. It’s open to interpretations.
What prompted you to collaborate with Seattle Symphony for The Flying Lotus?
They wanted something... maybe simple. Since I had an inspiration to do this, they were very receptive and encouraging. They loved the idea and found it very innovative. It was a great team for a composer to get an orchestra like that, is always a dream.
The Flying Lotus was premiered by the Seattle Symphony with conductor Ricardo Averbach at Celebrate Asia, an annual concert that features music by famous Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Indian composers, in May.
What was the reason for using Modi’s speech in your track?
I wanted to make an emotionally charged track for my listeners. The emotionally charged track is interspersed with a few lines from Modi’s speech on demonetization along with others stressing on digital economy, the country going cashless and dhan dhana dhan.
Since you have talked about various Modi’s initiatives which are now crating lot of headlines these days, please let us know what’s your take on demonetization?
I think the intention was right. This (the track) is not about me making a judgment. How would I know about something so big? But I know what people are talking about, the Chinese whispers, the good and the bad. That’s what I have put in my piece. It is interesting to have an orchestra and expression like that. The subject is very relevant to every Indian.
Is there any message that you think this track would convey to the listeners?
The music is an optimistic approach and also a journey of what we have been through. I think that’s what it should be. It is not about personal agenda or religion. It is about uplifting the poor. It’s about making our nation the best in the world.
Though, you are global ambassador of the Indian music industry, you have always maintained a low profile image. Would this be broken when The Flying Lotus will be released?
It will be released like a normal release by Universal Music India, but I will send a copy to our PM and important people. I would love to share my work with them.
Going by the title of track, it seems like you are happy with the Bharatiya Janata Party as the ruling party in India.
I am happy with India...always. I am an Indian.
After creating a piece on a subject, which is considered to be Modi’s biggest move, would you like to compose for any of the government’s campaigns?
If I have time, then yes.
Are you inching closer to joining politics?
No. I don’t have time for it. I want to be in music and movies.
Okay! Let’s come back to music. Indian music is getting popular across the day and you are one of the major witnesses to this. How do you feel to see this journey of Indian music?
It is great. We just need things to happen and everything will come together. The marketing will come together and things will sell. For instance MC Punjabi has done very well. I was in Prague and I heard Punjabi music being played there. As humans we like different things. There is a big space for us.
You are also involved with Sufi Route, the first folk, poetry and Sufi music project of India, which is headlined by you. What was your aim behind such huge global Sufi project?
We have this esoteric audience and they seem to be responding irrespective of the religion they belong to. It is surprising. Sometimes you go to a college like Berkeley College of Music and there are people singing Kun Faya Kuna or Khwaja Mere Khwaja. So there are Christians singing it or Muslims or Hindus then I felt like it is not about the words rather it is about the soul.
Do you think Sufi is the route to take considering the strife in the world these days?
I think the world is very complicated and to say that this is the way to go or that is the way is not possible. First of all, I need so much cleansing myself. I am just going with what I have to do, what my family has to do and what about my people. I just see my world and my role in it.