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Article Updated 13 June, 2004 09:38:24 PM IST
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Interview: A.R. Rahman
By Jyothi Venkatesh Š2004

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A.R. Rahman
A.R. Rahman does not need any introduction. His name itself spells goldmine at the box office. It is now nearly thirteen years since he had stepped in as a music director with his first film 'Roja' that was made in Tamil by Mani Ratnam and dubbed in Hindi. The otherwise very elusive and inaccessible Rahman who was in Mumbai recently, took time off from his hectic schedule and spoke to Jyothi Venkatesh at length about himself, his career as a music director, about the appreciation that he is still getting for his music in 'Lagaan' and his future plans including releasing a single album with Vanessa May and his new role as the ambassador for Save the Children India.

At the outset, what prompted you to agree to be an Ambassador to Save the Children India when Vipula Kadri, (National Director, Save the Children India) approached you, considering you are quite a busy person today?

You have got to split your life in different things if you want to live a full and satisfactory life. I have always loved children and believed in the vision set by our esteemed President, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, of a country that believes and fuels the dreams and hopes of its children and youth. His vision inspired me to compose a song for our children. This anthem song has the conviction to touch each Indian with the belief to give voice to the children of India. Created on an iconic scale, this composition of mine uses the voice of the children and holds the promise of becoming a symbol of dreams of India's children.

Is it true that you have worked with Michael Jackson on a single, titled Ekam Satyam?

Yes, I have worked with Michael Jackson on a single, titled Ekam Satyam. The track composed by me is part English and part Sanskrit. I have rendered the Sanskrit portions written by A.R Parthasarathy while Michael Jackson has rendered the English lyrics written by Kanika Myer Bharat.

How did the song happen in the first place?

To tell the truth, initially it was penned especially for the MJ And Friends Concert, which was held in Munich in June 1999. However since it became immensely popular among Jackson fans in the West, I am told it was decided to release the song- the duet sung by Jackson and myself as a single.

Is it true that you are planning to come up with a piece for Vanessa May this year?

Yes, I will be scoring one piece for Vanessa May this year.

How do you look at Indians like yourself in terms of vis-ā-vis globalization?

We have to push ourselves in any field, whether we like it or not. It is just the question of your mindset. We need to adjust and look into our own selves. The moment you have this attitude that whatever you do is the best, you will cease to grow or for that matter experiment, which is very necessary for creation. I mainly work by instinct.

Are you working on Bombay Dreams Part II this year?

It isn't exactly Part II of Bombay Dreams. We are taking Bombay Dreams this year to Broadway since there has been a heavy demand after its success in England. The Broadway version, to be staged in the USA, will have an American version of my songs because they do not understand Indian culture at all, the way they do in England.

Did you expect that the music scored by you for 'Lagaan' would click in such a big way?

To tell you the truth, the music of 'Lagaan' was a real surprise for me. I'd not hesitate to say that 'Lagaan' is a path-breaking movie, which does not stick to one genre of filmmaking. I'd give the whole credit for the success of the music of 'Lagaan' to Aamir Khan, who was simply fabulous as a producer. He knew exactly what he wanted and had the courage and conviction to do it. I kept in mind the script of 'Lagaan' when I composed the music for the film. I am getting good feedback from people for my music in 'Lagaan'.

Would you admit that your music had started sounding stereotyped some time ago?

To some extent, I plead guilty to the charge that you have mentioned. My first film 'Roja' was very futuristic. After 'Roja', I tended to be very repetitive and stereotyped as a music director because most of my films had numbers, which were dance-oriented. In the past three years, I was very keen on working on period music. I could get that opportunity with 'Lagaan'. You see it is difficult to set your mind to Chennai and Mumbai audiences. I do confess that I was struggling to come out of the rut in which I started finding myself. It was very difficult.

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