Thursday, February 26, 2009

A R Rahman Biography

A R Rahman


A R Rahman

Background information
Birth nameA. S. Dileep Kumar
Also known asA. R. Rehman
BornJanuary 6, 1967 (age 42)Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Genre(s)Film score, Theatre, World Music
Occupation(s)Composer, record producer, music director, singer, instrumentalist, arranger, programmer
Years active1992 ; present
WebsiteA. R.

Allah Rakha Rahman (Tamil: ஏ.ஆர்.ரகுமான்; born January 6, 1967 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India) is an Indian film composer, record producer, musician and singer. His work has garnered considerable acclaim and a large global fan base since his film scoring career began in the early 1990s. He has won many awards, including four National Film Awards, a BAFTAAward, Golden Globe and two Academy Awards. He is the first Indian musician to win anOscar as well as the first Indian to win two Oscars.

Working in India's various film industries, international cinema and theatre, by 2003, Rahman, in a career spanning over a decade, has sold more than 100 million records of his film scores and soundtracks worldwide,[1] and sold over 200 million cassettes[2] making him one of the world's all-time top selling recording artists.

His acclaimed music compositions have led to references to him as the "Mozart of Madras" and several Tamil commentators have given him the title Isai Puyal (Tamil: இசைப் புயல்; English: Music Storm).


  • 1 Biography
    • 1.1 Early life and influences
  • 2 Career
    • 2.1 Film scoring and soundtracks
    • 2.2 Other works
    • 2.3 Music style and impact
  • 3 Awards
  • 4 Personal life
  • 5 Social service
  • 6 Filmography
    • 6.1 Music director
  • 7 Notes
  • 8 References
  • 9 External links


Early life and influences

A. R. Rahman was born to a Tamil Hindu family. His father R. K. Shekhar, was a composer and conductor for Malayalam films. Rahman lost his father when he was 9 years old, and his family rented out musical equipment as a source of income. He converted to Islam from Hinduism in 1989 along with his sisters. During these formative years, Rahman served as a keyboard player and an arranger in bands such as "Roots", with childhood friend and percussionist Sivamani, John Anthony, Suresh Peters, JoJo and Raja.[3] Rahman is the founder of the Chennai-based rock group, "Nemesis Avenue".[4] He played the keyboard and piano, the synthesizer, the harmonium and the guitar. His curiosity in the synthesizer, in particular increased because, he says, it was the “ideal combination of music and technology".[5] He began early training in music under Master Dhanraj. At the age of 11, he joined, as a keyboardist, the troupe of Ilaiyaraaja,[5]one of many composers to whom musical instruments belonging to Rahman's father were rented. Rahman later played in the orchestra of M. S. Viswanathan and Ramesh Naidu, accompanied Zakir Hussain, Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan and L. Shankar on world tours and obtained a scholarship to the Trinity College of Music where he graduated with a degree in Western classical music.[6]


Film scoring and soundtracks

In 1992, Rahman began his own music recording and mixing studio attached to the backyard of his house called the Panchathan Record Inn, which was developed into India's most advanced recording studio.[7] He initially composed music jingles for advertisements, Indian Television channels and music scores in documentaries, among other projects. In 1992, he was approached by film director Mani Ratnam to compose the score and soundtrack for Ratnam's Tamil filmRoja.[7] The debut led Rahman to receive the Rajat Kamal award for Best Music Director at the National Film Awards, the first time ever by a first-time film composer. Rahman has since then gone on to win the award three more times (for his scores for Minsaara Kanavu (Electric Dreams, Tamil) in 1997, Lagaan (Tax, Hindi) in 2002, Kannathil Muthamittal (A Peck on the Cheek, Tamil) in 2003, the most ever by any composer.[8]

Roja - Rahman's debut soundtrack, released in 1992 for this Tamil film, instantly delivered him his first National Film Award.

Roja's score met with high sales and acclaim, in its original and dubbed versions, bringing about a marked change in film music at the time, and Rahman followed this with successful scores for Tamil–language films of the Chennai film industry including Ratnam's politically chargedBombay, the urbanite Kadhalan, Bharathiraaja's Karuththamma, the saxophonic Duet, Indira,and the romantic comedies Mr. Romeo and Love Birds, which gained him considerable notice.[9][10] His fanbase in Japan increased with Muthu 's success there.[11] His soundtracks gained him recognition in the Tamil Nadu film industry and across the world for his stylistic versatality in his pieces including in Western classical, Carnatic, Tamil traditional/folk, jazz, reggae and rock music.[12][13][14] The Bombay Theme—from Ratnam's Bombay—would later reappear in Deepa Mehta's Fire and various compilations and media. Rangeela, directed by Ram Gopal Varma, marked Rahman's debut for Hindi-language films made in the Mumbai film industry. Many successful scores for films including Dil Se and the percussive Taalfollowed.[15][16] Sufi mysticism would form the basis of Chaiyya Chaiyya from the former and the composition "Zikr" from his score of the film Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero for which he created large orchestral and choral arrangements.[3] Musical cues in scores for Sangamam and Iruvar employed Carnatic vocals and instruments such as the veena with leads of rock guitar and jazz.[17] In the 2000s Rahman created hit scores for Rajiv Menon'sKandukondain Kandukondain, Alaipayuthey, Ashutosh Gowariker's Swades and Rang De Basanti.[18] He also composed songs with Hindustani motifs for Water (2005).

Rahman has worked with Indian poets and lyricists such as Gulzar, Mehboob, Vairamuthu and Vaali. His collaborations with some film directors have always resulted in successful soundtracks, particularly with the director Mani Ratnam who he has worked with since Roja, all of which have been hits, and the director S. Shankar in the films GentlemanKadhalanIndianJeans,MudhalvanNayakBoys and Sivaji.[19]

Rahman attached and opened a developed extension studio to his Panchathan Record Inn in 2005 called AM Studios in Kodambakkam, Chennai — considered to be the most developed, equipped and high tech studio in Asia.[20][21] In 2006, Rahman launched his own music label, KM Music.[22] Its first release was his score to the film Sillunu Oru Kaadhal. Rahman scored the Mandarin language picture Warriors of Heaven and Earth in 2003 after researching and utilizing Chinese and Japanese classical music, and co-scored the Shekhar Kapoor helmedElizabeth: The Golden Age in 2007. His compositions have been reused in scores within India[23] and have made appearances in Inside ManLord of War and The Accidental Husband.In 2008, he scored the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack, for which he won two Academy Awards and many other awards. He became the first Indian to win two Academy Awards.

Slumdog Millionaire- Rahman won two Academy Awards for the film's soundtrack.

Other works

Rahman has been involved in several projects aside from film. He made an album Vande Mataram (1997) on India's 50th anniversary of independence to commercial success.[24][25] He followed it up with an album for the Bharat Bala–directed video Jana Gana Mana, a conglomeration of performances by many leading exponents/artists of Indian classical music. Rahman has written jingles for ads and composed several orchestrations for athletic events, T.V. and internet media publications, documentaries and short films.

In 1999 Rahman, along with choreographers Shobhana and Prabhu Deva Sundaram and a Tamil cinema dancing troupe performed with Michael Jackson in Munich, Germany, for his "Michael Jackson and Friends Concert." In 2002, he composed his maiden stage production Bombay Dreams (2002) following a commission from musical theatre composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, a success in London's West End. With Finnish folk music band Värttinä, he wrote the music forThe Lord of the Rings theatre production and in 2004, Rahman composed the piece "Raga's Dance" for Vanessa-Mae's album Choreography.[8]

In the last six years, Rahman has performed three successful world tours of his concerts to audiences in Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Dubai, UK, Canada, the US (Hollywood Bowl and 3d tour) and India.[8] He has been collaborating with Karen David for her upcoming studio album. A two-disc soundtrack, Introducing A. R. Rahman (2006) featuring 25 pieces he composed from his Tamil film scores was released in May 2006. His latest non-film album, Connections was launched on 12th December, 2008.

Music style and impact

Skilled in Carnatic music,[26] Western classical, Hindustani music and the Qawwali style of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rahman has been noted to write film songs that amalgamate elements of these music systems and other genres, layering instruments from differing music idioms in an improvisatory manner.[3] Symphonic orchestral themes have accompanied his scores, where he has employed leitmotif. In the 1980s, Rahman recorded and played arrangements on mono, synonymous with the era of predecessors such as K. V. Mahadevan and Vishwanathan–Ramamoorthy, but later his methodology changed. Rahman worked and experimented on fusing traditional instruments with new electronic sounds and technology.[3]

His interest and outlook in music stems from his love of experimentation.[6] Rahman's compositions, in the vein of past and contemporary Chennai film composers, bring out auteuristic uses of counterpoint, orchestration and the human voice, evolving Indian pop music with unique timbres, forms and instrumentation. By virtue of these qualities, broad ranging lyrics and his syncretic style, his themes appeal to several sections of Indian society.[27]

His first soundtrack for Roja was listed in TIME's "10 Best Soundtracks" of all time in 2005. Film critic Richard Corliss felt the "astonishing debut work parades Rahman's gift for alchemizing outside influences until they are totally Tamil, totally Rahman."[28][29] Rahman's initial global reach is attributed to the South Asian diaspora. Described as one of the most innovative composers to ever work in the industry, his unique style and immense success transformed film music in the 1990s prompting several film producers to take film music more seriously.[30]

The director Baz Luhrmann notes

"I had come to the music of A. R. Rahman through the emotional and haunting score of Bombay and the wit and celebration of Lagaan. But the more of AR's music I encountered the more I was to be amazed at the sheer diversity of styles: from swinging brass bands to triumphant anthems; from joyous pop to West-End musicals. Whatever the style, A. R. Rahman's music always possesses a profound sense of humanity and spirit, qualities that inspire me the most.[31]

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