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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Music director

Year Film Language/Industry Notes
1992 Roja Tamil Winner, National Film Award for Best Music Direction
Winner, Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Music Director
One of TIME's "10 Best Soundtracks" of all time [28][29]
Yodha Malayalam
1993 Pudhiya Mugam Tamil
Gentleman Tamil Winner, Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Music Director
Kizhakku Cheemayile Tamil
Uzhavan Tamil
Thiruda Thiruda Tamil
1994 Vandicholai Chinraasu Tamil
Super Police Telugu
Duet Tamil
May Madham Tamil
Kadhalan Tamil Winner, Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Music Director
Pavithra Tamil
Karuththamma Tamil
Pudhiya Mannargal Tamil
Manitha Manitha Tamil
Gangmaster Telugu
1995 Bombay Tamil Winner, Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Music Director
Indira Tamil
Rangeela Hindi
Muthu Tamil
1996 Love Birds Tamil
Indian Tamil
Kadhal Desam Tamil
Fire Hindi
Mr. Romeo Tamil
1997 Anthimanthaarai Tamil
Minsara Kanavu Tamil Winner, National Film Award for Best Music Direction
Winner, Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Music Director
Iruvar Tamil
Daud: Fun On The Run Hindi
Ratchagan Tamil
Mona Lisa Tamil
Vishwavidhaata Hindi
Kabhi Na Kabhi Hindi
1998 Jeans Tamil
Dil Se Hindi "Chaiyya Chaiyya" was 9th in BBC World Service top 10 songs of all time [36]
Earth Hindi
Doli Saja Ke Rakhna Hindi
1999 En Swasa Kaatre Tamil
Padayappa Tamil
Kadhalar Dhinam Tamil
Taal Hindi
Sangamam Tamil Winner, Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Music Director
Jodi Tamil
Takshak Hindi
Mudhalvan Tamil
Taj Mahal Tamil
2000 Pukar Hindi
Alaipayuthey Tamil
Kandukondain Kandukondain Tamil
Fiza Hindi 1 song
Rhythm Tamil
Thenali Tamil
Zubeidaa Hindi
2001 One 2 Ka 4 Hindi
Nayak: The Real Hero Hindi
Love You Hamesha Hindi
Lagaan Hindi Winner, National Film Award for Best Music Direction
Star Tamil
Parthale Paravasam Tamil
2002 Alli Arjuna Tamil
Kannathil Muthamittal Tamil Winner, National Film Award for Best Music Direction
The Legend of Bhagat Singh Hindi
Baba Tamil
Kadhal Virus Tamil
Saathiya Hindi
2003 Parasuram Tamil
Boys Tamil
Warriors of Heaven and Earth Mandarin / Japanese
Enakku 20 Unakku 18 Tamil
Kangalal Kaithu Sei Tamil
Tehzeeb Hindi
2004 Udhaya Tamil
Warriors of Heaven and Earth English
Lakeer - Forbidden Lines Hindi
Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities Hindi
Aayitha Ezhuthu Tamil
Yuva Hindi
New Tamil
Naani Telugu
Dil Ne Jise Apna Kahaa Hindi 3 songs
Swades Hindi
Kisna - The Warrior Poet Hindi 2 song
2005 Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero Hindi
Mangal Pandey - The Rising Hindi
Anbe Aaruyire Tamil
Water Hindi 5 songs
2006 Rang De Basanti Hindi
Sillunu Oru Kaadhal Tamil
Varalaru Tamil
2007 Guru Hindi
Provoked Hindi
Sivaji: The Boss Tamil
Azhagiya Thamizh Magan Tamil
Elizabeth: The Golden Age English With Craig Armstrong
2008 Jodhaa Akbar Hindi Nominated, Asian Film Award for Best Composer [37]
Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na Hindi
ADA: A Way of Life Hindi
Sakkarakatti Tamil
Yuvvraaj Hindi
Ghajini Hindi
Slumdog Millionaire English / Hindi Winner, Academy Award for Best Original Music Score
Winner, Academy Award for Best Original Song
Winner, BAFTA Award for Best Film Music
Winner, Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score
2009 Delhi 6 Hindi
Nair San Japanese / Malayalam / Mandarin / Mongolian Filming
Blue Hindi Filming
Puli Telugu Filming
Ashokavanam Tamil Filming
Raavan Hindi Filming
Chennaiyil Oru Mazhaikalam Tamil Filming
Manavar Dhinam Tamil Filming
8 X 10 Tasveer Hindi Filming
Sultan The Warrior Tamil Filming
London Dreams Hindi Filming
Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya Tamil Filming
2010 Endhiran Tamil Filming
The 19th Step English / Tamil / Japanese Filming


A. R. Rahman winning two Academy Awards in 2009


Main article: List of awards and nominations received by A. R. Rahman

Rahman is the 1995 recipient of the Mauritius National Award and the Malaysian Award for contributions to music. He was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for his first West-End production. A four-time National Film Award winner and conferred the Padma Shri from the Government of India, Rahman has received six awards for Best Music at the Tamil Nadu State Film Awards and eleven awards for his scores at the Filmfare and Filmfare Awards South each. In 2006, he received an honorary award from Stanford University for contributions to global music.[32] In 2009, for his score of Slumdog Millionaire, Rahman won the Critics' Choice Award, the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score,[33] the BAFTA Award for Best Film Music, and two Academy Awards for Best Original Music Score and Best Original Song at the 2009 Oscars.

Personal life

He is married to Saira Banu and has three children, Khadijah, Rahima and Aman. Rahman is the uncle of composer G. V. Prakash Kumar, who is the son of Rahman's elder sister, A. R. Reihana.

Social service

Rahman is involved in various charitable causes. In 2004, he was appointed as the Global Ambassador of the Stop TB Partnership, a project by WHO.[8] He has shown support to charities including Save the Children, India, and worked with Cat Stevens / Yusuf Islam for his song "Indian Ocean" . The song featured a-ha keyboard player Magne Furuholmen and Travis drummer, Neil Primrose. The proceeds of the song went towards helping orphans in Banda Aceh, one of the areas worst affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. He also supports charities such as Save the Children and has also produced the single "We Can Make It Better" by Don Asian alongside Mukhtar Sahota.[34] In 2008, Rahman opened his KM Music Conservatory partnered with Audio Media Education facility to tutor and train aspiring musicians in vocals, instruments, music technology and sound design. The conservatory – with preeminent musicians on its panel and a newly founded symphony orchestra – is located near his studio in Kodambakkam, Chennai, offering courses at Beginners, Foundation and Diploma level.[35] Rahman composed the theme music for a short film for The Banyan in 2006, in aid of destitute women in Chennai. In 2008, Rahman, along with percussionist Sivamani created a song titled "Jiya Se Jiya", inspired by the Free Hugs Campaign and promoted it through a video shot in various cities in India.

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