Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jackson was reading Tagore planned work with Rahman

London, June 29 (IANS) Pop legend Michael Jackson, who died Saturday, was reading poetry by Indian Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore during the last days of his life, and had commissioned Oscar-winning music maestro A R Rahman to create a unity anthem for his new album.

Rahman got the job after his Academy Award success courtesy Danny Boyle's multiple Oscar winning underdog drama "Slumdog Millionaire" early this year.

Jackson's last brushes with Tagore suggest he was developing a special bond with India, reports contactmusic.com.

"A.R. Rahman met Michael Jackson after the Oscars in Los Angeles and Michael asked him to compose a unity anthem for him...Michael's planned new album would have had a huge Indian feel to it...Michael was reportedly working with Adnan Sami, which was to include Indian musical instruments like the sarangi, tabla, and dholak," said an insider close to

The unity anthem wasn't the first time the pair would have worked together, as they collaborated earlier on a track titled "Ekam satyam".

A source suggested
Jackson brother Jermaine encouraged the King of Pop to explore Indian music, as "Jermaine's wife Halima reportedly lived in Chandigarh in India for some time".

Jackson was secretly also studying Hinduism in the last years.

"Michael reportedly learned how to meditate and he was a vegetarian. When he was presented statues of Hindu deities Ganesha and Nataraja, Michael knew who they were. He was also very anxious to meet Mother Teresa before her death. He had a great interest in all things India for some time," said Rajan Zed, the president of the Universal Society of Hinduism.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Jai Ho MJ! says Rahman Prabhu Deva numbed

Chennai, June 26 (IANS) "Jai Ho, MJ!" said Oscar winner A.R. Rahman for whom pop legend Michael Jackson symbolised limitless energy, perfection and vision, while the death of his "role model" has left dancing star Prabhu Deva numb.

"MJ, for most of our generation, was an icon who made uncompromising music. He pushed the milestone of pop music to unbelievable levels through the 80s and 90s. I am yet to find an artist with that energy, perfection and vision," said Rahman, who had recently met the pop superstar following the Oscar awards.

"I met him personally after the Oscars in Los Angeles and we vibed very well. He said that he loved India and the Indian people. He said he heard good things about me and he was praising the chord progression of 'Jai Ho's' chorus.

"He was bursting with energy and told me that every dance move he did came from his soul and did a five second stunning example. It was like a lightning strike," the composer recalled.

"He was concerned about developmental issues such as global warming and about wars and its damages to the human community. He asked me to compose a unity anthem on the likes of 'We are the World' for him. I nodded in awe ...!" Rahman added.

"I remember my late sound engineer Sridhar had brought me a video of the premiere of 'Remember the Time' when I was recording 'Kadal Rojave' for my first movie Roja. Seeing it inspired all of us that afternoon," he said.

In a philosophical note, Rahman concluded his condolence statement: "Life is short..! Artists and their art live for ever. Jai Ho, MJ ! We love you for your music, regardless of all the controversies!"

For Prabhu Deva, who is often called the 'Michael Jackson of India', the death of his "role model" is more than a personal loss.

"He was my biggest inspiration and actually I idolised him. I am still in a daze and it will take time for me to come to terms with reality", said the choreographer-actor, who was struggling to get the right words.

Said Vidyasagar, another leading Tamil music director: "MJ had been a youth icon for over three decades. He deserves a special place in history. His demise has robbed us of a great musician and a noble human being."

The 50-year-old singing sensation died Thursday following a cardiac arrest at his home in Los Angeles, leaving millions of his fans around the world stunned.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I m desperate to work with Rahman: Singer Anushka

I m desperate to work with Rahman: Singer Anushka
By Ruchika Kher

New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) From Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy to Vishal-Shekhar, pop star-turned-VJ-turned-playback singer Anushka Manchanda is working with all the big composers in the industry, but she is desperate to work with one man - Oscar winning music maestro A R Rahman.

"I'm desperate to work with Rahman. He makes super songs and his music is not only different, it's amazing too. I would love to sing for him. I am working with all the top music directors in the industry but I haven't been able to work with him till now. I hope it happens soon," Anushka told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

Anushka was a member of an all girls pop band "Viva" and ventured into playback singing in Tamil films after the band split.

In 2006, she got her first big break in Hindi films for "Golmaal", in which music was composed by Vishal-Shekhar. This was followed by several other songs in the films like "
Ugli Aur Pagli", "Cash", "Chak De! India" and "Chandni Chowk To China" among others.

The 24-year-old, who has big banner films, including "Luck", "Kites" and "Aladdin" among others in her kitty, says she had initially wanted to be in the advertising field.

"I never thought that I would become a playback singer for the simple reason that I thought I didn't have it in me to be one. To sing in films, you need versatility and I always thought that I don't possess that.

"But now when I have made it, I want to sing every day of my life. I am very happy that I have got opportunities. There are so many others who are good singers but are still struggling to get a chance. So it makes me feel great that I have come this far," said Anushka whose "Golmaal golmaal" became a chartbuster.

Anushka is critical of herself and says she was a very bad singer five years ago, but has learnt a lot since then.

"I think, I was a pretty bad singer five years ago, but now I have become better... I have matured, I understand music much better... I've learnt in these years and will continue to do so," she said.

So which heroine would she like to sing for in future?

"I want to sing for all the famous heroines. I want to become their voice. If you sing for big films and famous heroines then that helps you.

"I never thought that my voice would suit Kareena but when I sang 'Tu sala' ('Golmaal Returns'), it became hugely popular and my voice completely suited her. So now I think my voice will suit most girls," said the singer.

When asked whether formal training is a prerequisite to become a successful singer, she was quick to reply: "I don't think so. It helps if you sing songs which are completely classical based, where I take more time, but it's not something you can't do without. Kishore Kumar never had formal training but he was a great singer and hugely successful."

Friday, June 19, 2009

Composers Vishal Shekhar thrilled by Rahman appreciation

Composers Vishal-Shekhar thrilled by Rahman's appreciation
By Joginder Tuteja

Mumbai, June 19 (IANS) Composers Vishal and Shekhar were pleasantly surprised when they opened the morning newspapers to find A R Rahman appreciating their work. Not just that, the Oscar winner mentioned Michael Jackson as the only other artist whose work he liked.

"Frankly speaking, I am speechless," states Vishal Dadlani, who couldn't believe when informed about acknowledgment coming from none other than maestro Rahman himself. "One can just bow down and say thanks when someone of the stature of Rahman appreciates your work."

In a story published in a national newspaper (The Hindu) June 12, Rahman had stated that the songs from Naushad's "Mughal-e-Azam" were his all-time favourite and he admired Michael Jackson and Vishal-Shekhar's work.

"I guess we are doing something right at the least," said Shekhar Ravjiani. "Mentioning only our names and that too in the same vein as Michael Jackson is a surreal thought by itself. It's a beautiful feeling."

Starting with "Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi" (1999) and making it big with "Jhankaar Beats" (2003), Vishal and Shekhar have given memorable scores in films like "Dostana", "Bachna Ae Haseeno", "Tashan", "Om Shanti Om", "Dus" and "Musafir" over the years.

So excited was Shekhar on reading the piece that he immediately called up his wife. "For something as big as this, you are bound to call up your loved one. I read out the entire piece to her and even she was thrilled to bits. I have met Rahman at a studio earlier and he came across as a very sweet man. Both Vishal and I love his music."

Said Vishal: "Everyone knows that we are Rahman's biggest fans ever. He is an inspiration for every single musician out there. That is why good words coming from a person like him who had made such a huge name worldwide is something that would be cherished forever by us. We wish to continue delivering some good music and make him feel proud about our work."

Well, Rahman would certainly be watching out for the upcoming soundtracks of Vishal and Shekhar, like Sujoy Ghosh's "Aladdin", UTV Motion Pictures' animation flick "Arjun", Siddharth Anand's next for producer Sajid Nadiadwala and debut venture of filmmaker Punit Malhotra for Dharma Productions.

Monday, June 15, 2009

IIFA Oscar winner Rahman gets best music director award

Shreya Ghoshal
IIFA: Oscar winner Rahman gets best music director award
By Radhika Bhirani

Macau, June 13 (IANS) Internationally acclaimed and double Oscar winning composer A R Rahman was Saturday named the best music director at the IDEA International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards here for his soulful compositions in the historical romance "Jodhaa Akbar".

Rahman couldn't attend the event and director Ashutosh Gowariker received the award on his behalf.

The best male playback singer award went to Javed Ali for crooning "Jashn-e-bahaara" in "Johdaa Akbar", while
Shreya Ghoshal was named the best female playback singer for "Teri ore" in hit romantic comedy "Singh is Kinng".

Well-known Bollywood writer
Javed Akhtar won the best lyricist award for penning the song "Jashn-e-bahaara" for "Jodhaa Akbar".

Aishwarya Rai, the daughter-in-law of IIFA brand ambassador Amitbabh Bachchan, was honoured with a special award for an outstanding achievement in international cinema.

Director-turned actor Farhan Akhtar got the best male debutant of the year award for "Rock On!", while Asin Thottumkal got best female debut award for action thriller "Ghajini".

"Jodhaa Akbar" bagged the maximum technical awards at IIFA.

While ace designer Neeta Lulla walked away with the best costume design award for "Jodhaa Akbar", best editing trophy went to Ballu Saluja and best art direction to Nitin Chandrakant Desai for the Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai starrer historical romance.

Resul Pokkutty, who made history by winning an Oscar for his work in "Slumdog Millionaire", bagged the best sound recording trophy for
Aamir Khan starrer "Ghajini".

The best cinematography award went to Jason West for "Rock On!" and the best choreography award went to Farah Khan for the song "Desi girl" featuring Abhishek Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra and John Abraham in "Dostana".

Among the winners in the technical category, Farah and Jason were not present at the event.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Kamini Mathai's book isn't my authorised biography: Rahman

Kamini Mathai's book isn't my authorised biography: Rahman
By Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, June 11 (IANS) The much-hyped 'authorised biography' of A R Rahman by author Kamini Mathai has kicked up a storm even before its release because the music maestro says there is "nothing authorised" about it.

"It's a non-authorised biography. The news that it's an authorised biography is wrong," Rahman told IANS.

The book, titled "A R Rahman: The Musical Storm", has been widely hyped and marketed as the "first authorized biography" on him.

The question here is, if the book's author Kamini Mathai in her enthusiasm to sell her book over-stated her facts, why is a publishing house as reputed as Penguin India not setting the record straight?

According to sources close to
Rahman, the musician much in the news is not amused by various attempts to cash in on his name after the Oscars. The composer won two golden statuettes for his composition in British filmmaker Danny Boyle acclaimed underdog drama "Slumdog Millionaire".

"Though Rahman is completely oblivious to the outside world and doesn't try to understand the commercial aspects of his superstardom, he isn't oblivious to the 'Cash In On Rahman' factory that flourishes far and wide. Rahman didn't like the way the song 'Jai ho' was flaunted as an electoral signature tune either," said the source.

As far as a biography is concerned, Rahman has plans to write his own story.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A R Rahman being honoured with an honorary degree

Oscar-winner music maestro A R Rahman being honoured with an honorary degree by the Aligarh Muslim University in Aligarh on Sunday.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

When Rahman rubbed shoulders with Michelle Obama

When Rahman rubbed shoulders with Michelle Obama
By Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, June 4 (IANS) Being voted one of the 100 most influential people by Time magazine has seen his popularity soar. Oscar-winning Indian composer A R Rahman not only got an opportunity to share the same platform with US First Lady Michelle Obama, he also had the whole audience in New York chanting "Jai ho".

"At the function I was on the same table as Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and the CEO of Time magazine. When I went up to the stage, a chant of 'Jai ho' (the Oscar-winning song from 'Slumdog Millionaire') went up in the house."

The music maestro, who won two golden statuettes for his compositions in British filmmaker Danny Boyle's underdog drama, says the awards have had a huge impact on his life.

"The impact of '
Slumdog Millionaire' has been tremendous. The western perception of Third World countries has changed. Earlier when some of the most talented musicians of Asia would approach western companies, they'd encounter stumbling blocks. Today that has changed. The west is ready to listen to us," Rahman told IANS in an interview.

Rahman admits that dealing with the huge amount of attention after the Oscars has been unnerving.

"Yes, the Oscar changed my life. I can't even attend places of prayer without being recognised. Even when I'm at malls in the US, kids freeze in recognition when they see me. I need to concentrate on my music. I'm not the kind of guy who can pull himself away from my music, attend functions, give interviews and get back to what I'm supposed to do. It's like entering and leaving new cities," he said.

Ever since the Oscar happened, the music maestro has been doing extensive travelling.

"It's been a full roller-coaster ride for me in the past week... from New York to Dubai to Calicut, Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai... every day I've been in two cities. Can't be helped. Everywhere they want to felicitate me and I can't say no. How can I? Everyone was excited about my Oscar and wanted to share their excitement with me," said Rahman, who will be conferred an honorary doctorate by the Aligarh Muslim University June 7.

He admits he is not able to spend time with his children.

"Luckily all three of my children are into music. So my kids and I are on the same wave-length. My wife dreamt of walking the red carpet with me to the Oscars. She can now dream of walking to the Oscars with our children," said the 43-year-old.

"I'm slowly getting back to normal now," said Rahman, now blocking away the Oscar euphoria to focus on his current work.

His forthcoming films are "
Blue", "London Dreams" and S. Shankar's Tamil film "Endhiran", which has Aishwarya Rai and Rajnikant in lead roles.

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