His Maestro’s Voice
A R Rahman on music, ‘Rockstar’, his Dubai concert and his biography
He is known to be a man of few words. But words aren’t necessary when the man in question is Allah Rakha Rahman or A R Rahman. The music maestro was in Dubai to select the winner of the ‘Sing Like A Star’ contest where the lucky winner gets a chance to share the stage with him at the spectacular concert to be held on December 9, 2011 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium at Dubai Sports City. Masala.com brings you excerpts from an exclusive tete-a-tete with the legend. Read the entire interview in the next issue of Masala!
What can your fans expect at your Dubai concert?
Well, there is a lot to look forward to. We will have music from my films in Hindi as well as regional languages. There will songs from ‘Rockstar’ too though we have tweaked them a little. The singers who will be on stage include names like Mohit Chauhan, Javed Ali, Shweta Pandit and Neeti Mohan. The entire presentation will be very unique. I had a very memorable time when I performed in Dubai over five years ago and I am excited to be back. The audience here is amazing.
In the last few weeks, your concert has been publicized massively all over Dubai. How do you feel when you listen to the ads referring to you as legend, maeastro and other terms?
Honestly, I don’t think about all those things. They just don’t register. I only think about how and what I am going to perform.
When you select a winner in a contest (like the Sing Like A Star Competition), what is that X factor that you are looking for?
I look for individuality. Each one of has something special within us and that’s what we need to tap. The problem is that most contestants try to emulate some famous singer or be someone else. Why would you want to sound like a Sukhwinder or a Chitra or a Mohit Chauhan?
There is nothing wrong in being inspired but you can always find your own niche.
The music of your last release ‘Rockstar’ has done extremely well. Could you tell us more about what went into composing the songs?
‘Rockstar’ came to me over four years ago. Imtiaz Ali had the idea even before he began work on ‘Jab We Met’. But somehow it didn’t work out then. Imtiaz then re-worked the script and I feel it turned out much better as it has found a connect with a much wider audience. I didn’t do anything special as such; the lyrics came to me and I went about composing the music.
How was it working with Imtiaz Ali?
Imtiaz Ali is one of a kind (smiles). I vibe very well with him. What I like about him is that he uses lip sync in his films, unlike say a Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra who uses his songs mostly in the background. But Rakeysh is another filmmaker I enjoy working with a lot apart from Ashutosh Gowarikar.
There must also be occasions when your vision doesn’t match that of the director. What do you do in such a situation?
Well, I have always believed that the director is the boss. It has happened that we have had to scrap the entire composition after a lot of hard work. I am willing to do that if there is a strong explanation about why a particular tune doesn’t work. But that’s part and parcel of the entire creative process.
Your biography released earlier this year ('A R Rahman: The Spirit of Music by Nasreen Kabir'). You are known to be a very private person. So did you find it difficult to open up for a biography?
You are right, I don’t open up all that much! I know what to hide and how much to hide (laughs). But when the biography was being written I took care to reveal as much as I am comfortable revealing about myself without sounding boring. Interestingly, most of the interview was conducted over Skype (smiles). And it was about music so it wasn’t difficult to express myself.
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