AR Rahman can afford to be a man of few words. His music speaks for him. It is also an exciting time for the stalwart. Having won two Academy Awards for Slumdog Millionaire in 2009, he is again in the Oscar race for his music in Million Dollar Arm, The Hundred Foot Journey and Kochadiiyaan. In a quick conversation with Masala! ahead of his grand concert at World Trade Center in Dubai, he talks about his unrequited love for music.
1) There is a huge buzz around the Oscars since you are in contention for songs in Million Dollar Arm, The Hundred Foot Journey and Kochadiiyaan. How do you react to the hype and the speculation?
I don’t even know if it’s going to make it, but I am proud of all the three projects. Hype or speculation does not bother me anymore. I have already won it twice (laughs).
2) Spiritual surrender is a vital aspect of your music. Why is this idea so important to you?
I cannot explain this, but this is what has inspired me, motivated me, given me a self-esteem and confidence to succeed.
3) What is the essential difference in attitude towards music between filmmakers in the West and those in India?In a way, it’s all the same. There are A-Grade, B-Grade and C-Grade films. A-Grade films are, of course, amazing, and they go into something beautiful. Then there are filmmakers whon make commercial projects, and the third ones are hopeless (laughs). Even Hollywood has that. It’s just that our techniques are different. I love the fact that they put 50 or 100 times more money into films than us. That helps them attain a kind of perfection and critical balance.
4) There are very few music composers from India who have managed to break into Hollywood the way you have. Why do you think they have been unable to do so?
Because I was ready to sacrifice; I was ready to do my own laundry (laughs). At home, you are used to comfort. There is someone to handle your phone calls, someone manages your laundry, someone gets your breakfast. Then suddenly when you go there (Hollywood), you are on your own. For instance, it is difficult to get a driver. Paying a driver costs almost as much as paying a sound engineer. Initially, I was quite disoriented, but eventually I got used to it. In India, you have amazing people who help you, and they let you do your music. In the West, you have to do everything yourself however big you are.
5) You are all set to team up with Imtiaz Ali for third time in Tamasha. What clicks between the two of you when you work together?
We share a great vibe. I liked his movies even before he worked with me. I love the way he writes dialogues. He can truly engage me. Not many people can do that; many find it difficult. Also, he is not the kind of filmmaker who will come to me and say, “Let us make three hit songs.” He is someone who likes to delve deep.
6) Are your children inclined towards music as well?
I want them to be. But it’s not the same motivation that I had. They see everything; they have more distractions. I feel they are yet to realise their potential.
7) You have more than 5.7 million followers on Twitter. Are you social media savvy?
Not really. I send them (his team) messages and they put it up. I like to be immersed in music. Sometimes, I do read the messages. But yes, it is a good way of keeping in touch with people without any distortions.