He is one of the few Indians to have won two Grammy awards and two Academy Awards, yet he retains the humility of a common man. Celebrated Indian singer-composer A.R. Rahman, also known as the Mozart of Madras, says he wouldn’t let the stardom consume him.
"I was a common man and I will always remain a common man. No amount of stardom will ever consume my soul,” opines the 46-year-old, on his Rahmanishq India tour. The music maestro made history when he became the first Indian to win two Oscars in a year, 2009, for Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire. Rahman had also bagged two awards at the 52nd Annual Grammy for his song Jai ho from the same film.
Clearly, the success hasn’t affected him. “To be successful, it is also very important to be humble. Ego is 'Edging God Out'. Success doesn't always drive creativity. The integrity and passion of music is what ultimately drives me, with the unconditional blessing from the Almighty, of course,” he said.
Rahman started by composing scores for documentaries and TV shows. In 1992, he got his first movie break with Roja. He has since composed soul-rendering music for several films, including Taal, Jodhaa Akbar, Rang De Basanti, Rockstar, and Raanjhanaa. His first international break was when he composed music for the Broadway musical, Bombay Dreams, that brought him fame.
He attributes his success to his family. “My wife (Saira Banu) and my children are my roots, who keep me grounded. My mother is the person I owe my success to. Till five years after my father died, my mother would rent out his musical instruments to run the house, when she was advised to sell the equipment she refused saying, ‘My son will take care of it’,” he said.
“Spiritually, she is much higher than me in the way she functions. She made me leave school in Class XI and take up music. It was her conviction that music is the line for me,” he added.