The world knows about the genius of Oscar-winner Allah Rakha Rahman but very little is known about the enigmatic musician’s private life. Now, his first-ever official biography, A R Rahman The Spirit of Music, published by Om Books International, promises to let fans the world over know what makes the reserved Rahman tick.
The biography, written by Nasreen Munni Kabir, will release on April 6. It talks about how he approaches work, and more importantly, how he understands his own life. The book also talks about how his spiritual leanings have helped him develop a balance and how his irrepressible spirit fought demons of suicidal thoughts. He says in the book, “I live from day to day now. I believe that everything will be taken care of. It gives me a sense of stability instead of me feeling that I need to act or react to everything around me.”
However, this sense of tranquility and faith didn’t come overnight. In the book, Rahman gives a detailed account of how at one time he didn’t want to live and how 1989 was the turning point in his life when his mother sold all the gold jewellery kept aside for the marriage of his younger sisters.
Rahman says, “With that money I bought my first Fostex 16-track mixer/recorder. In those days, film music in Chennai was recorded on single mono track and here I had 16 tracks. All those years of struggle, humiliation, being ordered around by other people, seeing worry on the faces of my family, remembering the feeling of being overwhelmed by an inferiority complex, the lack of self-esteem, and even at times, fighting suicidal thoughts – all that seemed to fade away. Sitting in the music studio that night, and staring at my new recorder, I felt like a king. The new me was born and the future seemed glorious.” Nasreen says she was shocked when Rahman spoke of suicidal tendencies and asked him if he really meant it, and he told her, “It felt so hopeless and I often wondered how I was going to get out of all that.”
It took several meetings and interactions on Skype over a period of three years before the book was compete. The biography also talks about Rahman’s mentor Mani Ratnam, how he met wife Saira, and going through a depressing phase, as he was disturbed by 9/11, and the Iraq war. Rahman reveals this is when he met his spiritual teacher who also wrote the song Khwaja mere khwaja...(Jodhaa Akbar) under a pen name, Kashif.
“My teacher made me think in my small and humble way, that I could be a bridge between the two divided worlds,” says Rahman. When asked if he still suffers from self-doubt, despite all the fame, Rahman says in the book, “I have tried to develop a balance over the years. Whether people praise my work or rip it apart, I trust the possibility that a few months later they may like it.”
Things you may not know about Rahman
* At age five, he was a loner and stayed at home most of the time. He would lock himself into a room and play the harmonium for hours.
* His father R K Shekhar was a composer, arranger and conductor and worked in over a hundred Malayalam films.
* His paternal grandfather was a bhajan singer in a temple in Mylapore, South Chennai.
* He met Saira, his wife on his 28th birthday. His mother and sister Fathima saw her at the shrine of Sufi saint Moti Baba in Chennai.
* Rahman hopes to release an album with all his family members who are into music.
* When alone, he likes to go for walks in The Regent’s Park, London. In India, he spends his alone time in a 5x7 meditation room at his music studio.
* Whenever he dreams of home, he sees his old house at Habibullah Road where he spent 20 years. The house had a leaking roof.
* Him being called the Mozart of Madras isn’t his favourite label and says, “Poor Mozart should be left alone.”