He's just back from a tour of the Middle East but he has returned to a flurry of criticism for his last release, Jodhaa Akbar. But if he's going through a low it doesn't show.
In Mumbai, to promote the music of Ada in association with a leading mobile company, he's in a chatty mood, and even cracks jokes.
Here's AR Rahman in conversation with Rachana Dubey.
So, how much has life changed after Jodhaa Akbar?
Quite a bit actually. I've recently opened a music school in Chennai and also launched my own label. It was a sudden decision, we opened the school in a week's time. I've also been working on several soundtracks and there have been lots of awards for Guru. (Smiles) Life is rocking.
But surely the negative reviews to your Jodhaa Akbar score must have been a downer?
I've always said that one shouldn't get judgemental about music. Some critics felt that the Rahman trademark was missing in Jodhaa Akbar. But come on, not every soundtrack clicks instantly. On some tunes, you want to dance to immediately, others need time to grow on you.
Your career seems to be going through a lull now.
Not really, I've been working on some big films like Yuvraj, Delhi 6, Ghajini and Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na that leave me with little time.
Given how choosy you are, what drew you to these projects apart from the banner and star-studded cast?
I took up Yuvraj because it gave me another opportunity to work with Subhash Ghai. Taal had been a fabulous experience. It introduced me to the north Indian audience in a big way after Dil Se.
<b1>Delhi 6 comes immediately after Rang de Basanti. It's a repeat act again with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra. I took on Ghajini and Jaane Tu.. because whenever I've worked with Aamir Khan in the past, it's been serious and intense, not counting Rangeela. This time, I thought I would create something more commercial for him.
Weren't you offered Taare Zameen Par?
No, I was never supposed to do Taare..
I didn't have the time for Dasavatharam, their schedule didn't match mine.
What's happening with Lajjo? Last summer you said that the soundtrack was 80 per cent complete?
(Sighs) Lajjo has been shelved.. the producers have parted ways. They got into complicated areas. Now, Mani (Ratnam) is making another movie.
And are you a part of this project?
Yes, I am, but it's too early to get into details.
After Daud, Ram Gopal Varma and you haven't worked together. Why?
It simply didn't happen but I'm open to working with Ramu. I know that he hasn't given a big hit in recent times but that doesn't deter me. I'm game whenever he approaches me.
Unlike other composers, you haven't jumped on to the IPL bandwagon.
Preity Zinta had approached me for her IPL soundtrack. But she could give me only a week to compose it. I couldn't work on such stringent deadlines. So, I opted out.
How was the Mission Ustaad experience?
I learnt a great deal about the United Nations and its objectives. Also, it was fun being with fellow colleagues who were competing against one another. It may not have got sky-high ratings but it was an honest attempt and huge effort on the part of a newly launched channel. Whoever watched the show got the message. Would you work on another show like this?
I have been approached for another show by a leading channel. It will be announced next month. (Laughs) Till then, I have to stay zipped. You're suddenly doing a lot of endorsements.
(Laughs) I'm funding my conservatory. It helps me make some quick money. Jokes apart, it's a way to get my music across to people. But I don't endorse a brand, even if it's Nokia, just for the heck of it. I do it only when music is an essential element in the ad.
Finally, on a personal note, what would you like to give your children that you would have loved to get as a child?
I'd like to give them a father because I didn't have my father around in my formative years. That's my reason for living. It's my gift for my children.