Last Saturday, he rocked New Delhi, absolutely ‘live' at an HT concert.. even as he maintains his position of the No 1 music whiz of the nation. What keeps him bettering himself? What are the pleasures and the pains encountered on his beat route? So, here's AR Rahman in a freespinning interview with V Ananth
Whatever happened to your unruly locks?
When I went for Haj, I shaved off my long hair. Fortunately or unfortunately, my wife liked my new look.. she insisted that I should keep it. (Laughs) I had no other alternative but to listen to my wife.
Does your style of composing music change when you do an international project like Elizabeth: The Golden Age?
The music for Elizabeth.. has been co-composed by me. When Shekhar started the project, he wanted to make it very artistic and dark. But then, he decided to make the film more entertaining.. and the music more pulsating.
As a composer, I'd say music stems from one's emotions. So, there's absolutely no difference in my approach, whether I'm composing for Jodhaa Akbar or Elizabeth.
When you look back, how do you assess your music?
set the standard for me as a composer. And frankly, I can't guage where to go after
. Let's see.. at this very point of time, I'm very excited about my next international album -
The Lord of The Rings
which will be released on December 10. It has many as 15 tracks. As much as 20,000 pounds would be spent a day on the orchestration.
I believe you have started your own music company.
Yes. It's called K M Musiq. I'm really kicked about it. All these years, I was being commissioned by others.. now I can commission others.
But it seems you now insist on royalty for every music score..which is why you couldn't compose for
Om Shanti Om.
In life, you can't have your cake and eat it too. You have to take certain risks to reach your goal.
Which have been your most vital steps ahead?
and the score for the stage musical
What do you find wrong with the Indian film music industry?
There are several problems. The saddest thing is that no one takes acoustic instruments seriously. Most musicians just prefer to work on keyboards. But I've stopped getting angry. One should be true to one's own self.. because one candle can light a million.
Do you still work like an owl all night and sleep by day?
That's rubbish! If that was true, I wouldn't be sitting here with you doing an inteview in the afternoon. I work at night, occasionally , whenever I'm dealing with a jet lag situation, not otherwise.
How busy are you as a music director right now?
I'm into a somewhat more relaxed pace now. There was a time when I'd be doing six Tamil and two to three Hindi films a year.
How many Tamil films are you working on at this point of time?
(Laughs) Ha! That's a good question. I wish I knew the answer. I'm doing two Tamil films –
, the animation film being made by Rajnikant's daughter Soundarya and Prabhu's
And Hindi films?
Well, let me see.
6, the Hindi dubbed version of the Rajnikant movie
, Subhash Ghai's
Main Hoon Yuvraj
and Ashutosh Gowariker's
You were against the idea of composing for dubbed films. So, how did you make an exception for
You're right there.I don't encourage the dubbing of my songs in other languages.
Sivajiis an exception.
It has beaty foot-tapping music which should connect on an all-India level.
You are often accused of working for big production banners at the cost of small films
Sorry, that isn't true at all. Otherwise, I wouldn't be doing
which is a small film.
Are you composing the music for an animation film called
Cockroachbeing planned by Shekhar Kapur?
Yes. I'm excited about that. Animation films allow your imagination to take flight.
What do you like about your music?
That's a tricky question. If I say I like my music, I'll be blowing my own trumpet. And if I say I don't like my music, I'll sound disgruntled.
Some film producers in the South have accused you of recruiting Hindi singers to do the playback for your Tamil films at their cost.
I will gladly plead guilty of that because I don't believe in parochialism. On the other hand, if I feel that a Tamil singer suits the need of a Hindi film song, I'll take that route without thinking twice.
Why have you cut down on giving breaks to new singers of late?
Let me make this very clear -today, new singers aren't of much use. We need great new singers. I haven't come across any new singer who's above average.
How do you prevent yourself from becoming complacent about your music?
(Pause.. looks away) I was clear right from the moment when I started out, some 16-17 years ago, as a beginner called Dilip Shankar. I was clear that I'm just an instrument in the hands of God. I believe that God up there controls me in whatever I am doing. If don't work in accordance to what God ordains, then I'll be washed out.
After composing major hit songs for Aamir Khan in
Basanti, how come you haven't done his
Taare Zameen Par? Have you fallen out with him?
Who says so? I am composing for his film
. Some people have unfairly jumped to the conclusion that Aamir and I've had a fight because I haven't done
. The fact is that I was committed to several other films when Aamir asked me to be a part of the project.
Finally, top of the head, can you pick your 10 best movie music scores?
It's very difficult to play favourites. Still.. I wouldn't hesitate to pick my top 10:
Roja, Rangeela, Bombay, Dil Se, Taal, Kandukonden Kandukonden, Zubeidaa, Lagaan, Rang De Basanti