The honour of being the first Indian music director to be nominated for three Oscars sits lightly on the shoulders of AR Rahman, who attributes his success and fame to divinity.
"Allah the merciful has blessed Indian music. I am lucky to be one of his chosen representatives," Rahman told IANS.
The humble music maestro is, however, proud of India's musical heritage.
"Our scintillating sounds have moved billions for ages. Our musical gurus could make the oceans throb and the skies pour nectar to quench mother earth's thirst. But we have waited for eight decades for this sort of recognition," Rahman said.
Rahman received the three Oscar nominations for the music he composed for British filmmaker Danny Boyle's rags-to-riches Bollywood style musical "Slumdog Millionaire". While one nomination is for best original score, two are for the best original songs - "Jai ho" and "O saya".
“My inspiration to compose the music was the movie, its thought and the message in the film," he said.
"I am already deliriously happy about the nominations. But the happiness will be manifold if and when we get at least one Oscar," Rahman added.
After winning a Golden Globe award for his music for the same film earlier this month, Rahman had said: "For the people of India to get an Oscar is a big thing. So for their sake, more than mine, I hope my song 'Jai ho' and my music score in 'Slumdog Millionaire' win the Oscar."
Born as A.S. Dileep Kumar on Jan 6, 1966, Rahman's family converted to Islam in 1989. His father R.K. Shekhar, a music arranger for Malayalam films, died when Rahman was just nine years old. The family earned its living by hiring out musical instruments.
Rahman began his musical Odyssey at the age of 11 as an accompanist in a troupe that hired his father's wares. It was run by the then rage of Tamil films Ilayaraja.
Soon Rahman was also seen in the company of another maestro M.S. Vishwanathan. His arranging in the band Roots with childhood friend and percussionist par excellence Sivamani provided opportunities to create jingles, musical ambiences for television serials and documentaries.
Rahman got his first big break in Mani Ratnam's "Roja" and later composed music for many films in southern India. His first full-fledged Bollywood project was Ram Gopal Varma's hit "Rangeela". Most of the songs, including "Tanha Tanha", "Hai Rama" and "Yaaro sun lo Zara", were chartbusters. After that there was no looking back for him.
In the late 90s, S.S. International, one of the earliest FM radio companies, approached Rahman for a byte on New Year.
"My late husband Aiyappan went with his portable recorder and was asked to wait by Rahman 'for a few minutes' that lasted for almost three hours," recalled the company's director A. Chitra.
"Finally, Rahman came out from his music room with a cassette that had a short composition. When it was broadcast, fan mail flooded us for a fortnight. They were enough to fill 10 sacks," Chitra added.
Rahman became a household name with soulful compositions in "Dil Se…", "1947 Earth", "Taal", "Lagaan", "Guru", "Rang De Basanti" and "Jodhaa Akbar".
Rahman not only won hearts in India, but also made a mark on the global music scene. He got his first international break when Andrew Lloyd Webber invited him to compose music for Broadway musical "Bombay Dreams", which won him immense international fame. He also composed for the stage adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord Of The Rings" that premiered in Canada in 2006 and in London in 2007.
Rahman launched his first full-fledged orchestra last year. It has been named Global Music and is the first homegrown orchestra.
He is all set to enthral his fans with his upcoming projects "Delhi-6" and "Blue".