At 49, singer-composer AR Rahman has two Academy Awards, a BAFTA Award, two Grammy Awards, four National Film Awards, a Golden Globe, 15 Filmfare Awards and 13 Filmfare Awards South to his credit. He is the go-to musician across languages and film industries, including though not limited to Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malyalam, Kannada and English movies.
But the ‘Mozart of Madras’, who celebrated his 49th birthday on Wednesday, did not have it easy.
Just last year proved to be a rather rough one. There were fatwas against him over his involvement in Majid Majidi’s film on Prophet Muhammad , he joined the raging intolerance debate and courted several controversies.
However, Rahman’s global appeal is his strong suit. In 2014, Rahman gave music for as many as 12 films including Hollywood projects like the Million Dollar Arm and The Hundred-Foot Journey, Shankar’s Tamil film I and Rajinikanth’s Kochadaiiyaan and Lingaa in Tamil.
So for his birthday, we came up with a playlist of some his most popular songs in Hindi, starting from the most recent.
1. Tamasha (2015)
The songs of Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha were a hit, be it the peppy number Matargashti or the soulful Agar Tum Saath Ho. The music touched hearts and became an instant hit.
2. Highway (2014)
Imtiaz Ali’s Highway marked the debut of Alia Bhatt as a singer with Patakha Guddi. Another song Mahi Ve, that Rahman crooned, was also a popular number.
3. Raanjhanaa (2013)
The Sonam Kapoor, Abhay Deol and Dhanush-starrer had a lot of things going for it. But its music was a clear winner, especially the songs Banarasiya and Tum Tak.
4. Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012)
Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma and Katrina Kaif worked in Yash Chopra’s last film Jab Tak Hai Jaan. The movie wasn’t the roaring success that Yash Chopra- Shah Rukh Khan movies usually are, but the songs were among the year’s chartbusters. Remember Chali Re and Challa?
5. Rockstar (2011)
Movies about bands and musicians aren’t the typical Bollywood formula, and need a spot-on set list to back it up. Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar not only marked the emergence of superstar Ranbir Kapoor, but gave India its youth anthem Sadda Haq.
6. Delhi 6 (2006)
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Delhi 6 was a trip through the quaint lanes of old Delhi. But it was also a charming musical experience with songs like Rehna Tu, Masakkali and Arziyaan.
7. Rang De Basanti (2006)
The Aamir Khan-starrer movie not only defined the anger and frustration of India’s young but did so in musical style that rendered the angst and one’s inner turmoil in such mellifluous and poignant songs like Lukka Chuppi. These were perfectly balanced with the energetic Paathshaala, and Khalbali.
8. Swades (2004)
Swades may or may not have been a movie you enjoyed, but songs like Yun Hi Chala Chal and Yeh Jo Des Hai from the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer are favourites even now.
9. Saathiya (2002)
The Vivek Oberoi-Rani Mukerhjee-starrer romantic hit was also one of the favourite mushy albums for lovebirds. Just about every song in that movie is love letter put to tune.
10. Lagaan (2001)
Aamir Khan’s Lagaan had songs like O Re Chori, Chale Chalo that added lyrical quality to the narrative and stayed chartbusters. The playful Radha Kaise na Jale is also a favourite.
11. Slumdog Millionnaire (2008)
Apart from the Oscar-winning song Jai Ho, the album of Slumdog Millionnaire offers peppy numbers like Ring Ring Ringa that will catch you by surprise on the dance floor at a party.
12. Guru (2007)
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan were paired together for the first time after their marriage in this Mani Ratnam film which had some of the most beautiful tracks of their career. Be it Tere Bina in Rahman’s voice or Hariharan’s Ae Hairate Aashiqui, the songs mesmerized one and all.
13. Taal (1999)
Taal was another album full of hits, supplemented by Aiswarya Rai Bachchan’s dancing skills and photogenic presence in the video. Be it the title track, Ishq Bina or Kahi Aag Lage, every song in Taal was a hit number which made the Aishwarya, Anil Kapoor, Akshay Khanna-starrer a musical hit. Rahman sure did love up to the movie title Taal.
14. Dil Se (1998)
This perhaps one of the few Mani Ratnam movies where the music over shadowed the film. Dil Se did not score big at the box office, and hardly anybody gets excited to watch reruns of it, but Rahman’s music captured the audience’s attention so well, we’re yet to emerge from the haunting beats of Dil se re or not imaging dancing on top of a train like in Chaiyya Chaiyya. Other numbers like Ae Ajnabi and Jiya Jale are crowd favourites as well (even though nobody understands the Malayalam lyrics in the latter).
15. Rangeela (1995)
This is a throwback all the way back. Ram Gopal Varma’s Rangeela had a sizzling Urmila Matondkar, a dorky Aamir Khan and hunky Jackie Shroff. But the songs that narrated the story of an aspiring actress and man hopelessly in love stood the test of time. You know you still enjoy that playlist, so we’ll elaborate no further.
16. Bombay (1995)
From Kehna Hi Kya to Tu Hi Re, Rahman captured various phases of love through his music in Bombay. After all, Bombay follows the turmoil in a young couple’s life. And who better than Rahman to make such evocative songs?
17: Humse Hai Muqabala (1994)
Granted these songs were direct imports of the southern Tamil sensibilities, but everyone loved the folk-themed numbers like Pettai Rap and Gopala Gopala. Then of course, there’s Urvashi Urvashi, still a foot-tapping number that rules.
18: Roja (1992)
Rahman’s first Hindi movie Roja is perhaps the epitome of his musical genius, surprisingly. The title track, Yeh Haseen Vaadiyan, among others remains some of the most romantic numbers of Hindi films.
Now, there are plenty more that come to mind (it’s Rahman after all), and we may have missed some must-have-on-your-playlist songs. So, do share your favourite Rahman songs in the comment box below.