A smiling yet modest AR Rahman, who made a triumphant return home on Thursday after winning two Oscars for the music of the film Slumdog Millionaire, said his victory would change apprehensions about Indian music in the West and was a starting point for him as well.
"My biggest dream to connect people through music has come true. In a world where there are enough reasons to separate us, the Oscars have unified us," Rahman told reporters at the Kodak Theatre.
"Let's forget about the East and West divide now - it's the closeness now that has happened. There used to be a lot of apprehensions earlier for Indian music in the West but this award has changed that perception."
Rahman won two golden statuettes for "Slumdog Millionaire" for best original score and best original song for "Jai Ho". They were among the eight Academy Awards bagged by the film by British director Danny Boyle about an underdog-wins story set in India.
He also ruled out a political role for himself. "I am a musician first and last and have no apirations for any political activity or office," Rahman said while reacting to suggestions from reporters about accepting a nomination to the Rajya Sabha.
Rahman skirted the issue of Sri Lankan Tamils caught in the crossfire between the army and the rebel Tamil Tigers.
"Neither the Oscar ceremony nor this stage are forums to raise political issues. While I may be personally against any harm to any human being, I also feel that Tamils should get protection in a peaceful atmosphere in Sri Lanka, I am above politics," Rahman said.
With his trademark humility and simplicity, the composer said the song, "Jai Ho", which won an Oscar, may not have been his best to date.
"It may not have been my best. However, the songs matched the sensibilities of Western audiences with its rhythm, burst of energy and joy and resulted in a huge impact," Rahman said.
"The series of awards has got me so much of respect. All the legends like Mick Jagger and others talk to me like equals now - that's great. We can do collaborations and some extraordinary work in the future," he added.
As for his future plans, he said: "I would continue to work in Tamil films - as much as I do in Hollywood - provided the projects excite me."
Apart from two golden statuettes, Rahman also bagged the Golden Globes award and British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) trophy for an original score in Danny Boyle's rags-to-riches drama "Slumdog Millionaire".
The film, that has won eight Oscars, has also been controversies' favourite child in India for highlighting the "impoverished underbelly" of the country.
But Rahman said the film did not hurt anyone's sensibilities - either because of its name "Slumdog Millionaire" or for showing India's underbelly. "Dog is not an expletive," Rahman said.
According to Rahman, the film focussed attention on Asia's biggest slum - Dharavi - in Mumbai and its children.
"If they (the producers) had made the film with a dirty mind, it would not have got an Oscar. The film shows India in a positive light. It shows that India is a developing nation. It gives so much mileage to India," he said.
He said: "I got the Oscar for all of them who wanted to get an Oscar in this country. So I got two of them. I want the future generation to feel confident that anyone can get an Oscar.
"It's an important award. It's a starting point even in my career as the Oscar is for my work in the film and not my entire talent."
"I am not saying that I am the biggest or anything. I am a composer and the only message that I want to give through my music is peace and harmony. One should have a good intention and work through it and they will definitely be successful."
Rahman's future projects include a film with Mani Ratnam's "Robot" and "Blue".
Apart from Rahman, Resul Pookutty too won an Oscar for sound mixing in "Slumdog Millionaire".
Rahman said his Oscars were akin to the national award he won for his maiden film "Roja". "That award established me nationally and the Oscars have made me internationally known. Else, I am the same," Rahman said.