You'll never guess what's the one thing AR Rahman is ashamed of!
AR Rahman says he was introduced to the genre by the late Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; adds that he is “ashamed” of not being able to do enough riyaaz.
Grammy Award-winning musician AR Rahman is so popular on the Indian and international music circuits that he barely gets to spend time with his family. But the composer says that he’s kept a low profile over the past one year. “This time, I did spend time with my wife and kids. I was mostly in Chennai. I didn’t travel much, apart from the one tour that I did,” he says.
When asked how many hours a day he spends practising music, Rahman says, “Don’t even ask (laughs). That’s the one thing I am ashamed of. People ask, ‘Why don’t you sing my song?’, and I tell them, ‘Once I have the time to do two hours of riyaaz (practice) every day, I will sing your songs.’ While I want to do riyaaz regularly, I fail to find the time. Twenty four hours is not enough (laughs).”
The composer also says that non-stop work affects his health, and that makes his family apprehensive. “My wife says, ‘If you won’t sleep for seven hours every day, I will cancel all your recordings.’ My family is really concerned. Fortunately, I have been able to spend time with them lately, which I am happy about,” says Rahman.
While many of his compositions have Sufi influences, the composer says he didn’t know anything about the genre when he started out. Now, however, he is an ardent fan. “I came into Sufi music because of Nusrat saab (late Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan). I didn’t know anything about it. I heard ‘Duma dum mast qalandar’, and was taken aback by the magic of the genre. I was so inspired that I sang my own qawwali, ‘Piya haji Ali’ (Fiza; 2000). For me, Sufi music means Nusrat saab’s qawwalis — it starts and ends there,” he says.
When asked if ghazal, thumri and dadra interest him, Rahman says, “Nusrat saab’s versions are mostly classical, and they have elements of these genres in them. In the future, I am also planning to come up with a [film] script, which will involve these genres.”