AR Rahman: The Rolling Stone Interview

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He changed the face of film music. Now he’s changing the face of his music.

JUNE 2008 – THE MOST CELEBRATED MUSICAL ADDRESS in Chennai lies beyond a partly corroded gate whose colour has so far eluded consensus. It’s purple, said the first samaritan who attempted to guide me through the maze of bylanes that is this part of Kodambakkam. The second kind soul said lavender, and a third leaned towards mauve. Ten minutes later, standing in front of this entrance of apparently indeterminate hue, I decide to go with mauve. Mauve. It feels nice to roll around the tongue. It sounds sophisticated.

This mauve runs through the most unexpected spaces in Allah Rakha Rahman’s recording studio. It’s on the borders of the doors in the waiting room, doors whose signs indicate that they open out to Studio 3 and Studio 2. (Studio 1 is invisible from where I sit.) It’s on the ceiling, on the yards of gauzy material diffusing the light from lamps overhead. It’s on the fabric of the ergonomic chair in front of the keyboard behind me, a Fender Rhodes Mark II Seventy Three Stage Piano. Perhaps Rahman will complete the theme. Perhaps it’ll be on his person when he walks in.

But Rahman enters in a maroon kurta that’s as rumpled as the hair on that boyish face. Once you’ve sold over a hundred million albums worldwide, you can apparently dispense with combs. And hearty pleasantries. The mumbled greeting almost doesn’t make it, fighting its way out through a smog of sleep.

Rahman looks as if he’s just woken up. Considering it’s fourteen minutes past six – that’s PM, for the uninitiated – he probably has, after a gruelling night of recording. As he leads the way to Studio 3, a cascade of sound crashes through the so-far-silent waiting room. An assistant emerges from behind a door, perhaps the door to the mysterious Studio 1. It closes behind him and locks out the music that has lingered just so long as to tease. So much for wanting to brag about bearing witness to an AR Rahman work-in-progress.

As he opens the door to Studio 3, it’s clear that the only recording that’s possible here is on my Dictaphone. This is just a cubbyhole. There’s a table. A couple of swivel chairs. Hardly the dizzying array of musical geegaws I imagined. Rahman picks a chair and arranges himself in a pose that a yoga instructor would describe as the lotus position with one dangling limb. The homey posture adds to the disquieting impression that the real Rahman is going to stride in any time, boot this happy pretender out and take over his seat, one imperious leg crossed over the other.

But this is the real Rahman opposite me, barreling through the conversation with fragments of sentences – phrases, really – as if he’d long ago realised that fully-articulated declarations had a snowball’s chance in hell of keeping up with his thoughts. Between these phrases, Rahman pauses a lot. He also laughs a lot. It’s a nice, open sound that makes you think he’s dropping his guard. Then the laugh dies away, and so does the presumption.

Rahman is especially guarded about revealing his feelings about that morning’s big news. The Madras High Court had dismissed the public interest litigation against him (for disrespecting the national anthem in his album Jana Gana Mana, an in-spirit follow-up to Vande Mataram). “I think, me being patriotic and all,” he begins, and instantly changes his mind. “But don’t. That’s already done.”

A microsecond of an internal struggle later, he realises he wants to talk about it after all. “I knew that it would be over. After all, the President released it. And he can’t be wrong.” That open laugh again. Then a pause, followed by a platitude. “I think it’s good that people raise questions and that they are answered in the right way.”

I wonder if this generosity towards people raising questions extends to interviewers. I may already know the answer, but Rahman, to his credit, at least makes the attempt to meet me halfway. He doesn’t mind interviews, “But only selectively. Otherwise I feel very naked. I feel I’ve given everything away, all the information away.” It sounds like a new admission, but it’s the old celebrity dilemma: you want to reach out to your adoring public, and you still want your privacy.

That’s the thing about being in the limelight: there are no shadows to hide in. And this year, especially, has been an extremely visible one for Rahman. It began with a critically-adored hit (Guru) and went on to a critic-proof blockbuster (Sivaji: The Boss) – though Rahman himself may have been overly critical about his work in the latter.

He’s usually happy with the final product he delivers, and even if there are problems, “We usually have enough time to fix things.” But after finishing Adhiradee, the song that he sang, he never liked it. “The director [Shankar] could imagine it, but I could never get the picture he had in mind. But when I saw it, I was blown. He had taken it to some other level.”

There. In his own words. The Mozart of Madras all but wolf-whistling over a Rajinikanth music video. But Rahman makes no apologies about the commercial aspect of his art. “Hit music is important for a mainstream film. It helps you get a good opening. And as an artist, I am happy when people say this is the highest selling album. I am really happy about it because we worked so hard on it – not only me, but the whole team.”

It’s hard to begrudge Rahman his little-boy delight over an album that’s far from his best, especially in light of the fate that befell some of the other, better work. “There was so much stuff in Bose, so much energy and thought. But the producers didn’t release it properly and it suffered a great deal.”

That’s a rare controversial statement – an accusation, practically. And yet, there was a silver lining, a light at the end of the tunnel, whatever you want to call it. “I went to a restaurant in San Francisco. This Iranian lady came to me and said: ‘You are AR Rahman.’ I said yes. She said: ‘Oh we love your Zikr in Bose. It’s so famous in Iran.’ I never expected that.”

Delayed recognition is not new to Rahman, for each release of his goes through a familiar two-step programme: (a) derisive dismissal, followed by (b) inevitable capitulation after multiple listens, reinforcing the urban legend that His Songs Take Time To Grow On You. Rahman, at first, gets defensive. “When we do a song, the director listens to it thousands of times, and only when everyone likes it, we go ahead.” The song goes through a filter. There’s already some kind of assurance there. “So when people react negatively, we have to wait for three weeks, because we know that the song works (or doesn’t work).”

But Rahman understands. After all, he’s been through the same cycle with that other King of Pop. “I used to wait for Michael Jackson’s albums, and the very first time, I used to say: Oh, I don’t like any of the songs.” Three days later, he’d find that a song was actually good. Then he’d watch the videos, and yet another one would become an earworm. Finally, all the songs would make it to the list. “Because so much hard work goes into an album, and when something is new, you can’t judge it. The expectations are too high.”

They still are – with each project Rahman takes on. “There is always this question: ‘How can I do this best?’ I’ve never ever thought, let me just do a fast job.” The prospect of Rahman rolling up his sleeves for a “fast job” would no doubt be sweet music to a producer’s ears, sweeter even than the songs being created. “But I have never looked at music in any other way. Whatever goes out of my studio is precious. I tell this to my staff also. It has to be so precious that substandard stuff will never go out.”

And then, a dash of practicality to temper this perfectionist streak. “Beyond that, we can’t help it.” Because there’s only so much you can do, especially while working on big, international projects like Shekhar Kapur’s Golden Age (with Scottish composer Craig Armstrong), when it’s very difficult to switch to something else. I think he means masala-movie music. And despite this focus, despite this variety, when people don’t seem to get it, it rankles. “I’m always asked why my music sounds repetitive. And I ask: ‘What sounds repetitive?’ If you have a point, prove it and I can correct my mistake.”

Perhaps being tired of being all things to all people, Rahman tries to satisfy himself now. “At first, it used to be about being faithful to the director’s vision.” Then he found that some filmmakers are not connected to the audience. And after all these years and all this experience, “I can spot something and say: ‘You can’t put a song here. It won’t work.’ And most of the time, my predictions have been right.”

Sometimes, it goes beyond predictions. Sometimes, Rahman doesn’t even take on a project, “Because people have their lens on me so much, it will kill the movie. If it’s a small movie, and you put this name on it, they go there expecting the sky.”

There’s just no stopping Rahman, now that he’s gotten started about criticism. He attacks that other accusation often levelled at him – that he works out of one of India’s most well equipped and advanced recording studios, that he’s nothing without his technology, that older composers were not such slaves to gadgetry.

“I’ve played in that era. I’ve done arrangements in that era. I used to record in mono – and if one person made a mistake, we all had to play all over again.” He thinks, for their time, they were the best, Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy and KV Mahadevan. He’s a big fan. “But they always say that old wine is better than new wine, so we should wait for this wine to become old,” he laughs.

The musician as patient vintner. It’s a rich metaphor, though one somewhat ironic – for Rahman’s is the rare instance of a fairly young wine being toasted on platforms of rare vintage, like the London stage. There was, however, a period of maturation before Bombay Dreams could be uncorked.

“Shekhar [Kapur] and I were trying to work on a musical called Tara Rum Pum Pum.” They worked for a couple of years. They finished a lot of numbers. Then Shekhar had this huge opportunity of doing Elizabeth and he had to leave. “It was frustrating, but I realised how important it was for him to become big. So I didn’t care about losing those ten numbers.”

“I think he probably felt something,” Rahman smiles, speculating that his successful international foray owed as much to his own gifts as someone else’s guilty conscience. “He met Andrew Lloyd Webber and everything happened.” That was his biggest gamble, Rahman feels, going for Bombay Dreams and leaving all his work here. “It took two to three years. But I think the gamble was good, not only for me but for Asians there – for India I would say. It raised a lot of questions about us. I would say it gave me an address.”

If the bag-and-baggage relocation left Rahman with insecurities about rivals encroaching on his turf, he dismisses the notion with a philosophical shrug. (Though, truth be told, a philosophical shrug is how Rahman dismisses pretty much everything. These are possibly the limberest shoulders in musicdom.)

“I think the competition is within myself. There’s so much you could do, but because of the time factor and other things, if you think of 100%, you deliver 30%.” So he never thinks of others as competition. At least, he tries not to. “Because I believe that my share is defined by God. And that’s what I’m getting. So even if I want to do 30 movies, I can’t because it’s not my share. Unlike earlier, when a composer was in the limelight, he used to take all the movies and even when somebody wanted to go to another person, he would say: ‘No, no, don’t go. I’ll do it for less.’ I don’t need that.”

Is he talking about… Could he be referring to… I guess we’ll never know. You don’t get to complete an interview by asking these things midway. “Anyway, it’s a great time to be a composer. We’re all enjoying extraordinary comforts. Never before have we had this kind of exposure. Even the small composers, if they do good work, they are celebrated because of the music.”

RAHMAN’S FIRST MEMORY OF MUSIC is listening to RK Sekhar’s songs. That was his father, who composed and arranged music for Malayalam films. “Apart from that, the records that he owned. Osibisa. Jim Reeves. Switched-On Bach.” He’s just picked up on something. “You’re trying to relate all this to my music now, aren’t you?” The unspoken question that hovers, however, is this: Is there anyone who wouldn’t make the connection between childhood memories of Bach being played on a Moog synthesiser and the instant-recall image of Rahman smiling, a keyboard beside him?

Rahman realises this. He continues. “Those days, we never had good records. There was this shop in Bangalore where they would record onto cassettes. All musicians, whenever we’d go to Bangalore, we’d take a day off, go to the shop and record music. Chick Corea and Vangelis and Dave Grusin.” History and Science and Math, inevitably, came a distant second. Just how distant, you ask? “If you take a class of fifty, there was no rank for me.”

“But,” he quickly explains – perhaps realising that this admission will ensure that slacking students everywhere are going to worship at the shrine of AR Rahman – “it was because I used to work side by side.” (Rahman’s father passed away early, leaving his son the responsibility of caring for the family.) “Setting up stuff, playing for Wonder Balloon on TV – all this meant taking leave.”

And yet, Rahman never dreamed of becoming a musician. There was no dressing up in rock-star duds and playing in front of a mirror over the screams of millions of imaginary fans. “I could never see myself performing. Even today, when I have an interview, when my wife switches the TV on, I’ve trained my daughter to switch it off.”

The irony of such self-effacement in a career that routinely requires him to perform on stage, in front of thousands, doesn’t escape him. “But I don’t like to watch myself,” he persists. “I think it’s something in the imagination… That is something else and what I see is something else.”

But he doesn’t mind hearing himself sing. “That’s okay.” A rapid dot-connecting exercise results in a hazy theory: maybe he’s just more into sound than visuals. “My main interest was electronics, hardware, that kind of stuff. That’s because we had so much stuff. I was fascinated with it.” Yes. He’s definitely more into sound than visuals.

“The most important person for us at the time was the hardware engineer.” This guy called Raghavan. If something went wrong, they’d go stand at his doorstep. “He was the only person who could fix everything.” Including a temperamental rhythm box – a contraption with a row of buttons titled Rock and Jazz and such, which made up the percussion section of Rahman’s one-man shows.

“I’d be playing, and suddenly only noise would come out of it.” A quick call to Raghavan would ensure that Rahman never missed a beat. “He was a hardworking guy. Always used to work at nights.” But if those nocturnal visits are responsible for Rahman’s now-renowned practice, of composing during hours where the only other people at work are at call-centres servicing American clients, he isn’t telling. “That’s because of… other things.”

Raghavan was eventually nudged out by Roger Waters, when Rahman’s classmates roped him into a band for inter-school cultural competitions. “These guys introduced me to rock and Deep Purple and Pink Floyd. Before that, I was playing mainly the compositions of my master Nityanandam. And film songs.” Some five years after the high-school headbanging came Roots, the band Rahman formed with musicians like Sivamani and John Anthony and Jojo and Raja. “After we went through this big journey of rock and pop, we thought we’d do our own thing. I got my sequencing gear. We composed pieces.”

Not songs. Pieces. “It was more experimental, actually, but also Indian. It was my influences at that time.” Rahman hesitates to use the dreaded F-word to describe this music. “But yes. That was the height of fusion – around 1987-88, when L Shankar asked us to back his band, Epidemics.”

They had just a couple of performances, one in Bangalore, one in Chennai. But this experience helped in terms of exposure to a new way of thinking, a new way of preparation for a concert, and about how serious it was to be a professional. “It led us to good things.” But what led Shankar to Rahman, that’s still not clear. “He claims he was my neighbour in Mylapore, when I was very young.”

Roots was only half as successful as Epidemics, winding up with a grand total of one performance. “At IIT-Madras… no, Anna University, I guess.” There was no time for an encore, once Rahman gave up the stage for the studios. “I became an arranger. I used to work in Bangalore a lot, for [the composer] Vijay Anand.”

Steady work. Steady money. A sandbox filled with big-studio technology. To the ears of a great many struggling musicians, the situation would have translated to a Puccini aria. Rahman, however, heard only discordant notes. “It was frustrating. It was only film music. To liberate yourself from this and go to another space was impossible. A normal person would never relate to what we wanted to play.”

Even if there’s a bit of a whine there – the whine of a kid picking at a full plate of food when there are millions starving in Ethiopia – it’s hard not to empathise. We are, after all, talking about a time when jobless thirtysomethings mooching off retired parents with a foot in the grave were accorded more respect than an I-want-to-change-the-world musician. Rahman himself felt that by not giving in to peer pressure, by not becoming a CA or an engineer, “I’ve missed out on something great. I thought I was going to suffer in the future.” So much for crystal gazing.

That insecurity could be why Rahman surrounded himself with musician friends: a group of get-no-respects. “I just have two or three guys,” he says, of friends who opted for more conventional careers. “They’re all doing well. One is in Microsoft.” But if there was any longing about trading the synthesiser for a keyboard, it was only Rahman’s. No one at home cared.

“My mother had this killer instinct that I should become a musician,” he laughs. Rahman still harboured hopes of scraping through a correspondence course, “But I could never do it.” He feels that’s why he’s slow in a lot of things. “When I write emails, I manage just one word or two words.” Clearly, even artists acknowledged as genius-in-their-lifetime are entitled to petulance over the inadequacy of their electronic communication.

The bad rap that musicians got – the Scarlet M, if you will – kept eating away at Rahman. “I wanted to set another example, to show that not all musicians are… like that,” he says, explaining away “that” as booze-swilling, babe-hounding bohemians. “When I was playing (the keyboard) for Ilayaraja, I realised he was not that kind of guy. He used to be a saint, sitting there and creating great music. So the image of a musician at the time, in inverted commas, was completely different from what I saw. That was a great thing.”

Greater things were in store. “When I was playing with Ilayaraja, I met this amazing keyboard player, Viji Manuel.” Manuel composed jingles, and he asked Rahman to assist him and programme for him. Then a filmmaker from Kerala, Isaac Thomas, gave Rahman a jingle to compose. “That was the first one, I think, for a colour lab.” It takes a little imagining, that the go-to guy for the soundtrack of every single prestige production today was once toiling away at background scores that could be zapped away with an unceremonious flick of the remote control – but as they say, the journey of a thousand miles often begins with a single 30-second ad.

That ad was for Allwyn Trendy watches. Rajiv Menon, who made the commercial, recalls that he first heard of Rahman – then known as Dilip, before his conversion to Islam – during an earlier assignment for Harvest rice bran oil. “We wanted to show a plate splitting, and we wanted a particular kind of sound – a breaking and splitting apart sound.” Someone told him about this whiz kid with sound effects technology. The rest was the beginning of history. The plate broke and split apart as no plate had broken and split apart in advertising.

Less destructive – but no less influential in furthering the early-Rahman legend – was the commercial for Leo Coffee, made by Sharada and Trilok of Trish Productions. They started out in 1987 and were asked to do a public service film for drug abuse in their very first year of operation.

“Someone suggested a young, new musician called Dilip,” says Sharada. “We fixed up the recording, and in came this tiny guy accompanied by loads of equipment, who talked nonstop and knew more tech specs on sound than the recordist.” Rahman delivered a track that was outstanding and the film won them many awards. “After that, we worked together on over a hundred ads.”

“Mani Ratnam is my cousin and would often ask me who did a particular track for an ad. Trilok and I would keep telling him to check out Dilip sometime.” Once, after a recording, they were heading out to see the first copy of [Mani Ratnam’s] Thalapathi, and Dilip asked if he could come too. He met Mani that evening. Mani called Sharada the next day to ask if he could listen to Dilip’s work, and Trilok took him across to the studio. “Mani called Dilip a day later,” – Rahman remembers it as “two weeks later” – “and offered him Roja.” There it is. The story behind the creation of a new musical universe – in one small paragraph.

Roja came out in 1992 and – despite Rahman’s assertion that “they didn’t like it instantly” – the album’s trajectory on the music charts was not unlike that of a Diwali rocket escaping its cloudy bottle. That, however, may not be the most appropriate of analogies, given the circumstances of the time.

“Around then, after my studio was done, my way of thinking, my philosophy – everything changed. I got spiritually influenced by Sufism. It was not ‘I am going to do this piece’ or ‘I am going to compose’ anymore. I nullified my ego and was waiting for spiritual inspiration.” Sharada adds, “Almost towards the end of composing for Roja, he told us he would like his name to be AR Rahman in the titles.”

Rahman has, at various times, discussed this issue of conversion to another religion, stressing on the death of his father and the miraculous recovery of a sister from a serious illness. But at this moment, he doesn’t want to talk about it. “It happened. I am here,” is all he’ll allow, a sliver of minimalistic poetry couching a larger philosophy.

He is, however, far more forthcoming about the tenet of Tauheed that he was attracted to. “It says that God is One. The ultimate love, you give to God. And because of that love, you have to love other people. Because everybody is His creation.” This road to virtue, inevitably, necessitated a full stop to vice. “I was probably drinking at the time. Beer and all that stuff. All that stopped.”

THERE WAS SOMETHING ELSE AT WORK during Roja. This was, finally, a shot at freedom from anonymity, a passport to recognition. “I realised that it was not worth it doing commercials alone. You’re working so hard, but in front of the people, you’re nothing.” The movies didn’t exactly seem a cure for this existential malaise, because Rahman hated the films of the time. The only person he admired was Mani Ratnam. “And when I got the chance of working with him, it was, again, divine intervention. Once I got to know him as a person, I felt there was something special happening here.”

Rahman had to leave all his other work to get into what he calls the mind-frame of his new project. “I had to leave my film playing. I had to leave commercials. It was not easy because I used to get paid quite a lot of money at that time.” And Roja didn’t pay much. “The money which I got for six months’ work was what I used to earn in a day.” Still, a few freewheeling conversations with his inner voice convinced Rahman that he had to do this.

“Something inside told me that without sacrifices, nothing can come. You can’t have everything.” On the other hand, you can be left with nothing. That’s what it seemed like when Rahman handed in his tunes to the director. “He never reacts instantly. He just organically waits till something goes into him.” And two weeks later, when Rahman didn’t hear from Mani Ratnam, he thought, “Okay, that’s the end of it.” It was now going to be jingles all the way. And then – when he had lost all hope – he was told that his tunes had made the cut.

Fifteen years after Roja, Rahman finds that it hasn’t become any easier. “At that time, that sound was just mine. Now people are sharing that sound. So to do something is not just about a different sound anymore.” Also, during Roja, it was just stereo. “Now we need to think about 5.1, DTS, what comes out of this speaker, what comes out of that speaker – and still hold the song together.”

Hence the layering. Rahman’s compositions, over the years, have gotten more complex; where there were once various individual strands, these are now knotted into a dense skein. “That’s also because I have the option to work abroad. I can get the musicians I want. Like for Jaage hain from Bose, we used almost 130 people – an orchestra, a choir and all that.”

Rahman’s uniquely improvisatory way of creating music – layer by layer, block by block, as opposed to writing out the entire composition and then going about arranging it – is the stuff of myth now. But the way Rahman puts it, it’s the stuff of miracles. “Every time I sit for music, I try to destroy my ego. At the same time, I have a sense of pride, that if I do something, it has to be good. It’s unnerving. It’s a paradox. It humbles you – and you wait for the intervention of God. You say: Give me a tune please. I need to make this work.”

This channel of communication, unsurprisingly, works in mysterious ways. “Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I wake up, take a tape recorder and record a groove. Or just sitting somewhere, I get an idea.” Paathshala (from Rang De Basanti) was like that. The bursts of sound at the beginning came first. “CHAN… cha-cha-CHAN,” he sings. Then he goes to the studio and fine-tunes it.

Then again, maybe not. “Sometimes, you know it’s not happening, even if you sit there for hours. And you give up and say: when it happens, it happens.” This process can, of course, play havoc with film schedules. (Rumours have it that Rahman’s delays are behind Ashutosh Gowariker’s Jodhaa Akbar missing its release date this Id.) But Rahman says, “Well, they all know about my schedules. It’s not a bank job. We are all working towards something exciting. You make a movie over two years. So schedules can definitely be shifted around.”

Parents aren’t supposed to have favourites among their offspring, but Rahman’s eyes positively light up when he talks about Rang De Basanti. “Before Rang De Basanti, I was trying to balance my movies – from things like Bose or Swades to more commercial movies.” But all the commercial movies he signed got delayed, so what people heard was only Bose. And that was when Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra came in with yet another story involving freedom fighters. “I thought: I’ve already done Bose and The Legend of Bhagat Singh. So how do we make this different?”

By brainstorming a lot. “We made an effort to treat every situation differently. Like Sarfaroshi ki tamanna – it’s supposed to be the most ferocious anthem, and we did the opposite. We said: ‘Let’s make it sensuous. Let’s get Aamir Khan to do it.’ It was big energy, but an implosion rather than an explosion.” And when Madhavan dies, they tried to put another emotion parallel to that – a lullaby, so that people are not pushed to the edge.

“We said: ‘Every song should be a hit song.’ I know we say that for everything, but in this I think we were favoured by God.” The only apprehension that Rahman had was that Mehra never intended to shoot any of the songs in lip-sync, which would limit their association with a particular star during the television promos. “But the film was a great sensation, and all songs were accepted.”

So the process, apparently, is this: the tunes are a divine gift, which are then shaped by human hands. And ears. “When you are working with a team, they know exactly what to spot. What they want. So I don’t take the trouble of selecting the stuff. I just do the templates.” And if it so happens that the best template comes while servicing the worst director, then amen. So be it.

“I remember some of the more successful composers of the past, they would do twenty movies and they would just concentrate on the movies that they knew were going to work. For me, I say: ‘I sat with this guy and worked on this film. This is probably the most amazing tune this year, but God has given this tune for this guy.’ I should give it to him, even though I know he is going to destroy it for sure.” That’s his philosophy: never discriminate in art.

“Two or three years back, I was failing in my thinking. I used to think: ‘This is what Tamil audiences deserve. This is what Hindi audiences deserve.’ I became complacent because of the lack of time.” He was working mostly in the UK, on Bombay Dreams, and he was doing movies more for friendship than passion. This wasn’t the case earlier, when he composed the groundbreaking soundtracks whose tremors are felt to this day – Thiruda Thiruda and Bombay and Roja.

“When I did those, it used to be: Let’s push things to the extreme. Suddenly I wanted to do a theme like a Western classical piece. The Bombay theme. And I did it. Mani Ratnam did not expect it at all.” And now, that happy scenario is back. “A great piece of music is a great piece of music. Who cares if it’s Tamil or Hindi?”

But Rahman does care about a few other things, like being denied the music publishing rights, which is why he refused to compose for Farah Khan’s upcoming only-an-asteroid-hitting-the-earth-can-prevent-it-from-becoming-a-blockbuster, Om Shanti Om. “I was not speaking for myself alone, because I don’t care about money.”

And as if realising the incongruity of this statement from someone who reportedly gets paid in crores, Rahman corrects himself. “I care about money. But I don’t care about it, in another way. It was just that I needed to make a statement. I feel heartbroken when extraordinary artists go on the streets, begging. I’ve seen that happen. They’ve done their part, they’ve given stuff from their soul and they need to get what they deserve.”

And now some company has these rights – rights that should be shared with the musicians, the music composer, the lyricist. “The publishing rights are what give you that money. You never know what kind of media are going to come up and where music is going to be used. Ten years ago, who knew about ring tones? So why should musicians lose out? And anyway, it’s only a small window. When you’ve given five flops, nobody is going to come to you.”

This isn’t simply a matter of making hay during an equatorial noon. Rahman is almost as passionate about other issues that deprive musicians of their rightful due – issues like piracy. “I feel, if you can afford something, why not buy it? Okay, you downloaded it and listened to it. Make it a point then to go and buy the CD – because you’re supporting the artist and you’re supporting families who are involved in it.”

And yes, he speaks from personal experience, of being both pirate and penitent. “Suppose somebody is downloading something for me and making me listen to it, and if I enjoy it, I make sure I buy that CD and keep it at home, just as punishment – just as a feel-good factor for my conscience.”

The Om Shanti Om loss doesn’t rankle. Seriously. “Earlier, I used to be happy with just film music. It used to pay well. I used to get all the equipment I needed. But when things like 9/11 or Iraq happened, or even the bomb blasts in India, you find that the mind can do anything. And music is a power through which you can influence a mind. Music is one of the very few things that can give you hope.”

So, rather than giving statements in papers, Rahman chose a friendlier route – doing a song. “There are bigger problems in life. Let’s handle those instead of getting into petty fights that can hinder the progress of family or country.” Clearly, Om Shanti Om isn’t just a movie title anymore. It’s an existential mantra.

“The most exciting thing for me now is, instead of being commissioned by somebody, I commission myself.” Rahman is referring to his own label, KM Music, launched earlier this year. “I think I’m getting more guidance now. And I should use it. If I let it rust, it’s a waste for the community and for me. As long as I have that and I have the confidence, and as long as I am healthy, I want to carry on.”

Uh huh! Did he just admit to health worries, this boy-man without a streak of gray, without a line on his face? Looking at him, Rahmanesque could be how you describe the pinkness of health. “But I’m forty-and-a-half,” he says. “I’m not able to abuse my body as I used to – not sleeping continuously for three days, things like that. I fall ill the second day itself.”

And that’s a no-no, because it would interfere with daddy duties. “I’m trying to be a good father and a good musician. This is the time the kids are growing up. They’re asking loads of questions.” And if one of those questions is about what it feels like to be the first composer accepted all over India – north to south, east to west – he’d answer, “I think it’s a blessing.”

“Because there’s still a divide between north and south. You look at the Net and it’s really disgusting the way people talk to each other. ‘You southies are black and we are white.’ If you look at all that, people have been really kind in north India. Also, coming from a different community… Usually they say: ‘You’re a Muslim. You should change to a Hindu name.’ They’ve been allowing me to be myself. That’s fantastic.”

Copyright ©2008 Rolling Stone. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

70 thoughts on “AR Rahman: The Rolling Stone Interview

  1. I met ARR last August, when Rolling Stone India approached me for the story, for their inaugural issue. But apparently, the bosses at New York said the first few covers *had* to be of international rockers, and this story kept getting pushed back and got really old. So another writer met ARR recently and added some updated information, and our combined effort was formatted into a Q&A and published in the current issue of Rolling Stone magazine.

    The reason for this explanation is that this is the story that *I* wrote, last August, and not the one that appears in the magazine. Hence the reference to Om Shanti Om in the future, etc.

    And a clarification: There is one para in the interview that appeared in the print version about Rahman’s coversion to Islam for which I would like to issue a clarification here: The answer starting with “I remember my father suffering… and ending with … without one god” is from an earlier Rahman interview that appeared on Mr. Gopal Iyer’s blog.

    It inadvertently crept into the final interview because of a mix up between my research material (which included downloads of interviews that Rahman had given in the past) and the transcript of my interview with Rahman. Since both were part of the same file that was sent by me on the mail from Chennai to Mumbai ( where Rolling Stone is based), and because I had not clearly indicated that that the para in question was part of the research material, the editors in Mumbai inadvertently concluded that it was part of my Q&A with Rahman, and put it into the final version of the interview that came out in the magazine.

    My co-author Lalitha Suhasini, who separately interviewed Rahman in Mumbai has nothing to do with this mix-up. And apologies to Mr. Gopal Iyer for the para from the blog appearing in the interview.

    Baradwaj Rangan


  2. Lovely piece. I enjoyed reading it thoroughly. You would have been told this many times, but I’ll still say that you are a brilliant writer :) Not my first time here. I’ve been a silent reader for a long time now…


  3. Well, if you ever get to talk to him again, pls do bring up his fixation with rap and hip hop. I get that it excites him (and who could blame him) but it annoys the hell out of me that he’s banking on peeps like Blaaze to do it. That said, Pappu Can’t Dance is the first track where that guy even sounds halfway decent so I guess practice is slowly making its way towards improvement but must we all suffer like this?

    The ARR collaboration i want to see is not with Andrew Lloyd Webber but with someone like or Timbaland. Can you imagine?!


  4. Finally…here we go :-) Although a lot of it was stuff that I have already read before, the column still kept me interested throughout. Good one there, Bharadwaj.


  5. Thanks for the interview:)

    “when something is new, you can’t judge it. The expectations are too high.” That;s how this interview also has to be treated by your fans.
    Rahman has given several interviews about his journey before. Yet, I still found something to add on to them here. We got lucky that you didn’t have to interview him on the eve of a movie release, that would have restricted your subject.

    Just on Rahman itself, it is strange, Rahman used to complain about doing mainly film music instead of albums(stand-alone like in the west earlier in his career. But as far as I know no other place in the world gives a rockstar status to a music director!


  6. Thanks usual an awesome read and interview. Does shed light on certain areas that have been unexplored about him like his early years, his religious faith, foreign interludes,philosophical beliefs etc….How was the experience wit the Modern Mozart Rangan, did u get some feeling of the linkages between the music and the man ??


  7. Mr. Rangan – is there a reason why comments are blocked on your Srakar Raj and Aamir reviews? I wonder if that review is too much in Thespians and Tubers mode!


  8. Thanks for this sire ….had been waiting desperately to read this piece. Absolutely everything about this man ..ARR is so fascinating and wonderful. Just feel we are blessed to be around in his era.

    btw …u still haven’t written a complete review of Jaane Tu… waiting for that.

    wonderful writing sire …all ur posts. I try and read each one of them whenever u write them.



  9. Shobha/ Sujith: Thank you.

    Aravind AV: I think she did meet him in Mumbai.

    Amrita: Oh yeah, that question is going to go down real well: “must we all suffer like this?” :-)

    Vijay: Not a “column” dude. A “feature” :-)

    s: That’s a very interesting point, but I think he wasn’t talking about the status accorded but about the freedom to do what he wants to in (non-film albums)

    karthik: It was just a casual meeting. He was free and easy to talk to.

    Neela: There seems to be no such problem…

    Ani: No review planned for Jaane Tu… I did write about the Aditi number though, last week.


  10. Great stuff, Baradwaj – this reads a lot better than the published version, as I’m sure you’ve already been told. I didn’t enjoy seeing the joint byline in the magazine, especially knowing how hard you’d worked on the original piece (and how much the folks at RS liked it when you sent it to them). Real pity it worked out this way.


  11. I enjoyed this interview. Most print and TV interviews of ARR I’ve seen tread the same old ground and are not particularly insightful. ARR is something of an enigmatic and reticent figure but I feel your interview goes a little deeper.

    One thing I have not read in any interview is what kind of things excite him musically. People always talk about Roja, composing jingles, etc., but I have not seen a musical conversation with ARR.


  12. Jabberwock: Thanks — but I guess half a byline is better than none, what?

    Ravi K: But he has talked about the music he liked — “Chick Corea and Vangelis and Dave Grusin,” and later, rock. Or are you talking about something else?

    bluespriite: Thanks so much.


  13. Even theme-wise, movies would offer much more varied inspirations than what one sees in non-filmi albums.
    But if you are talking about liberty for experimentation in his music, nothing is stopping him anyway.

    Is there anyway for us people (who don’t have access to the print magazine) to read the final article?


  14. s: I don’t think their web site is up and running yet, so your only go may be to have someone mail you a copy.


  15. Baradwaj, I’m also talking about what kind of things he himself likes to use in his own music as well as *how* the influences he’s listed have influenced him.

    I’d like to see ARR do a non-film album that does not have a patriotic theme like Vande Mataram or Jana Gana Mana. Maybe the album wouldn’t have a theme, or the theme could be love or something. I’m interested in seeing what he would compose without a film story to compose to.


  16. Baradwaj, I dont think I have read a more perceptive interview of AR Rahman. It must have been different for him given that the Subash Jhas of the world feel its most important to know ‘how it was working with a living legend like Sharukh’. Despite his normal fortress-like defence, you seem to have opened a few by-pass roads to his thinking :-).
    Lots of interesting thought-trains, and I will return to this some other day at leisure to enjoy and comment.


  17. “Every time I sit for music, I try to destroy my ego. At the same time, I have a sense of pride, that if I do something, it has to be good”
    Wow! That does sum up the man. This is one case where you could clearly see that the platitudes he mouths are not false humility.


  18. A very well made interview. The precluding writeup actually helps in building up the ambience in my mind before the actual interview portion starts. Wonderful and keep going..


  19. Wonderful interview. Enjoyed reading it. There were lot of things in this interview, which were not known about ARR, even though i would have ready hundreds of his interviews before.


  20. Rahman has had tremendous exposure in the last 10 years that no other composer in the world has ever enjoyed. However, i am not sure if such deep involvement has yet inspired a higher degree of spontaniety. Agreed, his melody is original, rhythms devastating and approach revolutionary. But, the likes of Ilayaraja and MSV have amazed us way more with hardly any international exposure. Even, his own father, RK Sekhar in his very limited lifetime and trained with very few composers has many beautiful compositions to his credit. Rahman is still fresh, but the spontaniety is missing, and i suggest he takes a long break from PR and over-exposing. Also, he needs to work with large orchestras as traditionally done in India, not computer!


  21. Tiny nitpick: Rahman is quoted as saying, “Like for Jaage hain from Bose, we used almost 130 people…” Isn’t Jaage hain from Guru? Or did he himself make that mistake?


  22. raj / bart / manju: Thank you. “Lots of interesting thought-trains” You’re right about that. Add to this the fact that he speaks in a blur, in phrases, and it was bitch wrestling it all down to something contiguous :-)

    Indian Jones: “Also, he needs to work with large orchestras as traditionally done in India, not computer!” I’m not sure he works with a “computer” :-)

    Sudarshan: You’re right. It’s a blooper… Maybe he said “Jaage Hain and Bose,” or something like that, and I heard it wrong on the tape. Either way, my bad. Now I’ve got to stand up on the bench :-)


  23. Brangan,
    Regarding ‘Jaage Hain’, it could be correct. Maybe he was refering to the ‘Azaadi’ number from ‘Bose’, which too starts off as ‘Jaage hain..’ and has some chorale arrangements in it’s prelude and interludes.


  24. Rahman could have referred to the ‘Azaadi’ number from ‘Bose’ which too has some chorale arrangement in it. That song too starts off as ‘Jaage hain ….’.


  25. raj: “Lots of interesting thought-trains, and I will return to this some other day at leisure to enjoy and comment.” Hey! Stop hijacking my thought trains! :-)

    brangan: So August 2007 did turn out to be quite the meet-the-genius month. I’m sure that explains away the euphoria expressed (not subtly at all, by any stretch of the imagination) in the closing line of your Award Processing post. :-)

    Now about the blooper, one can’t help but be forgiving. We’re talking Guru music after all — the album which had you in a complete trance. You were simply a swirling dervish taking “divine dictation” (thank you, Miller)…and did someone say “sufism”?…and oh yes, not unlike the “divine gift” Rahman talks about. (Besides, don’t you talk about the angel and the devil fluttering above your head at the start of the Guru piece? Now how is one to NOT presume you were right at Heaven’s door, trying your hardest to tune out the devil while tuning into God’s very own frequency?) And by the time you arrived at “passion meant poetry, poetry meant passion” you hadn’t a clue ki aap Jaage Hain ki soye. :-)


  26. Vel Murugan: You may be right. It could be Jaage hain ab saare log tere dekh watan… and not Jaage hain der tak… “Bose: The Forgotten Hero” appears to have become “Bose: The Forgotten Album” :-)

    Sagarika: “God’s very own frequency?” I don’t think so. I kneel at another altar of music :-)


  27. dunno rangan saaab…
    lemme go against the stream here

    dunno whether its the lack of anything xtra about rahman or whether its the hangover of the thespian post which i get here…

    mebe i know most of what u said about rahman and was itching for that something xtra which neva came…

    whichever way it is, the meal was good but just not sumptuous enough…

    still craving for a dessert to top it all off


  28. Baradwaj, just curious, when you do these interviews with KB,ARR and the likes, is the convo in casual Tamil most of the time and later you translate everything to English?


  29. brangan: “I kneel at another altar of music.” And to get that bit about yourself out of you, one had to go thru the exercise of throwing a lofty hypothesis at you and have you smash it to smithereens in an at once beautiful, at once powerful knee-jerk reaction. :-) (I guess you had it a lot easier with Bombay Jayashri, who practically “divined [your] dilemma” and simply volunteered that precious bit of info. “There. That’s an entry point to what Bombay Jayashri is about, because with that one instance, she has essentially offered a look at Carnatic music from an excitingly new perspective.” Perhaps something like this about Rahman is the dessert DPac seems to be craving?)


  30. DPac: “just not sumptuous enough” Sorry man. Maybe next time…

    Vijay: It’s just going with the flow. But from what I remember, ARR spoke mostly in English, while with KB, there was a lot of back-and-forth.


  31. Rahman gave us so much in the initial phase of his career in terms of variety and originality that we have learned to expect a lot from him. However, in the subsequent years he has not reinvented anything. As it was a point in your feature on Aditi, the trio at the top sounds very much similar at the times. What Rahman brought fresh to the musical scene has already been over-exploited and enhanced (like hip-hop in Hindi songs). Rahman himself is aware of the fact, it seems.

    As far as instrumentation in his songs is concerned, I believe his international exposure is showing. In some songs of Ada and JTYJN, he has used Asian sounds like in OST of Warriors between Heaven and Earth. But nothing radical like Chor Chor (Thiruda Thiruda) that left us spellbound.

    It would be great to see him take a break from making music for a while, and come back with something we have never heard before. I want the same feeling that came to me when I was listening to Roja. Rahman is very much capable of doing it, and I hope he does do that. He only needs to introduce some more genres to us with the backdrop of Indian music.


  32. Indiana Jones wrote:

    “Also, he needs to work with large orchestras as traditionally done in India, not computer!”

    ARR uses real instruments. Just check out the credits of his CDs. In fact he’s creating a music school (KM Music Conservatory) to encourage young musicians and possibly form a world-class orchestra in India itself.

    I don’t know how large the orchestras in India are, but I assume they are lacking for large-scale projects. ARR and Ilayaraja have both used the Czech Film Orchestra a few times. ARR usually uses the Chennai Strings Orchestra (conducted by Srinivasamoorthy) for his films.


  33. Tejas – which composer after nearly 16 yrs reinvented himself and came out with something totally original. And why do you think ARR is an exception.


  34. rangan…..a wee off topic but couldnt help myself – Can we expect a Dasavatharam review from you ??? The last one was Sivaji i think !!!


  35. I actually meant thought-trails and mis-typed but looks like thought-train does just fine, I’ll take it – trust baradwaj to find ‘deeper’ meanings/words not intended by the creator:-)

    “God’s very own frequency?” I don’t think so. I kneel at another altar of music ”
    Ah!I think I know where that is :-) . But do you actually think that it is all the same GOD by different names or do you think there is no God but…thats the question!!!


  36. Tejas: Actually, there was a lot of non'”Asian” experimentation in Thiruda Thiruda, I thought.

    karthik: You mean the film I just watched in a preview, two days before its release? I have some thoughts for my next column :-)

    raj: I not come to this game, pa :-)


  37. Aha you are eththufying kadupps :) free preview eh ..I am having to pay through my nose to get a ticket over here :)


  38. Bala: Dude, there have to be SOME perks in a job that requires you to sit through the likes of Rama Rama Kya Hai Drama, right? :-)


  39. be that as it may ..I am still envious :)..but since when did you start reviewing tamil films for the paper ? (this is for the paper isn’t it ? ..or did u just pull a few strings here an there :) )


  40. Bala: No, this wasn’t a press preview. I wasn’t invited to that one because, as you observed, I’m not the Tamil film critic for the paper.

    bart: ellaam ulaganayakan kadaksham :-)


  41. perhaps one of the best piece i have read in recent times. the best part is, it lets rehman be human the eulogizing him or criticizing him


  42. Vidhan/Dinesh: Thanks — though I must confess to wondering about how everyone keeps talking about Rahman’s humility as a plus. Let’s say he were arrogant as hell and still made this music. Would you still not be a fan? Again, just wondering, does it really matter what an artist is like in real life when his work delivers the goods?


  43. Rangan.. Great interview from one of my fav artists..

    Haven’t been commenting here for a while, but reading everything neverthless.. Great job on the ‘Anjathey’ review.


  44. br, no, humility doesnt matter. Talent does. Given the altar of music at which you confessed to worship, that is a given :-)
    But it is quite remarkable that Rahman is really humble – the key is it is not false humility as practised by the likes of u-no-who and SPB etc. It is that he is still proud of his talent, aware of his talent, aware of the extent of his talent, responsible about his output doing justice to his talent, and at the same time has not let it go to his head. It doesnt make him a better artist or musician but does show him as an outstanding person.
    Well, we could argue that humility itself does not make a person better or worse but thats a different argument. In my book, pride without humility is a difficult thing to achieve – and for anyone to have achieved it is a matter of surprise and awe. This gets multiplied by several times when the talent level and achievement level is that of ARR.


  45. “Let’s say he were arrogant as hell and still made this music. Would you still not be a fan? ”

    Of course. Aren’t we all Ilayaraja fans :-)


  46. @Rangan – I did not mean that Thiruda Thiruda had any Asian influence. I meant that it introduced ‘Opera’, Western Classical music to Indian audience (to Hindi listeners at least).

    In ADA and JTYJN he shows glimpses of Asian music, but none of these are as radical as Thiruda Thiruda to me. What I want is, an album as different as that one was. Because as now I see it, Rahman is mostly capitalizing on what he created 5-10 years ago and only adding some nuances to it. What I want from him, is a new color palate!!


  47. “@Rangan – I did not mean that Thiruda Thiruda had any Asian influence. I meant that it introduced ‘Opera’, Western Classical music to Indian audience (to Hindi listeners at least).

    Aw!Tejas! Are you serious? I’m not sure I can think of in Hindi(though if I think hard enough, I am sure I will be able to come up with examples even in Hindi), but man in Tamil we had a movie called Pudhiya Paravai in the 60’s. Just an example you know, Thats how far we go back in terms of ‘opera’tic music. I am not going to mention the numerous examples since then. And as for WCM, I am not even going to mention a certain gentleman named Ilaiyaraja.
    Seriously, why can’t bollywood followers qualify their claims of musical backwardness(that too post 70’s) with ‘Hindi’ instead of ‘Indian’ instead of adding it is an afterthought? Justt because Hindi music post 70’s was behind times doesnt mean that it was always so in Hindi or in any other language.

    By the time I typed this, I just remembered that a certain gentleman named Salil Chaudhary plied his trade in bollywood as well. Now, I dont think I need to mention anything else other than his name to refute your claim that ARR introduced WCM to Indian (even Hindi) listeners! Seriously, you touch a nerve there.


  48. Man, I didn’t think someone was going to dissect my post to even the ‘bracket’ level, and think of it as an afterthought, not as a main thought itself. Plus, I had to read your post three times to what I think I now half-understand!! Good command of the language, I must say, which I completely lack.

    And good knowledge of music as well. But as someone born somewhat after the time of Salil Chowdhary, I believe ‘majority’ of ‘Hindi film music listeners’ (Don’t use the word Bollywood buddy. Big B will split you apart in his blog otherwise. No offense meant to either party.) of my generation would think the same. Again, my apologies for a post born out of my ignorance of pre-70’s Hindi music. Also double apologies because I heard of Ilaiyaraja from Appu Raja and Anjali only.

    And you touch a nerve as well. If I can listen to Finnish, Greek, German, Chinese, Japanese, Danish, Swedish music, I only need a guide post to start listening to Tamil music (which in this case is Pudhiya Paravai). Thanks again! :)


  49. Tht was a great interview, but a lot of goofs.. But then the information, though quite already beaten, is really genuine.. Thanx a lot.. Hail the Mozart of Madras for all tht he has given us..


  50. raj: Engeyo poyitingo! Wow. Look what brangan’s blog is doing to some of us – opening floodgates and all. :-)

    And I can’t thank you enough for reminding me of that song Poo Vannam from Azhiyadha Kolangal (that I simply love, love, love). And as I said on the Balu Mahendra post, for the longest time I thought it was an IR number. OK, it’s finally official – I LOVE Salil Chaudhary! :-)


  51. sagarika, naan enge ponalum, it seems to me as far as opening floodgates thro brangan’s blog goes, you would be there already :-)

    BTW, I didnt remind you of Poo vannam. You did. I merely mentioned Salilda – now, let me go and listen to naan ennum pozhudhu by SPB – another proof why Lata is not the definitive singer of Indian film music – every time a tune she sang has been sung by other greats – well, I am even stretching the definitioon of great and including Mukesh’s here with chandan sa badan – yet, her longevity(perceived not real since her voice went kaput in the 70’s) means she is a bharat ratna while much superior singers arent honoured enough.


  52. raj: Naan indha compare-and-contrast vilayaatukku varala pa. :-) I enjoy a good song. Whether it was sung by a beggar riding a bus or a billionaire riding in a benz, woh mere liye koi maayinay nahin raktha. And by nature, I don’t put much stock into subjective things like awards. It wouldn’t matter to me a twit if Latha got a Bharat Ratna or not (and this is not to downplay the magnitude of the achievement or anything – there are forums that decide such things and that’s a world I’m not privy to and hence can’t comment on).

    My engagement with these singers (and by extension, MDs, lyricists) is really at the emotional level — meaning the effect their work had on my emotions during key periods of my life. I don’t get all worked up about their accomplishments (or lack thereof) outside of that realm. If they made me feel a certain way or put me in touch with my true feelings, hey, I’ll give them my “Sagarika Ratna” award if they like, but that’s really it. Tell me their names, I’ll jot them down in my head; but that’s about all the memory peg I need to tag my special moments. I don’t enjoy dissecting artists’ (public or private) lives or personas, or delving into discussions (with myself or others) that distract me from the real deal…that *special something*, that *secret sauce* they inject into their work that somehow seeps into my skin and brings me unadulterated joy.


  53. “Whether it was sung by a beggar riding a bus or a billionaire riding in a benz”
    thats so branganesque…:-)


  54. That was SPLENDID .. i’m talking of the (in order)
    1)the post
    2)the comments … loved them
    3)and my Sagarika ratna award :P

    thanks a ton for the post ! the few deviations from the common interviews and all-that’s-there-in-my-head … ,makes it cherishable !


  55. Now listen to the soundtrack of ‘Rock On!!’, and that’s exactly what I wanted Rahman to do – bring the new genres to our music.


  56. The whole stuff going back and forth and at it about A R, is a bit putting off, really. Today, it is not talent that matters, well, AR’s got talent, but marketing does, and so do critics, it’s an industry that has survived many a depression with a capital D. Its more about backstage and hyperbole than what anyone can do where it “matters.” Can’t we just listen to good music and stop talking about it so much, it gets to us, really. There were good ones before, too. They never had the media eating out of their hands, and there was no Internet. But I personally am a big fan of AR. Just as music is an industry so is writing (about) it. I guess I all this traipsing about goes out of hand a lot of times. You guys dont have to shut the door on me; nevertheless, I have the basic right to say something in total abject disinterestedness, in the name of sounding neutral and objective.


  57. I guess I needn’t have knocked, but then I wouldn’t know it if I weren’t here, ennit?


  58. A fantastic piece of work , reaaly it gave me an artistic insight to the great life and values of the Musical mastro


  59. //Unlike earlier, when a composer was in the limelight, he used to take all the movies and even when somebody wanted to go to another person, he would say: ‘No, no, don’t go. I’ll do it for less.’ I don’t need that.”

    Is he talking about… Could he be referring to… I guess we’ll never know.//

    Arghhh.. I guess we all know ;)


  60. It’s a pity that I started following desipundit only recently and I came across this interview really late.
    Anyways a great read, and another point of appreciation would be that you really do take time out to reply to all the comments. That’s REALLY commendable.
    Much fun came :)


  61. wow that was a superb interview and i have not gone through such an experience….

    well the fact lies here ” kill piracy and buy original cds”


  62. Guess I don’t have anything to say about the article that haven’t been said before… an old wine, this tastes much much better than it would have had I read it earlier.

    And good to see you mentioning ‘Bose”s music-I remember Rahman telling that he would not like to do music for many period films after his music in bose and kisna went under-used and under-appreciated or should I say, unnoticed.


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