A R Rahman is a native Tamilian. He made his debut in 1992 with Mani Ratnam
`s Tamil movie, Roja (Rose), which was subsequently dubbed into many languages. Ram Gopal Verma`s Rangeela (1995) was the first Hindi movie to have A R Rahman as the music director. A R Rahman is a recipient of the Padma Shri, which is one of India`s highest civilian national honours.
Early years of A R Rahman:
A R Rahman is the only son of R. K. Sekhar, who was a composer, arranger and conductor for Malayalam films
. His father died when A R Rahmann was nine years old and his family used to rent out musical equipment to make ends meet, something they found very difficult. During those hard times, a Sufi saint helped them spiritually. This led Dileep to convert to Islam, changing his name to Allah Rakha Rahman.
At the age of 11, A R Rahman joined the troupe of Indian composer Ilayaraaja as a keyboardist. A R Rahman later played on the orchestra of M.S. Vishwanathan and Ramesh Naidu, and accompanied Zakir Hussain and Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan on world tours. The experience allowed him to obtain a scholarship to Trinity College at Oxford University, where he received a degree in Western classical music.
Music Career of A R Rahman:
In 1991, A R Rahman began his own studio (attached to his house), called the Panchathan Record Inn. He initially composed music for use in advertisements, the title music on popular Indian Television channels and music in documentaries, among other projects. A R Rahman was, at first, hesitant about composing music for the Indian film industry primarily because most film makers at the time used songs as "fillers" - a means by which the audience was given a break from the movie`s plot. In 1991 he was approached by film director Mani Ratnam, who offered A.R.Rahman the job as composer of music for his upcoming film Roja, at a price of Rs. 25,000. Rahman accepted, and the movie`s superhit debut made him a household name in Tamil Nadu virtually overnight and led Rahman to receive the Rajat Kamal award for best music director at the Indian National Film Awards, the first time ever by a debutant. A.R.Rahman has since then gone on to win the award 3 more times (for Minsaara Kanavu
(Electric Dreams, Tamil) in 1997, Lagaan (Tax, Hindi) in 2002 and Kannathil Muthamittal (A Peck on the Cheek, Tamil) in 2003), the most ever by any composer.
When A.R.Rahman arrived on the Indian music scene with his first film Roja
, the music industry in India was going through a crisis with the retirement of older music composers and the lack of innovation in Indian film music. Roja was a massive hit, and Rahman followed it up with a number of other extremely popular films, including Bombay, Rangeela, Dil Se
and Taal . The huge sales of these albums prompted movie producers to take film music more seriously.
A R Rahman`s work is also unique in the fact that his collaborations with a few movie directors have always resulted in hugely successful albums. In particular, he has worked with Mani Ratnam
on eight movies (until 2004), all of which have been musical superhits. Also notable is his collaboration with the director S. Shankar (Gentleman, Kadhalan, Indian, Jeans, Mudhalvan, Nayak, Boys and Sivaji).
A R Rahman made an album Vande Mataram (1996) on India`s national song. Recently, he also came up with an album called Jana gana mana, a huge conglomeration of performances by all the leading exponents/artists of Indian classical music.
His work also includes Mani Ratnams`s Yuva, Meenaxi: Tale of 3 Cities, Bose - The Forgotten Hero, Swades
, Mangal Pandey - The Rising and Rang De Basanti
. He is currently working on Mani Ratnam`s next venture Guru, and on one of Shyam Benegal
`s most expensive ventures, Chamki Chameli, which is set for release in 2007.
International Accolades of A R Rahman:
Andrew Lloyd Webber, a well known composer of musicals, was impressed with Rahman`s unique style and therefore hired him to compose his maiden stage production Bombay Dreams (2002). This play was well received in England and opened him up to new vistas in Hollywood. Furthermore, Rahman, along with the Finnish folk music band Värttinä, composed the music for The Lord of the Rings musical, which opened in Toronto on March 23, 2006.
A R Rahman received more international attention with this article in the TIME magazine. Rahman`s first movie album "Roja" was listed in TIME magazine`s TOP 10 Movie Soundtracks of all time; source. According to BBC Rahman is reported to have sold 100 million records world-wide.
In 2000, A R Rahman`s annual income was estimated to be around $4 million from worldwide endorsements and royalties dating back to Roja (1992). According to Rediff.com, rights for his Tamil album Kandukondain Kandukondain (2000) were sold for an astonishing record sum of Rs. 22 million. This record still remains unbeaten six years hence.
In addition to influencing western audiences, A R Rahman also impressed eastern audiences with his music so much that he was tapped by Chinese director He Ping to provide music for the Chinese film Warriors of Heaven and Earth in 2003 IMDB. The music of this film was very much appreciated in Asia and in India.
Awards for A R Rahman
National Film Awards (India)
1993 - National Film Award for Best Music Direction - Roja
1997 - National Film Award for Best Music Direction - Minsaara Kanavu
2002 - National Film Award for Best Music Direction - Lagaan
2003 - National Film Award for Best Music Direction - Kannathil Muthamittal
Filmfare Awards (India)
1995 - Filmfare Best Music Director Award - Rangeela
1998 - Filmfare Best Music Director Award - Dil Se
1999 - Filmfare Best Music Director Award - Taal
2001 - Filmfare Best Music Director Award - Lagaan
2002 - Filmfare Best Music Director Award - Saathiya
2002 - Filmfare Best Background Score - The Legend of Bhagat Singh
2004 - Filmfare Best Background Score - Swades
Zee Cine Awards (India)
2000 - Zee Cine Award Best Music Director - Taal
2002 - Zee Cine Award Best Music Director - Lagaan