Rahman brings rich, historic
music to forefront
The Best Music You're Not Listening
The music of India is one of the oldest
unbroken musical traditions in the world. It is said that the origins of
this system go back to the Vedas
(ancient scripts of the Hindus).
Many different legends have grown up concerning
the origins and development of Indian classical music. Such legends go
a long way in
showing the importance of music in defining
Photo courtesy of arrahman.com
A.R. Rahman has caught the
attention of such prominent musicians as David Byrne and Andrew Lloyd Webber
with his unique style of
composition in Indian music.
However, the advent of modern historical
and cultural research has also given us a good perspective on the field.
This has shown that Indian
music has developed within a very complex
interaction between peoples of different races and cultures.
The basis for Indian music is sangeet.
Sangeet is a combination of three art forms: vocal music, instrumental
music and dance. These three art
forms were originally derived from the
single field of stagecraft. Today these forms have become differentiated
into complex and highly refined
individual art forms.
At the turn of the century, when the country
was poised for major social and political reform, a new entertainment form
dawned in India — the
cinema. The development of India's film
industry is as old, as varied and as exciting as the history of the medium
The first Indian feature film was made
in 1912, coinciding with the making of features in the United States.
Once films started being made, music for
them was born and ever since then, music has been an integral part of Indian
Music in films slowly evolved into the
binding factor that prevented the linguistic splintering of the audience.
It evolved from an essential element
of entertainment into a defining characteristic
In the 21st century, no one has been able
to win hearts of people all over the world and also mesmerize and captivate
them with his varied and
unique style of music like A.R. Rahman.
Rahman is one of the foremost musical artists
in India today. In a music industry dominated by film scores, Rahman has
churned out more than
two dozen hit singles from eight films,
and they all sold more than 2.5 million units.
Rahman, a former jingle composer, not only
works to exacting standards of quality, but is also an inveterate risk-taker.
With his mop of dusky curls and apparel
of T-shirt and jeans, he looks like a young college student, but the very
first film for which he scored
music fetched him the National Award and
thrust him into the limelight.
This was called Roja (Roja is the name
of a beautiful flower). It was released in three languages simultaneously:
Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. The
music was very different from the usual
fare. Especially striking was the use of chorus and the instruments in
most of the songs. The
soundtrack and songs churned cash registers
for a long time, and they have been doing so vigorously each time he makes
He is the most-sought-after music director
in the business. Roja proved that traditional tunes could also be blockbuster
hits. Songs from Telugu
movies such as "Donga Donga" ("Thief Thief"),
"Gentleman," "Prema Desam" ("World of Love"), "Premikudu" ("Lover") and
those from Hindi
movies such as "Sapnay" ("Dreams"), "Dil
Se" ("From the Heart"), "Rangeela" ("Colorful") and the recent smash hit
"Lagaan" ("Land Tax")
established him as a prodigy.
Modest, religious and totally dedicated
to his craft, Rahman has a great penchant for fusing music of different
traditions. Bach, Beethoven,
Mozart, reggae, rock and Carnatic music
are his musical preferences.
Rahman has worked not only with Indian
musicians and performers but also has been in collaboration with renowned
artists such as David
Byrne and Apache Indian — both recording
and on tour. On a recent trip to India, Byrne met Rahman and was so impressed
that he went on to
record some sessions with Rahman for a
project he is currently completing (as yet unreleased).
Impressed with Rahman's film songs, the
famous musical composer and producer Andrew Lloyd Webber has signed Rahman
to compose a
Broadway musical titled Bombay Dreams.
Webber was introduced to Rahman's style of music through the songs from
"Dil Se" and "Rangeela."
Joining Rahman in this musical would be
Academy Award-winning lyricist Don Black.
After eight years of continuous hard work,
Rahman got the "Padmashree" award for his achievement in music. He is the
only person in the
Indian music industry to get this prestigious
award for music.
Rahman is definitely here to stay, with
his digitized sound based on pop-rock and reggae and fused with traditional
Indian music. He has
deviated totally from the norm, and rung
up hit after hit and spawned on the way a whole new approach that is finding
His music is worth listening to, because
once you listen to it, it grows on your mind and leaves you craving more
of his ever-enchanting and