Friday, June 22, 2007

London on The Lord of The Rings and Rahman

He is involved in the most expensive movie ever in India; he is also involved in the most expensive theater production ever in the world. More than 100 million copies of his albums have been sold around the world. He has worked with Andrew Lloyd Webber and many other big names.
A R Rahman
A British newspaper hailed him as the 'Mozart of Madras'. Those of you who are still wondering as to whom we have been describing in these few lines (you must be a very rare breed) better keep your ignorance to yourselves. We are talking about none other than Musical Wizard A.R.Rahman.

This must be the best phase of Rahman's career to date; we believe that even better days are ahead. The icing on the cake has been the London premiere of The Lord of the Rings musical. Rahman was accorded a red carpet welcome at the event. After the premiere it was the time for some of the most celebrated theater critics of the worlds to have their say. Well, you can say that the mandate was fractured with reviews ranging from highly appreciative to dismissive. But everyone was unanimous in their view that the music (composed by Rahman of course) was brilliant, blending seamlessly into the narrative without hanging loosely like a fractured appendage. Such reviews from one of the most educated and experienced audience certainly elevates Rahman to the level of one of the top musicians of the world (or was he already there much earlier).

Andrew Lloyd Webber who has earlier worked with Rahman for the Bombay Dreams musical too showered praise on the show. So Rahman is certainly on top of the world at the moment."


Thursday, June 21, 2007

'Rahman is on a quest to get the best'

Hariharan (right) performs with A R Rahman (first left) during a concert.

Composer extraordinaire A R Rahman has many fans, and one of them is fellow musician Hariharan

The singer is devoted to Rahman for many reasons, chief among them being "his strength, and the way he designs sound."

"He has revolutionised film music and is perpetually on a quest to get the best out of you and makes you feel at ease which is important. I have sung some of my best songs for him. I will drop everything to sing his compositions."

The singer and composer -- who had just wound up an American tour that took him to more than 12 cities -- got a call from Rahman asking him to join half-a-dozen other singers in another concert tour. Hariharan did not think twice before consenting to return to America.

"In my heart and career, I hold a very special corner for Rahman," he says. "He has given me some of his finest songs to sing in Tamil and Hindi."

During his solo concert, one of the most appreciated Hariharan songs was from Guru. "It brought the house down every time I sang it," he says referring to Yeh Hairathe, which he sang with Alka Yagnik in the film.

Hariharan says the haunting composition, lyrics and director Mani Ratnam are the three reasons why the song did so well.

Hariharan says that though he made his film debut many years before Rahman came to him with Roja , it was his song in that film that gave his career a big boost.

"It was like I was singing for a very vast audience for the first time," says Hariharan who sang for composer Jaidev in the 1977 film Gaman. His first song, Ajeeb saane he mujh par qarar, brought accolades and very soon his voice was heard in many offbeat films.

But it was the song Thamizha thamizha from Mani Ratnam's Roja in 1992 that catapulted him to fame.

Soon he reached another milestone with a song for Rahman in Mani Ratnam's Bombay. The song Uyire Uyire sung with K S Chitra became very popular in the four southern states. The Hindi version Tu Hi Re was even a bigger hit.

Rahman, in turn, also has a soft corner for Hariharan and, like some of the best singers he has worked with, Rahman says Hariharan likes to push the envelope.

"The more you demand from him, the more he gives. At times, Hariharan can even exhaust the most patient composer," Rahman says with a chuckle.

Rahman's laptop & compositions go missing!

Rahman is in London to attend the premier of the Lord of The Rings musical which is one of his most ambitious projects. But unfortunately his mind will certainly not be resting easy as his masterpiece unfolds before an elite audience. His mind will be fully occupied with conveyor belts, uniformed flight attendants and baggage of all sizes and colors; we sympathize with the Maestro for having to undergo such an ordeal. You might be wondering what all this is about.

Well, if you have ever experienced a Trans continental flight at the end of which you find that one of your bags is missing then you might be able to imagine what Rahman is going through. Worse still, if the bag contains not just a few shirts and your other travel necessities but the information worked out over a long period that needs to be presented to one of your very important clients the next day then you surely won't be able to sleep at night, even if you are staying at the most prestigious and luxurious hotel in one of the world's greatest cities.

You might remember that we had reported about Rahman's Esquire 3 Dimensional tour of the United States where some of his best compositions were being showcased in a very unique manner on stage (we had brought out a slide show regarding it). It was in the midst of this tour that Rahman flew down to London to attend the Lord of the Rings premiere. But when he got off his flight at the London airport and collected his baggage he found out to the greatest of his horrors that one of his bags was missing. As it has been hinted earlier this was no ordinary bag. It contained a laptop which had and we hope still has all the information about the unique way in which the music has to be presented at the Esquire tour.

Now we do not exactly know what type of information the laptop contains; only Rahman knows that. But going by his reaction (have you ever heard of Rahman losing his composure) the laptop certainly has some very crucial musical notes, let us assume. The airport authorities have assured Rahman that the luggage will be retrieved at the earliest. With his return to the United States scheduled later this week where he is supposed to complete the rest of the Esquire tour, time is really short for the airline crew for damage control. Otherwise Rahman can (he is unlikely to do it, going by his serene nature) easily sue the airlines for millions; his music is priceless.

We hope that the laptop is recovered soon and all things go as planned. If it ends well, then all will be well. Else, this will not be the last that we hear about the airline and its crew.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

'When Rahman calls, you go without asking questions'

AR Rahman at a New York concert

Though A R Rahman and Sukhvinder Singh have produced over a dozen melodious songs in such films as Taal [Images] and The Legend of Bhagat Singh, they have not been able to match the vibrant magic of their Chaiyya Chaiyya song in the flop film Dil Se.

They always look forward to working together, never mind how much pressure each is facing. "With Sukhvinder, I can compose a tune in less than an hour and record it even quicker," says Rahman, with a hearty chuckle. "We have a very good understanding, a rare kind of understanding."

The exuberant Chaiyya Chaiyya was the highlight of the Andrew Lloyd Webber-produced musical Bombay Dreams that ran for over a year and a half in London [Images] and for 8 months on Broadway, New York, a few years ago.

Last year, director Spike Lee used the original and remix version of the phenomenal hit at the opening and closing credits of his The Inside Man. About 30 million people saw the film worldwide.

The song has to be part of Rahman's stage repertoire. "I cannot think of a live show of mine without it," Rahman says. "Even if I don't include it in the show, I am sure the audiences will make sure that we include it."

Sukhwinder Singh at AR Rahman's New York concertSukhvinder has not only sung for Rahman but also composed a few songs, especially for Deepa Mehta's Oscar-nominated Water. Mehta says she is looking forward working with Rahman after 3 films, in her next venture, the big-budgeted Exclusion featuring Amitabh Bachchan [Images] and John Abraham [Images].

"I am convinced he is the most consummate composer that I know of in the world," she says. "And though some people may think of his work as ephemeral, many of his compositions are going to be around for a very long time. His music comes from the characters and is an extension of them. I think he is the best .He is the most brilliant film composer in India today and is in such demand that he has altered his normal working day to begin at six in the evening and go through the night, so that he can compose undisturbed by producers' calls. He finds the character's sur, raag, rhythm... Reggae, folk, classical, he's got it on his finger tips. He's so cinema-literate. He can discuss Ingmar Bergman's Autumn Sonata and Subhash Ghai's [Images] Taal, all in one breath."

Though Rahman works mostly at night, he does make concessions. "When I recorded the song with Bappi Lahiri for Guru, we got it done during the day," he says. "Bappi flew in from Kolkata in the morning, and a few hours later, he was ready to fly back home."

AR Rahman in concert at New YorkSinger Lata Mangeshkar [Images] worked with Rahman for the first time in Mani Ratnam's Dil Se and later in Pukar, Zubeidaa and Lagaan [Images].

'Rahman is known to record only during the night time,' she said in an interview 2 years ago. 'But he records with me during the daytime... when my voice is fresh. I don't like recording at night. He made an exception for me. When an artiste shows such consideration for another artiste, it feels good. Aur kaam bhi achha hota hai [Even the work done is good]. Rahman doesn't take long over his recordings. Jiya jale in Dil Se was recorded in 40 minutes."

Versatile drummer Sivamani who performed for Rahman at the June 16 concert in New York has known the 41-year-old singer and composer for about three decades.

'Our association began when we both were really young,' he recalled in an interview not long ago. 'We had this band called Roots. We just make very good music together. He is a master of lai [melody] and taal [beat]. The recognition that I enjoy today is because of Rahman. There are so many talented people behind a film music score. I played for Illayaraja for very long, but my name never figured on the screen or the cassette cover. Rahman changed it all. He gives credit to every single member of his team for whatever part they play, big or small. That makes him really special. People came to know about me only because of him. I thank him for that."

Sadhana Sargam, one of the singers Rahman respects most and who has sung haunting tunes for him in Water and Earth, has said: 'When Rahman calls, you go without asking questions because you know it's going to be worth it. He's a reserved person and talks very little but he makes you give your best. He keeps AR Rahman in concert in New Yorka cassette ready, wherein he has sung the song himself and listening to it makes your work so much easier, he allows any number of retakes. If you've sung half a line beautifully and haven't sustained that in the other half, he'll retain that half and make you work on the other half. The result is magnificent. And Rahman makes his pleasure very evident when he likes something you've done... then he won't even be shy.'

Chitra, who accompanies Rahman in the current concert tour along with Hariharan [Images], Sadhana Sargam, and Sukhvinder Singh, among other singers, says that when Rahman plays a composition to her, she listens very carefully.

"I have known since I sang my first song for him in Roja [Images], over a decade ago, there are layers and layers to his tune. Even a tune that may sound very catchy at the beginning has its own complex nature. And that makes working with him even more challenging. And what I love in him most is that he is very modern, but he also deeply respects tradition."


Friday, June 15, 2007

Shankar and Rahman Watches Sivaji in Canada

June 15, 2007

Sivaji has finally arrived in style and is certain to enthrall Rajni’s fans all over the world. When the excitement here is on the rise continuously, director Shankar has decided to take a vacation with his family in Canada. After all the man must have been too busy for the last few months to be even available for his own family.

Meanwhile Sivaji is getting released in Canada today and it has been reported that Shankar would be watching the film there along with music director A.R.Rahman who will be joining him there. After a couple of weeks of vacationing, Shankar has planned to return to India."


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rahman rocks New York

A R Rahman

As he returns to the Nassau Coliseum after four years, composer and signer A R Rahman has another challenge: To show that a composer and accompanying singers can pack the 11,000 seats in the auditorium at this, his Three Dimensional Tour, just the way he did the last time he was in New York for a concert. Normally, you expect a combination of stars, say Shah Rukh Khan [Images] and Preity Zinta [Images], supported by a raft of minor stars to pack the coliseum.

"Rahman has proved time and time again that his musical events are quite unlike those featuring other composers or singers," says Bharat Jotwani, whose Poojanka Entertainment is hosting the New York show, June 16. "His music has as much appeal as that of any big Bollywood star."

The year 2007 has been one of Rahman's busiest. Apart from working on the soundtrack of The Golden Age, his first British-American assignment, he has also added new music and songs to the $20-million musical, The Lord of the Rings, which opens in London [Images] in a few weeks. And then there is the much expected Jodhaa-Akbar, the historic love story, that brings Rahman and director Ashutosh Gowarikar (Swades, Lagaan) together for the third time.

A R Rahman"It has been a very busy year. Yet I thought of the concert tour for many reasons," the composer says. "There have a lot of interesting films in the last three years in Hindi and Tamil; and that means I can offer old and new hits."
He also loves being with his singers off the recording studio but doesn't get many opportunities to do so in India. "It is a different feeling when you work with them for a stage show," he explains. "The challenges are different, and we come alive even more than when we are in a recording studio. The friendship also grows."
Coming with him are some of the singers such as Chitra and Hariharan, whose careers had begun a years before Rahman himself took off with the astounding success of Roja in 1992. They were part of the film's immensely popular score, along with S P Balasubramaniam. Then there many singers who either made their debut in a film with Rahman's score � such as Naresh Iyer (Rang De Basanti [Images]) -- or shot to prominence thanks to his tunes. Sukhvinder Singh (Dil Se), Madhushree (Tezaab, Guru), Sadhana Sargam (Water, Earth 1947), Blaaze (Rang De Basanti), and the multifaceted percussionist Sivamani, are among those in the latter category. There would also be several young, up-and-coming singers.

The New York event follows concerts in half-a-dozen cities, including Vancouver, San Francisco and Dallas. The one held in the tristate area will have the polished version after several tryouts in other cities. Never mind how well rehearsed the musicians, singers and dancers are, every show becomes finetuned as it goes from one city to the next.

Rahman's biggest challenge, however, is not assembling first-rate artists or having the best acoustics at each venue.
"There are fans who have long memories," he says. "And there are fans who love the recent songs. Now, I would have a good mix of the old and new. Even then it is not easy to choose one beautiful song over another."
Since his debut in Roja, the little film that became an instant hit, Rahman has scored music for over 100 films, including the Hindi-language hits Rangeela, Taal, and Meenaxi. Many are big-budget films, and some, like the M F Husain-directed Meenaxi, did not cost much.

Rahman and Sukhwinder"I take up a film even though I know its commercial prospects may not be very bright," he says. "You respect someone's arts and Husain is one of the people I have a lot of respect. I can never refuse to d film for him." He may have a song from the Hussain film at the New York event.

A few weeks ago, as he was preparing for the show in Chennai, he was certain there would be songs from his latest hits, such as Guru and last year's Rang De Basanti. He was also keen to include a number or two from his recent hits, Rajnikanth's [Images] Tamil film Sivaji. Rahman was also thinking of including a song from the Tamil hit Jillunu Oru Kadaal.
"I am keen to present at least one song from Deepa Mehta's Water," he had said. Many consider Water to be one of his best achievements. But the film, which ran into trouble from Hindu fundamentalists and had to be shot in Sri Lanka [Images] several years later in almost anonymity, had a very small run in India. Its music was not released.

"It is one of my few scores that was not well released," Rahman says. "The songs were well used in the film but they did not reach the listeners in significant numbers." The numbers were sung by Sukhvinder Singh (who also wrote couple of lyrics) and Sadhana Sargam among others.

"She is one of the few singers who has surprised me at every turn," Rahman says. "Many singers do a very good job of doing exactly what I tell them to do but she somehow goes beyond instructions. She takes a song to another level effortlessly, and she is so good at it that I am surprised every time I work with her."
To perform live with Rahman is a dream for any singer, you will hear the biggest names in Mumbai and Chennai say. Whether it is Sonu Nigam [Images] or Kailash Kher or Alka Yagnik, every one wants to be in a Rahman show. But there are other commitments, there are also problem of schedules, and some singers who dearly wanted to be in his concert this time are either travelling with other shows or are not well.
"I had already made a commitment to the Asha Bhosle show when I heard that Rahman wanted me to be part of his show," said Kailash Kher who sang several haunting Rahman songs in Mangal Pandey, including the title track. "I feel I have lost a great opportunity but I hope I don't have to wait for another four years for Rahman to offer a concert in America."


Monday, June 11, 2007

Rahman Lights up Sivaji Fire in Chicago

For the first time in Chicago, the grand maestro and musical prodigy AR Rahman kicked off his three dimensional tour in North America to a jam packed audience over 8000 people of Indian Origin from the Midwest at the Sears Center in Chicago. The concert started at 9pm on Saturday night and ended at midnight. Towards his last song he had the entire Sears Center on its feet.

The three hour concert had various numbers from both Hindi and Tamil hits of AR Rahman’s including 4 songs from his latest yet to be released Sivaji. The crowd was awe struck by the drums of Sivamani, and the rap capability of Blaaze. The music troupe included Hariharan, Sukhinder, Naresh, Vijay Jesudas, Chitra, Madhusree, Sadhana Sargam and Rahman’s sister Rehana.

Rahman introduced a new key board called Continuum which is the first key board that has classical notes.

He infused National Integration by starting songs in Hindu and ending the same song in Tamil that entertained the crowd.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Esquire Viva A.R. Rahman 3-Dimensional tour

A. R. Rahman has commenced his Esquire Viva’s 3-dimensional North American tour, with his A-list singers Sukhwinder Singh, Hariharan, Blaze, Naresh Iyer (Rang De Basanti fame) Chitra, Madhushree, Sadhana Sargam and many more.
Commencing June 2nd 2007 to June 24th 2007.



It’s been long since A.R. Rahman gang has gone for a US and Canada tour so the expectations are gargantuan. The US is going to get a taste of some of his latest hits like Sivaji, Rang De Basanti, Guru and Sillunu Oru Kaadhal. The tour will rock the US and Canada, don’t worry Rahman, we will “Pray for you brother”."