You will be performing in Calcutta after more than six-and-a-half years. Has the Rahman sound changed in this period?
Monday, November 30, 2009
Director Shankar is busy calling the shots for Endhiran and the team has been spotted in several locations in Chennai and its suburbs. The latest is that the Endhiran unit was spotted at the Kathipara flyover in Chennai.
Several supporting actors were spotted wearing police uniforms, and there was a strong indication that it was fight or chase sequence. Rajinikanth arrived at the spot at 8 am and the shooting progressed till 12 noon. The traffic at the Kathipara flyover came to a standstill for a couple of hours owing to the shooting.
Endhiran also stars Aishwarya Rai, Danny Denzongpa, Karunas and Santhanam. The film is produced by Sun Pictures.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Ace director Mani Ratnam is already working on his next project, say sources in Kollywood. The director, though busy with Raavan, is also making plans for his next film, which we hear is titled Azan.
This again is a Bollywood flick and Mani intends to rope in Ranbir Kapoor to play the lead role.
Azan is said to be a film that focuses on the life of Muslims. The sources also report that this film could go on floors in March 2010. However, we are yet to get confirmation on this.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Couples Retreat, Oscar winner musician A.R. Rahman's first venture into mainstream Hollywood, has reportedly crossed the $100 million mark at North American box office.
The 113 minutes comedy, which was released worldwide starting October 8 in Australia and New Zealand and October nine in USA, has reportedly grossed over $102 million domestically besides over 20 million dollars overseas.
Shot in Tahiti (French Polynesia) and USA, it revolves around four couples who go to a tropical-island resort for vacationing.It is yet to be released in many countries.
Acclaimed Indo-American statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it proved that Hollywood-Bollywood marriage could bring desired results at box office also.
Zed, who is chairperson of Indo-American Leadership Confederation, hoped that more creative-technical-financial alliances would be formed between Hollywood and Bollywood in the coming future.
Rahman provided original music for Couples Retreat, besides writing and performing two songs: 'Na Na' and 'Sajna'. Rahman's son AR Ameen also sang in 'Na Na'.
Directed by Emmy nominated Peter Billingsley (Dinner for Five), it stars MTV winner Vince Vaughn (Wedding Crashers), Golden Globe winner Jason Bateman (Arrested Development), Golden Globe nominated Kristin Davis (Sex and the City), etc. Producers were Vince Vaughn and Scott Stuber (Role Models).
Rajinikanth’s birthday is less than a month away (December 12th) and the fans are already gearing up to celebrate it in a big way. With the Endhiran shooting progressing in Chennai for the last few days, it was expected that Rajini would be stationed in Chennai. However, the latest news from the Super Star’s camp is that the Endhiran team is moving to Pune to shoot a few scenes and Rajini would be celebrating his birthday on the sets.
Though this news had dampened the spirits of the Rajini fans, they nevertheless plan a huge birthday celebration for their star.
For over five years, the animation feature film market has been ruled by the chubby Ganesha, rose-tinted Krishna or lanky Hanuman who with their super-natural reflexes battle the demons and with their jigs impresses their friends. Ever since the Indian animation companies began to roll out animated feature films, mythology and epic have been their favourite picks.
The primary reason, among many others, is that the success of the first few films on mythology has made it a safe platform to tread on. With changing global trends, Indian animation motion pictures are ready for a makeover. Taking cue from Hollywood’s animation movies on superheroes, Indian production companies are now growing out of mythological subjects to make films on larger-than-life superheroes of Indian cinema.
The most-talked-about Sultan The Warrior, produced by Soundarya Rajinikanth’s Ocher Studios, has raised expectations among Rajinikanth fans, as it promises never-seen-before stunts of their hero in an animated version.
Mayabimbham, which has won accolades for its comical animated feature film Inime Naangathan, is making Puratchi Thalaivan, with M.G.R. and Saroja Devi pairing up in the animated film. “Our first movie had characters drawn out of sharp wit. This will also be one such entertaining film,” says its managing director Venky Babu.
Though there is a surge in the number of animation films made in the country, Mr. Babu, says the films do not gain the recognition they deserve. “A lot of work goes into making of such films, where every movement and emotion must be created by computer graphic technicians, unlike usual films where the actors do the part.”
In line with the trend is Animation Dimensions that will produce a feature film with Mohanlal in the lead.
With the popularity on the rise, the Indian animation companies are going global. When the film Alpha and Omega sees its worldwide release next year, Crest Animation Studios may become one of the first Indian production companies to make a Hollywood animation movie.
The film is scheduled for release in October next year in 3,000 theatres. The studio, which has co-produced this movie along with Lions Gate, is hoping that this would open new windows for Indian production companies to venture into the animation genre in Hollywood.
“Animation films in India do not have a good market at present. They mainly rely on mythological characters, a niche market limiting the films largely to an Indian audience. In Hollywood, over 60 animated films have been made in 10 years and more are on the anvil” said the Vijay Paranjpe, Chief Financial Officer of Crest Animation Studios.
The revenue out of animation feature films, DVD licensing and TV licensing for movies is huge, which makes Hollywood the best destination for any animation film. For instance, US filmmaker gets, on an average, $ 300 million for an animated movie, as they are instant hit among the audience, he says.
Ashok Amritraj’s Hyde Park Entertainment Group and Imagenation Abu Dhabi have unveiled the first project under their strategic alliance with Singapore-based MDA, teaming up with songwriter Dave Stewart’s Weapons Of Mass Entertainment on Street Dancing.
Mimi Steinbauer’s Hyde Park International is handling worldwide sales on the film. Amritraj will produce and Imagenation CEO Ed Borgerding and Hyde Park’s Patrick Aiello will serve as executive producers with Stewart and Prem Akkaraju on the against-all-odds story set against the background of a cutting-edge dance competition in Singapore and New York.
Stewart and A R Rahman, who won best score and original song Oscars for Slumdog Millionaire, will provide music for the film, which features recording artist Cindy Gomez in her feature film debut. Gomez will be familiar to millions of fans after her dancing avatar featured in Nokia’s mobile game Dance Fabulous.
Bille Woodruff, whose credits include Honey, Beauty Shopand Bring It On: Fight To The Finish, will direct from a screenplay by David B Harris.
“We are excited to collaborate with such a creative and prolific team as Dave Stewart, Rahman, Bille and Cindy,” Amritraj said. “This fresh and exciting pop-cross-cultural project is an organic match for continuing our partnerships between Hollywood, the Middle East and Asia, and gives us the ability to explore the exciting new distribution format of mobile technology.”
“Street Dancing is the ideal property to commence our partnership with Hyde Park and the MDA - it’s very reflective of our partners, their culture and embodies our overall vision of creating global cinema for mass audiences,” Borgerding added.
“This film will effectively meld both Eastern and Western perspectives, cultures, music and lifestyles together - making it readily accessible and relevant for a global audience,” MDA CEO Dr Christopher Chia added.
“I am very excited to be working with Ashok on this multi-platform, multi-cultural, charming film,” Stewart said. “The world is more connected than ever before and as pioneers in connecting media from all sources, I found Hyde Park, Imagenation and I shared this outlook.”
The Chennai Mozart A R Rahman made his debut with his composition for Mani Ratnam’s “Roja”. The music became one of the biggest hits of all times and a new legend was born. His popularity is increasing not only in the domestic arena but also internationally.
Now, according to sources, the music director is making his comeback to his debut composition. The buzz is that AR Rahman is all set to re-record the music of “Roja”. It is great to see that Rahman is revisiting his old composition even though he is busy with national and international projects.
Let us wait and see how the new composition turns out. The new version is then going to have subtitles and would be released in foreign locations, as per sources.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
“Rahman not only had the best of musical talents, he was also able to adapt to the latest digital technologies in his works,” said Rajiv Menon. He was addressing a niche audience, today, November 19, 2009, the second day of the two-day long FICCI Media and Entertainment Business Conclave in Chennai. Rajiv spoke on the topic ‘Redefining Film Making: Crossing new frontiers in digital’. The session also saw eminent personalities from the business including Bill Lovell, Digital Media Head, ARRI Media, Balaji Gopal, Digital Cinema Designer, Richard Cardran, Media Strategist and Ravi Velhal, Content Policy and Standards Strategist, Intel.
Rajeev drew references from Rahman’s career to demonstrate that the success of a creator lies in adapting himself to the latest technical advancements. While referring to his stand in digital technology, Rajiv said that he is ‘married to film but in love with digital’.
The session also introduced the latest in digital technology including cameras and other equipments. In his brief address, Richard Cardran screened a short movie titled ‘escape from city – 17’ made by two brothers of Canadian origin. The movie’s amazing special effects, he said, was adapted from few video games and that the entire project only cost under US$ 500 for the producers. The gathering ended with a Q & A chat session.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Katrina Kaif is supporting a noble cause that is being looked after by her mother Suzanne. The actress has in fact signed up the Oscar winner AR Rahman to compose music for a video that will be used to raise funds in support of the cause. Katrina, apart from donating Rs. 50 lakhs, will also star in the video.
The funds, according to our sources, will be used to inaugurate the children’s wing adjacent to Mercy Home in Chennai.
Several other Bollywood stars are also expected to star in the video but the official announcement is yet to be made.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
After the stupendous success of the film Vaaranam Aayiram starring Surya, Sameera Reddy and others, Gautham Vasudev Menon is currently directing a breezy entertainer titled “Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaayaa” starring Silambarasan and Trisha in the lead.
The film which has been under production has been shot extensively at Chennai, Kerala and Malta. With an urban look to it, the story is set between two young people who fall in love. The film is almost complete with some portions and the climax to be shot. The authenticity and mood of the film is maintained by shooting at some realistic ambience in and around Chennai and some picturesque locations at Allepey, Kerala.
A much awaited musical from the Oscar Award Winning Composer A R Rahman, the film is sure to churn out some magic in its own special way, rendering some unforgettable and soulful numbers in the composer’s style, shot to the creative visuals of Director Gautham. The musical got a shot in the arm when Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaayaa’s music director A R Rahman was nominated for 3 Oscars and bagged two.
With five song situations in the film, three songs have been composed already, out of which two songs have been shot extensively in Malta at some virgin locations.
The song “Hosanaa”, sung by Vijay Prakash of “Jai Ho” fame, penned to the lyrics of Thamarai and a rap by Blaze is a sure hit among the young crowd for its peppy beats and stunning visuals shot by Manoj Paramahamsa at Malta corresponding to the stylized choreography by Flexy Stu of Adiye Kolluthey fame.“Omana Penne” written by Thamarai too and sung by A R Rahman himself, holds a style of its own in the way it has been sung and programmed.
This song too has been shot at Malta with choreography done by Flexy Stu and is a sure favorite for all A R Rahman fans!
Manoj Paramahamsa (cinematographer) with his captivating visuals adds to the beauty of the film, with the ambience authenticity envisioned by Rajeevan (art director) and the crisp cutting of Anthony (Editing).
Nalini Sriram adds to the appearance of the film with striking costumes for all the actors in the scenes and songs. The costumes made for the songs are eye catching elements that are hard to be missed by the audience!
The film also has Ganesh, Babu Anthony, Kitty, Uma Padmanabhan and Lakshmi Ramakrishnan playing pivotal roles.
The film is produced by Madan and Ganesh (Escape Artists Motion Pictures) and Kumar and Jayaraman (R.S.Infotainment).
EXCLUSIVE SAMPLE SONG OF VINNAI THANDI VARAVAYA ONLINE ONLY ON RAHMANIAC.COM | Oh Sana | Sung by A R Rahman
Vinnai Thandi Varuvaya - Oh Sana by rahmaniacblog-com
Vinnai Thandi Varuvaya - Oh Sana by rahmaniacblog-com
Monday, November 16, 2009
A R Rahman is the first man who lived the dreams of many Indians who went till the verge of winning the coveted Academy Awards. A R Rahman, the man of vision had taken several steps to eradicate poverty in India.
The music genius has arranged his 'Jai Ho' concert at the Salt Lake stadium, Calcutta on November 14th (Today). It’s worthy to mention that Rahman rocked his fans before five years on the same sports ground. Last time he was showered by the love of 90,000 plus audience at the show. This time everyone hopes that the event will turn out even bigger. The show is being organized by The Liver Foundation of West Bengal and will also help spread awareness about liver ailments and raise funds.
Rahman’s A R Rahman foundation is up and running in many places and is actively working hard for the upliftment of the under-privileged. As a first step towards achieving this vision of making poverty a history, the foundation is striving hard to set up educational institutions and aides in providing world class, state-of-the-art infrastructure and education to underprivileged children. The Calcutta concert is also a way by which the musician will fund the poor.
The whole team of Shankar’s ‘Endhiran’ was in Rajalakshmi College, Madhuravoil from 10th of November to 12th.
A risky stunt sequence choreographed by stunt master Peter Haynes was shot on a magnificent set. A scene in which robot Rajini’s car being burnt was also shot inside the college campus.
Director Shankar happened to see an over bridge that is under construction in Maduravoil ring road near Mugappair. That is the Chennai High Speed Circular Transportation Corridor, an urban road transit in the form of elevated concentric beltway planned for Chennai. This particular over bridge is being designed so well that it looks like some foreign location. So the director had planned to shoot the car chase of ‘Endhiran’ in this location.
The shoot of the car chasing is being canned there from yesterday. We hear that many of Superstar’s fans who reside in nearby areas got to know about this and crowded the shooting spot. Looks like the crowd created a traffic jam in the bypass road causing difficulties. Moreover many fans tried to take pictures of Rajinikanth with the cameras in their cell phones. The private security guards who were there tried to stop it, but in vain.
The shoot will go on there for few more days and the next schedule is planned in the beautiful East Coast Road.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
A R Rahman is so inspired by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson that he has decided to include Jackson as a subject in the KM Music Conservatory, a music institution that he runs in Chennai.
Rahman will also deliver the first lecture on Jackson. According to the music director, Jackson’s life, music and how he inspired him will all be a part of the subject.
The Mozart of Madras has been quoted as saying by the DNA, “I have been inspired by Michael and his works for years now. I had met him and though he was such a big star, he was always a very humble human being. That really touched and inspired me. I think he was an inspiration for an entire generation. His music must have influenced countless musicians across the world and it would be an honor for me to have the students of my music school learn and discuss the artist of the century.”
Finally, we’ve got more news about Endhiran! The team was spotted at the Rajalakshmi College in Maduravayal in Chennai shooting an important fight sequence. The fight has been choreographed by the famous stunt director Peter Hein. Art director Sabu Cyril has taken care of the sets for the film.
Two Ford cars were brought to the spot for this particular scene. While one was a real car driven by Rajinikanth in the film, the other was a dummy which was brought in to be blown up in a shoot out. This scene was shot to perfection by the film’s director Shankar today (November 11th, 2009).
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Stories about Mani Ratnam’s ‘Raavan’ are really interesting. What we came to hear recently about the film’s climax shoot is spicy.
Raavan’s climax was shot in Mumbai suburban areas that look almost like forest. Sources close to the film say that a scene which shows like Aish being chased by 10 foxes was shot. Don’t panic! The beauty was not chased by the real foxes; the team had used the Austrian Tusk dogs that look like foxes. A special trainer from Chennai was there on the sets to train the dogs. This single scene took almost two days to be canned, said the sources.
As we had it before, renowned actor Karthik is doing a role in ‘Raavan’. And the latest we hear from reliable sources is that Prabhu doing the role of Aish’s father role!
Get back for more tidbits!
Monday, November 02, 2009
‘Endhiran’ that is shaping up in the hands of Shankar with the help of Rajini-Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s perfect blend is nearing its final stage now!
The shoot of this mega budget film had been on the roll from September 2008. First Shankar took his team to Peru for shooting a duet between the lead pair. Then the team was in Goa, Chennai and then Vellore. Now 90% of the film’s shoot is over and 2 song sequences with some part of the climax fight are there to be shot, say the sources.
Last year on 26th, 27th and 28th of December the fight scene in which the Robo Rajini fights with the original Rajini was shot at VIT University in Vellore. What we hear from the sources is that the remains of the climax will be shot in the same college. Moreover the scenes which will be shot with the help of blue matte will be done in Prasad Studios.
Appada... Oru Vazhiya Shoot Mudiyapodhu...
It looks like Soundarya Rajinikanth’s animated Sultan- The Warrior will release only after Shankar’s Endhiran.
In an interview, Soundarya said that Sultanis taking time because it is being made as a state of art 3D animated film.
Soundarya, however, makes it clear that it will be a packaged entertainer like any other Rajinikanth film. There will be six songs including an introductory song by the superstar’s lucky mascot SP Balasubramaniyam. AR Rahman is scoring music for the first time for a full fledged animated film.
Soundarya says that the film is likely to release only in mid 2010, which clearly means Shankar’s Endhiran produced by Sun Pictures will be the superstar’s next release.
Rains, mishaps, jungle safaris, delays – and what not! Looks like this Mani Ratnam’s magmas opus will go down the cine history for its longest shooting adventure.
And now, ‘Ravana’, this most anticipated movie, is said to have completed its shooting journey. The entire crew would have dropped down in a joyful relief now, we say! And to mark this occasion, Mani Ratnam and his wife Suhasini organized a party for the team. All is well that ends well! Insiders said that Mani sir praised highly of Bollywood star Govinda and his performance, which touched the surprised actor immensely.
At last the team can breathe in the modern civilization again…
Now to refresh you on the movie details – ‘Ravana’ is produced and directed by Mani Ratnam. It has a huge star cast including Vikram, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Govinda, Prithviraj, Priyamani, Karthik and others. ‘Ravana’ is a bilingual, Hindi-Tamil, movie and loosely based on the Hindu epic ‘Ramayana’. Interestingly, the director has modified the story with a modern touch, making the villain a hero. That is, Vikram here plays the title character as Ravan.
The cinematography is handled by Santosh Sivan while music is done by Oscar winner A R Rahman.
What remains in the list for us is to just wait for this story to unfold on screens. Cross-fingers!
ENDHIRAN which is said to be the most costly movie ever made in Indian cinema is subjected for release in March 2010. The movie features superstar Rajinikanth and Bollywood beauty Aishwarya Rai in the lead.
The movie is directed by creative director Shanker and will be based on a subject of scientific and fictious reasons. It is a known fact that Rajinikanth will play the role of a scientist and a human replica of robot in this movie. Now, there is news that the movie will witness Aishwarya Rai’s death in the end.
The tragic ending is said to be essential for the movie’s climax and so Shanker opted for the killing of Ash by Endhiran (Robot Rajinikanth).
The music for this film is being composed by AR Rehman and the movie has almost completed his talkie part.
In a recent interview, the well known AR Rahman exposed that the King of Pop, Michael Jackson had a longing to work with him. This sadly did not end up occurring due to his decease. Rahman thought that MJ was remarkable, and without a doubt was only King of Pop there will ever be. MJ had called Rahman only a little bit before he passed away, which hurt Rahman even more.
Rahman began to be recognized by the world after he received an Oscar for his song, 'JAI HO'. Rahman claims that sooner or later, Indian Music is going to be a force to be reckoned with. The great composer then said that the award changed his life completely. He has gotten many offers from all over Hollywood. Although, he says that he will not be abandoning his homeland anytime soon. But, there is some buzz that he may be planning to shift to L.A.
Music label Saregama India Ltd has acquired music rights of A R Rahman's latest Hollywood film Couples Retreat for the Indian market. Couples Retreat is Rahman’s first international project after his Academy Award winning score of Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire.
Saregama India vice president Atul Churamani confirmed their latest acquisition and said, "It's possibly the first Hollywood soundtrack that we have acquired. The fact that it has some fantastic piece of music and instrumentals really makes it stand out," he says.
Churamani agrees that being a soundtrack, the music of Couples Retreat is different to what the Indian listeners are used to, "But Rahman's work is transcendental - it's for everyone- not just for the English speaking audience.”
The Vince Vaughn starrer romcom Couples Retreat is expected to release in India by January 2010. “We plan to release the soundtrack of the film by November – two months before the film hits the theatre,” says Churamani. It is also learnt that Rahman is very keen to promote the album in India.
OST Couples Retreat is a mix of operatic instrumentals and some inspiring reggae influenced tracks. The sound track was first unveiled by Rahman through his official facebook page in October when the film was released internationally. Though the film got mixed reviews from the international audience, the music of the film was largely appreciated.
The international rights for the films soundtrack are with Relativity Music Group, LA.
‘Raavan’, Mani Ratnam's much awaited film is finally over. After a marathon run of three long months and shooting at various locales from Kerala, to Pune's Malshej Ghat and Lonavala, the film has finally seen a happy end.
Abhishek and Aishwarya, the much loved couple are definitely the stars of the film but the one who has made Mani Ratnam very happy is none other than the film's contemporary Hanuman, Govinda.
We gathered from a source that while casting for Raavan, everyone told Mani Ratnam not to cast Govinda because he is known to come late for shoots and is known for eccentric behaviour, but Govinda won everyone including Mani Ratnam's heart on the set with his fantastic performance and his punctuality. He used to come to the set before the appointed call time even for a 5 am shoot. Govinda has always been applauded for his excellent acting skills, industries most coveted director's appreciation for Govinda's professionalism puts an end to all the ideal gossip for good.
AR. Rahman has accomplished a lot as a musician in his 17-year career thus far but he has one dream unfulfilled.
“I am a great fan of ace director K. Viswanath and wanted to work with him. Since he has stopped making films, my dream could not materialise, Rahman said when asked about his unfulfilled dream. Rahman was in Hyderabad on October 12 to attend a function and also announce his live concert slated for October 24 at the GMR Arena.
Viswanath is known for making classics like Sankarabharanam, Sagar Sangamam, Swatimutyam (Easwar in Hindi) and Swarnakamalam that glorified Indian art forms and traditions.
Sankarabharanam, the story of a classical musician, won many national awards for the music score composed by the legendary K. V. Mahadevan.
Rahman wanted to compose music on the lines of Sankarabharanam and wanted Viswanath to make yet another film on Indian classical music. Viswanath, however, turned down the proposal saying there were no takers for his kind of films anymore. “That was eight years ago and the project never materialised. Since, then I have moved to other things” Rahman told reporters.
Would he still like to do a classical music score? “Hopefully so”, Rahman replied. Being a composer, singer and performer, which role was he comfortable in, Rahman was asked. “It’s the uncomfortableness in you that helps do things better. The more discomforted you are, the more you push yourself,” he replied.
The Oscar-winner has just completed music production for a romantic comedy Couples Retreat in Hollywood. He is working on Vinnaithandi Varuvaya in Tamil and Puli and another untitled film (starring Naga Chaitanya) in Telugu.
They are young and love music. They’re in tune with the times and want their melodies to be heard. They love Rajnikant, A R Rahman and
Except for the fact that Kyoko Ikeya, Yusuke Yanai and Shuhei Narumi can speak little English, no Hindi and hail from Japan, you might easily be led to believe they belong to Youngistan.
But such is the effect of Indian music, say these musicians, who have travelled from Japan to perform at a Japanese restaurant, ai. Kyoko, the female vocalist, says, “Indian music is so full of energy that no one can escape it. Also, the scale at which Bollywood performs is phenomenal.”
The extravagance of Bollywood and its infectious melody has not only got the Japanese in raptures but the entire world. The famous ‘Jai Ho’ number in Slumdog Millionaire is only one example. Author, playwright and scriptwriter Anuvab Pal who is working on a book about the “seminal influence” of the movie Disco Dancer on Bollywood, says that some ideas in Bollywood are so unique that their appeal is wide.
“There was something about Indian filmdom in the 1980s, its notions of spectacle and movie making. In many ways, the ideas in Shaan, Mr India and Disco Dancer were so imaginative and extraordinary, that their appeal has become global.”
While dancers in Beijing are jiving to the beats of Bollywood, dance studios and gyms in Silicon Valley are grooving to filmi numbers to keep fit. Even international reality shows such as So You Think You Can Dance and Superstars of Dance are waking up to Indian dance and music, to Bollywood in particular, earning choreographers like Nakul Dev Mahajan the title of ‘Hollywood’s best Bollywood choreographer’.
Shuhei Narumi, the pianist, in the Japanese band, says what fascinates him about India is that people here are always smiling. Which is why he believes that not only will Indians like the band’s attempt at Bollywood numbers, they will also appreciate Japanese music.
Says Yusuke Yanai, the male vocalist: “We have dreamt about this place and India Dreams is our interpretation of these dreams. Hopefully, we will be able to make you dream about Japan.”
Hollywood is finally getting to know A.R. Rahman, the short, humble and deeply religious man who took two Oscars home to southern India for his work on "Slumdog Millionaire."
In the eight months since Slumdog's surprise Oscar sweep, Rahman has survived the rage of felicitation that hit him when he returned to India - even the prime minister offered his congratulations - and embarked on countless lunches with studio executives in L.A. eager to match him with that perfect new film.
In between, he's managed to score two movies, hatched plans with Dave Stewart of Eurythmics to start a band, and is putting together a new solo album.
The Oscars, Rahman said, "got me an identity in the West."
"There won't be any doubts looking at me: Who are you? What are you doing here?" he said by phone from Medina, Saudi Arabia. "I don't have to prove again I can do this and that, and rather can just be cool about my musical statement."
His latest composition is for "Couple's Retreat," a yoga-inflected romantic comedy written, produced by and starring Vince Vaughn, released Friday by Universal Studios.
He spent nearly three months working on "Couple's Retreat," first in London and then in L.A.
"L.A. helped me hide," Rahman said. "I can walk on the streets, which I can't do in India. I can go to a coffee shop and sit there. I have so much freedom, whereas in India I get mobbed."
In India, Rahman enjoys a fanatical pop-star fame that stretches from barefoot slum kids playing cricket to the richest matrons of Mumbai. He has won 18 Filmfare Awards, three MTV Awards, and six Tamil Nadu State Awards, among others. In 2000, he was conferred the highest civilian honor in India, the Padma Shri, for his contributions to the film industry.
But that somehow didn't translate. "Slumdog" did.
Now, Rahman said, he's not just getting work from Hollywood, he's getting good work - projects for which he can set his own artistic terms.
"Since the Oscars and all the appreciation, people come for what I am," he said.
The new album - for Interscope Records, which produced the blockbuster soundtrack to "Slumdog" - is still in its early stages, but Rahman said he hopes to bring together experienced artists like Lady GaGa and M.I.A. with "some really new talents."
"After 'Jai Ho' became number one in 17 countries, they were very excited and said, 'Why don't you do a whole album?'" Rahman said.
He keeps working on his pet project: A classical conservatory he opened two years ago in his hometown of Chennai, in southern India. About 130 students are learning the vanishing arts of the viola, violin and acoustic piano. Rahman said he's also teaching them Indian classical music and electronic composition - the same motley but fortuitous set of skills that holds together his own career.
The "Couple's Retreat" soundtrack veers from the South Indian Carnatic harmonies of "Undressing" to the hip-hop inflected "NaNa." Shyam Benegal, an award-winning Indian director - he also got the Padma Shri - who hired Rahman to make music for two of his films, says Rahman has created "a musical bridge."
"He has bridged the musical distance between the way the Western ear responds and the way the Indian ear responds," he said. "It's very difficult to say how."
The foundations of that bridge were laid when Rahman was a child. After his composer father died, Rahman took up playing the keyboard for movies in south India's burgeoning Tamil-language film industry. He was just 12.
"I had to work because we had the keyboards," he said. "My mother said, 'Why don't you learn them? It's such an advantage for you to have them.'"
"I was almost the breadwinner of the family," he added.
After studying under several masters of classical Indian music, he won a scholarship to the Trinity College of Music in London and took a degree in Western classical music. His break in India came when he was 23 and noted director Mani Ratnam asked him to score his film "Roja."
Since then he's worked on over 100 movies in India.
"His fees have gone up a lot," said director Benegal. "He may be the most expensive composer in India today working on films. That he is. But what he gives to you, even in financial terms, the recovery is almost instantaneous."
Still, Hollywood's remunerative embrace could price India's favorite son out of his home market.
"If he charged me Hollywood rates," Benegal said, "I wouldn't be able to pay."
Bollywood actor Rahul Dev seems to have established himself as the most sought after bad guy in south. With the dearth of villains, his arrival has given movie makers a new lease of life.
The actor has given some great performances in movies like 'Athadu', 'Krishna' and others.
Now sources claim that he will be against none other than the superstar Rajinikanth. However that would be in the animated film 'Sultan – The Warrior'.
This movie is being made by Rajini’s daughter Soundarya Rajinikanth and there are already very high expectations.
Meanwhile sources also claim that he would be the villain in yet another Suriya starrer.
I have never changed my sound intentionally. Most of my soundtracks reflect what film I am doing. It’s only that. It’s never like I want to beat this sound or I want to do something better. But I do change myself. I do not want to do the same thing. I want to keep my job interesting to me.
There have been reports that you have been hiding in Los Angeles…
The three months immediately after the Oscars were hard to handle. Everyone wanted to felicitate me and have me over at social functions and congratulate me in ceremonies. I went to Los Angeles and went back to my music. Now, life is back to normal.
|Mani Ratnam with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan on the Calcutta sets of Raavan. A Telegraph picture|
Why did you choose the Vince Vaughn rom comCouples Retreat as your first Hollywood project afterSlumdog Millionaire?
I got that offer before I got all the awards for Slumdog Millionaire. Vince Vaughn came to me much before the Oscars. He just saw the movie and he became very emotional and he said: “I want your music for my next film!” I was contemplating whether to accept the movie or not. Then after the Oscars, I went and saw the movie. I felt that it wasn’t a musically sympathetic movie but it was a comedy. And nobody would ever think that a person who did Slumdog would do a comedy next. And I just wanted to experience the whole process of Hollywood. It was a great experience.
|Vince Vaughn and Malin Akerman in Couples Retreat: “Vince became very emotional and he said: ‘I want your music for my next film!’”|
What makes it a great experience?
You know just the opportunity to go and work in studios where Mary Poppins and Star Wars were recorded, it’s a great feeling. Also, it was fun working with Vince and with the director of Couples Retreat, Peter (Billingsley). He’s a new guy and it was good.
But Couples Retreat the film has been very poorly received there and the reviews say your music has been under-utilised…
It is a comedy… it’s not a film where there were extraordinary musical situations. It’s also a complicated movie about four couples, who all have resolutions. And some of the score, which is significant in the film, is licensed stuff… like Ennio Morricone’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly…. I know that this would happen but I had the opportunity of doing a great CD. And the CD is being liked by everyone.
Of the work that has been offered to you in the West, are they all asking for aSlumdog-like score from you?
No. Because they would never want to repeat the same thing. I am in a very extra-ordinary situation where I can do songs and I can do background scores. I have not been typecast… like “He’s a background score guy” or “He can only compose songs”. So, I have been trying to expand on that. Even in Couples, I have done three songs and then I have also done the background.
|Dave Stewart: “He is a dear friend... we are trying to put up a band together.”|
Do you have a wishlist of producers or directors you want to work with?
No, I don’t want to have a wishlist. Because some things look very small in the beginning and they become bigger in the end. Like Slumdog. And some things look very big at the beginning and end up really small. So I don’t have any wishlist.
Was Slumdog ever small?
Honestly, I would have never sent the score to the Oscars. The makers did. I composed the soundtrack in three weeks flat and didn’t think that it would go on to do what it did.
Do you think it was all because of that one song, Jai ho?
When I saw the film, they had put another song (Shankar Ehsaan Loy’s Aaj ki raat fromDon) and all that dancing was part of the film. At that time, it looked like a mockery of our song and dance. But when they used it in the end credits with Jai ho, it looked really nice. See, Jai ho became Jai ho because it was apt for the film, not because it was a great song. It was the right song and that’s why it worked out so well.
|Kylie Minogue: “She was very fast... it was all finished in three hours!”|
So, you haven’t given any brief to your Hollywood agent?
He is always surprised by my decisions. He said: “It’s (Couples) a comedy! Don’t do a comedy!” I said, why not? So, it goes like that.
How do you plan to balance your work here with your work there?
It’s difficult choosing. I want to keep that little chain of interest of people wanting to hear my music. I don’t want to overdo that. Also, I don’t want to underplay that. So there will be Tamil films, Telugu films, Hindi films and there will be English films too. I want to choose the best projects that complement my music.
Now when you compose for Mani Ratnam’s Raavan, is it like a return to roots because you started with his Roja?
It is, in a way. Also, Mani always surprises me. I think that now I know Mani Ratnam. But he surprises me. He keeps pushing me to a place where I am challenged and that’s a great creative spirit. And that’s what I need to keep going, rather than taking each other for granted. There’s something we always want to achieve as a team.
What motivated you to sign this Friday’s big release Blue?
I signed it before the Oscars. New people are really unpredictable. (Blue is directed by debutant Anthony D’Souza.) You never know. Sometimes they are great and sometimes they let you down. Blue also had a big production house like Ashtavinayak supporting the film. Then when I saw the visuals, it seemed like something genuinely interesting, something passionate.
What about the Kylie Minogue experience?
It was all finished in three hours (laughs). She was very fast. Actually it was also one week before the BAFTAs and I also had to finish recording the song.
Why didn’t Farhan Akhtar sing for the Blue soundtrack, as you had wanted?
The song changed from what we wanted to make it. And he wasn’t very sure that the song went with his style of singing and whether he would be able to pull it off. Whether it would be right for him. So I said, okay, we will work on something else later. The song was Fiqrana, actually. And I was happy that Vijay Prakash got a huge opportunity.
What are you planning with Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame?
We are planning a lot of things actually. He is a dear friend whom I know for more than eight years now. We are trying to put up a band together, like a super band. Also, he is doing a movie for Nokia and I am helping him out on Indianising it.
What about your own English album?
I am currently working on it. It will have a lot of pop musicians. I am not sure who at this stage. But it is definitely the project I am really looking forward to, after doing so many film soundtracks.
If a director from Bengal walks up to you with his script, would you do the music?
If it’s something special, I would love to do it. If I find it inspiring, I would do it. I have seen a lot of great work coming from here.
But will you charge him a bomb?
Charge is never a problem (smiles)!