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The A R Rahman Chat

A midnight chat. And an immensely successful one at that. If you don't believe us, check out the transcript of our tryst with the curly-headed God of Indian film music.

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:22 IST)
Hi! I'm here to answer your questions :-)

Shalini (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:20 IST)
Hi Rahman: Why do you reject more films than you accept?

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:24 IST)
Shalini: The way I work takes more time for me to get satisfaction. So it's better to take lesser load and do better work. Money can be earned anytime.

omaramar (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:24 IST)
Hi ARR. Do you see any difference in the spirit of music from the south and the north?

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:28 IST)
Omaramar: There is a difference. I think the trend in the north is more Punjabi folk and simple music. But, in the past, people like Naushad experimented with Hindustani classical music which I think has been completely forgotten. People don't experiment anymore and think that Hindustani classical music won't work. For me, coming from the south, it was just a little step to learn Punjabi music. The nuances are louder in Punjabi music. Songs like Mukkala muqqabla or Humma humma had more of the Tamil folk music in it. But now, I am working with people like Subhash Ghai who have opened up the Punjab in me. So you can except Taal music music to fill up all the holes :-)

allah rakha (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:28 IST)
Rahman saab... do you think you are justified in using religious words like Ayat and tawwez for commercial gain... I have heard you are a devout Muslim...

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:30 IST)
Allah Rakha: I have not written the words. But Gulzaarsaab, who has written the words, has got tremendous respect towards all the religions and I don't think he ever intended anything wrong. After all, God created love.

Geeth (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:33 IST)
Hi ARR, What is your favourite ragam? Have you thought about using rare ragas like Niroshta or Rageshri? What inspired your choice of Natabairavhi for Jiya jale? Was it Ravishankar's 3 ragas in minor scales? How did you go about pitching Saraswathi and Hami Kalyani for Malargale?

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:33 IST)
Geeth: I have not done any traditional classical movies as yet. For film music, a tune should be fresh and almost all the simple ragas have been exploited by my predecessors. So, as far as I'm concerned, I treat a raga like a note in western music. So Sawaraswati and Hami Kalyani are very related and they provide a nice change from the traditional tunes you have heard before.

Siv (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:33 IST)
Mr. Rahman, I feel that you give more importance to the percussions and accompaniments rather than the melody itself. Do you think listeners these days want the music to be loud with beats, rather than looking out for the melody, the tune.

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:35 IST)
Siv: Mostly the films I have done after Pudiya Mugam were Prabhudeva movies and most of the tunes were set to match his dancing. It was a circle in which we got entangled but I got out of it, realising the lack of melody and short cut of rhythms. Insha Allah, the future films which I'm doing will definitely have strong melodies.

sriku (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:35 IST)
ARR: Why don't you team up with Illayaraja and bring out an albumn like 'Vande Mataram' for the general good of this great country... or anybody else for that matter....

ANVITA S (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:34 IST)
Mr A R RAHMAN, do you plan to do any shows or concerts in North America in the coming year?

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:38 IST)
Sriku: I'll sugggest it to Bharatbala honestly *whispering the sugestion to Bharat*... Anvita S: Not in the coming year.

Das (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:37 IST)
Mr Rahman, what was your inspiration for the 'Chikku bukku chikku bukku' song from Gentleman, if any? I have always loved the beats in that song & also the picturisation which shot Prabhu Deva to fame. Please answer?

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:43 IST)
Das: I had some golden rules when I started my first film, Roja. These rules were good lyrics, good thought, good melodies, good recording and good presentation. But I think Gentleman was to break the rule completely because Shankar wanted commercial music for the film to break the monotony for the serious subject. So we did it, and gave it full blast to them. Unfortunately the success of the rhythm-based compositions reached the masses much faster than normal Roja type of music and the trend became an epidemic coz it was easy and safe. I was pushed by producers to make similar kind of stuff. But rhythm-based compositions can be listend only for a very short time, though we put in too much energy in polishing it. But later, I realised that the golden rules were going out of my hand. I think we are back to normal.

Rajan (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:43 IST)
Critics say you have broken the ground rules of Indian music by including western music in authentic Indian music. Don't you think this is slow poison you are using by injecting the lead guitar like in 'Iruvar'?

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:47 IST)
Rajan: THe whole music of Iruvar was a reflection of Vishwanathan Ramamurthy and K V M's music coz the film demanded such kind of music. I think the little extra elements in Iruvar's music added a personal touch. Like Vishwa Mohan Bhatt's Mohan Veena and the rock guitar contrasted nicely.

rra (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:46 IST)
ARR, how's your daughter doing? Have you composed a song for her yet??

thirudathiruda (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:46 IST)
So ARR... How about a show in USA huh?? Are you getting any inspirations for music from your daughter??

ramki (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:39 IST)
Are you planning to do any film based on classical music?? We will like to have one complete classical album from you. Is there any chance??

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:51 IST)
RRA & Thiruda Thiruda: My daughter's doing fine by the grace of God... Ramki: It is not a pure classical movie like Shankarabaranam, but I'm working on a very small budget movie caled Sangamam which is based on classical and folk dance. Wish me luck.

muthu (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:54 IST)
A R Rahman, I feel you had used Prasanna to give a very good guitar in July madham vandhal from Pudhiya Mugam. Did you use him much later?? Please answer this question.

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:57 IST)
Muthu: I had a light music band in 81-82 and we mainly used to play Illayaraja's and MSV's music. What I learnt from him is that musicians needed to take cociane and alchohol to compose good music, music discipline and music with variety. During my days with him, I was a pet. Since he had worked for my father, he regarded me like his son. But I was working nearly around 13 years in films and his was the last two years. I needed a change, that's why I took up a diferent genre of music. He is a genuis!

Raju (Mon Aug 17 1998 12:57 IST)
What happened to Ranjit Barot? Why isn't he making music these days?

thirudathiruda (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:1 IST)
Mr Rehman, why is it that you don't use S P Bala in any of your songs anymore??

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:4 IST)
Raju: Ranjit Barot has composed Vande Mataram 2 for Bharatbala... Thiruda Thiruda: S P Bala sung for me in Taal. He is concentrating on acting and, since we record instantaneously and due to shooting pressue, one is forced to use other singers because of SP's non-availability. He has a very good voice.

Bunty (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:1 IST)
I saw Takshak... He is a sensitive man... a genius... Too bad you were busy with HHM (Kaadalan) and Droh Kaal did not work out... But I think that his perception of art is going to inspire you to make great music!

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:6 IST)
Bunty: Takshak is not yet ready and still in completion. As you rightly said, Govind Nihalani, who is the director of Takshak, has a very good ear for music and it is very interesting and challenging to work with him.

muthu (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:6 IST)
ARR, were u one of those who used to play in the Wonder Balloon TV programme on Madras Doordarsan. I remember a few people playing Ilamay idho idho and Annae annae sippai annae in instrumental during early the 80's. Of course, I know you composed the Wonder Balloon title music. Am I right? Please answer this and clarify my long-pending doubt.

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:7 IST)
Muthu: Yes, you are right. But I have NOT composed the Wonder Balloon title music. Mr Rajan of Wonder Balloon had helped me a lot in my career during those days.

ANVITA S (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:7 IST)
Mr Rahman, when is your next movie's audio tape coming out?

thirudathiruda (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:4 IST)
Mr Rahman... I think you should stop using Udit Narayan in your Tamil songs. He ruins the whole thing. He is a very good singer but he doesn't know Tamil...

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:10 IST)
Anvita S: The album is Doli Sajake Rakhna... Thiruda Thiruda: I have stopped using Udit in Tamil, but other people have continued that :-)

Neelam (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:9 IST)
Mr. Rahman: Did you really take 50 paise for composing the music for Roja?

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:13 IST)
Neelam: No, I earned 25,000 bucks for Roja, the amount which I earned doing musical jingles in two days.

Sri (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:14 IST)
Mr Rahman, would you say that it's necessary to now move away from synthesized sounds (or reduce them) since everyone and his father are using them these days and opt instead for subtle/clever/innovative acoustic arrangements like in Eh Ajnabi?

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:15 IST)
Sri: Yes, when a song demands...

AAMIR FAN (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:8 IST)

Deepali (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:14 IST)
Mr A R Rahman: Please answer my one question at least. Are the musicians in India well-paid? If not, what is the reason?

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:17 IST)
Aamirfan: I'm doing Aamir's next film, Earth... Deepali: I think most of the film musicains are well paid. Unfortunately they have some habits which drains it very soon.

Rajan (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:16 IST)
When are you including heavy metal in Indian music?

Bunty (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:15 IST)
ARR: What is Beauty Palace all about?? Is it your album????!!!

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:18 IST)
Ranjan: I hope I never do that *lol* Indian film music fans will never forgive me... Bunty: I never heard of Beauty Palace.

vvvvv (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:18 IST)
Have you had formal training in JAZZ music? Your IRUVAR music is too good. When I played the music in my music college in NJ, my teacher was thrilled. She felt that the song (ASHA number) could compete with any Broadway musical song.

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:21 IST)
vvvvv: Jazz was my passion for a little while. I felt that all other kinds of music were stupid when I was into jazz. But I got over the addiction very soon. I think Iruvar's jazz song was that past passion for jazz.

rafiq (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:22 IST)
Rahman, you haven't answered me yet! Why the tendency to sing yourself these days? And who do you prefer, Rafi or Kishore?

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:23 IST)
Rafiq: I like Rafi's voice to show fans, don't get hurt. I even like his voice, very sweetening. I missed him in Ajnabi. I even like Kishoreda's numbers.

Das (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:23 IST)
Mr. Rahman, Let me repeat my earlier question. Have you considered releasing English versions of your songs (like Chikku bukku, Urvashi, etc) to compete in the USA/European market? I think your fusion music will be well appreciated even outside our nation!

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:28 IST)
Dear Das: THe ultimate enjoyment for a composer is when his compositions get recognised and appreciated. For me, a small vilage in Kanyakumari is as important as New York or France. Finally, it's the joy and those numbers already achieved that. I don't think I'll be wasting time on rehashing them.

vvvvv (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:26 IST)
I am a big fan of Igor Stravinsky. Do you think that his polytonal music will work for Indian popular music? Have you ever used it?

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:33 IST)
vvvvv: I too like Stravinsky. It would be very good for a classic film's background score. For the time being, it is a very nice idea to do a song in that mode.

yoda (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:32 IST)
Rahman, what happened with your collaboration with David Byrne of Talking Heads? Are you working with any other pop/western musician?

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:35 IST)
Yoda: I just played for a recording he did in south India. He seemed to be very innovative. That's it, I never met him afterwards.

Neekesh (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:34 IST)
Mr ARRji: Will you please respond to me and make my day/week/year?

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:37 IST)
Neekesh, please repeat your question. I can't find it.

Siv (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:36 IST)
Mr Rahman, I thought you wanted to clear up the controversies surrounding the following -- do you think that the usage of synthesized sound makes a song seem less creative. For example, with systhesized beats, other artistes could have used the same beats. in this case, listeners may mistakenly think that the whole song was copied. Like the rhythm in Telephone manipol from Indian (many of my friends in the US commented that the song sounds like 'I saw the sign' from Ace Of Base, even though the tune was different)

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:40 IST)
Siv: There was a trend all over the world for programmers to make music with loops. It was very new and made it easy to do songs. But I have equippped myself better now and I'm able to produce far better rhythm stuff originally. Though the Telephone song was orginal, some of the loops resembled the kind used by Ace Of Base. And these things are avoided completely now.

Bunty (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:39 IST)

thirudathiruda (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:38 IST)
Mr Rahman... How was it working with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan??

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:45 IST)
Bunty: Yes, 6 songs... Thiruda Thiruda: Great. I felt honoured since it was the last song Ustad Nusrat FAteh Ali Khan did before his death. We miss him a lot, it was an emotional bond in the 50th year to bring a synergy between India and Pakistan.

Das (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:44 IST)
Bunty: Is Yodha a Hindi film? Or a Tamil film? Can you give more details like who are the actors/director (so that I can trace it)? Is it Yoddha? Or Yooda?

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:46 IST)
Das: It's a Malayalam film, my second film.

thirudathiruda (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:48 IST)
Rahman... what would you do if you were locked in one room with Anu Malik and Jatin-Lalit??

muthu (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:49 IST)
ARR Few words about Sivamani and Prasanna please

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:51 IST)
TT: We would drink Coke or Pepsi... Muthu: Both are genuises, lucky to work with them.

senth (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:52 IST)
Rahman, what do you think about Carnatic singers in film music? As "Kannodu" and "Narumugaye" were the best songs in those movies (Jeans and Iruvar), I guess the trend towards Carnatic music is catching again. What is your opinion??

Nattuuu (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:52 IST)
Rahman... I am also a PSBB student! I heard that you had some problems while you were there... True?

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:55 IST)
Senth: Yes... Nattuuu: PSBB was fun.

A R Rahman (Mon Aug 17 1998 13:57 IST)
Everyone: Vande Mataram. This was real fun. May be, in future, we should get back together. Let's be in touch! Knowing your feedback -- it makes life easy for me. Goodnight, everybody! :-)