June 4, 2002 
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A R Rahman
The freedom song
More musical feats by A R Rahman

Arthur J Pais

"Patriotic songs do not have to be loud," A R Rahman says, referring to Sarfaroshi ki tamanna (The Legend Of Bhagat Singh). "In this film, a song is pictured on men who have fasted for over a month. How can I compose a high-sounding tune for that song?"

One of the challenges he faced when he took up the Bhagat Singh project was that its music had to stand apart from that of other period films such as Shyam Benegal's Zubeidaa and Ashutosh Gowariker's Lagaan.

Some strains from the Lagaan theme song have made into the Desh mere desh mere number in Bhagat Singh. But on the whole it is a very different score, he says.

"It not only had to be different (Lagaan and Zubeidaa), it had to be very good too," he says. There are four other Bhagat Singh films around. He hopes the songs will remain around for a long time.

Another challenge was to create another version of Mera rang de basanti chola. The Mahendra Kapoor version of the song in Shaheed, the Manoj Kumar starrer (1965), was more fast-paced than Rahman's composition. That is how director Rajkumar Santoshi wanted the song

A Legend Of Bhagat Singh

It has always been important for him, Rahman says, to know how exactly a director has visualised a song. And because he works hard to help a director fulfill his vision, the composer says he takes on just a few assignments. He worked for the first time for The Legend Of Bhagat Singh with Santoshi.

Santoshi's commitment to the film, Rahman adds, inspired him to compose a score that is flavorsome and different. Though he has used a Punjabi flavor in his music for a handful of movies, this is the first time he has extensively used the flavor. It was an enjoyable learning process, with Sukhwinder Singh (who sings four numbers) and Sonu Nigam helped him get to know the music better.

Rahman and Sukhwinder Singh have collaborated on a number of smash hits including the electrical Chaiya chaiya number in Dil Se. And now in the new movie, Rahman expects the zestful Pagdi sambhal jatta to be a big hit.


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