He has had every award at his feet, be it the National Award, Oscar, or the Grammy. But the man doesn’t want more awards, but wants to get a new breed of musicians in India. The music director of Slumdog Millionaire is very keen to get the talented slum children from the slums of Dharavi and explore their command in music.
We heard that Dream Works is restarting the film project on the Ramayana. What is the progress?
We had a project for Dream Works, it is based on the Ramayana. We worked for five years on the project, but the company later withdrew from it. Our five-year effort was useless. We are trying to get the project restarted. I have a huge bank of compositions now for it.
Your music school and conservatory started with director Shekhar Kapur’s help is an excellent initiative towards forms of digital platforms. The Dharavi slum children are also in it. Please explain.
My sister is looking at a music school. There we have a good team. I email Shekhar every day on the developments and I am aware of who is doing what. We will soon want a song with these kids. We are still working on the technical aspect. These children are very creative. There are very fascinating.
What gets AR Rahman agree to compose music for a film?
I listen to my heart. If it says yes, I am on. Making music is never a tiresome experience. It has to be elevating. Music should not drain you, but urge one to carry on. If is of no use when you have tension while composing.
Bollywood, bhajans, Sufi etc you have composed all kinds of songs. You have also done a film on the Prophet. Do they connect you to the spiritual being?
I think it’s a matter of faith. Only if you believe in the thought, you can prioritize. I am a student of Sufism. Be it love or spirituality, sincerity is very important when you choose. Just like you cannot just marry a boy or a girl you are told to marry without getting the feeling right for the person, you cannot do any work without feeling for the work. With music, it is the same. When you take a song, you need to adopt it.
What is your process of preparing a composition? When do you decide that this is the final song?
I first compose a song and then keep it aside. I listen to the song after a few days. If I do not feel that the song is bad, I work on it a bit more, change a thing here and there and then decide if it is ok.
How do you compose in different languages like Tamil Telugu, Hindi or English?
I do not distinguish between any languages as my profession does not allow me to do so. Music brings love and unites all of us. I am here to unite everybody all over the globe with music.
How do you know you can work with someone when you meet them first?
With so much of experience, moving in and out meeting people, it enables all of us to be able to at least feel good about anyone we meet the very first time. I always see good things in people and I am blessed that in return they give back good things to me. Together in my field along with all those who are associated with me I have been able to pave a path for myself in the musical domain.