A R Rahman

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Allah Rakha Rahman (Tamil: ஏ.ஆர்.ரஹ்மான்) (born on January 6, 1966 as A. S. Dileep Kumar in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India) is an award-winning composer, record producer and musician. In a career spanning over a decade, Rahman has sold more than three hundred million records of his film scores and soundtracks world-wide, and sold over two hundred million cassettes making him one of the world's top 25 all-time top selling recording artists.

His acclaimed music compositions have led some to declare him the Mozart of Madras and Isai Puyal (Tamil: இசை புயல்; English: Musical Storm).


[edit] Biography

[edit] Early life and influences

A. R. Rahman was born to R. K. Shekhar, a composer, arranger and conductor for Malayalam-language films. His father died when Rahman was nine years old, and his family rented out musical equipment as a source of income. Rahman converted to Islam after a personal family incident and was a student at PSBB for a short while before changing schools.

During these early years, Rahman served as a keyboardist and an arranger in bands such as "Roots" with friends, embracing numerous music genres. He played the keyboard and piano, in addition to, among others, the synthesizer, the harmonium and the guitar. His curiosity in the synthesizer in particular increased because, he says, it was the “ideal combination of music and technology.” He began training in Carnatic music. At the age of 11, he joined, as a keyboardist, the troupe of Indian composer Ilaiyaraaja, one of many composers to whom musical instruments belonging to Rahman's father were rented to. Rahman later played in the orchestra of M. S. Viswanathan and Ramesh Naidu, accompanied Zakir Hussain and Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan on world tours and obtained scholarship to Trinity College at Oxford University, where he graduated with a degree in Western classical music.

[edit] Summary of Career

Film scoring and soundtracks

In 1991, Rahman began his own studio, attached to his house, called the Panchathan Record Inn. He initially composed music for advertisements, the title music of Indian Television channels and music in documentaries, among other projects. In 1992, he was approached by film director Mani Ratnam to compose the score and soundtrack for Ratnam's Tamil language film Roja. The debut led Rahman to receive the Rajat Kamal award for Best Music Director at the National Film Awards, the first time ever by a first-time film composer. Rahman has since then gone on to win the award three more times (for his scores for Minsaara Kanavu (Electric Dreams, Tamil) in 1997, Lagaan (Tax, Hindi) in 2002 and Kannathil Muthamittal (A Kiss on the Cheek, Tamil) in 2003), the most ever by any composer.

Roja's score met with high sales and acclaim, in its original and dubbed versions, bringing about an effective transformation in film music at the time, and Rahman followed this with scores for films including, among others, Bombay, Kadhalan, Indira, Minsaara Kanavu, Muthu and Love Birds, which gained him notice. His soundtracks gained him recognition in the Tamil film industry and across the country for his versatality in classical, folk, jazz, reggae, soft rock and other styles in his pieces. Rangeela, directed by Ram Gopal Varma, marked Rahman's debut in Hindi films. Many popular scores for films including Dil Se and Taal followed. The sales of these albums prompted several film producers to take film music more seriously.

Rahman's work is also unique in the fact that his collaborations with some film directors have always resulted in successful soundtracks. In particular, he has worked with Mani Ratnam on ten films until 2006, all of which have been musical hits. Also notable is his collaboration with the director S. Shankar in the films Gentleman, Kadhalan, Indian, Jeans, Mudhalvan, Nayak, Boys and Sivaji.

His first movie album Roja in Tamil was listed in TIME's "Top 10 Movie Soundtracks of All Time". Rahman also composed the score for the Chinese film Warriors of Heaven and Earth in 2003.

Rahman continues to record frequently in his studio, the Panchathan Record Inn. His latest work includes Water, Rang De Basanti, Sillunu Oru Kaadhal, Guru , Varalaru - The History of the Godfather and Sivaji: The Boss. Rahman has scored the movie Provoked and is also working on Shyam Benegal's next venture, Chamki Chameli, which is set for release in late 2007 as well as Jodhaa Akbar. He has also composed the score for Shekhar Kapur's upcoming film Elizabeth: The Golden Age with the composer Craig Armstrong. He is a recipient of the Padma Shri.

[edit] Other works

Rahman has been involved in several projects aside from film. He made an album Vande Mataram (1996) on India's national song, singing the title song on the album. He followed it up with an album called Jana gana mana, a conglomeration of performances by many leading exponents/artists of Indian classical music. In addition to writing jingles for ads, he has composed several orchestrations for athletic events and T.V. and internet media publications, documentaries and short films.

In 2002, he composed his maiden stage production Bombay Dreams (2002) following a commission from musical theatre composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. Furthermore, Rahman, along with the Finnish folk music band Värttinä, composed the music for The Lord of the Rings theatre production. He composed the piece "Raga's Dance" for Vanessa Mae's album Choreography (2004).

In the last six years, he has performed in three world tours of his concerts to audiences in Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Dubai, UK, Canada, and the US (Hollywood Bowl). A two-disc soundtrack, Introducing A. R. Rahman, (2006) featuring 25 pieces he composed from his Tamil film scores was released in May 2006.

[edit] Music style

Rahman's interest in the works of Classical and Romantic period composers, Carnatic composers, early film composers and predecessors K. V. Mahadevan and Vishwanathan-Ramamoorthy of the Tamil film industry and others continued through his late teens. He further explored and trained in Carnatic music, Western classical, Hindustani music and the Qawalli style of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, in addition to numerous other styles. His interest and outlook in music is said to stem from his love of experimentation. As a result, his scores have alternated from songs and themes composed covering a variety of genres, with unconventionally-grouped instruments, and different vocal styles being used and combined together in some of his film soundtracks, to more traditional orchestral themes with leitmotif techniques composed in others. Rahman's works often feature a mix of minimalist songs and evocative, thematic pieces, building on his differing chord progressions and rhythms. He has written scores and songs with new and varied melodic and percussive sounds from instruments of different music systems. This unique blend he pioneered would come to be known as his avant-garde sound.

[edit] Awards and nominations

For a full list of awards and nominations, see List of A. R. Rahman awards and accolades.

[edit] Philanthropy

In addition to composing themes for charity media features and events, Rahman has set up the "A. R. Rahman Foundation" with a goal to eradicate poverty globally. This includes setting up and partnering with educational institutions across India to provide education to children who do not have easy access to schools or funds. In 2004, he was appointed as the Global Ambassador of the Stop TB Partnership, a project by WHO. He has shown support to charities including Save the Children, India, and worked with Cat Stevens / Yusuf Islam for his song "Indian Ocean" . The song featured a-ha keyboard player Magne Furuholmen and Travis drummer, Neil Primrose. The proceeds of the song went towards helping orphans in Banda Aceh, one of the areas worst affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.

[edit] Personal life

Rahman (born Dileep Kumar) is the second of four children born to R. K. Shekhar and Kareema Begum (Kasthuri). He has three sisters, Rehana (Kanchana), Fatima Talat (Bala) and Israth. He is married to Saira and has three children - Khatija, Rahima and Amin. Rahman is an alumni of the PSBB Lake Area School, Nungambakkam, Chennai. His nephew G. V. Prakash Kumar is a composer in the Tamil film industry.Son of Rehana (Kanchana).

[edit] See Also

List of Telugu Films (1931-2008)

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