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20 Years of A.R.Rahman

By: sureshmehcnit Posted Aug 23, 2012 General 645 Views
(Updated Aug 23, 2012 04:07 PM)

An excerpt from my book "***Memoirs of a Rahmaniac***" To know more about the book check the below link

Memoirs of a Rahmaniac is, well, memoirs of a devout AR Rahman empathizer. Those who were born in the early 1980s and brought up in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, and had the first-hand experience in 1992, when the Isai Puyal - the musical storm (AR Rahman) first hit Indian film music, would not have a story very different from mine. If you are not one of those, I am afraid that you may not bear the extent of indulgence and the romanticism of fanaticism for his music that is on display here. Memoirs of a Rahmaniac is the longest, mushiest, most indulgent piece written on AR Rahman's music that you could ever come across. On August 15, 2012, AR Rahman will touch the astonishing twenty years mark in his career as a film music composer. Personally, it is the twentieth anniversary of the longest relationship I have ever had with anyone or anything in this world. To me, AR Rahman‘s music is a state of mind. His music has been the soundtrack of my life. Every event or person of significance in my life is intricately intertwined with an AR Rahman song or a soundtrack. The mind movie of my Nostalgia has always been an AR Rahman musical. I am sure that millions of other AR Rahman fans in India, who grew up on his music, and who started to listen to him, precisely at a time in their life when they just started to listen to any music, feel the same.

Both Rahman and I entered film music at the same time. He had just started to compose music, and I had just started to listen to music. I was eight years old. I do not remember the exact moment, when, for the first time, I experienced the musical frisson on listening to an AR Rahman's piece, but ever since I did, I have been a Rahmaniac, and I remain so till this day. I get just as excited about the release of an AR Rahman soundtrack even now. I am one of those lucky kids who got the opportunity to witness the birth and emergence of a revolutionary composer. AR Rahman gave me the chance of recognizing a composer‘s genius all by myself without anyone telling me how I should feel when listening to his music, like how I was always told that Ilaiyaraaja was a genius composer much before I could realize it on my own. Even Ilaiyaraaja‘s music, I started keenly listening to, only when he bent his ways and padded his signature orchestral arrangements with AR Rahman‘s brand of synthesizers, loops and rhythm patterns.

I hazily remember watching the visuals of the song Pudhu Vellai Malai from Roja, AR Rahman‘s debut film, in Doordarshan (India‘s only television channel then, run by the Indian government), on the day of the film‘s release August 15, 1992. There are so many assorted memories and images that come to my mind when I think about the Roja soundtrack. Every AR Rahman soundtrack has a musical snippet which may be just few seconds long, but to which all the Nostalgia related to the entire soundtrack clings on, and in Roja it is the seductive Ooo ho ho hoo motif from the Rukkumani song; it did something to me even when I was a kid. The camera slowly sneaks into the bedroom, where the newlywed is going to spend their wedding night; camera zooms into the bed that is being decorated with flowers, while the soundtrack is filled with a sensuous fire set ablaze by the Ooo ho ho hoo motif in the beginning of the song. I was intrigued how precisely music was married to the images in motion. Needless to say, Indian music listeners had never heard anything like AR Rahman‘s music in Roja before. However, I personally didn‘t know that then. I have read personal accounts of many of AR Rahman‘s fans about that precise moment of discovering AR Rahman's music, in which they have exclaimed how stunning and refreshing the music in Roja sounded on the very first hearing. Personally, that is not what I thought when I first heard his music. It sounded instantly likeable for sure, but not refreshing (the most refreshing aspect of the song, to me, was Santosh Sivan‘s cinematography), simply because I had not listened to enough Tamil film music before to make such sweeping assessments. Apparently, those who were already immersed in Ilaiyaraaja‘s music too were stunned by what AR Rahman did, but they did not quite take his music seriously, at least not immediately after Roja, and they were quite confident that Roja was just a flash in the pan. I can understand why they could not instantly embrace AR Rahman‘s music. With Ilaiyaraaja giving consistently high quality music for two decades, no one would have ever imagined that any other composer could overthrow him from his reign in Tamil film music. AR Rahman did. Thankfully, I was not burdened by Ilaiyaraaja‘s music, which could have stopped me from instantly embracing AR Rahman.

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