Friday, May 27, 2005

Rahman - The Indian Music Wizard


[Pic- Rahman Fan Club]

I just saw in Lazy Geeks blog that AR Rehman’s Roja has been selected in Time magazine's list of Best Soundtracks of All-time.

What an amazing achievement from Chennai to Broadway. If Illayaraja had captured the attention of South Indians, AR Rehman has gone further not only he got the whole country tapping to his tunes but has mesmerized audiences worldwide.

Few years back my friend Umesh from Dubai, who runs an online Music Magazine called Dwhanii, had asked me to write something about Rehman to celebrate his ten years in film industry.

Dwhanii is one of those rare online magazines that focus on upcoming talents all over the world.
Back to the Rehman, so here it is I am reproducing my article on Rehman to celebrate this news. Thanks to Umesh and Team from Dwhanii for publishing my article.

Rahman - The Indian Music Wizard
A Composer's View

by Ganesh, US

South Indian Film Industry has always been blessed with great Music directors. And most of the great composers are from Tamil Nadu is another thing to be proud of if you are tamilian. Now there are good composers and then there is a rare breed, one who dares to break the conventional music making and set a trend. Tamil Film Industry is certainly blessed to have all of them from Tamil Nadu. The first one being MSV and then Mr.Illayaraja and then came A.R.Rehman of the younger generation and rest of others are the ones who just follow the trend set by these 'Maestros'.

I still remember being wonder stuck the very first time when I heard the 'Leo Coffee' jingle (ad) music. It was a very famous ad. It was sensational for two things the young charming Aravind Swami and the beautiful musical score for that ad. Super combination of tavil, veena and fretless bass and nice keyboard punches that sweeps you off. And then another impressive score is
for the'Telegu Music Academy music for national Integration' they used to telecast in DD every Sunday that was again a beautiful score. Some of my friends who where in film industry told me that it was Dilip who was doing those jingles. And I was wondering how nice it will be if this guy could also do mainstream films. Well that indeed happened in 1991 with Roja and rest is history.

A.R.Rehman brought in a unique sense of melody, sound and new arrangement to this industry that was dearth of it. During that time things have become pretty monotonous with lot of 'formula' and predictable music scores, when I say formula music what I mean is usual string passages, tabla kind of arrangement to fill up the scores nothing new to hold your attention. And the younger generation was more into western POP and stuff like that. It was like we can't have that precision of sound quality in our Indian recordings and gave an impression that our studios aren't well equipped enough to produce those amazing quality sounds. And most of MDs where sounding or trying to sound like a popular MD at that time. And the result was a pretty stereotyped music.

After ROJA, not only the south but the entire country was under the spell of Rahman. When critics were saying that he was one film wonder, Rahman proved them all wrong with continued hit after hit. Now his domain expanded to North also. His music was so popular people in North copied his songs, the best example is 'Muqabala' song, I was told that there were at least 15 different versions of this song. His music appealed to the youth immensely so the minute they hear 'music by Rahman' everyone buys it for they were sure about the quality of his music. This is all due to his sheer hard work and dedication.

Many of us are unaware of the intricacies of making music and just say 'aha that's all because of computer’, I wish composing was that easy. Some of the critics where even saying 'Rahman is a good sound engineer and not a composer'. This is once again out of ignorance. Now everyone in the music world has computers and all kinds of software but how many of them can come up with his kind of music? That's because Rahman's has his own unique approach to music, sound and presentation that is so unique to him. His sense of rthym is matchless and grasp of ragas is very good.

Whether its raag Kapi, Bhimbilas, Bihag, Nilamabari, Kanada, Kamas or Misra Mandu, he has used ragas in his own style. Once again cine music is a potpourri. You can't' and should not apply carnatic parameters to judge it. Ragas are used discreetly by composers to give some soothing effect and for melody but not for the ragas sake alone for cine music is not targeted at a one kind of audience alone but a wider range of audience from all walks of life.

And there is also instance he has used and treated ragas beautifully the best examples are 'Nila kaihiradu' from film Indra - a beautiful song based on Raag Bihag. Not to mention the famous song of Duet based on Raag Anandha Bhairavi. And the wonderful song of 'Kannodu Kanbethalla' based on Aberi / Bhimbilas and the wonderful song Kannamoochi enada' based on 'Natakurench'. And what about the mesmerizing song 'Uyirum Neeye' from the movie Pavithra based on raag 'Kamas' that fetched the national award for Mr. Unni Krishnan.

Rahman never fails to use natural instruments to give authenticity as the song dictates be it tavil, ghatam, sax, konnakol, Santoor, Violin or Mohana veena. This uniqueness of Rahman has impressed folks not only from India but also abroad. And the person to be blown away by Rahman's music is none other than Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber himself. Now A.R.Rahman has come up with another impressive score for Webber's musical 'Bombay Dreams'

A.R.Rahman continues to capture the attention of the World and will spread the greatness of our Indian music to other parts of the world as well. So as an Indian we all should be proud of him. And a genuine music lover will appreciate good music wherever it comes from and from whomever it comes from. For music have no barriers.

Ganesh

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